- Go around the perimeter of the house and remove trash and debris. Place garbage cans in the garage or out of sight.
- Check exterior trim and sidings for wood rot and peeling paint.
- Make sure gutters are free of leaves and debris and are in good condition.
- Apply fresh paint as needed and replace damaged bricks or wood siding.
- Inspect all plants and remove dead or dying ones. Prune trees and bushes that block the path to the front door or that are blocking windows.
- Weed and clean flower beds and add fresh colorful plants as needed.
- Keep the lawn neat and mowed
- Keep the driveway, walkways, and steps clear of water hoses, tools, toys or bicycles.
- Repair any cracked or broken windows and replace old or torn screens.
- Be sure the faucets and sprinkler systems are in good working order.
- If you have a pool or spa, be sure it sparkles.
- Keep the patio or deck area clean and uncluttered. Make it inviting to prospective buyers.
- Pay special attention to the front entry area and the front door. Paint or refinish the front door in necessary. Clean the porch lights and put out a new welcome mat.
- In the garage remove all unnecessary items, clean floor and tidy the shelves.
- Clean up.
- Remove clutter and organize. Clear out everything but the essentials. Sell or give away the things you don’t use and store the rest elsewhere even if you must rent a storage unit.
- Keep stairways clear and clean to avoid injuries around your house.
- Pare down closets and make sure there is plenty of space so it doesn’t appear that there is not enough storage.
- Rearrange furniture to create a roomy atmosphere.
- Clean draperies, blinds, carpets, windows, and walls. If an item can’t be cleaned paint it or replace it.
- The air-conditioner, heater, kitchen appliances, plumbing and electrical systems must be in good working order.
- Fix even the small things that need it, such as drippy faucets, non-working electrical outlets, light switches, ceiling fans or garage door openers.
- Bathrooms need special attention – sparkling clean is the key. Add new shower curtains, towels and floor mats.
- The kitchen is one of the most important areas. Clean it – the counters, the floor, the pantry, the cupboards, under the sink and even under the refrigerator. Clean counters of clutter and small appliances.
- Replace light bulbs with higher wattage bulbs where possible.
- Depersonalize. Remove excess family photos and such things as sports trophies, political posters, music posters, or pictures that you think someone might find offensive.
Two Special Issues
- If you have pets, determine if there is any area (preferably outside or in your garage) where you can confine them when potential buyers visit. If possible send pets to a pet daycare, to a family member, to friends or take them with you.
- Be aware of odors. They very seriously influence buyers. Be cautious of smells from cooking, smoking, pets, or baby’s room. Use commercial deodorizers and give the house a fresh clean smell. Covering up with potpourri or burning candles is not always the answer.
When the Buyers Come to Look
- Turn all the lights on, even if it is daytime.
- Open all draperies, curtains, shades, and blinds
- Tidy up the house. There should be no dirty dishes in the sink, no unmade beds, no magazines, papers or toys scattered around.
- Keep the house a comfortable temperature.
- Turn off TV’s and radios. Either play soft background music or nothing.
- Leave the house during visits. Buyers often feel like intruders and are uncomfortable if the seller is present. They will often rush to leave.
- If you must be home, let the real estate agent show your house. Do not follow them around or try to engage in conversation with the buyer.