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Selling your house can be a scary time for some. One of the biggest fears people have is that their house will sit on the market for months and attract only low-ball offers if any.
But there are some things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
I’m going to lay out free (or cheap) ways to prepare your house for the market.
Here are some things you can do to help sell your house fast (and for more money).
Read also: First-time home buyer’s guide
You first need to get a good idea of what you’re working with. Changing things for the sake of changing things isn’t very smart. For all you know, you might only need to trim a tree and add a patio bench.
To get a good look at your house, look at it from half a block away as objectively as you can. Get another set of eyes to assist you, like the real estate agent, to offer you suggestions to boost your curb appeal.
Go on Pinterest or Houzz and browse other people’s ideas. Once you find a style you like you can attempt to duplicate it yourself.
It can be easy to get carried away when looking at other people’s creations, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. The point here is to improve your homes’ curb appeal on the cheap, not tear everything down and start from scratch.
Browse Similar Homes Nearby
Take a walk around your neighborhood and note what’s working and what isn’t working for other houses nearby.
Make sure your style fits in with the neighborhood and make note of anything you’d like to incorporate into your design.
Start with curb appeal
Whether you plan to sell soon or sometime later, now is the time to begin investing in your home because it will add value to your property.
The goal is to make your property more worth it than it was when you bought it, but at the same time, not to go too far on the improvements since you do want to see some return on your investment.
Take time to research real estate prices in your area and to plan some strategic makeover, but make sure to focus on main issues.
If you’ve decided to sell your house, there is a whole variety of things to be taken care of before you bring any potential buyers inside.
Having your house in top shape will impress them more and enable it to become more likely to be sold at a higher price. All you have to do is to implement a few alluring details and make it look well-maintained.
If you’re selling during season, it is very important to make your house stand out among dozens of others many people are going to look at. So, here are a few tips on how to make your home ready to sell.
- Give your house a bath
Get out the water hose, your house is getting a bath!
Make sure the exterior of your home, as well as the lawn and landscaping, are immaculate.
This means water-hosing the roof, gutters, windows, walls, driveway and any other nook and cranny you can find.
- Landscaping is next
Trim the bushes and mow the lawn for goodness sakes. If your grass isn’t green, you better start watering.
Oh and you know that huge overgrown plant by the front window?
Get rid of it.
I don’t care how old the plant is or how much it means to you. The only thing that matters is this: will this plant (that covers the window) help sell the house for more money?
If the answer is no, get rid of it.
Start from the outside, same as a potential buyer will while approaching your property. Front and back yards are the outdoor extension of the interior. Therefore, they can well indicate the state of the household in general.
It doesn’t take much to clean the yard and spruce it a bit, simply because the appealing landscape will give away a better impression and will easily sell the property.
Remember to set up some yard lighting for the buyers who will inspect your place at evening hours.
- The lawn
If you don’t want to deal with huge amounts of landscaping, you’re not alone. Most homebuyers today are looking for low-maintenance living.
You can reduce the maintenance requirements of your lawn along with your water bill by removing the lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant plants.
- Get rid of the junk outside
Sometimes we’ve lived in a place so long we see objects as part of the landscape, such as an old bike or a ladder.
Clutter distracts the eyes, so get rid of anything that doesn’t belong there.
This includes skateboards, toys, trash cans, stray garden tools and a tangled water hose across the front lawn.
Look at your exterior with the perspective of a new buyer and see these things for what they are: junk.
- Sidewalk, driveway, and garage repairs
Make repairs to get rid of unsightly cracks or uneven pavement. It doesn’t cost a lot of money and makes a real difference.
- Freshen Up Your Front Door
Buying a new front door is far too expensive, so clean and paint it if necessary. Replace the trim, make sure your storm door is in good working order and give the area a good cleaning.
Consider changing to a high-end knob, as it will instantly increase the value of your home.
- Replace Your Entry Light
If your entry light is old and outdated, replace it with a new one with a modern design. You’ll be amazed how something so simple (and cheap) can completely change the look of your entry area.
- Make it show-off worthy
When someone buys a house, the first thing they do is go on Facebook or Instagram and show off.
That picture of the front of your house is the first impression and what will help sell the house the most.
- External makeover and repair
Look out for signs of damage on the external walls and make sure to take care of it because it will most definitely catch the buyer’s eye.
After fixing the sidings, take the time to think about the colors you can use to repaint the walls. If you are not certain about the right choice of the color, do some research on a trendy and tasteful color palette commonly used in contemporary architecture.
You have to check your home in and out for any damage that could potentially be harmful to your house’s value. Make sure everything is functional, from fixing loose knobs and handles to taking care of more serious damage, like leakage or mold.
Pay special attention to wood rot around windows and door frames – especially outside. They can deteriorate over time when exposed to rain and moisture.
Check for leaks around toilets or sinks, and if you have hardwood, check for any bulges to determine if you have a problem with flooding.
- Invest in doors and windows
Doors and windows are an important investment and valuable addition to the overall worth of the property.
Redesigning the windows or changing the doors can add some elegance to the front side of your house.
Consider window tinting since the windows improved that way can stand as a special feature of your real estate, implying that this is an energy-efficient household.
Declutter the inside of your house
Now that the outside is poppin’, let’s work on the inside.
Does your house look like it belongs on an episode of Hoarders?
If so, you have some work to do.
Your aim is to enable potential buyers to visualize themselves living in the property. Therefore, you can create an illusion of a bigger space and enable them to really think about what they would do to the place if they lived there.
Keep away from decorating your house too much because it can be a distraction. Put away all family photos and art pieces you like because not all people share your taste.
As for the abundance of space, you can make the ceiling look higher by adding extra-long curtains to the windows or buying striped carpets or rugs that give the illusion of bigger space.
- Throw away the junk. 99% of what you have is JUNK
One easy way to make your home look nicer is to clean it up a bit and throw away anything you haven’t used in years.
If the inner-hoarder in you is freaking out, don’t freak. You don’t have to throw everything out, you just have to organize it better.
- Use storage bins
Buy large plastic storage bins, fill them up, stack them up and store them in the corner of the garage.
- Work on that closet
The closet is another area that could definitely use some decluttering. There are countless products to help organize your clothing.
The days of a horizontal bar and clothes hangers are over. You can find some great ideas on Pinterest and products at the Container Store.
- Make it squeaky clean
Nothing feels better than entering a clean home filled with pleasant smells. Take care of your windows, wash them thoroughly. Buyers will always notice a smudgy window.
It’s important to take care of it because the view through the window is also an important aspect of your house’s aesthetic.
Clean windows will also let more light into the rooms. If you have carpets, rugs, or leather furniture, it could take you ages to get them in top shape for selling.
Professionals advise that clean-looking carpets, rugs, and leather furniture significantly boost the chances of impressing any potential buyers.
Being welcoming to your viewers is desirable, but your dog’s enthusiastic greeting may not be to everyone’s liking.
Some people who visit might be allergic to dogs or cat’s hair, so make sure that they’re all comfortable with visiting your property.
Ask a neighbor to look after your pets during viewings if possible, or if not, you can always take them to a pet day care.
Give your kitchen an upgrade
One of the most important rooms of a home in regards to its selling price is the kitchen.
People today are mostly looking to buy a house that already has a reasonably polished kitchen.
You can solve that problem with simple updates, like installing new cabinet doors, worktops, handles and other minor adjustments.
If you’re feeling bold, you can replace tiles and floorings too. Just make sure to not stick to any DIY unless you’re completely confident in your skills – there’s no shame in hiring professionals to finish the job, and the expenses are sure to be worthwhile.
- Add a kitchen island
According to USA Today, 48 percent of homebuyers surveyed are willing to pay extra for a home with a kitchen island.
If you don’t have one, consider installing one and doing other updates to your kitchen to bring it up to the standards for features and aesthetics home shoppers expect these days.
It could increase the selling price of your home significantly.
- Change the countertops
Granite countertops are especially sought after. With just a few hundred dollars you can modernize the look of your kitchen.
- Change the microwave
Make sure your kitchen appliances are as new-looking as possible. Since we’re trying to save money, we’ll stay away from buying a new fridge.
But you can, however, buy a new microwave that matches the color of your refrigerator. Ideally, you’ll want all of your appliances to match, but the microwave is the cheapest of them to replace.
- Change the faucet and the sink
Give your kitchen a modern look and replace that old scratched up sink. A stainless steel sink will do wonders for the look of your kitchen.
- Change the handles on your kitchen cabinets
Finally, you can change the handles on your kitchen cabinets which shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
Repaint your walls
An easy home upgrade that can increase its selling price gives your walls a new coat of paint. Paint, like nearly everything, ages and begins to deteriorate over time. It can chip, stain and dull in color.
If that is the case, the aged paint on your home’s walls can negatively affect the home’s aesthetics and the entire atmosphere of individual rooms.
Repainting those walls gives you an opportunity to breathe new life into your home’s rooms.
- Choose the right colors
However, be strategic about the colors you choose. Certain colors can add up to $5,000 in a home’s selling price. However, unattractive color patterns can do the opposite.
Stick to neutral colors to brighten up the room and not turn off any potential buyers.
This is an easy DIY job, as all it requires is a few gallons of paint, paint rollers, painter’s tape, and a drop cloth. Use a glossy finish on bathrooms and kitchens and matte for the bedrooms and the living room.
Get rid of popcorn ceiling
You can call it an acoustic ceiling, a popcorn ceiling or a cottage cheese ceiling, but most new homeowners call it FUGLY.
Back in the 80’s popcorn ceiling was all the rage. But now, it’s not exactly the look new homeowners want – especially millennial homeowners.
While this project is a messy one, it’s possible to do on your own as it requires no technical knowledge.
Here’s a very basic guide on how to remove the ceiling on your own.
- 1. Move the furniture out of the room and lay a plastic covering on the floor
- 2. Next, spray the ceiling with water.
- 3. Use a knife to scrape off that outdated ceiling.
- 4. After letting the ceiling dry off overnight, sand the ceiling and paint it white.
You can find more in-depth step by step tutorials on YouTube.
Spruce up your bedroom
One of the most important rooms in your home is the master bedroom.
Buyers want to see that the room is spacious and will fit everything that they need, but also that it is a comfortable and cosy space that they can retreat to at the end of a hard day.
So it’s a great idea to take the time to clean and organize your bedroom, from the flooring to the dressers and everything in between.
Revamp the look of your bed quickly and easily by simply shopping for a new set of bed sheets.
Showcase a sparkling bathroom
Another room that can certainly impact the value of a home is the bathroom. If your bathrooms have been seriously neglected over the years, you better start giving them more attention.
Every bathroom in your home should be clean and pristine whenever you have homebuyers coming by to check out your property.
Make sure that you clean all of the tiles, as well as your tub, and make sure that the floors are also completely clean.
If your fixtures are dated, you can replace them easily and affordably, just as you did in your kitchen.
And you can add a little something extra to your bathroom by incorporating some cute decorative elements that make it feel like a spa retreat.
Install new flooring
This last one is going to hurt, I know. When you want to sell your house fast, you probably don’t have time (or money) to change the floor.
But if you want to sell your house for the maximum price possible (and sell it quickly), this one is a biggie.
When you can say in your listing that the house has new flooring, it eases new homeowners from the burden of having to replace it soon.
This can give your home the competitive edge it needs to sell faster than the competition.
As with the exterior, make sure to remove any signs of the damage, if there is some.
Start from the bottom since many people pay special attention to the floors. The floors are expected to be shiny, easy to clean and stylish.
Get rid of the old carpets and cover them with some tasty rugs. The kitchen and bathroom may need some work, but providing they are in good shape, make just a few changes like upgrading the appliances or repainting the walls.
Also, repaint the walls in living area and again choose the colors carefully.
Common mistakes first-time home-sellers make
Suppose you’re planning on selling your house. In that case, it goes without saying that you want to ensure the experience is rewarding instead of regrettable — especially since there are hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. You don’t get to rewind and do it again if you make an error.
To help you navigate this major transaction, here are 7 costly mistakes that many first-time home sellers make — but that you can wisely avoid:
Not properly pricing your home.
If the listing price of your home is too low, you’ll leave thousands of dollars on the table.
If the price is too high, then your home will remain on the market while comparable homes (“comps”) sell — which makes prospective buyers nervous and reluctant to make an offer.
Spending a lot of money on low-impact renovations.
Obviously, you want to boost your home’s appeal and overall value. But spending $50,000 on a new kitchen or renovating the basement might be a mistake — because you won’t get your money back when you sell.
If necessary, focus on relatively low-cost, high-impact renovations that help your home sell quickly and for a competitive price.
Not staging your home.
No, you don’t have to transform your home into a spa-like oasis. But you do need to make sure that your home shows well — both inside and out.
That means getting rid of clutter and junk, and making sure that your home’s “curb appeal” is very appealing indeed.
Using the same Realtor to buy and sell your home.
If you choose to use a Realtor (or another real estate professional), then make sure that he or she is not representing both you and a prospective buyer.
This creates a conflict of interest.
You want a Realtor who exclusively focuses on helping you sell your home for as much money as possible and within your desired timeframe if possible.
Not disclosing critical information.
You don’t have to tell prospective buyers that the den is where you broke down and started crying like a baby when your favorite team lost in the World Series.
But if you know for a fact that there is a family of raccoons living in your attic, or if your home’s foundation is sagging, then you must disclose this and other major issues.
Otherwise, you could end up in court and liable for costs plus damages.
Not have a great online profile.
You can assume that every prospective buyer out there — whether they’re a gadget-loving millennial or senior citizen — is going to spend considerable time looking at your property online before they consider attending an open house or booking a private showing.
If your profile is sub-standard — e.g., if the photos are blurry, if the video is amateur (or non-existent), and if you don’t showcase the benefits of the neighborhood and local amenities — then your house won’t make anyone’s shortlist.
Being around for the open house.
If you believe that prospective buyers appreciate you being in the next room when they tour your home, then, unfortunately, you’re wrong. They won’t be able to talk freely or candidly, which isn’t what you want.
Besides, hearing them criticize certain things about your house is likely to get your blood boiling, and you don’t need the added stress!
Wrapping it up
Selling your property might seem like an awful and time-consuming task, but if you invest in it the right way, you can go through that process stress-free.
Prepare yourself for providing information about your house and the local area, and keep an ear out to any feedback about your house you receive during the viewing or afterward from your estate agent – it may be helpful for future viewings.
Even though the house sale with all the required preparation may seem overwhelming, if you plan the project ahead and act timely, you will manage to go through the whole process smoothly and achieve your goal.
No need to wait for the market to improve when you can add value yourself, simply by taking into consideration these useful tips.
In the end, don’t hesitate to consult a qualified Realtor in your area since they can point you in the right direction concerning home improvements that will fit the market.
Before putting your house on the open market, give yourself some time to perform some basic renovations and home improvement projects.
Just taking the time to make these changes will make a real difference that will increase the value and sale price of your home.