The question I am often asked, is what is the best way to prepare for a home showing? I think the best advice is to walk through your house with the eye of a Home Buyer. What do you see that might stand out and detract from a showing? A few obvious yet ideas in need of repeating to help your home show to its fullest potential!
Remove clutter and clear off those counters! If you have been meaning to throw out those stacks of newspapers and old magazines, then now is the time to do it! Any furniture that clogs natural traffic patterns in the house and makes a room feel smaller, place in storage. Any out-of-season clothing cramping closet space either store it away or give to Good Will! This makes the closet space in the home look so much more roomy! Don’t stop there however, make sure you clean out the garage, too. Oh, and the biggest thing I hear from showings is when houses are “too busy” and have too much going on. Your design may be wonderful, but if it distracts from buyers seeing themselves in your space, then it will slow down the sale of your property. Remember, you are now trying to create a neutral “palette,” and appeal to a broader group of buyers with different tastes. Neutral is best!
Wash your windows and screens. After you do this just leave the screens off the house. Stack them to one side of the basement or side of the house. This will help get more natural light into the interior of the home.
Keep everything clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well maintained. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates or if they are in need, replace them with new! Very inexpensive way to make things feel new again! Mop floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Don’t forget the microwave! Polish your doorknobs and address numbers out front. There again, if the door knobs scream, “old and worn out,” replace them with the newest finishes! It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it especially to clean the carpet!
Get rid of smells. Have you ever walked into a house with a kitty litter box that needs cleaning out? That will seal the end of a showing pretty quickly! Cleaning carpeting and window treatments to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells is smart. I suggest if the window treatments or drapes are not included with sale to just remove them. It continues to open up the home to allow more natural light to shine in! Open windows to air out a house. Scented candles will help, but remember that at times those “air fresheners” you can buy at the store can make a house smell worse not better!
Brighten your rooms. This is an old trick from a builder I learned years ago. I know it is not “green,” but put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Another biggie is to replace burned-out bulbs. Nothing says “I don’t care about the little details” as a seller as seeing a fixture with multiple types of bulbs that don’t match or bulbs that are burned out that have never been replaced. Makes a buyer think if “they can’t replace a light bulb then what bigger issues are they ignoring!” Clean the walls and make them feel new again by rolling on a fresh coat of neutral color paint. Remember when you are selling it is not about your style anymore, but you are trying to appeal to the biggest group of buyers possible! There is a reason builders have always painted “builder beige” everywhere on new homes!
Don’t put off repairs. Issues such doors that don’t close correctly, cracked caulking, no caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem small, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t looked after.
Keep the yard up. When in season, cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge, and most importantly clean the gutters! If you see rotten wood on thresholds or around windows, repair and paint! If you don’t do it now, you will have to for a buyer per a home inspection which will find it anyway and it protects your investment today! I would rather “not” see wood showing through gables, around windows, and fascia board rotting when I drive up to a house than see a flower pot by the front door placed there to distract me from seeing the problems! Isn’t there a saying about putting lipstick on a pig or something?
Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable. Actually had an agent recently text me after a showing to say that the home had “foundation issues.” I asked her what she meant, and she said that the crack in the sidewalk leading up to the house was “proof positive” that there were foundation issues! While laughable, if a Realtor who should know better cannot know that a non-issue is not a major issue then how can a home buyer that might buy a home only a few times in a lifetime!
Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or place scented candles there if not in use. This is a great location for those scented candles to give a gorgeous glow to the room while being safely lit for the showing!
Make the bathrooms less “used.” Put away old towels and place toothbrushes, razors, curling irons, and anything that distracts away. Make it feel, especially in the Master, luxurious to buyers to enter your bathroom! The space should feel like a place to be pampered. Not a place to run into your dirty clothes on the floor! Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.
Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. I have a dog and a cat so I understand, but if that’s not possible, confine them to one room like in a basement where it won’t prohibit people from seeing key spaces in a house during the showing (like a bedroom for example), and let the showing agent know where there will be no surprises.
Leave home during the showing. It’s always best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there. Oh, and don’t bug or put showings on video! I had that happen recently as well. The Buyers didn’t know what to say while in the property, and felt compelled not to enjoy it as much feeling as if they were on camera. So if you film your showings, just hide your cameras better than the last guy whose house I showed!
It is my hope that you can appreciate my humor. As a Realtor I see quite a bit and note showings that could have gone more smoothly if some simple steps were followed!