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Real Estate Advice: Setting the Stage for 'Sold'

Getting ready to sell your home? 10 of 15 tips on "Setting the stage for Sold".

Selling your home can be hard for anyone to wrap their mind around. All of the ins and outs of the process, finding your new home, moving, gulp and the list goes on and on. The best thing you can do is to hire professionals to help guide you through the process and give you all the information that you need to make the best decision for you and your family’s future.

The first item, when you decide to sell, is that your home is no longer your home. It has now become a property or an asset that you need to liquidate. All of the work you have done to make it yours, surprisingly, may now become a hindrance in the selling process. Do not take it as a personal insult when a Buyer comes through and hates all the faux painting that you spent hours on or the forest green carpet that you dearly love. Separate yourself from the “Home” mentality to the “Asset” mentality and you will save yourself a whole lot of frustration later.

When selling a property it’s kind of like a romance. You have to set the mood and show off your best side and minimize the areas that need some work! For this you can hire a professional or try the following 15 easy steps to “Setting the stage to sold”.

  1. Clear out the clutter.   All buyers like open, spacious looking rooms even if they are not so spacious when looking at a tape measure. So clear out your stuff to achieve the illusion of space. Put the extra furniture you don’t need but want to keep into storage, (maybe in Grandmas basement) sell or donate it. Take down those adorable family photos and the kids favorite posters, pack up the knickknacks and make the fridge clear of all artwork and things to do lists! It is especially important to keep all hallways and doorways clear of clutter. Remember, you want the buyer to envision their possessions in their future home not be overwhelmed by all of your stuff!
  2. Use counter intelligence. Let those counters shine through! Go and clean off all of the counters in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. Put the counter appliances away, throw out any old magazines you have sitting around, read and sort through your stack of mail, buyers do not need to see all of that. You want the property to convey the look of lots of counter space not the fact that you use such and such laundry detergent and you’re late paying your electric bill.
  3. Be a Bloodhound.   A home should smell good but not of the latest new air freshener scent. We become immune to the smells in our homes so I suggest having a friend come over to be the Bloodhound and point out the odors that need to be eliminated. This is the friend who is not too afraid of offending you but will be honest in what he or she truly sniffs! The top three odor issues within a home are usually cooking odors, pet odor and smoking. You should not try and mask the odor causing sources within the property but go to the source and get rid of it. We will touch more on this one later.
  4. Illuminate.   A dark home is hard to sell. Clean all of those light fixtures and in very dark rooms like bathrooms with no windows I suggest replacing existing light bulbs with GE Reveal bulbs. Yes, I know they are not as energy efficient but they give off a beautiful, bright, full spectrum lumen that is so much brighter than standard energy efficient light bulbs. When buyers come to view your property turn all those clean, sparkly lights on!
  5. Keep it clean.  Buyers perceive a clean house to a home that has been taken better care of. Clean everything….baseboards, molding, air vents, interior and exterior doors and door frames, cabinets, walls, tile, carpets, ceiling fans, windows, flooring, kitchens (yes, I mean the stove burners and oven, microwave and fridge especially) and bathrooms. Replace furnace and air intake filters, fix that drippy faucet, caulk and patch all of those nail holes then re-paint. Repair all those items that you haven’t gotten around to and that, if you where a buyer, you would want to see maintained on the home you are buying. Better yet, be pro-active and get a home inspection. Don’t forget to clean out and organize the garage and basement! The most important item in this section is to keep it clean and neat for every showing! Some of my favorite products are: For walls and plastic items like door handles on the fridge use a magic eraser, amazing. Use Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean the cabinets then use Old English scratch cover on all of your non painted cabinet surfaces. It is available for light or dark wood and will make most cabinets look almost like new. Goof off and simple green are your friends!
  6. Avoid offense.   The last thing a seller needs is to go to all of the work to make your property shine above all other properties and the buyer takes offence to something you didn’t think about putting away and there goes an opportunity out the front door. Take the trophy deer heads off the wall and pack them, make sure there are no provocative or controversial items or magazines laying around, religious or spiritual items should be minimized or packed. In the master bedroom, well, let’s just say, make sure nothing is left out that could cause great embarrassment to all parties who witness them. (Blush)
  7. Clean out closets.   Go through all of the closets and cabinets in the property. If you are not using it pack it up or get rid of it. Buyers do look and partially empty closets and cabinets look roomy and space sells. Under the cabinets that have had a leaky faucet I suggest making sure the leak is fixed then lining the water damaged cabinet floor with a scrap piece of linoleum or vinyl shelf paper.
  8. Embrace the White.   Bright, beautiful wall colors are so in and you love the colors you lovingly painted each wall in your home. Well, it will soon not be your home anymore it will be someone else’s and they may not like what you loved. Paint is a relatively inexpensive way to make a house look clean and fresh. If you are going to do some interior repainting prior to selling, keep it light and neutral. Lighter colors reflect light and will make rooms look brighter and larger.
  9. Is that a carpet stain?   Take a close look at all of the carpet in your house after you have had it cleaned. If those stains won’t come out and it still looks dirty, soiled or stained, replace the carpet with something neutral or consider wood or laminates as alternatives. Buyers love the words “newer flooring”!
  10. Keep it safe.   Now that you will have buyers in and out of your house consider keeping your fine jewelry and Grandpas pocket watch in a safety deposit box not in your jewelry armoire in the bedroom. Lock up the guns and anything that you value. Remove prescription drugs from your cabinets as you do not want these items to walk off either. I suggest hiding them in a shoe box in the closet or in a food box in the pantry. No matter how diligent we Realtors are when showing a property things can and do happen. So be smart and keep it safe!

For the rest of the list go to www.HermannLondon.com.

Diane Eddy-Low is a Realtor with Hermann London Group in Maplewood. She has been selling real estate for over 11 years and has a fine art and interior design background. She can be reached at 314-602-7174 or diane@HermannLondon.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan M. Kimm January 04, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Great article, all sellers should read this before they put their house on the market dan

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