Did I mention I was moving? We’ve been looking for two years for more land in our area and when our dream home hit the market in July we decided to go for it. We listed our home as “For Sale” on July 15th and we are still waiting for the right buyers.
This is the second home I’ve sold so I’ve had a little practice. When selling my last home I did a lot of research on how to show your house. I learned a lot! There are so many great articles out there on how to get your home ready to sell.
Now that I am doing it again, and I am right in the thick of it, let me just tell you it’s really hard! Like, no fun at all. A few of my friends have asked me how it all works, what all I have to do, and how I’m even able to sell my home with my family living in it. I thought it may help to share what I’ve learned on how to make this all work and have a home ready to show. Keep in mind, I am not a professional, but after doing my homework, and seeing comments on my showings, these are the tips that I’ve learned along this tough journey…
Before you list your home:
- Before you can even think about showing (or selling) your home you have to get in the right mindset. You probably have a lot of memories there, and a lot of them are in the form of photographs and nick-knacks all over your home. You have to be ready to say goodbye to all of this. And it doesn’t happen the day you move out. It happens now. Say goodbye. The memories will always be with you, but you cannot start this process without mentally being ready to say goodbye to your house.
- Once you’ve processed your goodbyes, get some boxes and start the process of de-cluttering. All clutter must go! Anything on counters, dressers, shelves, cabinets. Empty everything you can see and also everything you can’t. Buyers will look in your closets, cabinets, drawers…clean everything out. This takes the most time but it is so crucial. You can rent a storage unit, or POD, for all of the clutter. Or just pile it all neatly in the garage.
- Next, de-personalize your home. Any pictures, nick-knacks, personal art work, religious items, alcohol, trophies, etc. All personal items need to be put away and boxed up. This is a hard step. I know you spent days and days on your stairwell gallery. It’s beautiful and has so many pictures that makes your home, “your” home. Sorry! Take it down and box it up. You can hang it up at your new house. It’s not goodbye forever, only a few long months.
- Once your home is de-cluttered and de-personalized, you can start the process of fixing everything. Get out the honey-do list and start checking things off. You need to fill every nail hole. Touch up paint everywhere and repair any holes in the walls. If your walls are bight blue, green, and orange, PLEASE repaint them. Bare and neutral is the way to go. I know you spent hours painting little jungle animals in the bathroom, or pasting decals all over your daughters bedroom wall. These all must come down and be painted over. You are trying to show buyers your house is a blank slate and ready for them to move in.
- Now your house is bare and beautiful. We will discuss staging in a few minutes. While you are in the fixing mode, go outside! Do your flower beds need mulch? Do you need to trim any bushes or trees. Is you yard alive? Is your driveway dirty? What condition is your fence in? Is your yard full of toys and playscapes? Look around and think bare, perfect, landscaped yard…and get to work! Also don’t forget to paint your front door. This is so simple and will really make your house pop to buyers.
- Clean! Wipe down everything. Mop everything. Dust everything. Wash the bedding. Clean out the microwave and ovens, scrub the bathrooms, sweep out the garages. Don’t forget to wipe down all of the fans and light fixtures. This first initial cleaning is a crucial step. From now on you will clean every day to maintain the first cleaning.
- One final step will really help your house shine. My realtor, Michelle Higgins with Realty Austin, recommended we have the outside of our windows cleaned and the screens removed and stored in the garage until closing. This made a huge difference and lets in a ton of natural light. It’s definitely worth it and doesn’t cost too much.
Before you can list your home your realtor will want to come in and take pictures. Now that everything is beautiful, staging comes into play. Walk around each room in your home and consider how it would look in a picture. What would you want to see in a photograph of each room?
- Kitchen: Make sure your countertops are bare and only leave one or two things out. Maybe a basket with fresh apples or a pretty cookbook. Put away all of the appliances and food.
- Bathrooms: Make sure to have nice neutral towels on the towel racks. Put away all toothbrushes or any personal hygiene items.
- Laundry room: Hide the ironing board and iron, laundry items, or any cleaning supplies. Add some décor, flowers, or plants.
- Bedrooms: Beds should be made. No personal items or over stuffed shelves.
- Living area: This room should feel big and homey to buyers. Make sure the sofa looks clean and the tables are bare. Less is always more.
Now it’s time to SHOW your home:
Whew! You did all of that work and now your home is Online with gorgeous pictures. Now you can sit back and relax right? Umm, sorry no. Now it gets hard, especially if you have kids. Your home needs to be ready to be photographed every day. I mean clean, fresh, staged, and not lived in; at all. Your realtor will most likely give your contact number to potential buyers and then they will call you to schedule an appointment to see your house. Here are some examples:
Example 1: At 9:00 AM; “Hi, we would like to see your home today at 5:00PM.” This is great, they gave you notice. You can spend your whole day cleaning, and you and your family can be gone during dinner time while they see your house.
Example 2: At 1:00 PM; “Hi, we would like to see your home. We are driving around now, can we come in about 45 minutes?” Now let’s think, is your home ready? Can someone walk in and your home be ready in 45 minutes? No, not if you didn’t clean this morning.
This can be so maddening! You have to be ready to show your house at ANY time. You do not want to say no and miss a showing because you aren’t ready. What if those were your buyers?
Below are some tips I have learned for showing my home and always being ready to show my home:
- I know I mentioned the initial cleaning, now you have to maintain a clean home. Be sure you wipe everything down after using it. This includes toilets, showers, sinks, counters, and chairs. When you run water in your sink, or take a shower, it leaves behind water drops and spots. Make sure to keep a towel (not your staged towels) on hand for wiping everything down.
- Vacuum. A very helpful tip I received when selling my first home was to vacuum for every showing. It is so nice to walk into a home and see vacuum lines in all of the carpets and rugs. I will usually save this for my last step so that I don’t have any footprints on the carpet before a showing.
- Make sure you have no dirty laundry in the baskets. It’s best to have your family put all of their laundry in one spot and wash laundry every night. Fold and put away the clothes each day so you don’t have laundry piling up. If you get behind and have a showing, grab the laundry basket and throw it in the car. I also hide laundry in the washer and dryer and just don’t turn them on.
- Smell. You don’t want to be nose blind to your home but you probably are. It may seem like a great idea to plug in every Scentsy warmer you have with your favorite scent, but please don’t do that. Just because you like the smell of Apple Cinnamon doesn’t mean everyone else will. I have literally ran out of a home I was seeing because the Scentsy was so strong. Instead of candles, try fresh flowers. Roses and Lilies smell wonderful and it won’t be strong enough for buyers to think you are hiding something. Plus they look nice for staging. Also be sure to empty all trash cans so you don’t have any smells from those either.
- Make sure to keep up with the dishes and kitchen. Buyers will most likely look in the dishwasher because it comes with the house. Keep it mostly empty and run it often so it doesn’t get stale. I would suggest not cooking at your house at all. You don’t want to cook salmon in the oven or a batch of bacon on the stove and then have your house smell when a showing pops up. Just plan on eating easy, not messy, dinners until you sell the house.
- Pets. Do you have pets? No. You don’t have any pets while you are selling your home. Hide the food and the food dishes before any showing. Clean the litter box and hide it in the garage. Pick up your dogs and take them for a ride during a showing. (Also don’t forget to scoop the backyard!) We have two cats and two dogs and somehow I make this work, so I know you can do it.
It takes an extreme amount of effort to pull all of this off. Especially when you a have a family. I don’t mean to scare you away from moving into your dream home. I promise you can do this! Every time I vacuum I think about how it’s all going to be worth it when we get an offer and get to the new house. And it is! Your hard work will pay off and buyers will love your home. Keep working on it and each showing you have will be better than the last.
What are your favorite tips for showing (and selling) your home? What stories can you share to help out others thinking about making a move?
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