Paint: Few things will enhance the salability of a house as much as painting the exterior. Before painting, scrape or water-blast any blisters or peeling paint, repair gutters and downspouts, and replace wood showing dry rot. Wood, trim work, gutters and wrought iron should receive primary attention.
Front Entry: Give special attention to this area. This is where the buyers get their first opportunity to make close inspection, and they will it apart looking for flaws, so eliminate them. All woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Repaint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Do a thorough weeding and pruning job on any flower beds near the entry, and try to have some flowering plants growing.
Yard: Mow and trim the lawn. Weed flower beds; remove or replace dead plants or trees. Water regularly, during the growing season. With desert landscaping, make sure there is no underlying plastic exposed, that rock and sand are tidy, and that weeds and grass are removed.
Driveway, Garage/Carport: Clean up grease and oil spots; remove the soil at least, if not the stain. See that the garage door opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, don’t park cars in front of the house or in the driveway, and try to have very few parked on the street near the house. Recreations vehicles or boats should be in the garage or carport or behind a fence in the back.
Fence: A few missing stakes or slats are real eyesores to buyers, yet are usually inexpensive and easy to fix. Repair, paint or stain as necessary.
Roof: Remove visible debris or toys. Remove any tree branches bearing on the roof.
Air Conditioners/Evaporative Coolers: Repaint or replace any rusted exposed metal. Correct improper draining.
Patio: A nice spread of outdoor furniture looks very appealing. If necessary, borrow from a friend to enhance show ability.
Swimming Pool: Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Hose dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.
Doors: Replace or repair doors with holes. A temporary fix, until the door can be replaced, would be to place a mirror or piece of paneling over the hole. Make sure all doors open and close property, including closet doors and patio or sliding glass doors. Oil any squeaking doors. Tighten the hardware, particularly on knob doors. While making this kind of adjustment tighten hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, as well.
Walls: Wallpaper should be clean and adhere smoothly to the walls. Patch all major holes in wallboard and plaster. Loose handrails on stairways should be secured to walls. Clean and/or paint air-vent covers.
Floors: Repair or replace missing or damaged pieces of tile; polish if needed. Repair of a loose stair tread-plate or loose carpeting on a stairway is a top priority.
Carpet: Steam-clean is the best answer for soiled carpet; shampooing seldom does the job where show ability s concerned. If pet odors are present, be sure to clean the carpet some time before the home is placed on the market to be sure the odors have been eliminated. Loose carpet should be anchored properly.
Check Mechanical and Electrical Features
Lights: Every light socket in and around the house should have a good bulb of adequate wattage. Don’t overlook the outside, in the garage, utility room, halls, and closets, or over the kitchen sink, and in the oven and exhaust hood.
Switches and Fixtures: Repair or replace wall switches, outlets and light fixtures that don’t work. Replace any broken switch plates.
Appliances: Those that will be sold with the home should be in good working condition. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, point this out.
Plumbing: Badly chipped or irreversible stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as any dripping faucets.
Sprinkler System: These should be working properly with no defective heads.
One of the best and least expensive ways to improve the showability of your home is to open up as much space as possible. Openness stimulates positive feelings in homebuyers. Overstuffing rooms or closets gives the impression of being smaller than they really are. You can’t change the size of what you have, so try to present it in a pleasing way. If necessary, rent a storage unit to store your excess belongings while the house is on the market.
Closets and Storage Areas: One of the most frequently voiced requirements of Buyers is for closet and storage space. Open up your storage areas by getting rid of items you aren’t using.
Counters and Cabinets: The same principal applies here; overcrowding gives the impression of inadequacy. This applies to bathrooms and kitchens, with the kitchen being the most important. Store infrequently used appliances. Do some prudent discarding in cabinets.
Garage: Buyers will pay a premium for garage if they visualize it being of value to them. It’s hard to sell the virtues of a garage when it’s filled to overflowing. If your garage has become a two-car attic, move the excess to a storage unit.
Bathrooms: Few places in the home get so dirty so fast and yet few things will ‘un-sell’ a house as fast as a dirty bathroom. Vanity, sink, faucet hardware and mirrors are the focal points, but other potential problems might be soap residue in the shower, a moldy shower curtain, accumulated dirt in the track of a sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, stained toilet bowls, and a dirty or worn bath mat and/or rug(s).
Kitchen: Like baths, kitchens get dirty all by themselves. Most Buyers will inspect this area carefully; so extra time invested here is well spent. Clean the stove inside and out. Replace badly stained or corroded reflector plates under the heating elements on electric range tops. Don’t neglect the kitchen exhaust hood; Buyers usually check this area as a clues to general housekeeping.
Windows: Clean windows are an absolute necessity if a house is to look it’s best, yet this is very often overlooked.
Water Heater/Softeners: Perhaps because it is do unusual, a sparkling clean water heater or softener really impresses Buyers and it takes little time and effort.
Wet Towels and Washcloths: Residents of a home frequently aren’t aware of what a potential source of bad odor these are. Replace all used towels with fresh ones before a showing.
Soiled clothes: When the house is being shown, keep dirty laundry out of the living area; move it to the utility room, garage, or storage area. This applies especially to a diaper pail.
Garbage: Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related discards from the kitchen. Make sure no potatoes or onions are going bad under the sink or in the pantry. After running garbage through the disposal, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell.
Cats and Dogs: Move cat’s litter box out of the house, if possible… Be sure to clean up after the dog before any showings.
Valuables: You may have valuable possessions that you like to display in your home, but when the house is being shown to strangers, is not the time. Never leave small valuable items lying around on counters or visible in closets or cabinets. Get them out of sight, if not out of the house.
Exclusions from the Sale: Make a note now of the items you don’t intend to include in the sale of the house. Freestanding items generally are not included, but when in doubt spell it out. Some items that often cause misunderstanding are light fixtures, draperies, large mirrors, water softeners, garage door openers and TV antennas.
Instructional Manuals: As with keys, gather manuals and warranties for the mechanical equipment in house – kitchen appliances, water heater and softener, air conditioning and heating units, evaporative cooling units, pool and filtration equipment, and electronic air filters. Receipts for any professional work you’ve had done to the property are also great to give to your Buyer.
Tips for Showing
Light: Open all draperies unless there is an objectionable view. In most room you should turn on lights for a bright and cheerful look. Lamps and indirect lighting are preferable, but use overhead lights if that’s all there is in a particular room
Light Switches: If some wall switched operate wall outlets, plug in a lamp or radio to demonstrate that the switch works. When a buyer flips on a switch and nothing happens, he/she instinctively suspects a problem.
Aromas: Set out some fresh flowers. Bake cookies or bread, or cook a beef roast; don’t cook seafood or strong-smelling vegetables like cabbage or cauliflower.
Closets: Keep doors closed except for walk-in closets. Have those doors slightly ajar and turn on the lights to draw attention to this special feature.
Posters and Signs: Don’t take a chance of offending a potential Buyer. Remove any signs or posters that might be considered offensive.
Ashtrays: Dirty ashtrays are both unsightly and a source of objectionable odor to non smokers. Keep them clean.
Utility Bills: Have a copy of the past 12 months bills available, or at least a written summary of the amounts paid monthly for that period.
Pets: If possible, keep pets out of the house or restrained during the showing. Buyers will sometimes object to viewing a property all together, if a dog or cat is present and not restrained.
Music: Soft background music will help create a relaxed mood that prompts buyers to linger and enjoy. Better no music than loud music. Never have a TV on when the house is being shown.
Your Presence: Most buyers will not relax and closely inspect a home if the owners are present, so try and arrange to turn the house over to the salesperson. If you must remain at home, refrain from talking unless questions are directed to you. All too often, a seller will jump in to point out some special feature, fearful that the salesperson might overlook it. Please bear in mind that some of the most successful salespeople will say little or nothing during showings, for two reasons; first, they have made their selling points before entering the house; and second, they want the buyers to discover things for themselves in order to build excitement. The salesperson also knows the buyers temperament. So trust the salesperson’s professional abilities.