Bob Melvey

Managing BrokerWindermere Real Estate

Preparing Your Home for Sale

If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, spending some time and money on market preparation can help you achieve a higher sale price in considerably less time.

The first rule is to focus your efforts on first impression items. Walk across the street and look at your house as if you are seeing it for the first time. Does the roof look worn and discolored? If so, it may be possible to "bring it back" with a professional cleaning which is much cheaper than a new roof. Are the gutters loose or downspouts disconnected? Bent or sagging gutters or slanting downspouts can create the illusion of an unsound house. How does the landscaping look? A manicured lawn with well-defined edges sends a message that the house is well maintained. The same holds true for cleaned flower beds. Bushes, trees and shrubs should be pruned to allow the maximum amount of light into the house.

How does the paint look? Again, a simple cleaning can go a long way in improving the appearance. If touch-up painting is necessary, focus your efforts on the front porch first. Buyers will be inspecting this area at close range while their agent fidgets with the key box or waits for the owner to answer the door. Examine the walkway leading up to the porch. Is the concrete badly cracked? A very effective way of dealing with cracks is to fill them with an attractive ground cover such as Baby Tears for shady, moist areas or Green Carpet for sunny, dry locations. Potted plants lining the walkway or sitting on the porch can add color to an entrance area. Flowering cabbage and kale are good for winter months, while geraniums are excellent for warmer times.

Let's go inside now. Before even looking around, smell the air. The sense of smell is extremely powerful, and odors remain in a buyer's memory longer than wall colors or bedroom sizes. Mildew, cigarette smoke, and odors from food and pets are the main culprits. Fireplace smoke odors can raise questions about how well the fireplace works. Painting walls and ceilings, and cleaning drapes and carpeting will take care of most odors, however some pet odors can only be dealt with by removing the affected carpeting.

Now look at the entry, living room and dining room. Do they get plenty of natural light? Put simply, sunlight sells! Washing windows inside and out can really help. Window screens block an amazing amount of light, so it is best to remove them if possible. Light paint colors are good too, however avoid bone white or whites with bluish tones. Whites with a yellow tint will appear much warmer and sunnier. Place lights in dark corners. This will help brighten the room and make it feel larger as well. Leave these lights on at all times while the home is on the market.

A sparsely furnished room is preferable because it will also make the home feel larger. It also leaves some space for the buyer to mentally "move in" and place their own furniture. Bedrooms should also be made to appear as large as possible. Although it is often not practical to remove any furniture in a bedroom, cleaning off dresser tops will help dramatically. Placing items you use regularly in small baskets gives a clean look and is still practical for everyday living. Keeping beds made and clothes in the closet will help as well. Bathrooms and kitchens should be clean, bright, and appear well organized. Use small baskets on bathroom counters to reduce the clutter of cosmetics and other toiletries. In the kitchen, keep countertops as bare as possible. Buyers will be mentally moving in their microwaves, toaster ovens, and food processors, so leave plenty of room for them!

There is a saying in the real estate business that "the way you live in a house and the way you sell a house are two different things." Living in a home that is prepped for the marketing "blitz" can be inconvenient at times but the hassles are definitely outweighed by the benefits you will receive.