I decided to use a flat fee listing service to sell my house. What does that mean? Basically it means that my house is listed in MLS, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com but I don’t have an agent. An agent can be very useful because they can look over your house and tell you what potential buyers will think and what you need to do before it goes on the market.
It’s helpful to ask friends and neighbors for their opinions, even though it might be painful to hear. One of my friends came over and said “you need to replace that light fixture it looks terrible”. It had been on my front porch for years, but didn’t occur to me. This can give you a roadmap for what buyers will notice.
This list of eleven things is pretty universal for what you need to do to get your house ready for showing. There will of course be things that are specific to your house, but this is a good start.
1.) Get professional photos. It doesn’t matter if your home looks great if the photos don’t show it. See more on that below.
2.) Put away everything. This includes the mail you get, your keys, laundry, your kids dirty clothes, etc. You almost want your house to look like you don’t live there because that makes it easier for a buyer to visualize themselves living in your home. It can also be good to remove personal photos if you have a ton of them. A few is fine, but you want a buyer to be able to see the house as theirs.
3.) Remove excess furniture and junk to goodwill or temporary storage. My house was literally full of furniture. I moved out many chairs, side tables, a desk, a bed and boxes full of stuff.
4.) Replace light bulbs with the brightest wattage the fixture can take and make sure all the lights work. The photographer went to shoot my small bathroom and I realized, whoops, the light doesn’t work.
5.) If your paint looks old in the main living areas, paint it. New paint can make the room look bright and shiny again. You should use a neutral color. It can make sense to paint any rooms that have an “personal choice” color. Our new house had a purple bedroom and some people can’t visualize a color that would suit their things.
6.) Get fresh plants for your entry and a few for inside. These improve your photos.
7.) Clean your house thoroughly. This seems obvious, but there are some things we all overlook as we live in our homes like the drip down the kitchen cupboard or the dirt on the outside of the windows. I had my windows cleaned, which was $200 for 28 windows. It made a huge difference. I also power-washed my old brick so it looks like new.
8.) If there are nagging small repairs that you have been putting off, complete them. We had a hole in our master closet sheet rock. We used it to see if our shower was leaking but never closed it back up completely. This is an example of something that will signal buyers that you don’t take care of your house.
9.) Clean up your landscape, trim trees and make sure you lawn is mowed. If you have overgrown landscaping it can make your house look uncared for.
10.) Empty your closets so they look like they can hold a lot. Most of our closets are stuffed to capacity, living in an older home where they aren’t as large. If you remove half the contents your closet will look like ti is larger.
11.) Add lighting wherever possible. It will make your house look bigger and brighter. When you sell the house you have to turn all of the lights on, but in my house there are a few rooms that even with the lights on don’t get very much light. I bought a few lamps from estate sales for $5 and also this adorable one for my son’s desk, which he really needed all along.
More About Professional Photographs
Most realtors will recommend a professional photographer. They are surprisingly inexpensive and they have the right camera lens to make your home look as roomy as possible. They also have a good eye for quick things you can do to improve the photo, like move that chair or add a plant. Getting the right shots is easier for someone who spends 40 hours a week doing just that.
I chose to go with shoot2sell for my photos. I have used them before to photograph the B&B when I owned it and they were great. This time they were great, too.
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