Congratulations! You've decided to list your home on the market. You know it's a well-cared-for house and you feel confident you'll be able to sell it for asking price.
Well, maybe "confident" isn't the right word. You hope you'll be able to get your asking price, but you wouldn't mind having an extra push to help put the odds in your favor. You know, just a tiny boost to help you sleep more peacefully at night.
Your home deserves to be shown in the best possible light. Fortunately, there are small steps you can take to facilitate this - tiny improvements which don't require much time or money.
Here are five often-overlooked ways you can prepare your home for sale.
1. Repaint the Trim
You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars meticulously painting every room of your house.
Instead, for a tiny investment, brighten the trim. We're referring to baseboards, crown molding, and trim around doorways and windows. Focus on the interior of your house first. If you have the time and resources, paint the exterior trim as well.
Adding a new layer of paint to the trim can bring instant life back into your home, making the space feel fresher and cleaner.
Speaking of which ...
2. Hire a Professional House Cleaner
Unless you're excellent at deep cleaning, you should seriously consider investing a few hundred dollars in hiring a professional house cleaner.
They can undertake a thorough top-to-bottom scrub down, which includes cleaning the grout, polishing the faucets, wiping down the ceiling fan blades, and dislodging every crumb out of that irritating gap between your stove and countertop.
An ultra-clean house makes a huge difference in the eyes of a buyer. It can lead to the "wow" factor that may help put your home sale over the top.
3. Steam Clean the Carpets
Vacuuming the carpets is a good start, but when was the last time you had the carpets in your home professionally steamed-cleaned?
This type of cleaning can lift the smallest stains and imperfections out of your carpets. Your carpets will look as new as possible, at a substantially cheaper price than the cost of a replacement.
You can rent a carpet cleaner from a hardware store if you want to take the DIY route. However, you may get better results by hiring a professional company to take care of this on your behalf. Read online reviews about companies in your area or ask your real estate agent for recommendations.
4. Clear the Clutter
You may have a memory associated with every item in your living room - that old Coca-Cola glass bottle, a baseball cap from your hometown team - but a prospective buyer will view this as clutter.
Clutter overwhelms a space, distracting from your home's more beautiful elements. Many people won't notice the high ceilings or large windows if their attention is refocused on a pile of old magazines, heaps of unopened mail, and random wires, cables, tools, board games and DVDs scattered about everywhere.
Clutter also makes a space feel smaller. Your walk-in closet might be amply sized, but if it's overstuffed with old clothes, jackets, boxes, suitcases and bags, your prospective buyers will think the closet space is insufficient. It doesn't matter that the closet is actually bigger than the buyer's first apartment; all they'll see is the mess. You don't want to showcase an empty closet - this looks uninviting - but you don't want one that's bursting at the seams, either.
Before you open your home for any showings, dedicate a weekend to clearing clutter from your home. Donate unused or unwanted items to a thrift store, or sell your old wares on eBay or Craigslist. If there's inadequate space in your home for items you truly want or need, rent a storage unit.
5. Stage the Home
Professional investors often hire 'staging companies' to fill a home with furniture in order to showcase its potential.
If you're still living in your current home, you're already one step ahead of the game: your space is already furnished. Now you just need to up the ante by a notch, so that your home looks magazine-worthy.
Place a bouquet of fresh flowers on the coffee table. Position matching rolled towels next to the bathtub with a tiny decorative bar of soap placed on top. Arrange the bedspread so that the pillows create a 'wow' factor when buyers first enter the room.
Pay attention to fragrances within your home, as well. Light a scented candle (with a neutral aroma, like vanilla) in the bathroom or bedroom. Bake cookies just before a showing, so the smell lingers in the kitchen. Conversely, avoid cooking bacon just before a showing.
Open every window blind and curtain, to maximize the natural light that pours through. Keep the lights on in every room during open houses, so that every space appears bright and inviting.
Taking just a little bit of time to spruce up your home may result in better, faster and higher offers. You want potential buyers to fall in love at first sight. A cleaner, brighter look goes a long way toward helping you close the deal and walk away satisfied.