Would you buy a house if the carpets were dirty or the living room walls a lurid green? Probably not. So, if you’re selling your house, you need to ensure that it is attractive to potential buyers. Preparing your home for an invasion of house hunters is one of the most important steps in the house selling process. Here are some top tips on how to get your home ready to show.
- Go over your entire property with a critical eye.
Inspect the garden, the exterior and the interior; you’re looking for anything that needs fixing, painting, tidying and cleaning. In particular, look for cracks, leaks and peeling paint or wallpaper, as well as damp patches, mould and damaged plaster. Identify the items that need work and work out a plan of action and, if necessary, a budget. You don’t have to go large and redo the bathroom and kitchen, but you might need to give your house a couple of licks of paint and fix a few leaky gutters. So be prepared to spend a little money.
- Clean everything.
Whatever your inspection reveals, you need to clean everything. And we mean everything. Use a high-pressure hose to clean the outside walls and the driveway. Get your carpets steam cleaned and hire a cleaning service to get your house spick-and-span for open days. Don’t forget the things you’ve been meaning to do for ages, like clean the fridge and tidy your cupboards. People who are working their way through show houses are encouraged to look in every nook and cranny to find faults – don’t let them find any with your home.
- Get rid of clutter.
You’d be surprised at the amount of junk you can amass in a couple of years, even if you’re not a compulsive hoarder. All of this clutter gives the impression of untidiness (which is not a winner with people looking over your show house) and it takes up valuable space. People looking over show houses typically want lots of space, so you need to create the impression of roominess, even if none exists. Getting rid your clutter and aiming for a minimalist look for the duration of the selling process will help sell your house quickly.
Tip: Rent storage space if you can’t bear to part with any of your things. Storage doesn’t cost much and you can fit an amazing amount of stuff in even the smallest spaces available. Otherwise have a car boot sale or put items up for sale on eBay and anything that doesn’t sell can go to charity.
- Be neutral.
This works on two levels: 1) You need to start viewing your house objectively, which will make it easier to let go once you sell it, and 2) You need to repaint any brightly coloured walls with neutral, earthy tones. So, pack away all of your personal items (family pictures, homemade ashtrays and souvenirs) and crack open the eggshell white paint.
- Implement a maintenance schedule.
It’s not enough to give your house and your garden a thorough once-over and hope for the best. You don’t know how long your home will be up for sale, so you need to maintain its show-readiness by keeping everything clean and tidy.
If all of this is too much for you – life can be hectic, after all – then get a cleaning service to come in regularly until your house is sold. The expense is worth it.
Pay as much attention to the outside as the inside. So keep that lawn mowed, the flower beds neat, the bushes pruned and the weeds under control.
Tips for show house day
- Open all the curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. And then turn on your lights to really put a shine on things.
- Open all the doors and windows half an hour before the open house day begins, to breathe fresh air through your home. Spray some air freshener in each room before house hunters arrive, giving it enough time to disperse properly (use gentle scents like fresh linen or vanilla and avoid things like strawberries and cream and citrus).
- Make sure all wires and extension cords are hidden or at least neatly held together.
- Make sure the garden is clean of all pet leavings.
- Put fresh flowers on the coffee or dining table.
- Put fresh towels in the bathroom – no wet towels hanging askew.
- Put out a new doormat, to make viewers feel really welcome.
- Test the doorbell – it would be awful if you lost a potential buyer because you didn’t know they were there.
If you take proper care of your home and highlight the selling points, then it will practically sell itself. All you need is a little bit of elbow grease and a modest budget to see to minor repairs and refurbishments. And remember, if you’re not sure what your home’s selling points are, you can always ask your estate agent for some advice.