Prepare Your Home to Sell

in Home

The current Ellensburg and Cle Elum real estate markets are going through some tough times. As a Seller you want to make sure your house stands out from the many homes currently listed. I have come up with a list of items that can help to fetch the highest price possible as well as reduce the marketing period of your home.

Curb Appeal 

Great curb appeal can give a prospective Buyer a great feeling about your home before they even get out of the car. Below are some great curb appeal tips which are mostly quick and inexpensive to complete.

1. Sweep walkways, driveways and spray or pull weeds.

2. Repair broken and cracked areas of the walkways and driveway. There is nothing worse than a Buyer tripping on uneven concrete on the way to your front door. This will quickly leave a bad impression on any prospective Buyer.

3. Cut the grass regularly and make sure bushes are trimmed. Good yard maintenance will give a prospective Buyer the feeling that you also maintain your home well. Hoses and yard equipment should be stored away for a neat and tidy look to the yard.

4. Fencing should appear to be in good condition, a new coat of paint/stain will do wonders to a weathered fence. Also make sure the gate is functional as a Buyer will likely use this during the viewing of your home and yard.

5. Make sure the house numbers are visible and the mailbox is easily identifiable and in good condition. Your may want to wash or paint the mailbox to give it a new look. Old dingy mailboxes will catch the attention of a prospective Buyer as an item that will need replacement before they even get down your driveway.

6. New exterior paint will really catch the attention of prospective Buyers but this can have substantial costs and is not a home improvement most people feel comfortable doing themselves. An alternative may a low pressure-wash rinse of the siding, especially if dirt, grime or deposits from the lawn sprinklers has accumulated on the siding. Sometimes just painting the exterior trim is enough to give the home a fresh look.

7. Clear cob webs and dirt from porches and patios.

8. Clean the exterior of the windows and make sure the screens are clean and allow a prospective Buyer to easily see through them from the inside of the home. Torn window screens should be repaired or replaced. Windows which have broken seals are often foggy and difficult to see through. Replacement of these windows is recommended as it is usually an item which will come up at the time of inspection.

9. Make sure the doorbell works, this is a common forgotten item.

10. Replace light bulbs which have burned out. Well lit walkways, driveway and patios/decks give a great impression on the maintenance of a home as well as a feeling of safety for your home; nobody likes to walk around an unfamiliar house in the dark.

11. Clean out gutter and downspouts. Repair or replace leaking and broken sections, especially the areas which are most visible from the front of the home.

12. Make sure the roof is clear of branches, leaves and moss. Replace broken and missing shingles. If the roof is in poor condition it is best to replace it before listing your home. This will not be cheap but finding a buyer and getting financing on a home which needs a roof replacement is difficult.

13. Sweep and clean up the garage. Many people use this as an extra storage space rather than actually parking cars. Tiding up a bit will help a prospective buyer see both the storage potential and size of the garage for parking.

14. An infestation of ants, termites or other bugs is usually a big concern to prospective Buyers. It is best to spray or better yet use the services of an exterminator as this will often be brought up by a home inspector later in the process.

Inside Your Home

The inside of your home should appear to be as bright, spacious and clean as possible. This may mean moving furniture or placing in items into storage. The inside of all rooms should have clean windows, clean floors, professionally cleaned carpet to maximize a “new” appearance and clean walls which are free from cracks and damage.

Below are some tips for specific living areas of your home.

Living Room

The living room is typically the first room a prospective Buyer will view. Even if you never use it make sure it is ready to show. I recommend having clean drapes/blinds, easy to navigate pathways which may mean removing or re-arranging furniture, a clean fireplace and try to keep pillows and blankest tucked away on the furniture rather than the floor. Make sure you maximize the light of the room which typically will mean opening drapes/blinds or adding a light or two.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is often the busiest living area in the home and often a gathering place for families. Your want this room to be clean from grease, grime and odors. Make sure countertops are free from all but the most essential small appliances as this will give the appearance of an abundance of counter space. Clean out the cabinets and keep only essential items stored in them. This will give the appearance of more storage potential to a prospective buyer. Make sure the cabinet knobs are tightened and all drawers open and close with ease. Appliances should all be in working order and cleaned. Pay special attention to the stove and oven top which may require drip trays/burner reflectors to be replaced.

Bathrooms

Thoroughly clean all surfaces including the toilet bowl exterior and caulk around the bathtub. Cracked tiles, flaking paint, mold growth, dripping faucets/fixtures should all be repaired or replaced. Personal items should be stored away and towels should be neatly hung. Lastly an air freshener or potpourri will can add a fragranced smell to the air.

Bedrooms

Keep clothes and personal items stored away. Open the drapes/blinds to maximize the light in the room. Keep closest well organized so that a prospective Buyer will have an impression of the large and well laid out closets and storage areas. I recommend re-painting bedrooms which are painted in a theme, such as a child’s room, to a neutral tone as a themed room will not typically match a Buyer’s preference.

Family/Recreation Rooms

These rooms are often the most difficult to keep consistently cleaned as they are heavily used. When possible keep all games/movies stored away, couches lined up and pillows/blankets tucked away.

Additional Tips

Noise

Road noise, nearby commercial activity, airports or other negative noise influences can often be canceled out with some low volume music in the background. Usually light classical or instrumental tracks are best, just loud enough to take a potential Buyer’s attention off the offending sounds and refocused onto the positive ambiance of your home.

Odors

Odors are a huge issue for most prospective Buyers. The strong smell of smoke, pets and food can be a huge turnoff. Often times completely removing these smells require the interior to be painted, carpet to be replaced or professionally cleaned and furniture to be cleaned. This can come with substantial costs which you may not want to incur before the listing, especially if the offending odor will just be reintroduced during the listing period. Cleaning pet boxes regularly is usually a quick and efficient way to reduce pet odors.

Pets

If you have pets it is best to try and keep them in the back yard, the garage, an outbuilding or a laundry room. A barking dog or feisty cat will distract a prospective Buyer’s attention away from your home.

Personal Items/Pictures

I recommend taking down personal pictures of family and, when possible, replacing with more neutral photos or art. Prospective Buyers typically have an easier time envisioning themselves in the home when they are not reminded that you are currently occupying it.

Take a coffee break or run a couple of errands

When your home is being viewed by a prospective Buyer it is best for you to be absent. The Agent and prospective Buyer will be more open to talk about the perceived positives and negatives of your home and will feel more comfortable in taking their time during the showing. The longer a prospective Buyer is in your home the more comfortable they feel and the more likely they are to remember your house when making a final decision on what home is right for them.

Vacant Homes

If your home is already vacant it is important that the home is checked on regularly to make sure the home remains in market ready condition. Keeping the heat on is a cost that will pay off in the listing period as prospective Buyers will have a much better feeling about the home during the showing and will be more willing a view it for a longer period of time. Having someone cut the lawn regularly and keep the landscaping watered is very important in our dry Ellensburg and Cle Elum climates which can kill off plants and flowers in a couple of short weeks, especially during the Summer months.

Staging

A vacant home which is sparsely furnished or empty will often come across as cold and unwelcoming during a showing. When financially feasible, I recommend staging a vacant home as a staged home will typically sell for a higher amount and sells quicker on the market. We have some great options in the Ellensburg real estate staging community and I will be happy to help you find a vendor which meets your staging needs.

Author Box
joeltax has 3 articles online

I have over a decade of experience in marketing and valuing real estate in the Ellensburg real estate and Cle Elum real estate markets. I am in a unique position of being both a Real Estate Broker and Certified Appraiser in the State of Washington. This has helped me see the market from many angles which I feel benefits the Sellers and Buyers I represent.

Joel Tax
Real Estate Broker
RE/MAX Community Realty
http://www.joeltax.com
http://www.crescentappraisal.com

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Prepare Your Home to Sell

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This article was published on 2011/03/31