Trees and flowers are beginning to bloom, birds are jubilant with song, and you’ve noticed these things only because you’re most likely sitting at home in isolation. If you were thinking about selling your home before coronavirus (COVID-19) entered our world, luckily, you still can. In fact, the current state of the US housing market shows that homebuyers still want to buy houses. They are simply shifting to a more virtual homebuying experience, including live video-chat tours. So, even if you’re feeling kind of isolated from the rest of the world, now is at least a great time to get your house ready to sell by doing these simple things.
1. Clear the clutter from your home
First and foremost, walk outside your home and then re-enter through the front door as if you were a prospective homebuyer. Go through each room in your house and see with homebuyer eyes the amount of clutter you’ve accumulated. Don’t worry, it’s human nature. However, clutter detracts from the beauty of your home and its prime selling features.
Would you buy a used car from a dealership that had a trash bag full of laundry in the back seat or chapstick and hair ties in the center console? You might be able to see past those things and see the underlying value, but wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to? The same is true with your home. You don’t want that one individual to have to see past your clutter to know your true home’s worth. You want to maximize the number of people that see your home’s value and get multiple bids so you can receive top dollar for your home. To get you started, here are some decluttering tips:
- Lose oversized and excess furniture: large furniture and too many pieces of furniture not only clutter rooms but make rooms appear small to homebuyers. Think about what furniture actually needs to be in each room to highlight that room’s best features, then eliminate the rest by putting it in storage, selling or donating it.
- Begin packing your belongings: you plan on moving anyways so you might as well start organizing and packing your belongings. Start by cleaning out your closets and other storage areas before moving onto individual rooms. Sell or donate the items you don’t want to keep, and then begin moving everything else to a storage unit. You’ll be amazed how large your house really is once you begin reducing the amount of “stuff” that fills it from wall to wall.
- Store your possessions: using a storage unit is a great way to help declutter your home. You can temporarily move all your non-essential items into the unit while allowing your home to be more inviting to potential homebuyers.
2. Deep clean your home
Going back to our used car analogy, what if that same car you were looking at buying had fast food wrappers on the floorboards, or the steering wheel and dashboard were covered in dust? You would probably think the previous owner didn’t take good care of their car, even if it ran perfectly. No homebuyer wants to walk into a home that isn’t clean and presentable, so for the love of real estate, deep clean your home. Besides the typical cleaning you may do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, also consider these often overlooked areas:
- Wash windows inside and out
- Clean all mirrors
- Clean drapes, curtains, and blinds
- Open every window to let fresh spring air in
- Clean the grout in your bathrooms
3. Make repairs and small upgrades
Usually, it’s recommended to get a pre-inspection on your home before you list it. It makes for a much smoother transaction later if you can make all the small repairs that come up in the home inspection report now versus when you’re in negotiations with a homebuyer. However, while practicing social distancing, you might not want to invite people into your home right now. So be proactive and walk around your home both inside and out and take note of little things that are in need of repair. Prioritize your list, write down all the materials you’ll need to fix them and so you’ll only have to go out to the store once to get them, and then get to fixing.
And since you’re finding yourself at home more these days, you most likely have the time to make some small upgrades that will really make your house shine and draw in multiple offers (See how to increase home value on a budget). Here are some easy upgrades to consider that won’t break the bank:
- Repaint your rooms in neutral colors
- Upgrade the hardware in your kitchen
- Replace doorknobs for a more contemporary feel
- Update your outlet and light switch plates
- Paint your front door
- Add floating shelves for more storage
- Upgrade sink fixtures and indoor lighting
4. Focus on curb appeal and your home’s exterior
Nothing makes a better first-time impression of a home than its curb appeal. You may live in sunny Sacramento, CA where you can use plants year-round to make your house more appealing to homebuyers, or you may live in Minneapolis, MN where snow may still cover the ground in late spring and you have to work a little harder to make your home shine. Either way, you’ll never get a second chance at a first impression for homebuyers. To easily enhance your curb appeal, focus on these tips:
- Rake your yard and pick up any dead debris
- Clean the exterior of your house with a pressure washer
- Pressure wash your driveway
- Use potted plants to add character to your entrance
- Upgrade outdoor light fixtures
- Add a seasonal wreath to your front door
- Get a new welcome mat
- Upgrade your mailbox
- Add new mulch/bark to your shrubs and flowers
5. Stage to impress homebuyers
After you have finally decluttered, cleaned, fixed, and upgraded your house, now it’s time to think about staging your home to sell. Try to stage your home with your current furniture and belongings so you don’t have to leave and rent anything. However, you may soon find out that you don’t have an eye for staging a home and that’s okay. It’s a very unique skill set and you may find it easier to hire a professional to help you out. Reach out and see if any of your local home stagers are willing to give you advice over video chat. This way you can maintain your distance and still get great advice. Nonetheless, here are a few things you can focus on to get you started:
- Depersonalize your home by removing family photos
- Utilize towels, throws, and pillows in light colors to brighten rooms
- Set out fresh flowers
- Create an outside seating area
- Make sure all your lighting indoors and outdoors is the same or similar color temperature
- Less is more with items on shelves and counters
6. Plan for your pets
You may have a dog, a few cats, or a menagerie of furry family members that typically have free range of your home. What is often overlooked when selling a home is what you should do with your fuzzy friends. It can be both stressful for animals when strangers are entering your home for tours and off-putting to potential homebuyers when your perfectly friendly dog won’t leave them alone while they walk through your house.
Begin planning ahead by contacting places where your animal can feel comfortable and safe, but out of the way during home tours. Doggie or kitty day camps or your local kennel are great options during open houses that last several hours or multiple home tours in one day or consider taking Fido for a walk when individual home tours are taking place. You’ll want to keep both your animals and potential homebuyers happy during this time of transition and planning this out now will really help when you’re ready to finally list your home for sale.