Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get Your House Show-Ready in 5 Steps

When your house is on the real estate market, it’s almost impossible to live a normal life and showcase your house. Putting your house in its best light requires some work before you list your house, a daily effort while it’s on the market, and some last minute sprucing up when you have an open house or a showing appointment.

Here’s how to keep your house show-ready in 5 easy steps.

Before the house hits the market

Before you put that For Sale sign in the front yard, dig deep in preparing your house to look its best. Concentrate on these 5 things:

1. Spruce up your curb appeal. Repair any big cracks in walkways or stairs. Scrub down porches, patios and outdoor furniture. Wash windows inside and out. Repair loose shutters, gutters or anything else that’s in less than perfect shape.

2. Clean your house like there’s no tomorrow. Hire a professional, if possible. A super good cleaning of your house top to bottom will make it easier to keep up with the everyday cleaning you’ll have to do to keep your house show-ready.

3. Organize the insides of closets, cabinets, built-ins and anything that stays with the house. Imagine a prospective buyer is opening your cabinets - does it look like there is plenty of storage for a typical family

4. Fix what’s broken. Loose knobs, crooked curtain rods, leaky faucets all need to be repaired and in tip-top appearance and working order.

5. Neutralize your decor by removing throw pillows, afghans or anything else that makes the room seem busy and cluttered. If necessary paint key living area rooms in neutral colors to appeal to more buyers.

While your house is on the market

Keep up with cleaning, organizing and maintaining your home on a daily basis, so you’re not scrambling to get the house ready for showings.

1. Keep the grass cut, trees trimmed, and bushes and shrubs trimmed.

2. Keep up with mail and paperwork so all desks are kept free of piles of papers. Remove everything from the kitchen counter, except for the things you use on a daily basis.

3. You may love your pet, but prospective buyers aren’t necessarily animal lovers. Pet dishes, beds & toys might be a turn-off. Move your pet’s things into a discreet area of the house.

4. Remove family photographs or anything else personal that you don’t necessarily want strangers to see. Put jewelry & other valuables in a locked area until your house is sold and off the market.

5. Keep the house generally cleaned up daily. Make the beds first thing in the morning, wash dishes & put them away as you use them. This will keep to a minimum the time you’ll have to spend when you “get that call.”

When you get that call - “I’ve got a buyer who wants to see your house.”

Here’s where your hard work pays off. Because you’ve prepared, you can feel confident in telling your real estate agent that you can have your house ready to show in less than an hour.

1. Broom-sweep the front porch, stoop, steps & walk. Start at your curb and walk to your front door. What’s the first impression your home makes?

2. Do what my Midwestern mom used to call “redding up” the house. Make the beds, put dirty laundry away, put away clutter, gather up newspapers and magazines, put away DVDs, pick up toys, and empty the trash cans.

3. Do a quick light cleaning. Run the vacuum, wipe a Windex paper towel over glass and laminate surfaces, and lightly dust the wood. If you’re keeping up with the cleaning this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, depending on the size of your house.

4. Let there be light! Open up all the blinds and turn on every light in the house. Overhead lights, lamps, counter lights - it doesn’t seem natural but buyers expect it.

5. Smell up the joint - A clean house shouldn’t smell like anything that needs to be masked, and you’ll want to avoid artificial air fresheners or potpourri smells. Pop a loaf of bread in the oven (keeping some frozen bread dough thawing in the frig when you’re likely to be showing your home) or bake some cookies, if you must. Most importantly, be sure there aren’t any bad smells in your home. Check out Smells That Sell.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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