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TIPS: Get the house ready to sell.

HER Realtor Marylee Bendig sign in front of beautiful home

Our real estate team has been engaged in countless homes for sale in the Groveport and surrounding areas. Even with guidance and recommendations, you would be amazed at how often we encounter a listing where even basic preparation has been neglected. Through a little work, you can establish a measurable advantage over comparable homes, and bring in top-dollar offers in less time. So, we have put our knowledge to print and composed a checklist of (mostly) small things that can make a huge difference. Print this page if needed.

Don't think of it as "your home"

 As is the case with most sellers, your home represents so many facets of your life. It’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, but you have to be able to remove “home” from the equation and start focusing on what you’re going to be selling. From this point forward, you need to concentrate on what your potential buyer is looking for. Buyers are strictly interested in the property. They focus on the size of the lot, the structure, the layout, the functional aspects, and how the house might best fit their lifestyle. Your goal is to highlight features of the property that will help a buyer to envision themselves living there.​

  • Mentally, prepare yourself to “let go.” Focus on the fact this house will soon belong to someone else.
  • Imagine yourself happily handing over the keys to excited new owners.
  • Get yourself excited about decorating your new home, and creating new memories!

The Buyer's Imagination

This process is all about staging that will cater to a potential buyer’s point of view. Buyers often have a hard time seeing past personal effects, and you want to minimize the distractions. Pack up the family photographs and heirlooms and remove Buckeye memorabilia (I know it hurts). The goal is to create an environment where buyers feel like they aren’t intruding into someone else’s space. Buyers need to visualize their own furniture & photos, and how they might assign rooms to members of their family. Most buyers simply can’t get to that point if your house exhibits too much of your personal life. Go for the look & feel of a model home. You need buyers to think, “I can see myself living here.”

At this point, if there are any items that you are not planning on leaving in the house (window coverings, built-in appliances, fixtures, possibly a chandelier, etc.) please remove them now. If a buyer never sees these items, they won’t ever want them. On the other hand, if you have to tell a buyer they can’t have an item (after they’ve seen it), they’ll likely resent the situation and find another property. It’s better to avoid a conflict if at all possible.

Essentialism, minimalism...just eliminate the clutter.

Most people tend to collect an amazing amount of ‘stuff’ over time, and what some people may view as perfectly normal can often be viewed as unsightly clutter to others. Clutter sources, such as notes and paperwork, to toiletries and cleaning supplies, to musical instruments and sports gear, to electronics or baking equipment can all fall into this category. They can be found everywhere: tucked in a corner, a drawer, a cabinet, under a bed, up on a shelf, in a closet, out in the garage, and the ‘storage place’ list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, potential buyers have a knack for picking up on these distractions, and they can put a seriously negative spin on how a buyer relates to your house. Think about it this way: if you haven’t used it for a year, you probably don’t need it. It would be a good time to think about a garage sale, or securing a storage unit until your big move.

During a showing, buyers will spend a significant amount of time analyzing the kitchen and bathrooms. They’ll look through drawers, they’ll open the pantry, and they will explore in cabinets and under the sinks. They will also gauge the adequacy of counter space and any available closets nearby. Essentially, buyers are attempting to get a feel for how much space they’ve got to work with, and how easy it will be to store their ‘stuff’. It is with the utmost certainty that we stress these rooms (more than any others) to have the most impact on the sale of a home. At the same time, however, kitchens and bathrooms are also one of the most common places for homeowners to accumulate clutter.

Kitchens –

  • Remove virtually everything from the kitchen counters.
  • Open each drawer and examine its contents. If it’s not needed, throw it out or move it to your storage unit. Clear out the junk drawer, and use that space to spread out cooking utensils.
  • Neatly stack dishes, plastic goods and pots & pans. Glasses should be turned the same way, and coffee cup handles should face in the same direction. Organize the spices and food. Your goal is to create space between items in the cabinets, and move excess to your storage unit.
  • Remove everything from under the sink. Scrub the base of the cabinet. Buyers need to be able to easily see the cabinet base, so don’t put too many items back in there. Buyers will be looking for any obvious signs of water leaks, as well as general condition.
  • Pantries should be as orderly as possible. Avoid stacking food items, canned goods should be arranged neatly, and clear everything off of the floor. Loose items should be placed into tubs, and decorative glass jars are great storage containers for items like rice, beans, cereal, sugar and flour. Remember – Buyers want to see space, not a bunch of staked boxes.
  • The refrigerator – Single calendars, a shopping list or a recipe magnetically attached is okay, but clear everything else. Don’t forget to vacuum between the fridge & cabinets.

Bathrooms –

  • Counters should be absolutely bare. Remove telescoping makeup mirrors or hair dryer hangers, then have the holes filled. Bent towel bars and rings should get replaced.
  • Walls & shower doors need to be relatively clear. Remove any hanging personal items like shower caps, robes or soiled towels.
  • Open cabinets, drawers and medicine storage areas, and remove old / unnecessary toiletries & medical supplies. Avoid placing too many items under the sink areas. Keep only the essentials.
  • Closets must be arranged, and towels should be folded in neat stacks. If you have a clothes hamper, move it out during the sale process. Extra sheets, bedding, oversize towels or anything that takes up large amounts of closet space should be moved out.

Bedrooms –

  • Bedding should always be neat & crisp. A couple throw pillows are okay, but avoid filling your headboard with numerous fluffy items.
  • Floors should be free of boxes, shoes and clothes.
  • Dressers and mirrors need to be clear of knickknacks, jewelry and electronic devices.
  • Walls and ceilings need to be free of any posters, stickers or hanging memorabilia.
  • Bedroom closets should have hanging clothes arranged neatly, facing in the same direction and like items grouped together. Line up shoes by type and minimize clutter on shelves. Storage boxes should be moved to your storage unit.

Furnishings –

  • Houses shows better with less furniture. Remove any pieces that squeeze pathways.
  • Bookcases need to be cleared off and nearly empty.
  • Depending on the size of your kitchen or dining room, removing extra leaves from tables will rooms appear larger.
  • Don’t forget about your patio furniture. If your patio furniture has seen better days, remove it.

Garage – 

  • Remove mowers & yard tools.
  • Hang bicycles or parked them out of the way.
  • Declutter the shelves. Discard or remove paint cans, gas cans, insecticides, weed killers, and hand tools.
  • Garage floors get a good sweeping and wet cleaning, if possible.

Now comes the deep cleaning!

While this list is not inclusive, use it as a guide to cover many of the “issues” that alarm potential buyers. When encountered, buyers become concerned about what they can’t specifically see. If it seems a little much for you do yourself, here is a list of trusted contractors.

  • Wash windows inside & out.
  • Remove cobwebs.
  • Dust & clean the furniture, blinds, ceiling fans, chandeliers, and air-conditioning/heater returns & vents.
  • Install new air conditioner filters.
  • Wet clean every door, especially the doorknobs.
  • Repair stained caulking in the bathrooms.
  • Use glass cleaner on chrome faucets and mirrors.
  • Clean out the refrigerator, and minimize what’s in there. (Even if you’re taking the fridge with you.)
  • Mop tile/wood floors weekly and vacuum carpet every day.
  • Replace or remove worn out carpet.
  • Hang out fresh towels.
  • Homeowners become used to specific smells (especially pets) and become somewhat oblivious to them. An odor neutralizing spray, scented candle or carpet freshener can help immensely. Just do not to go overboard. You don’t want to create the impression that you’re trying to cover something up.


Repairs & Maintenance

Most buyers will use a home inspector. Quite often the “problems” are somewhat trivial in nature. Experienced buyers can often sift through the unimportant items of concern, but occasionally a new buyer reads an inspection report, and their anxiety simply overcomes them. It’s always best to address as many repair items as possible up front. Most are easy but, if you need help, we have provided a list of some of our trusted contractors and handymen that service Groveport and surrounding.

Interior Repairs –

  • Fix, paint, or re-stain any scratches or gouges on cabinetry.
  • Tighten hinges, or replace stripped out screws (go one size larger) for any cabinet doors that might not be aligned.
  • Patch holes or cracks in walls. Pay specific attention to doorknobs that come into contact with walls.
  • A new coat of paint can work wonders for the interior appearance of your house. Have you ever experienced a water leak that’s stained the ceiling or walls? Are the kid’s rooms painted in pink, purple or blue? Hit these areas with good quality primer & sealer. Then, consider painting your walls a light beige or light neutral color, especially if you have grown accustomed to bold decorating tastes. Your decorating colors may be beautiful, but buyers might not be into your color scheme. Simply put, light – neutral colors make rooms feel bigger and brighter.
  • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles. Have you looked in your attic for spares? Many times, builders will leave some spares specifically for this reason.
  • Carpet repairs are usually a must. Depending upon the severity of any worn areas, they may just need a professional cleaning. Otherwise, replacement may be in order. A new carpet allowance for buyers is never as compelling as having it completed. If you intend to do something with your carpet, replace it before you put your home on the market. Stick with a neutral color, and stay on the economical end of the price range. It will smell like a new house and look great!
  • Plumbing Fixtures – When selling a house, fixtures need to operate and look brand new. If yours don’t, you can easily swap them out. Don’t forget about the shower heads too. There are economical options for replacements, and they take minutes to install.
  • Fix squeaky doors that don’t close properly, door knobs that stick and locks that don’t engage. Usually, these are fixed quite easily with a slight adjustment, some WD40, or thicker screws for hinges that are pulling out of the frame.
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs, and ensure that each light switch works.
  • If you’ve considered replacing a worn bedspread, now is the time!

The following section is THE MOST IMPORTANT to address. “Curb appeal” is a make or break issue for most buyers. If buyers don’t like the exterior, they won’t even get out of their car to go inside!

Exterior Repairs –

  • Repair wood-rot. Most often found around doors & windows, soffits & eaves, and siding near chimneys. Most of these repairs can be completed inexpensively and will have a dramatic effect.
  • Make sure that rain gutters are attached to roof-lines, and downspouts are attached to gutters.
  • Remove, clean and/or repaint shutters.
  • Front Entries are incredibly important. If the door is weathered, faded or has discolored hardware on it, it’s time for action. Remove the hardware, give the door a nice new coat of paint, and replace the old hardware with a new set. Many of the new lock systems also allow you to key the lock with the same key you use on other exterior doors. It’s a great way to spruce up the front of your house, and ensure that a showing agent isn’t struggling with the lock to get into the house.
  • Exterior Lighting can very easily date a house. Take a look at the fixtures near the front porch and garage. If they are severely sun baked, or if the glass is broken or cracked it’s time to replace them. Exterior lights are inexpensive, yet they completely change the look of a house.
  • Clear off the front porch, roll up and store yard hoses and make sure the entire porch is swept off. You don’t want anything to be on there except for a nice new WELCOME HOME mat under the front of the door.
  • Trim bushes, low hanging or dead tree limbs to allow a clear path to the front entryway.
  • Mow and trim the lawn and keep it manicured during the sale process. If there are any dead spots in the grass, make sure you put down some sod to fill these in. Sod is inexpensive, and with adequate watering, it blends right in with the surrounding grass.
  • Plant colorful flowers in your flower beds. Add fresh mulch.
  • Rent a pressure washer to spray down sidewalks, the driveway, and exterior of the house (siding, brick, stucco, etc.). Power sprayers can yield dramatic improvements, but be especially careful around windows and soffit air vents. The rental store can guide you.
  • Lastly, make sure that potential buyers have an unobstructed view of your address (and your Agent’s sign). When they start making calls the buyer should be able to tell agents exactly which house they’re interested in.

Just this once...ask for their opinion.

Ask family members, friends and neighbors to role-play as a buyer, and walk the property with you. Remain open to advice that’s shared with you, and don’t get discouraged or dismiss any of the opinions that are offered.

  • First, turn on every light in the house.
  • Walk down the street with your “buyers”, and turn to face your house. Take a look around. How does your house compare with nearby properties? Does yours have a nicer curb appeal than the surrounding area?
  • Stand in your yard, and face the main entry. Does the house look inviting, and does it welcome potential buyers?
  • Enter the house from the front door. How does it smell? Can you easily move from room to room without walking around obstacles?
  • Spend time in the entryway of each room. Does the furniture need to be moved to create a better flow?
  • Examine the window coverings, blinds and any remaining wall art. Is everything level, does it look like it fits the room?
  • Does the space look like it belongs to someone specific, or does it exhibit a clean slate that a buyer can envision living in?

In order to get that perfect offer, it requires careful planning and a keen understanding of how to present your home so that it will have buyers scrambling to sign a contract. If you apply the home seller tips contained in this section, you will have a significant advantage over the majority of the home market.

I will guide you. Let’s get started.

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