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Tips for Preparing to Sell Your Home

By Brett Vance

Once you have made the decision to sell your home, it is time to take a fresh look at its condition. There are numerous factors that will affect how quickly your home sells. Whether the real estate market is prosperous or in a slump, the things you do to prepare your home will determine your success against market competition.

Begin with the approach to the front of your home. A neatly manicured lawn is essential. If there are spots where the grass has thinned, then it is time to over seed or replace the area with matured grass squares. You should make this decision by determining what works best for the time of year and what type of grass you have planted. Also, your hedges should all be trimmed neatly. Next, think about the curb appeal of your home in terms wanting a new owner to call it “home.” You may have walked across your lawn and along your sidewalk so many times that you no longer notice the things others would see immediately. If you cannot see a to-do list in the making when you look at the front of your home, ask a neighbor or trusted friend to give you their honest opinion. A second set of eyes on the project is always beneficial.

Flowers and seasonal beds are always an excellent idea. Before you plant flowers, walk out to your curb and see where the addition would make the most impact. Sometimes this may be around a mailbox or in front of the bushes around the house. The idea is to get bright color to the eyes of a prospective buyer. Multicolored beds can be attractive, but a solid, bright color such as yellow, red or orange will gain the most attention. This bed does not have to be a great expense. Determine the size bed you would like to have, but remember, don’t plant the flowers sparsely. You are trying to sell your home immediately, not in 5 years when the bed matures. Plan to spend enough money to allow the flowers to be dense in order to make the maximum effect from the day you plant them. If the expense is too great, then reduce the size of the bed. Fullness is far more important than the amount of ground you cover.

Once you have planted your bed, you might consider flowers in one more area, by the front door in a planter. After your new flower bed has captured the attention of a buyer, they will proceed to the front door and the new flower bed is behind them. Make another impact at the front door. While they wait to go in, they will notice this touch. Again, plant the pot as densely as possible to look established.

Some other things to consider while you are working on your home’s curb appeal is any sanding, filling, replacing and painting that needs to be done on the home’s trim. Flaking paint and rotted wooden trim are signs to a buyer that the home has not been cared for appropriately. Also, clean all of your glass windows and doors and sweep any cobwebs from around front door and eves of the home.

Your backyard is also important. While you might not spend as much time and money as with the front, you need to make sure it is a clean space that will allow the new owner to envision its potential. Keep it manicured. Mow the grass, trim the hedges and trees and clear any debris that is unsightly. If you maintain a wood pile, then you should make sure that it is stacked neatly and in a discreet location. While flower beds are not a necessity here, you may consider planting a small bed close to or in the line of sight of the door that exits into the backyard. A planter would also work well here. If you have children’s play equipment or other large objects that could make the backyard seem smaller, then it is time to go ahead and remove those and prepare them for your move. You will have to do this anyway once your home is sold, so do it before the buyers see it.

There are a few things you can do inside the home as well to make sure you have a good showing. First, reduce the clutter. You have made the decision to move and it is a good time to make decisions about what will be going with you. A garage sale is a great idea because it allows you to purge previous decades of things that you no longer use, but have been hauling around for years. Approach each room in your home as if you were seeing it for the first time. It should be free of clutter. A good idea is to remove everything from the room except the large pieces. When you reload, make sure that the furniture is arranged in such a way that allows for easy traffic through the room. Then add back just enough accessories to make the room look warm, but not over decorated. We all have the tendency to place things on a table or in a room and just leaving it there. We get used to it. But during a showing, a potential buyer will be analyzing the room for placement of their own furniture. The less clutter you have, the easier it will be for them to do this. When you place accessories back in the room, keep it to a minimum. Try doing groupings of 3 on tables. If you have large collections, just display a few and pack the rest away for the move. Like objects are also good to group. Do this for each room of your home.

Next, you should pay attention to the conditions of your walls, floors and ceilings. If your walls and moldings have lots of marks, the buyer will notice. If the spots cannot be removed with a cloth and cleaner, then a paint touch up is in order. Some areas may require just a brush touch up and others, in high traffic areas, may require painting an entire wall with a roller. Clean your floors as well. There are many products for wood and tile floors today that can clean and restore a close to original look. Carpets should also be spot cleaned or you should hire a professional carpet cleaner to do entire rooms if there are large areas of discoloration from heavy wear. Finally, look up! What is the condition of your ceilings? Are there areas that have old water stains or cracks? These need attention as well. If there are leaks, then they need to be repaired and the stains need to be sealed and freshly painted. Cracks need to be filled and painted. You are trying to return your home to the condition it was at the time of your move in or perhaps even better.

A final thought. If you are unsure about what to repair in your home, ask professionals. Your real estate agent has been walking their clients through homes for years and has a wealth of knowledge as to what turns buyers on and off of a property. Ask them to assess your home. Additionally, when it comes time to close, most likely an inspection will be performed on behalf of the buyer. You might consider hiring an inspector yourself and use their report to make necessary repairs. This will avoid you having to face an unknown at the time of a sale. Make these projects fun and involve the family. A little attention to detail before your home goes on the market will pay off as your home becomes the most desirable in the neighborhood and hopefully yields the best price.

Brett Vance is a contributing writer for the Atlanta Design Directory.
Copyright © 2007, Brett Vance
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Page last modified on April 4, 2015.

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