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10 Things You Should Do to Get Your House Ready to Sell

Updated on March 10, 2019
Spring has sprung!
Spring has sprung!

We’re in the midst of what the real estate pros call “spring market.” That makes now a great time to think about buying or selling a home. Sure, the market hasn’t been great since the recession began, but the pendulum is moving back and experts say the housing market is getting better and better.

To build a top 10 list of what you can do to get your house ready to sell, I talked to Vicki Benson, broker and agent of The RE/MAX Home Team in Kirksville, Missouri. A top-performing real estate professional, Vicki knows how to get your house sold. Here’s a top 10 list you might consider:

1.CLEAN. No matter how new or old your house is, a clean house shows and sells better than a dirty and cluttered house. Give your entire house a deep cleaning first – carpets and floors, windows, walls and ceilings. Bury the piles of dead insects in your light fixtures and window sills. Once you’ve done that, keep on the shine. Make beds every single day and stow things like dirty dishes and dirty laundry. Vacuum and mop frequently and dust constantly. (Use a feather or static duster daily on the most noticeable surfaces like your TV and coffee table.) Scrub scuff marks off walls, stairs and floors. (Those Mr. Clean Erasers work wonders.) And don’t forget to do a thorough cleaning job on all of your appliances -- including your washer and dryer.

2.Fix the small stuff. Make a list of those small projects that you’ve been meaning to do, like re-caulking the bathtub, fixing a torn window screen and replacing that broken tile in the kitchen backsplash. Repair or replace broken light fixtures and replace bulbs.

3.Neutralize. Tone down all-over bright colors that you might love, but the next owner might not. If you have a red dining room, for example, you might repaint at least three of the walls with a more neutral color, leaving one feature wall. Tone down a bright green sofa with neutral pillows and a throw. Change out that Barbie-pink bedding for a neutral and inexpensive bed-in-a-bag ensemble.

4.Organize. De-clutter by throwing things away, recycling or donating items you no longer want or need – including furniture that might be making a room look smaller than it is. Clean out your closets and don’t refill them with too many items, making them appear more spacious. Pack up what you don’t need right now and stow the boxes in the garage. Go ahead and part with or pack away all of those knick-knacks, like your salt and pepper shaker collection. Leave only a few items on display. Not only will your house look cleaner and your rooms larger without all of the distractions, but you won’t have to dust them either.

5.Digitize. Use your phone or digital camera to snap photos of your rooms from different angles and see how they look. Thanks to the Internet, prospective buyers will see your house first in a series of photographs.

6.Repaint. Nothing looks cleaner than a fresh coat of paint on the walls. If you’re not a neat painter, hire someone who is. You don’t have to use expensive paint, but make sure the paint goes where it’s supposed to and not on the woodwork, cabinets or the floor.

7.Spruce it up. Freshen the appearance of your house without spending a lot of cash. For example, replace a worn throw rug with a new one. Set a pot of flowers on the kitchen window sill. Buy three new throw pillows for the old sofa. Reposition furniture. Replace dated pulls on your kitchen cabinets with some more modern ones.

8.Take it down. Pack up most of those personal items, like family photos, bowling trophies and plaques with your name on them. When prospective buyers walk through your house, they need to imagine their stuff there – not yours.

9.Turn it inside, out. Don’t neglect the outside of the house – even in the dead of winter. Keep walks clean and clear, trim branches that scratch the siding or windows in the wind, replace the bulbs in outdoor fixtures. And make sure your doors and windows are clean inside and out.

10.Smell the money. Scent is a powerful sense. Make sure that when you walk into your house, it smells clean and fresh but not too flowery. Scents from candles or air fresheners should be discreet and not in-your-face overpowering. And make sure you clean, repair or replace anything that causes odor, like that spot on the wall inside your bathroom vanity that tends to hold moisture and produce mold.

Happy house selling. And hello, spring!


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