Preparing to Sell

Indoor and Outdoor Cleaning

A thorough whole-house cleaning really helps your home be more attractive to a buyer. A buyer will walk through your home and make assumptions about how well you have maintained the home, often based on how clean the home is. Don’t forget some of these easy to overlook items:

  • outside the front of your home: mow, rake, weed, and trim
  • oil squeaky door hinges and wash the door/entryway windows
  • clean light fixtures and switch plates
  • clean all appliances
  • clean curtains, drapes, and blinds

Repair Broken or Malfunctioning Items

Even minor broken items tell a buyer that this home has not been well-maintained, and buyers tend to overestimate the cost and effort necessary to fix a leaky faucet or broken door closer. More and more home buyers are not mechanically inclined and look at the easiest small fix-it project and think about how much it will cost for a professional to fix this problem. Don’t forget some of these easy to overlook items needing repair:

  • doorknobs (interior and exterior), doorbells, locks, and cabinet knobs
  • toilets, leaky faucets, and slow drains
  • window sash cords, locks, and storm windows
  • superficial cracks on the walls or ceiling
  • all appliances
  • peeling wallpaper or paint

Remove Personal Property To Make Room Look Larger

Most homes have too many things in them, and it makes the house look small and lacking storage space. Furniture, clothes, shoes, toys, boxes, and almost anything can cause clutter. Visit a model home and notice how little furniture is displayed in the home. Reducing the furniture and other things helps the buyer see your home better and also makes it look larger. If possible, do not store all this extra furniture and other stuff in your closets, as that makes your closets look small. Same with your basement. Ideally, you will store the stuff away from your home at a storage facility or friends house. If that is not possible consider storing it in the garage. Don’t forget these items that often create a cluttered look:

  • old or off-season coats, hats, and boots
  • wall hangings and posters
  • kitchen appliances (especially important because they obscure counter space)
  • old clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • books, collectibles, or collections of any kind
  • sports and recreational equipment

Use Paint To Improve Home’s Image

Painting is often recognized as the “improvement” project that has the best impact on the price than any other work you can do. Paint accomplishes two important goals for making your home look its best: (1) it brightens a room, making it look bigger and fresher, and (2) paint makes a home look like it was better maintained and that it needs less work by the buyer. These key goals are best accomplished by sticking to neutral colors (most agents swear by off white) because that is what appeals to the most people. One possible exception to this painting rule is with woodwork in need of stripping, sanding, and refinishing. Resist the temptation to paint it rather than the greater work required by refinishing it. Often worn, unpainted woodwork is better than freshly painted woodwork that would require stripping to recover the original look of wood. Don’t forget some of these small painting projects that can really improve the look of your home:

  • front door, front storm door, and froont doot frame
  • mailbox, exterior light fixtures (especially near the front door)
  • shutters, downspouts, gutters, and other exterior trim
  • any areas with stains from old problems that have been corrected

Projects To Avoid

Improvement projects rarely pay for themselves. Consider a home improvement only if you have time, it involves an important area of the home such as the view from the street, the front door/entryway, the kitchen, or main bathrooms. The only exception to this general rule is when you are “completing an image” that directly appeals to a buyer. For example, say your home has an updated furnace, electrical, and plumbing systems, but your roof will need to be replaced in less than a year. In this example, you should consider a new roof because your home will be fully updated and will appeal even to buyers that are afraid of doing updates themselves.

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SUITE 550 Fishers, IN 46038

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