When you’re selling your home, you have eight seconds to make a good impression on a potential buyer. That’s how long it takes the average home buyer to make up their mind about whether they’d want to live in your home.
The most important thing to remember is that buyers want to imagine themselves – not you – living there.
Making your house presentable for buyers does require an investment of your time – but it doesn’t have to be monetarily expensive. And you may discover that your home will spend less time on the market and command a higher selling price if you follow my “3 Ds” – de-clutter, de-personalize, and decorate.
Many home buyers base their purchase on emotion instead of logic. So it’s important to create an ambiance that helps buyers connect emotionally with your home. Your goal is to make the rooms in your home look bigger, brighter, cleaner, and warmer.
For most of us, this requires some serious de-cluttering. Before you begin this daunting task, ask a trusted friend (or your friendly real estate agent) to walk through your home with you and be brutally honest about the clutter they observe.
First, walk into your main living area. Buyers need to feel welcome and not squished. The easiest way to make the space look bigger is to reduce furnishings. You may want to put some of your bulky furniture in storage temporarily and rent a smaller furniture grouping. Test out different configurations to determine the most inviting and peaceful setup.
Other bulky furnishings that you’ll want to move out include gym equipment, gargantuan entertainment centers, and extra beds.
Once you’ve tackled the big stuff, it’s time to de-clutter the “whatnot.” Invest in plastic storage bins and shovel piles of papers into them – all those coupons, magazines, and junk mail that breed like rabbits.
Inspect your kitchen countertops. Store the toaster, blender, coffee maker, KitchenAid, and other small appliances IN the cupboards instead of ON the countertops.
Closets, cupboards, and cabinets are another trouble spot. Go through your closets one at a time and remove every item. Replace only the items that you need to use while you’re selling your home (if you’re living in your home while it’s on the market). Put everything else in storage or donate useable items to charity.
- Take magnets off the fridge.
- Remove the shoe rack that’s crammed with 12 pairs of shoes.
- Store tote bags, handbags, and school backpacks in closets.
- Take down kids’ artwork.
- Remove most family pictures, knick-knacks and personal items.
Focus on making each room clean, simple, and neutral.
When a buyer tours your home, their first impression is going to be of the outside. Make their entry as inviting as possible:
- Pull weeds
- Trim trees and bushes
- Keep the lawn tidily mowed and green
- Power-wash paths and siding
- Arrange outdoor furniture on the deck so people can imagine themselves sitting outside on the patio
- Place potted flowers or fresh plantings on the front porch
- Give your front door a fresh coat of paint
Inside your home, be aware of how lighting creates a mood.
- Take advantage of natural lighting by washing every window, inside and out.
- Where appropriate, replace low-watt bulbs with a higher wattage.
- Add mood lighting in the bedrooms.
- Place a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter.
- Put a houseplant on top of the refrigerator or anywhere in your home – green adds warmth.
- Invest in new dish towels, tablecloths, and a kitchen rug.
- Place a vase of fresh flowers on the dining room table, in the entryway, or in any room of the house.
- Purchase new bed linens or a comforter cover.
- Add interest with accent pillows, throws, area rugs, and curtains.
Emotionally detaching yourself from your home is challenging, but it’s an essential part of preparing to sell your home. Try to put yourself in the mindset that this is no longer your home; it’s a house to sell. De-clutter, de-personalize, and decorate, and give yourself the best chance possible of selling that house.