Ready, Set, Show the House

Dear Glen,

We are getting ready to sell the house and we want to do all we can to show it in the best possible light. Any tips for putting some lipstick on this place? Please be gentle–we don’t have a lot of money to spend on this.

Thanks and love your site!

Eager in Englewood.

Dear Eager,

Thanks for the kind words and yes of course I have a few tips for you. Just keep in mind, this process requires you to be harsh and honest with yourself. Let’s get to it.

Here is my quick checklist of easy things you can do before a buyers drives by. Focus on the outside first since buyers usually drive by before they set up an appointment to look inside. Start with the inexpensive items. You can always negotiate with the buyer on the more expensive repairs at the time of sale if you have to.

If you do NOTHING else – clean, clean some more, then clean it again, then hire someone to clean it again. I can’t tell you how many times I have shown the “perfect” house to a family only to have a dirty bathroom, carpet, etc blow the deal.

Why? Because the buyers figure (probably correctly) that if you don’t keep it clean, you probably didn’t do all the other things you needed to do like maintain the furnace, routine maintenance, etc. That will kill a deal faster than you can say “Where’s the magic eraser?”

I know it sounds like hell, but the bottom line is your house is where you live, but buyers need to be able to imagine themselves living there so you need to open it up and declutter until it sells. If a buyer is put off by your 400 piece troll collection and the giant portrait of uncle fester in the living room, you’re out of luck. Trust me on this.

[ ]Pick up any clutter from Front Yard
[ ]Remove any yard equipment (if it looks like work they won’t like it)
[ ]Mow and water lawn
[ ]Trim weeds and sweep concrete of all grass clippings
[ ]Trim trees & bushes away from the house
[ ]Plant colorful flowers – or get potted flowers to put around
[ ]Clean front entrance/Stoop/Porch
[ ]Clean entryway of dirt/cobwebs
[ ]Repaint or replace front door
[ ]Fix broken windows, shutters, screens
[ ]Polish door handles, address numbers, light fixtures
[ ]Replace burnt out bulbs
[ ]Replace welcome mat with something colorful
[ ]Wash windows/eves
[ ]Clean out gutters if they need it
[ ]Clean Back Yard (trash/leaves/stuff you don’t notice any more)
[ ]Remove gardening equipment (reminds them of work—no good)
[ ]Clean outdoor grill, barbeque and lawn furniture
[ ]Repair missing deck slats, screens
[ ]Seal any concrete patio cracks
[ ]Store items that make yard look cluttered
[ ]Store offsite as much as you can from the garage to make it look HUGE
[ ]Take down the 10,000 things you have hanging in the garage
[ ]Wash and grease the garage doors
[ ]Make sure sprinklers and faucets are working
[ ]Get rid of any broken hoses/reels
[ ]Clean and repair pumps/filters for swimming pool, hot tub, etc.
[ ]Clean ponds and fountains (Goal is to make it look easy to maintain)
[ ]Remove ANY signs of smoking outside (pick up butts, remove ash trays)
[ ]Weed yard and garden

[ ]Remove excess furniture — Make your house look as big as possible
[ ]Rent offsite storage for anything you don’t need around daily
[ ]Remove excess collectibles and depersonalize as much as you can stand
[ ]Remove excess artwork and photographs
[ ]Repair any nail holes in the walls
[ ]Clean out (empty out) closets and cabinets
[ ]Clean out basement and get it all out of the house
[ ]Clear counter and tabletops of all unnecessary clutter
[ ]Clean appliances and then clean them again (remember top of the fridge)
[ ]Scrub bathroom over and over
[ ]Replace shower heads/curtains with new simple
[ ]Remove carpet stains any any signs of pet damage
[ ]Shampoo carpets
[ ]Remove cobwebs from ceiling corners
[ ]Clean ceiling fans and light covers (get the bugs/dust out
[ ]Replace all burned out light bulbs
[ ]Wash all light switch plates and outlet covers with cleaning wipes
[ ]Clean fireplace
[ ]Clean or replace drapes
[ ]Clean/dust all window blinds
[ ]Wash pets and remove during showings if at all possible
[ ]Clean litter box and remove during showings if at all possible
[ ]Remove ANY signs of smoking anywhere in the house []Remove mildew
[ ]Add fresh scent like potpourri
[ ]Consider having a professional cleaning team go over the house again
[ ]Consider having your home Staged by a professional ($2-300)

[ ]Look High and Low
[ ]Make Necessary Repairs
[ ]Remove debris from roof and gutters
[ ]Inspect and clean chimney
[ ]Repair/replace worn shingles
[ ]Wash or paint exterior if needed
[ ]Clean, paint and align gutters and downspouts
[ ]Clean grease and old spills from driveway, sidewalks, garage floor, patio
[ ]Check foundation for cracks and repair
[ ]Caulk windows, tubs, showers and sinks
[ ]Make sure toilets and faucets work well
[ ]Install new carpeting if needed
[ ]Touch up or repaint walls neutral color
[ ]Replace switches and outlets that don’t work
[ ]Replace furnace filer
[ ]Fix any fence holes, missing parts

Printable PDF Version

Once you’ve completed these things you are that much closer to getting on the market and finding the right buyer.

If you think of anything I missed, please contact me at here.

Take care,

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