It’s that time of year again… house-hunting season. If you’re putting your home on the market, we want to help you put your best foot forward to attract the most bidders and the highest price.
At the very least, your pre-open house strategy should include removing clutter, making minor repairs, and giving the whole place an inviting look.
Potential buyers will want to be able to picture themselves living happily ever after—in your home.
Here are 6 tips to set you up for success:
1. Clean From Top to Bottom
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? If you want to sell your home, it will need a good solid cleaning on the outside as well as the inside. We’re not talking about a little vacuuming here and there—or selective dust bunny removal. If you want your home to sparkle, it’s time to give it a good scrub.
Start with power washing your exterior, especially if it is made of aluminum, vinyl, steel, wood, stucco or brick. Make sure to tackle the gutters too, not just the siding. While you’re at it, why not include the decks and fences as well? Power washing will remove mildew and signs of decay. If you’ve never done it yourself, Lowe’s has a pretty good tutorial.
Now let’s turn our attention indoors. Over time, the rooms in your home accumulate multiple layers of dirt, grease, grime and even mildew that a regular cleaning just can't handle (we’re looking at you, kitchens and bathrooms). Never fear, Oprah has a comprehensive spring cleaning checklist, though you’ll need to commit an entire eight-hour day. (We’re partial to the last thing on the list: order a pizza)!
2. Invest in Key Cosmetic Repairs
Small details can signal that a home is either well-loved or poorly maintained. Now is an ideal time to tackle itty-bitty nicks, scratches and holes that could spell neglect to buyers. Arm yourself with a melamine foam eraser pad and walk around methodically room-by-room, removing scuffs and marks from walls. Keep an eye out for any areas that could use a little fill or spackle, and go back to them afterwards.
Additional small cosmetic repairs include tasks like replacing broken light switch plates, fixtures or kitchen cabinet hardware. The good news? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a noticeable difference here. HGTV is a good source for the latest trends (think porcelain and brass along with good old reliable black). Also, Anthropologie has pretty bath hardware…
As a final touch, you can also add accessories like fluffy white towels and decorative pieces or plants to make the space more inviting.
3. Wash Your Windows
There are plenty of commercial window cleaning products available, all promising a “streak-free shine.” However, we have found that the traditional DIY solution of water and white vinegar is your best bet (one part white vinegar and two parts water, mixed in an old spray bottle). Don’t bother using fancy vinegar—the more generic, the better. If you’d prefer to use a dilution of ammonia or your own particular professional cleaner, go right ahead.
To clean the inside of windows, spray thoroughly with the cleaning solution and wipe dry with a lint-free paper towel. Depending on how dirty the windows are, you may need to repeat this for multiple rounds.
To clean the outside windows, rinse them with a hose, then wash with soapy water and a sponge mop or microfiber cloth. Rinse again, then spray with vinegar-water solution or your choice of cleaner. Wipe dry with a rubber-bladed squeegee, top to bottom. Your windows will thank you by letting in more beautiful sunlight!
4. Add a Coat of Fresh Paint
Fresh paint is a wonderful way to welcome prospective buyers into your home. Before you get overwhelmed by how much time a coat of paint will take, keep in mind that you may not need to paint the whole place. Ask a friend with a critical eye to do a walkthrough with you and let you know if any of the rooms look a little rundown or shabby. You could also just add accent trim or an accent wall for a splash of color and visual interest.
Once you’ve decided where to paint, we recommend sticking to a neutral palette (fifty shades of off-white, anyone?) Not everyone loves zebra stripes or bright orange walls. It’s all about attracting the highest number of potential buyers. Our friends at The Spruce have good advice on how to paint a room with no mess that’s worth checking out. No one will judge you if you hire a pro (sometimes that’s the best way to get it done).
5. Refresh Your Kitchen
We have a few pro tips on refreshing your kitchen without busting your budget. One easy way is to replace your countertops with something new and modern. Wood and engineered quartz are both good bets for style and budget (we like IKEA and Home Depot as sources). Alternatively, perhaps your kitchen could use a lighting upgrade (especially if you have awful fluorescent lights). IKEA and Home Depot are good sources for inexpensive contemporary lighting as well.
Another option is to create a snazzy backsplash for high impact. It’s an easy way to add color or a patterned motif to an otherwise boring, plain old kitchen. There are a few options for different DIY levels, including “lick-and-stick” backsplashes that don’t entail a lot of cutting. However, for a “real tile” look, you will need a trowel and tile cutter to get the job done, along with a pre-mixed grout.
(Hint: if you have a few hours to kill swooning over kitchen tiles, browse this gallery from the wonderful folks at Fireclay Tile in San Francisco).
6. Beautify Your Landscape
Yes, potential buyers DO judge a book by its cover. A clean, well-kept yard creates a great first impression. Start by removing junk and any old furniture from your yard and outdoor area. Replace any broken pots or dead plants with new ones that communicate life, growth and new beginnings.
Once you’ve hauled everything away, trim your bushes and hedges and see if you can add color or vibrancy with a few new plants. Succulents are drought-friendly and beautiful to look at. Take a cue from Alice Waters and plant a kitchen herb garden so you can find your parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme whenever you need it. If you want to grow vegetables, raised beds are making a comeback—and are especially popular in the Bay Area. Looking for inspiration? Try the Backyard Farm Company).
Getting your home ready to sell doesn’t require spending a lot of time and money—just making smart decisions. Following some of these simple tips will add value to your home and attract more buyer interest. Once you’ve done what you can to put your home in the best light, you can sit back and wait for those offers to come in!