There’s a reason people love looking at photos of homes for sale — it’s rare we get to see a place looking its very best! Scrolling through gorgeous images helps buyers imagine themselves settling down in those rooms.
However, as any seller can attest, getting a home ready for its introduction to the market can take a bit of work. It involves decluttering, deep cleaning, furniture removal or reorganization, and sometimes painting, replacing fixtures, or adding brighter lights. Of course, if you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do these things yourself, we can do all of this for you!
However, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, below are some great tips to get you started.
Celebrate Micro Minimalism For a short time, you’re going to want to embrace a minimalist mindset. Minimalism is owning fewer possessions. While we aren’t suggesting you actually get rid of stuff — although you may want to — you are going to want to get by with less during the time your house is on the market.
The first step is packing things away. People don’t buy homes the way they live. They buy them like they see them on HGTV and then move all their junk in and live like everyone else! So you’ll want to get your house HGTV-ready.
I always suggest starting with seasonal items and things in closets that you rarely use. If it’s winter, box up your summer clothes, tennis rackets, and camping gear. If it’s summer, put away the skis, coats, and other winter wear. Boxing the items you aren’t using is a great way to get started clearing out your house, closets, and garage. It gives you an immediate sense of satisfaction without too much pain and indecision — let’s call it the gateway step to proper packing for a move!
Clear the Clutter Once you’ve cleaned out the closets and seasonal items, it’s time to work on the areas that will be visible in photos. A good rule of thumb is to clear all flat surfaces and only add back one or two items to each surface.
For example, if you’re like me, you probably have items on your coffee or kitchen table that are more functional than decorative, and there are probably too many of them to boot! Clear everything off, then add a decorative item — such as a book, bowl of fruit, or colorful vase — back in.
Remove and Rearrange You’ll likely also need to remove some of your furniture. Too much furniture makes a room look cramped and small, so remove excess tables, chairs, stools, etc, that, while practical for living, don’t give us the barely lived-in look buyers want.
Work to balance shelves, counters, and mantels with an eye for highlighting only accessories that will help make your home look and feel like a retreat from the messy world. Think of a room that’s slightly less comfortable than you’d want for actual living — that’s probably ideal!
If there are items that need to be kept out, corral those things into bins or boxes and create purposeful and organized storage areas.
Pack It Out Resist the temptation to box everything and stash it in a bedroom or corner of the garage. Buyers are going to want to open doors, cabinets, and closets, and view all the bedrooms and the garage. You want all those spaces to look tidy and large, so you need to ensure those areas are neat and clean too.
A better idea is to rent a POD or convince a family member or friend to store your excess items in their garage or shed during the time you have the house listed.
Clean. Clean. Clean. Now that the decluttering is done and your surroundings feel more vacation-house chic than lived-in lodging, it’s time to deep clean ... everything. When a house or garage is dirty, buyers worry that more-serious maintenance items have also been skipped. You want your house to look and smell clean and fresh.
To get started, scrub the inside of the house from floor to ceiling and wash your windows inside and out. We often recommend having a professional house cleaner come to your house. They see things that we mere mortals miss, particularly if we’ve been living in a house for some time. And have the carpets professionally cleaned while you’re at it. We have great vendors for all of this, just ask us!
On the exterior, you’ll want to power wash the siding and all sidewalks and walkways to remove dust, dirt, and cobwebs. Mow the lawn, weed the beds, clean up debris, plant new flowers, and add some mulch. Keep your sidewalks clear, the trees trimmed, and add inviting chairs with cushions to your deck or front porch. I once told a seller who was grumbling about weeding to think of each weed pulled as $500 — thinking about the money a weed-free yard can add to the bottom line made the task less onerous for him!
Let in the Light While soft, warm light is perfect for cozy nights on the couch, bright ‘daylight’ bulbs add a ton of light and brighten up your whole house. Replacing burnt-out or low-wattage bulbs can be a quick way to give your entire home a lift, making every room look larger. The number one thing buyers request when we ask for their criteria is a house with a lot of light. Consider using three different types — not just overhead lighting. Overhead ambient lighting is important, and adding accent or task lighting will help showcase your space in all its glory.
Keep in mind that when you list your house with us, we’ll provide both a general staging list, as well as a detailed list specific for your house. And again, we can handle everything for you if you’d like. Just call us about that option at (208) 327-2127!
While getting your house ready isn’t the most fun, just keep your mind focused on the goal of getting the most money possible for your house in the shortest amount of time!