Posted on April 15, 2014 - 11:30 AM
by Erika Napoletano, trulia.com
Ever heard the phrase, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?” When it comes to selling your home and boosting curb appeal to the widest range of buyers, the distance you need to think about is far less than a mile: it simply runs from your front curb to your back fence. The moment you even begin to think of putting your home up for sale is the time to start thinking like a buyer.
Because thinking like a buyer will help you make your home move-in ready for just the right buyer (or maybe even a bevy of bidding buyers). The less they think they have to change, the shorter the distance will be between the viewing, their offer, and the day you say, “Sold.”
Host a pre-listing party. Invite a few (and I mean a few) trusted friends over for an inventory. Make some cocktails and go from room to room in your home asking what they would either (A) change if they were to buy your house, or (B) see as a red flag if they were a potential buyer. This can give you an extra set of non-real-estate-influenced eyes on your home and help you create a solid list of potential improvements to discuss with your Realtor before you list.
Consult with a great agent. Now that you have your friends’ opinions, run them by an expert. See which problems you should address before listing and which fixes won’t be of financial benefit.
De-clutter. Closets get full. Extra pieces of furniture get crammed into corners. Bookshelves overflow with odds and ends. Help the potential buyers see your actual home and not the stuff in your home by moving out the extras. Every closet in your home should show off the entirely of the storage space. Every room of your home should scream “possibilities” instead of “I can’t fit one more thing in here.” Try renting a portable storage unit that can be delivered to your home. This way, you can box up extras, and they’ll be ready to be delivered to your next dream home. In the meantime, you’ll be making room for someone else’s dreams.
Clean out the garage. The future owners of your home want to know that their cars can fit into the garage. While it might seem harsh (and everyone you know uses the garage for storage), no one wants to see the garage filled to the brim with bike parts, boxes, and haphazard clutter. Remember that portable storage unit? Move it on out and make some room for folks to imagine parking their dream car on the left hand side.
Think neutral. It’s hard for potential buyers to see themselves in a home that has you written all over it. This goes for brightly painted walls, wall murals, and wallpaper trim. Since your home is soon to not be your home anymore, consider taking any brightly or bold-colored walls or those areas with specialty wallpaper or mural trim back to neutral. A simple beige satin wall paint with a semi-gloss white or off-white paint trim can do wonders for giving potential buyers the “blank canvas” feeling. You want future owners to be dreaming of picking out paint — not how to get rid of not-right-for-them color decisions.
Grout, tile, and natural stone restoration. Have your bathrooms and kitchen counters lost their luster? You might want to look into having them refreshed (and it’s much less expensive than having them redone). Check sites like Angie’s List for contractors in your area offering deals for natural stone, tile, and grout restoration. For not a lot of money, you can kick up the shine on your tiling and counters and get that long-neglected grout back to clean. That “exploding pizza” incident in your kitchen and that red hair dye on your white bathroom grout could be history in an afternoon — and on a dime.
Make those hardwood floors spiffy. Send the kids off to the park and the pets off to doggie daycare for the day, and get those floors gleaming. Wash all surfaces with a simple mild, soapy water first (avoid Murphy’s Oil Soap — it leaves a residue). Next, use a hardwood floor polish like Bona or a product like Rejuvenate to bring the beauty back — and all for under $40-$50 for the average sized home. Be sure to use the cleaners recommended by each product to prevent buildup and to keep the shine going through your whole listing. There’s nothing that can kill a deal like your perfect buyer thinking that they have to refinish a few thousand square feet of hardwood. Help them see hope, not hardwood-related dollar signs. A trip to your local home improvement store can yield some recommendations for your specific types of floors and the desired sheen you want to achieve.