Tip #1. De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Before we put our house up for sale, I went through every room. We packed up several boxes of knick knacks, sentimental tchotchkes, kid stuff, and other things a family accumulates all over. I took down several pictures off the wall. I love a big photo wall, but buyers need to be able to imagine their own things in your home. We rented a storage unit and put all those items away while the house was on the market.
Tip #2. Mind your curb appeal. My husband I did a lot of work in the yard, including laying the sod, and adding some new plants in the front and backyard. I added some flowers and ornamental grasses, too. We stayed on top of the weeds, and mowed the lawn twice a week.
Tip #3. Deep clean your house. I went through every room and meticulously cleaned. It's a lot easier to keep a clean house clean. After the house was on the market, I did a quick, light cleaning in all the spots that get the most use...bathrooms, kitchen, and family room. Here are some of my favorite cleaning supplies:
To keep bathrooms looking their best, I tucked a bleach tab in each tank. I would use the wipes for a quick touch up, and then shine the mirror and faucets with windex. Not pictured, daily shower cleaner for the master shower. A definite must-have. Touching up the bathrooms took me five minutes...of course I was cleaning them quickly every day.
We have stainless steel appliances, and I found that Weimans' polish worked great...a bit pricey, but all those smudges and finger prints disappeared. I also used my all-purpose cleaner for counters and Barkeeper's Friend for the sink. Another great use for the Murphy Oil Soap is wiping down the cabinets. All in all, I could be ready for a showing in about 30 minutes.
So, what did we do when the house was shown?
Tip #4. Prepare a get-away plan. I packed up a basket filled with things to keep my kids busy. I also figured on a few places to go while we had to be gone.
Our house was near the school, so one of my favorite places to go was to the playground. I kept this basket in the minivan, filled with activities to keep everyone busy. I also included snacks and took advantage of the picnic in the park program on a few occasions. I also always kept bottled water in the car. When the weather was inclement, we hung out at the public library. The kids loved to pick out new books to read, play on the computers, and our library also had a play room for my toddler. One day when it was really hot we hung out at the mall. There was an indoor playground which kept my kids happy for an hour. Plus, I got some shopping done!
Tip #5. Turn on all the lights, but don't use air freshener. As I herded the kids into the car, I'd make sure all the lights were on. I was warned by our realtor not to use air fresheners...people might think you're hiding something. (Which of course, you are!) Instead, put a bit of aluminum foil in your oven and warm it up for a few minutes...then turn the oven off. It will smell like something is cooking.
Tip #6. When conditions warrant, hire a professional. We've sold two houses on our own, and this last one with a realtor. Although I don't like paying that commission, in the market we lived in, it was essential to have a realtor's access and advice. Our realtor hired a professional photographer to take wide-angle lens photos of our home, and put together one of those cool virtual tours online. It really helped generate interest to have good pictures. When the first offer came in, our realtor was able to negotiate for us in a way that we would not have been able to. If you're in the Boise area, email me and I'll share our realtor's name and number. He was amazing.
There you go, my tips for getting and keeping your house ready for sale. I've got to go unpack some more boxes. My sewing/crafty stuff is still inaccessible right now. Thanks for all your well wishes. It's fun to be back "home".
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