First impressions are everything, so your house needs to have major “curb appeal”. This is the “wow” moment people get when standing outside of a house. If your home doesn’t have it, you need to work on improving it. Painting the outside of your house is great, but when was the last time you updated the siding? Go over all of the different issues that the front of your house may have, and consider planting some flower beds or other small touches that will give your buyers warm fuzzy feelings when they come to tour the property.
If you are still living in your house while you are trying to sell it, leaving your home when the realtor is scheduled to give a tour is not enough to remove yourself from the situation. If you have family photos, trophies, and other personal items around the house, people will feel like they are just visiting. Personal items make it really difficult for someone to see themselves living in a home, and that’s kind of the whole point.
So, you will need to depersonalize your home. Take down your family photos, sports gear, knick nacks, and all of the other items. If you have not purchased your next house yet, ask your friends and family members if you can temporarily store your personal items, or look into renting a storage unit.
A shocking number of people do not bother to paint their house when they move out and put it on the market. Since it costs money, they decided to push the responsibility off on the new occupant. Some people can look past a bad paint job, but for others, they don’t have a lot of imagination, or they want their home to be move-in-ready.
You also have to realize that people judge a house based on how it makes them feel. If they walk into a room with a bold color like red, dark blue, or lime green, they might say “I don’t like this color”, and they’re done even considering the house. Same goes with blotchy paint, or scratches on the wall. If they get an immediate feeling of repulsion, your house will no longer be an option. Try to pick light, neutral colors like an off-white or light blue if you want to appeal to the most people.
People love to imagine themselves in a huge “dream” kitchen where they get to show off their cooking skills. Not everyone can afford to pay for a luxury experience, but even a small kitchen can look fancy, if it’s decorated properly. For some people, an outdated or cramped kitchen is an automatic deal-breaker. We’re not suggesting that you start knocking down walls, but there are plenty of ways to make your kitchen more bright, which makes it feel larger.
Sometimes, upgrading your kitchen might be as simple as painting your cabinets and replacing the nobs. Other times, you might want to spend a little bit more to add a nice backsplash or dishwasher. Keep in mind that light colors make a space feel bigger, and clutter always makes it feel smaller.
Luxury home owners almost always pay for “staging” to help sell their home. This is where an interior designer comes in with furniture, art, and plants to make a space look as good as possible. Staging a home makes people think, “Wow, I would love to live here.”
Paying a professional interior designer is expensive, but you can try to do this on your own, using items you already have. Take some time to browse through websites like Architectural Digest, Pinterest, and watch some TV shows on HGTV. Once you get a good grasp on the current interior design trends, you will know what to look for at discount stores like Home Goods.
If you decided to attempt to stage your home by yourself, make sure to give each room a specific purpose. A lot of people will have an extra bedroom, den, or sun room in their house that is sort of a catch-all area. It might have a desk with a computer, plus a TV, and a couch all in one place. If people walk into a room, and they can’t really pinpoint what it is used for, they are going to feel confused, and it’s not appealing. When in doubt, always make a spare room into a bedroom.
Whether you are trying to sell your house while it’s still occupied, or if you are attempting to stage it on your own, make sure the presentation is good for everyone. If you have a unique taste in art, keep in mind that it might not be everybody’s cup of tea. This is especially true if you have those paintings of crying clowns or big-eyed girls. (Yikes!) Try to choose artwork that is fashionable and trendy, but not so unique that it scares people.
Remember, it’s not about what you like. Once you move into your new home, you can hang up whatever artwork you want. It’s about what your potential buyers will like. So try to pick art that’s going to appeal to the largest number of people.
Yes, new carpets and flooring can be expensive. Most people think, “What’s the point? Let the next person worry about it.” While that might work in some cases, the rule is very similar to a new paint job. If people see a carpet with stains, pulls, or rips, they are likely to feel disgusted, and they will be less likely to want to buy your house. Same goes with wooden floors that have been scratched or worn down.
If you are worried about the cost of updating your flooring, remind yourself that your investment will most likely pay itself off. Fist of all, your house will sell faster. Second, you could even raise the price a bit higher than what you originally planned to list it for, in order to recoup your cost. Remember that the longer a house stays on the market, the more a real estate agent will recommend you drop the price.
Savvy home buyers are going to pay for an inspection before they buy a new house. So, if your home has major problems like foundation issues, this is going to be enough for any potential buyer to say “no thank you”. Or, they will use this as a way to haggle the price down to offset the cost of the repairs. If you see cracks in the side of your house that resemble stairs, that means there is something wrong with your foundation. Other times, you can feel it just by walking around the floor. Fixing the problem may be easier and cheaper than you would imagine. Most of the time, you can hire a company to come in and give you a free estimate.
If you are lucky enough to live on a huge property, you already have privacy in spades. However, if your back yard is exposed to your neighbors, a wire fence or open space without a clear divide in the property line can be an issue for a lot of people. It makes people feel as if they cannot have any privacy in their own backyard without their neighbors seeing what they are up to. If you never spend time in your backyard right now, it may have never an issue for you, but it’s going to be an issue for people who have children and want an outdoor living space. Sometimes, people plant hedges along their property line that will grow into a natural fence. You may need to invest in a privacy fence. Thankfully, privacy fences will increase the value of your home, and you should be able to recoup your cost.
There is something that truly says “American Dream” about sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch, or cooking barbeque out back. If your house does not have a front or back porch, you should consider building one before you sell your house, because it will help increase the value of your home. If building a porch is not in your budget, look into the cost of creating a patio area, instead. This can be a relatively inexpensive DIY project. If you are staging your home, placing a table with chairs and an umbrella on this patio space will help people imagine themselves sitting in their new backyard.
If you still live near the property you are trying to sell, be sure to periodically check in on your house and keep up with the landscaping. Even if it’s a simple as picking up fallen branches and mowing the lawn, this makes a huge difference in the minds of people looking to buy a house. If the yard seems unkempt, they will get the impression that no one else wants the property, and it has been on the market for a long time. Aside from regular maintenance, also try to see if there is any way you can improve the quality of your backyard. If there are patchy spots in the grass, you can buy an affordable bag of grass seed at Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart. Consider planting flowers near the front door, and if there are any dead trees in the yard, pay to have them cut down.
Damp basements will result in black mold growing under your home, and it can begin to spread to the rest of your house. This will lead to serious health problems. You can usually tell when a basement is damp, because you can smell it. If you have this issue in your house, you can start by buying a dehumidifiers. This will actually suck the excess moisture out of the air. They start at $40 on Amazon, and larger machines will cost you closer to $150.
Next, identify the cause of where the moisture is coming from. It might be a leaking pipe that you can fix yourself. Or, it may be a bigger issue, like a crack in the foundation that is letting in moisture from a low water table. If you find mold in your basement, you need to clean it with a bleach solution. Be sure to wear clothes that you don’t care about, though, because the bleach will stain and ruin whatever you are wearing!
If any of your bathrooms have cracked bathtub seals, gross toilets, or outdated fixtures, this is going to turn off potential buyers. Even if the bathroom plumbing is still functioning, these people are just going to feel uncomfortable thinking about how many times a stranger used that room for their personal hygiene, rather than imagining themselves getting ready in the morning. In many cases, you can get away with only spending about $1,000 to remodel a small bathroom to make it more appealing to potential customers. If you do not have a lot of money, try to make small improvements to your bathroom as time goes on. At the very least, make sure you scrub the tiles and make it look spotlessly clean.
For people looking to buy a home for their family, they are likely to request a 4-bedroom house. If your house has only 2 or 3 bedrooms, it means you are going to have a smaller pool of potential customers. If you can afford to build an addition onto your house, the best course of action would be to create another bedroom. The more bedrooms a house has, the more valuable it is, and the more likely you will be to make a return on investment. Even if you only have the land and budget to make a small bedroom, it’s still going to help your house appeal to more buyers.
For most homeowners, they dread the thought of replacing their roof. But guess what? So do buyers. And in a lot of cases, if you have a leak, it may be as simple as getting a repair done, without replacing the entire roof. There is nothing worse than looking to buy a house, and the previous owner put a tarp over top of a hole in the roof to prevent water from leaking in. Even if your roof is fine, it may be good to check your gutters, or hire someone to clean them out. Also hire someone to sweep dead leaves off of your roof, or potentially power wash it. Seasoned home buyers are going to look up, and if the top of your house looks grimy, they are going to think it might be a money pit.
Okay, this next one is not a tip on how to update your house, but rather, a way to get your house sold faster. A lot of people expect their real estate agents to do 100% of the work. After all, they are earning a commission for getting out there and selling your house. But did you know that a lot of these agents will only pay for ads on one or two websites? Check to see if your home is on all of the real estate listing sites like Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com. Craigslist, Facebook, and Instagram are three places where you can advertise your house on your own for free. If you want some inspiration, check out @MagnoliaRealtyTexas on Instagram. This is owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, from the TV series Fixer Upper.
Just keep in mind that you may have to speak with your real estate agent, first. It may be in their contract that you are not allowed to advertise on your own. If this is the case, try to figure out a way that works for the both of you, to make sure your property is getting the most exposure it possibly can.
If you have a gravel driveway that has been sinking into the mud for years, it may be time to buy more stone. No one wants to deal with walking through mud, or even worse-driving over a bump or pothole. It costs between $100 to $300 to buy new stone for a gravel driveway, which is a small price to pay for a fresh place for real estate agents and buyers to park their car. If you have a paved driveway, you can improve the appearance by power washing it and buying spray that will kill any weeds that may have creeped in.
In today’s market, the majority of people who are looking to buy a house are families with kids. If there is anything in your house that may be considered a safety hazard for children, they will not even bother to schedule an appointment after seeing the pictures online. Even if your house is up to code, there could still be some issues that parents will notice, but you don’t. If you do not have children of your own, ask some experienced parent friends to come over and point out any potential dangers to you.
A lot of people who are looking to buy a house will keep their dogs and cats in mind, too. Loads of people are motivated to get out of an apartment so that their dog can run around and play outside. They also want to imagine having a place to hang up dog leashes, and have a place to put down bowls of water and food. If you have pets of your own, think about the frustrations you have taking care of them in the house. How can they be improved? By fixing these problems, it will not only help your buyers, but it will help make your life easier, too.
If any of your bedrooms do not have a closet, there will be buyers out there who may decide not to buy your house, simply because there is nowhere to store their clothes. Even if there is a chest of drawers, people still want somewhere to hang dresses and suits. They also need a place to store their shoes. You should consider either hiring someone to knock down a wall and build a walk-in closet, or install a built-in wardrobe. If you cannot afford to do that, Ikea has a huge selection of wardrobe solutions at all different price ranges. Putting a wardrobe in the room is going to allow people to understand that if they bought a similar piece of furniture, they could make it work, too.
Sometimes, helping your house sell is a simple as getting a really cool light fixture. Flip through just about any interior design magazine, and you will see stunning chandeliers over a dining room table, and modern industrial fixtures in a kitchen. These pieces will vary in price from $50 to hundreds of dollars, but you can also find good deals at places like the Habitat For Humanity Thrift Store, where leftover home items are donated. Just remember to keep the style consistent throughout your space.
We have already mentioned cleaning up your personal items like family photos if you are still living in the house when it goes on the market. You also need to get rid of clutter. Too many clothes, books, shoes, food, or anything else will really give the wrong impression to your buyers. If you look like a slob, they might assume that you didn’t respect the space you lived in. For inspiration on decluttering your house and living a better life, watch “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” on Netflix.
When you are cleaning out the clutter, don’t just stuff all of your things into the garage. Your potential buyers will want to see it! Once they open the garage door, they will be upset if they can’t even walk through it, because it’s full of your boxes. At the very least, get your boxes off the floor and try to organize them. Invest in some of those heavy duty plastic shelves at Home Depot or Walmart.
This should be common sense to most people, but having bugs in your house is not okay! If you have cockroaches or termites, you need to call an exterminator as soon as possible to come in and get rid of those nasty little creatures. Same goes with mice, ants, spiders, or any other creepy crawlies that tend to be around your house on a regular basis. As soon as someone spots a cockroach on a house tour, it’s game over. Don’t let the vermin win.
If you have pets, or if you cook exotic food on a regular basis, your house might smell awful. Our senses adjust to our surroundings, so you may not even notice it anymore. Ask your friends and family if they can smell anything when they walk through the door. If so, you need to start finding some solutions, like buying a better cat litter, spraying fresheners, or replacing furniture and carpets that your pets may have soiled at one point in time
In most cases, the refrigerator and stove are staying in the kitchen. People touring your house want to open the fridge and oven, just so they can see the condition. If there are stains from dripped food, crumbs, or anything else left behind, this is going to give a really bad impression. Before you leave, be sure to clean everything. This includes taking the covers off of your gas stove and cleaning underneath.
Some people go years without ever buying a washing machine, because they don’t mind taking a trip to the laundromat. Or, they deal with an awkwardly placed machine in the middle of the kitchen. If you have the resources, buy a proper side-by-side washer and dryer set, if only to show your potential buyers where their machines would go. If you are just staging the house, you can always take your new appliances with you to the next property. The point is to make sure the next family has a good area to get their laundry done, instead of mixing it with another area of the house. At the very least, make sure an area of your home like your garage or basement has laundry hookup access.
Last but not least, you should do some research on home improvement. This article was a great start. There are loads of TV shows on Netflix that you can watch that will give you amazing tips on how to make your house sell quickly. Try watching shows on Netflix like “House Doctor” and “Stay Here” for some inspiration. Also look into some magazines, Pinterest, and books on interior design. Good luck on your journey to sell your home!