First impressions are critical to selling your home quickly. Before real estate agents start walking potential buyers through your front door, put yourself in their shoes and take a critical look around. If you want to sell your home fast, consider these five simple and affordable do-it-yourself steps to prep it for showing.
1. De-clutter your home.
Pack up and put away everything that appears personal. Personal items include family photos, awards and certificates, knick knacks, magazines, and more. When you remove clutter you create open space. Haul out some furniture if you must. You want the new homeowners to picture themselves in your house. How to start: Check out Craigslist for free moving boxes. For smaller boxes, ask at the local grocery store. If you live in a transient community like one near a military base, peruse the neighborhood for moving boxes. Cost: Free
2. Clean – Clean – and Clean Some More.
A clean house gives a well-cared for appearance to prospective buyers. Stains distract people from seeing and appreciating the layout and space in your house. Strong odors are another no-no. Strive for clean, fresh, and neutral. How to start: Buy two all-purpose cleaning sprays for windows, mirrors, furniture, and counter tops. Remember to scrub tile, back splashes, baseboards, and corners. Pull out major appliances and wipe behind and under them. Throw in a room freshener and you’re all set! Helping Hint: Once your house is on the market, avoid cooking anything with strong flavors or smells, though some folks say fresh-baked-cookie smell is always a plus!
Cost: $10 (two cleaning sprays) + $4 (room freshener). Total – $14
3. Patch, Paint, and Balance.
Painting walls, ceilings, and trim is essential to your home’s fresh and clean appearance when it comes to a quick sale. How to start: Caulk and spackle to fill holes and cracks in walls. If you have a steady hand, new caulk around your shower or bathtub gives a fresh look without unsightly mildew stains. Next paint walls, ceiling, and trim. You can look online for cheaper paint, or ask in your local paint store for marked down cans. Sometimes customers return paints they’ve opened because the color is wrong or they ordered too much. You can buy these “seconds” for much less. Look for neutral shades. Use at least two coats. Since it’s a one-time use, buy brushes at the local discount store. Helping Hint: Ensure that all light bulbs in the house match and work. Bad lighting could change the perception of space. Cost: $3 (caulk tube) or $5 (spackle paste) + $12 to $16 (paint – $4 per can) + $10 (brushes/paint rollers) + $10 ($1 per light bulb). Total – $35 to $41
4. Polish and Fix.
Keep your eye (and ear) peeled for creaky doors, scratchy floors, and loose cabinets. These quick do-it-yourself repairs contribute to a well-cared-for appearance in your home. How to start: It is amazing how many products you can find to hide imperfections in your home. Use a wood filler pen to remove the scratches on hardwood flooring. Try it on furniture and cabinetry, too. Vacuum all rugs and carpets throughout the house (including the insides of closets) and remove stains with a can of spot cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda on your rugs 10 minutes before vacuuming to give rugs a fresher scent. Another fun product to try is WD40 to fix creaky doors and Fix-All Adhesive to repair small knick-knacks. Helping Hint: Walk around the house with a screwdriver and tighten screws wherever possible: kitchen cabinets, bathroom spaces, doors, etc.
Cost: $5 (wood filler pen) + $5 (carpet cleaner) + $5 (WD40) + $2 (fix-all adhesive). Total – $17
5. Beautify Your Home’s Exterior.
Some people estimate that half of all houses are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars! Stand across the street from your house and scrutinize your curb appeal. This project is more expensive, but it adds value to the asking price and helps you sell your house fast.
How to start: Sometimes local nurseries give free landscaping tips if you take them a few photos or a drawing of your property. Trim back overgrown bushes and weed out flowerbeds. Cut a clean edge around gardens and add a few bags of new mulch. Helping Hint: Add a couple of annual flowers and a flower pot or two. Those bright spots of color create immediate impact. Plus flower pots can go with you to your new home! Cost: $100 to $110 (landscape) + $15 (garden shears). Total – $125
GRAND TOTAL: $197