When you’re selling your home in a challenging housing market, you can’t overlook any opportunity to boosting its appeal. There are obvious upgrades you need to be concerned with—like replacing an obviously worn-out roof, painting tired walls, and updating appliances—but what efforts are going to give you the best return on the investment of time and money?
Here are some quick tips to add value and help you sell your home faster.
- De-clutter. Yes, it seems obvious that your home should be presentable, but you may not even realize what “presentable” means to a real estate sale. Before you welcome potential buyers into your home, get rid of as much clutter as possible. The fewer personal items—from toys to photos to dust collecting décor—the easier a browser can see themselves at home here. Pack up belongings, including extra furniture—like occasional tables and oversized chairs that can shrink a room—that aren’t essential to your daily life and store them in your attic, basement, or nearby storage unit. This step will also save you time when you’re packing to move.
- Clean. The cleanliness of your home is a reflection of the care you’ve taken to maintain it. Dirty windows, dusty ceiling fans, smudges on doors and light switches, and spots on the floors reflect the quality of your regular maintenance. If you can’t take care of the small things, you cause doubt about how you handle the bigger issues. Hire a good cleaning service that will come in with a full crew and do everything from ceilings and vents to nooks and crannies. Power wash your home’s exteriors, patio, and driveway. Once all this is done, it’s easier to maintain your clean house.
- Spruce up your curb appeal. The exterior of your home is the first impression that buyers get. Make it positive. Drive around and look for homes that have an attractive exterior. Make notes on what you like. It could be painting the exterior, removing dead shrubs, repaving the walkway or driveway, cleaning up the porch, or replacing the mailbox.
- Neutralize the colors. You might like your bold color choices, but some buyers are turned off by the idea that they may have to immediately change your daughter’s hot pink bedroom, the very bold stripes in your powder room, or the sunny yellow kitchen that you thought was such a happy color. You can improve the appeal by changing your unique color choices to something lighter and neutral.
- Purge the pet odors. Anyone who has owned a dog or cat knows that there is a smell that goes with sharing your home with pets. Although our noses become accustomed to those smells, they’re obvious to guests. Steam-clean your rugs and carpets, have upholstery cleaned if your animals like to perch there, and be sure litterboxes are kept clean, and hidden when browsers come to look. Your goal should be for any visitor to be completely unaware that a pet lives in the house.
- Clean your closets. When you’re de-cluttering your house, the first inclination is to tuck things away in your closet. But your browsers will be opening every door. Remove everything from your closets. Dispose of what you can and keep the contents simple, which makes your closets seem more spacious than if they’re overflowing. Aim for having 20 to 30 percent of open space in each closet.
- Price it right. The price of your house when it goes on the market is essential. If it’s priced too high and sits there, unsold, you lose the impact that a home has in the first 30 days it’s on the market. A good real estate agent has a keen eye for pricing a home. If you think an agent is setting the price too low, talk to others. And look at the agent’s track record of selling homes quickly.
- List it everywhere. Most buyers today begin their home search online, with sites likes Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. Make sure your home is included.
- Make it picture perfect. Photos can make the difference between a prospect choosing to personally tour your home to passing it right by. You can provide your own photos, ask your real estate agent to take them, or hire someone with experience. Just be sure that each image makes your home look inviting, uncluttered, bright, and spacious.
- Play up the neighborhood. Location is key to making the sale, so in addition to putting your home in the best light, include some details on the neighborhood. Mention the friendliness of the neighborhood, access to useful services and quality schools, and special attractions that add appeal to your home.