Homes with certain traits command higher prices and take less time to sell. We're not talking about replacing vinyl siding with redwood siding; we're talking about maintenance and beautifying tasks you'd like to live with anyway.
Among other things, the way your house looks from the street -- attractively landscaped and well maintained -- can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. It is not about putting the house on the market, but rather marketing your house. What can you do to increase your selling appeal? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color. Here are some points to help your home put its best face forward.
Wash Your House's Face
According to REALTORS, washing a house can add up to $10,000 or $15,000 to its sale price. Before you scrape any paint or plant some more, wash the dirt, mildew and general grunge off the outside of your home.
A bucket of soapy water and a long handled, soft-bristled brush can go along way with your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don't forget your garage door, which was probably once bright white.
Freshen the Paint Job
The most commonly offered curb appeal advice is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it and appraisers will take into account too! Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask you local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color; it might mark down the value of your home.
Regard the roof
The condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers and appraisers see. Missing or faded shingles contribute absolutely nothing to the look of value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained roof, yours will look especially shabby. You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower sell price.
Neaten the Yard
A well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home.
Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.
Maintenance is a Must
Nothing looks worse from the curb -- and sets off subconscious alarms -- like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.
Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house:
· Refasten sagging gutters.
· Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
· Reseal cracked asphalt.
· Straighten shutters.
· Replace cracked windows.
Eliminate bad odors
To test your home for smoke and pet odors, have someone who is a non-smoker or non-pet owner walk through the home and tell you what they smell.
Don't mask household odors with air fresheners, which can be overwhelming and cause allergies in many people. Rather, include freshly cut flowers, the scent of fresh cinnamon boiled on the stove (but remove the pot before the showing), or fresh apples and cookies placed in plain sight in the kitchen. For the exterior odor, make sure your lawn is raked and freshly mowed.
Now let's go inside
The way you live in a home and the way you sell a home are two different things. Once your home is on the market it's in competition with other properties - it needs to always look like a model home. Even if you aren't Mr. or Ms. Perfect, your home needs to look like you are. Here are tips on keeping the inside of your home looking its best. ??
Clear the Clutter and Clean Like You've Never Cleaned Before
This is one of those no-brainers: A messy and/or dirty home is a big turnoff and suggests to buyers that you haven't kept up the place.
You don't have to get rid of everything, but decluttering as much as possible will help your rooms look bigger. This includes clearing the clutter hiding in your closets, your bathroom cabinets, kitchen cabinets, and your pantry - $500 spent on a storage unit to radically declutter could easily net you $5000 or more on the sale of your house.
Cleanliness is also huge: spotless and shiny from the top of doorways and ceiling fans to the corners of the floors, baseboards and all areas in between. It makes buyers feel that the home is well cared for. There should not be a surface of the home that hasn't been touched when the house goes on the market.
Depersonalize and Modernize the Place
You might have a great collection of Russian dolls, movie posters, or vintage family photographs to display, but buyers don't want to see them. You're better off making the place as much of a blank slate as possible, so potential buyers could actually see themselves living there instead of seeing you everywhere.
This means keeping everything as neutral as possible: Paint boldly colored walls beige or off-white, take down personal photos, and remove any and all quirky touches that could make homebuyers look elsewhere.
Paint actually might be the home seller's best friend--and you don't even have to do it for every wall (unless your walls are painted in uncommon colors)
"Stage" Your Rooms
Many of the real estate experts talked about staging rooms: setting them up to highlight their best features and downplay any faults. Decluttering and cleaning are part of staging, but it also includes things like setting out fresh flowers in the dining room, putting a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, upgrading your bathroom towels, and putting new hotel-like linens on the bed.
Think of the 5 senses:
Sight: Remove clutter and make home a showcase more than a living space
Smell: After detoxing and decluttering space work on smell/scent. Cleaning is key to remove pet odors, food/cooking smells, etc. Sound: Is your home on a busy street or quiet? Some background music might be helpful
Taste: A fresh bowl of fruit gives a feeling of freshness.
Touch: Remove the dust and add some fresh flowers.
Pay Attention to the Fine Details
Finally, don't ignore the most obvious buyer turn-offs and the things a home inspector would ding you for (including the small things like a light not working). Cosmetic touch-ups like covering up small holes in walls or changing the hardware on kitchen cabinets are easy and inexpensive. Try to look at every room with a critical eye!