Know Your Home
Potential homebuyers will be looking carefully at your home. Make sure you aren’t caught by surprise. Get your home inspected. Find out how much potential repairs will cost. Even if you don’t plan to make those repairs, it will keep you from being blindsided by the costs, and you will be ready to negotiate with homebuyers who are pushing for deductions.
Get information accessible and organized. Have all your papers: everything from insurance to paint colors. Know if your house has suffered any losses, and have records of any repairs. You don’t want to find yourself in the uncomfortable position of negotiating with a homebuyer who knows your house better than you do.
Think About Curb Appeal
If a buyer drives past your house, what will they think? Will they see an attractive facade or a well-maintained garden? Or will their eye be drawn to an ugly tree, a lopsided mailbox, or a badly-paved driveway? Your house’s outward appearance is the first thing that homeowners will see, and that first impression can make a huge difference. If you have the money to hire a landscaper or other specialist, do it. But if not, many of the changes you can make are simply a matter of getting outside, rolling up your sleeves, and taking care of them. Weed the garden, rake the yard, and prune the trees.
Don’t just vacuum. Repaint the walls. Have your carpets professionally cleaned. Move the furniture. Pull out the stove and scrub the floor beneath. Clean under the fridge. Dust the blinds. Clean places you’ve never cleaned before. Be ready to get messy: dirt can really build up when left unattended.
Stow Your Stuff
Not only does a cluttered home look messy, it also looks small. Remove at least 30 percent of your belongings from sight. The brunt of your focus should be on countertops, the pantry, and the master bedroom closets, which should be as empty as possible.
Empty shelves and a clear floor scream: Look, there’s so much room, we don’t have enough stuff to fill it all. So hide everything you can afford not to have in the attic or crawlspace, stow it away in a friend’s house, or even rent out a storage facility. And take down any especially eclectic decorations: Homebuyers do not want to see your ceramic chicken collection; they want to see your home.
Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Pets
If someone is coming to visit your house, send your kids off to a friend’s or relative’s, and have them take the cat with them. Children and animals are notoriously messy, and you don’t want your guests wondering about how you got the all dog hair out of the carpet (hint: you didn’t) or how you can guarantee that there’s not a hole in the wall somewhere stuffed with legos (hint: you can’t). Besides, kids and pets are also notoriously distracting, and you want your visitors to focus on your home.