Selling your house can be a nightmare: dodgy agents peddling quick deals, meticulous surveyors poking around the basement, and nosy prospective buyers snooping through your kitchen cupboards. While getting the price you want is at the top of your list, other concerns can weigh you down. Still, you can take control of how your house is presented to buyers. Here are just a few things you can do to up your value in an easy and affordable way.
Selling a house can sometimes be as easy as doing a big spring cleanout. Aside from a little healthy kilojoule expenditure and some rubbish bags, this fabulously free idea has perhaps the biggest impact: a crisp, tidy environment is an effective lure for buyers.
Keep in mind that sifting through junk is not your only task. You must also try to remove as many personal effects as possible, making your house a blank slate so that buyers can walk through, look around, and picture themselves there. This means removing pictures, books, collectibles and anything else that has your personality written all over it.
Ilyce Glink, author of 50 Simple Steps You Can Take to Sell Your Home Faster and for More Money in Any Market, suggests streamlining your artwork and neutralising decorating statements, too.
Barb Schwarz, CEO of StagedHomes.com, makes de-cluttering a top priority.
“Clutter eats equity,” she said. “In general, a sparsely decorated home helps the buyer mentally ‘move in’ with their own things.”
Plus, you’ll have to pack it up anyway, so you may as well get a head start!
Paint is a godsend to the seller. What better way to modernise and freshen up than a good ol’ lick of paint? Women’s real estate association, Property Woman, suggests painting yellowed bathroom tiles instead of replacing them, kitchen cupboards that are worn or dull, and outside siding. Choosing each or all of these options can make a tasteful, cost-effective impact on potential buyers.
Before you stock up on paint tins, however, remember to keep your palate warm and neutral. Although painting your bedroom red would certainly make a statement, buyers may not agree. One of the most important factors in selling your house is making it as accessible, light, and open as possible. This may mean ditching that funky lime for a more boring, but sellable, eggshell.
“Buyers have a hard enough time envisioning how their stuff will look on your walls,” Glink said. “By neutralising your decor, you can help give them the blank canvas they need to imagine your house as theirs.”
A little green can add a lot of value to your property, with very little output. First, simply take stock of your garden. Does it have untidy hedges or an overflowing compost pile? A good mow, weeding, and tidy around your borders is a great start. Hide your rubbish bins, building materials, barbecues, and especially any dead plants. Then make sure foliage is clipped so you can see the windows.
“Plants are like children … they grow so fast,” Schwarz said. “[But] you can’t sell a house if you can’t see it!”
From there, you can add some cheap, refined touches: line potted plants along pathways. Opt for succulents, or vegetation that’s easy to maintain, and your buyer will be pleased. If you have a flat with a balcony, or small garden, add a small, well-tended potted tree or rose bush.
Finally, take a look at your fence. While fences add a bit of desired privacy for buyers, they can also be faded or broken, which has the opposite effect. You may need to break out the paint, again.
Cleaning a house to sell is not just about removing your personal items. This is about spotless and sparkling: the almighty bathroom-tiles-with-a-toothbrush affair, and although it might be painful, it certainly pays off.
Schwarz’s list of scouring and polishing is long and arduous, but the list centres on the importance of “curb appeal”. Sure, buyers might not dig around your attic, but they will notice dusty furniture and a greasy oven. So be aware, and start viewing your house as your buyer will see it.
Evaluate each room, and begin by cleaning floors and drapes. If you’ve chosen to paint, make sure to remove any stray splotches. In the bathroom, get rid of any chalky limescale or rust stains in the bath, and make sure the toilet and sink sparkle. Degrease the stovetop, and give the kitchen a very thorough scrub.
Finally, tackle the windows. Seemingly inconspicuous, water-stained, smudgy or dirty windows can block light and give the impression that the house has been neglected, scaring off buyers. Bring on the Windex.
If you’re trying to sell your house, you already have your work cut out for you dealing with agents and lawyers, and the mission of physically moving home. By adding these tasks to a few of your weekends, however, your house can transform into an enticing possibility for prospective buyers. Then you can sit back, with your clean house, packed boxes, and relax: getting your asking price will be easier and quicker than you thought.