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Preparing Your Property For Sale

The first impression is often the most memorable one – this holds true for real estate as much as it does for people.  If you have decided to sell your property, one of your next moves is to prepare your property in a manner so it as aesthetically and functionally pleasing as possible.  The importance of adequately preparing your property cannot be understated.  Ask anybody in the real estate industry and they will always tell you – a good-looking property will sell more rapidly.  Having any edge is most welcomed particularly in the competitive world of real estate, and preparing your property to its best is an easily achievable task.

Getting your home prepared for showing around prospective buyers can be as much of a task as the actual selling your home.  Setting a fair price to attract a potential buyer is essential, but so is making your home look as respectable as possible.  There are plenty of things to think about before you can let that first potential buyer through your front door.  The value of a polished looking house can do wonders to make the sale go faster and to obtain an offer that is around, or above, your asking price.

The Exterior

The very first impression a prospective buyer will have of your property is the exterior of the house and the yard – this is known as the property’s “curb appeal”.  Since it is the very first thing they will see, you want to take extra measures to ensure that the exterior is looking as fine as it could be.  After all, if your home does not look good from the outside, it will already have formed a bad impression even before the prospective buyer has even set foot inside.   

Some tips in maximizing your curb appeal include:

- Make certain that your yard looks immaculate, which can easily be achieved with some yard work.  Be sure that the grass is maintained, so don’t let it grow too long, and water it regularly.  If you have a flowerbed, make sure that it is prearranged neatly, and remove any weeds if necessary.  Keep the lawn edged, trim hedges, and eliminate any interfering branches from trees.     

- Assess the condition of your driveway.  If there are large cracks or holes, it can be distracting to the overall curb appeal of your house.  Take the appropriate measures such as re-covering the driveway surface to fill in cracks/holes in the asphalt.  This may add considerably more value to your property.

- Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.  Take the appropriate actions to minimize these flaws. 

- Inspect doors, windows, and fence for peeling paint, and apply a fresh coat if need be.  It is often a good idea to repaint the front door in any case, particularly if it hasn’t been painted in a long time.  This also holds true for loose siding and caulking. 

- Inspect and clean the chimney.

- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.

- If you’re in an area that receives snow in the winter months, be sure that all walkways, driveway, and sidewalks are neatly cleared of snow and ice.

The Interior

Now that the prospective buyer has taken a good look at the property from the outside, they will now make their ways indoors.  If they were impressed with your home’s curb appeal, don’t mess things up with an unclean and disorganized house on the inside. Getting down and dirty with the clutter and grime in your house, and addressing functional concerns such as leaky pipes, is just as important as cleaning the exterior of the house.

Some tips in maximizing your property’s interior appeal include:

- Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning with particular attention being paid to the kitchen and bathrooms.  This involves (shampoo) vacuuming your carpets and mopping floors.  Make sure that all cupboards, closets, and countertops are scrubbed and cleaned out.  Dust out all corners of the house as well as furniture.  Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market may be a good investment, especially for owners who must commit their time and efforts elsewhere.  

- Equally important is to remove as much clutter as possible since this will make your house appear more spacious and sleeker.  Seeing a lot of unnecessary junk lying around usually turns off prospective buyers.  Some sellers will even store some of their house items, particularly furniture, into rented storage garages.  Since you're anticipating a move anyhow, holding a garage sale at this point to get rid of any materials you no longer require is a great idea.           

- Address the odor issue especially if you have pets.  Freshening every room and scrubbing all carpets can remove any bad smells.  Place open boxes of baking soda in smell-prone areas, and refrain from cooking fish or strong-smelling foods.  Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in your home and using air fresheners. Baking a fresh or frozen pie or some other fragrant treat is another common tactic.

- If you’re not satisfied with your home’s paint job, chances are any prospective buyers will feel the same way.  Repainting soiled, or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige, can fix this.  The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.

- If your carpeting is old, it might be a wise investment to simply get rid of them.  This can increase the value of your home as most people prefer to have non-carpeted homes.  Of course, you have to have the proper surface beneath the carpet to make it presentable.  Many people thus invest in installing hardwood floors, which is extremely appealing to prospective buyers since it looks good and will be easier to maintain. 

- You can significantly increase the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen but simply buying new cabinet knobs, new curtains, or applying a coat of new paint.  This also holds true for the bathroom.  Fresh towels and a new shower curtain can work wonders. 

- Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement and repair appropriately.  Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.  Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings, and other woodwork.  Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling, and alarm systems.  Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.  Picky buyers definitely will notice, and likely magnify, minor maintenance problems you've ignored for months or even years, so its well worth the effort to repair them prior to showing of your property. 

Home Staging 

An increasing amount of home sellers are now seeking the help of professionals to improve the aesthetic qualities of their property to boost value, and also in most cases, increase the likelihood of a faster sale.  Similar to the concept of a model home, home staging is a growing profession that is rapidly changing the way homes are sold. 

Think of home staging as more than just decorating, but rather a specialized organization and beautification of your property that will penetrate a prospective buyer’s innermost consciousness, which will hopefully win them over.  A good stager will be savvy to the psychological desires of humans, and will understand the cultural preferences of the likely buyer.

Although home staging essentially follows the same principles, which generally requires performing the same tasks, of preparing your home’s exterior and interior to look its best, the difference is that home stagers have experience on their side.  Many sellers may have issues in hiring somebody to essentially redo and reorganize the home that they so lovingly decorated, the success of home staging speaks for itself.  Home stagers say that properties that look "rough" will command about 10 to 15 percent lower sales value compared to properties that have had some cosmetic work to make them more appealing.  Hiring a professional home stager may be the best option for sellers who do not have the time to adquately prepare their homes for sale.

For those wanting to do their own home staging, Staged Homes Co. offers a few helpful tips, which you will see are essentially similar to the aforementioned tips:


- Clear all unnecessary objects from furniture throughout the house. Keep decorative objects on the furniture restricted to groups of 1, 3, or 5 items.

- Clear all unnecessary objects from the kitchen countertops. If it hasn’t been used for three months... put it away! Clear refrigerator fronts of messages, pictures, etc. (A sparse kitchen helps the buyer mentally move their own things into your kitchen.)

- In the bathroom, remove any unnecessary items from countertops, tubs, shower stalls and commode tops. Keep only your most needed cosmetics, brushes, perfumes etc., in one small group on the counter. Coordinate towels to one or two colors only.

- Rearrange or remove some of the furniture if necessary. As owners, many times we have too much furniture in a room. This is wonderful for our own personal enjoyment, but when it comes to selling we need to thin out as much as possible to make rooms appear larger.

- Take down or rearrange certain pictures or objects on walls. Patch and paint if necessary.

- Review the inside of the house room by room, and paint any room needing paint.

- Clean carpets or drapes that need it.

- Clean windows.

- If you need room to store extra possessions use the garage or rent a storage unit.

- Leave on certain lights during the day.

- During “showings” turn on all lights and lamps.

- Have stereo FM on during the day for all viewings.


- Go around the perimeter of the house and move all garbage cans, discarded wood scraps, extra building materials, etc., into the garage.

- Check gutters for roof moss and dry rot. Make sure they are swept and cleaned.

Look at all plants... prune bushes and trees. Keep plants from blocking windows.

- Weed and then mulch all planting areas. Keep lawn freshly cut and fertilized and remove and dead plants or shrubs.

- Clear patios or decks of all small items such as small planters, flower pots, charcoal, barbecues, toys, etc.

- Check paint condition of the house — especially the front door and trim.