While it may be difficult, selling a home should be viewed as a business transaction without the attachments of emotional incumbrances. Think about how fresh eyes would see the property. Depersonalize the property as much as possible. Think about it as a “residence” or “property” and no longer as your “home”. Buyers should be able to see the home as potentially theirs, without hints that former owners had lived there or used the amenities that they will be using. Here are some easy improvements to prepare your home for sale. Some of them are tried and true and not particularly innovative but definitely effective and recommended.
1) Trim the exterior landscaping (shrubbery and grass) including removal of any dead tree branches or plantings.
2) Paint the exterior windows and doors or at least any trim around the windows and doors including shutters, thresholds and window sills.
3) Paint gutters and downspouts.
4) Remove any wall paper and repaint any interior walls that have color to white or off white.
5) Remove and discard or store any over-accessorized areas (table tops, walls with too much photography or art work). Remember “Less is More” and you want the house to be seen by perspective buyers without the distraction of too many personal items or decorations.
6) Simplify the furnishings by removing and either discarding or storing extra chairs and tables that may “over-fill” the spaces. Think sparse “model home,” not cluttered “lived in home”.
7) Repair any malfunctioning plumbing fixtures.
8) Replace any dated looking or corroded looking faucets with new faucets. The replacements do not need to be expensive but the metal should be clean and free of defects. Don’t forget about the shower fittings!
9) If kitchen and/or bath room cabinets are old and worn, regardless of whether the original finish was stained wood or solid color paint, install a fresh coat of paint on all exposed surfaces and cabinet fronts.
10) Change dated cabinet pulls/knobs to new aesthetically clean (i.e. simple) hardware.
11) Remove any dated or specific (non-generic) style hanging light fixtures and replace with simple inexpensive fixtures. Think “rental unit” quality. Buyers are going to change the fixtures to meet their own tastes anyway. It is best not to have any fixtures that potential buyers could view as “questionable aesthetics”.
12) Repaint any scuffed base boards, door and window trim.
13) Change any corroded appearing or dented/damaged door knobs/levers. Again, the replacements do not need to be expensive but should look new and clean. Go for hardware that has limited decorative detail or totally clean lined devoid of decoration.
14) Insulate unfinished attics.
15) Clean all window glass and mirrors. Replace or eliminate mirrors that shown signs of de-silvering.
If you, as the seller, finds that emotional detachment is just too overwhelming, think about consulting with a design professional such as an architect or interior designer. These pros are experienced with seeing homes in states of disrepair or datedness and can easily formulate a list of tasks and inexpensive improvements to make the property look great and saleable.
Principal architect and firm owner, Allan J. Grant A.I.A., has been in practice for more than two decades, specializing in custom residential work. He attained his degree in Fine Arts (Interior Design) from Syracuse University and in Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology. His work has been published in Chicago Home Book, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, Designer Magazine, Residential Architect, Kitchen & Bath Concepts and Luxe Magazine. One of the residences Mr. Grant designed was featured on the cover of Custom Home Magazine’s millennium issue. He has also appeared on segments of House & Garden Television (HGTV).