As promised, here is a small compilation of absolute must-do fixes before listing your home. There are a lot of homes on the market – make yours memorable for the right reasons.
Quick-clean the exterior and landscape. The first impression is often the only impression. Check for loose or clogged gutters and broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind the gutters. Cut the lawn and trim the bushes. Make sure the garage doors open and close properly. Wipe down lawn furniture. Fix any dangling shutters and replace any missing or damaged siding.
Make the front door make an impression. While the Realtor is opening the lockbox, the buyer is standing there at the front door. Here is your chance to make a statement. Fix cracked or peeling doorways with a fresh coat of paint. Be sure that the doorbell works properly. Exterior paints start at $30 a gallon and hardware is an expensive way to make a dramatic difference very quickly.
Evaluate every entrance. It’s not just the front door that will get the once-over. Update interior doors or at least replace hinges and knobs. Dated silver hardware? Bronze door hinges or brushed nickel start as low as $3. Heavier, solid core doors make a strong impression.
Let there be light! Open up all the windows to let in natural light and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim. A bright, cheery room looks bigger and more inviting.
Look down. Once inside the door, one of the first things a potential buyer will notice is the floor. Stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors are fairly easy fixes. Rent a carpet steam clean or invest in area rugs. If you don’t want to refinish hardwood floors, utilize inexpensive and easy-to-use wood markers to fill in smaller scratches.
Select the right scent. This would seem to go without saying, but many sellers are unaware of smells they have become acclimated to within their own home. Offensive smells are a sure-fire quick way to dissuade a potential buyer from looking any further. Find one scent (or complementing scents) and use it throughout the house to avoid scent overload.
Make your walls a clean slate. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes, and paint cracks. Repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light. These fixes will allow the buyer to focus on the space itself and envision how their belongings will fit in.
De-clutter. If buyers see that your stuff doesn’t have a home, they won’t want your home. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized. When closet space is at a premium, repurpose other areas for storage. Finish the garage and basement walls and floors and add some simple storage solutions. In the closets themselves, remove 1/3rd of the current contents to create a roomy feel.
Make your bathrooms feel lavish. Bathroom makeovers aren’t in every budget, but replacing finishing components such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. New shower curtains, towels and bath mats also will help the room look updated and polished. Have a green thumb? Plants enliven rooms and purify air.
Make appliances sparkle. Buyers want appliances that look new even if they are not. Clean the oven, refrigerator, microwave, sink and any other appliance that will be included in the purchase of the home. Remove pesky rust spots on stainless steel with baking soda, a toothbrush, and a little elbow grease.
Do you have any quick fix tips or repairs you would like to recommend? Or anything – positive or negative – that has really made an impression on you as a buyer?