Before you do anything, ditch the clutter, says Lynda Cox, a realtor based in Atlanta, Georgia. Cleaning house sets the seller up to move and removes any distractions from the potential buyer’s visit. Leave no room unturned, including spaces that guests might not normally peek into: the closets, garages, attics, and basements.
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Ready, Set, Declutter
Next, style the home in a way that lets buyers envision their own families living there. Take down all the invites and reminders from the fridge, swap hanging family portraits for art, and hide any children’s art on display. "Basically, the seller should remove themselves from the house,” Cox says. “Seeing other people's personal items makes this harder for the buyer to imagine himself in the place."
Neutralize Out-of-Place Odors
Bad odors can disrupt your open house, so it’s best to eliminate any offenders before visitors arrive. "But the seller may not always notice these smells in their own home,” Cox says, “so they should ask a friend or agent for their opinions." Neutralize the problem area rather than covering it up, as a smelly air freshener can tip off a prospect that there’s something to hide.
Amp Up Curb Appeal
Your home’s exterior is the first—and last—impression to anyone who drops by. Make it memorable with a spotlessly clean look. Wash the front door of any scuffs. Check that there are no signs of bugs, either in cobweb form or dead in the globe of an outdoor light fixture. Finally, sweep the sidewalk, steps, and porch.
Address a Sticky Front Door
Beyond just appearing pristine, the actual entrance to your home should be smooth. The opening of the front door is like the house’s handshake. To prevent any extra moments spent fiddling with a sticky key, Cox suggests spraying graphite in a front door keyhole. "If it's hard to open the front door, it can lead buyers to wonder what else hasn’t been cared for around the house."
Invest in the Kitchen
If you’re considering giving any part of the house a facelift, turn your attention to the kitchen. “It’s the spot that will give you the most bang for your buck,” says Amy Wilson, a realtor in Asheville, North Carolina. Just updating the tile backsplash dramatically enhances the appearance of the full room, often brightening the space and occasionally bringing in a burst of color.
"If you have the cash leftover to update the flooring, do it,” Wilson encourages. Fortunately, there affordable engineered floors on the market that add class and guarantee easy installation, to boot. If you already have hardwood floors, sand and refinish them to give the home a truly polished look. And absolutely make sure to rip out any old, stained carpet rather than forcing potential buyers to imagine the potential.
If you're interested in more tips for home sellers, consider: