All of us have been to either an Open House or a model home and thought “Wow! I really like the way they have decorated”. I bet that you didn’t see any clutter when you were thinking that! A lot of people function well with clutter; too many photos, trinkets, gifts that your kids made at school, souvenirs from family vacations and more. Let’s face it – that is what makes a home, a home. We surround ourselves with great memories, but there is one problem; those are our memories, not the potential buyers. Obviously, the first thing I am saying is to grab some boxes and start packing most of the photos (not all – It still needs to look like a home and not a house!), trinkets, do-dads, and 1st grade art projects. The main rooms to thin out or the family room, kitchen, dining room, and den. I have found that it’s not as critical in the bedrooms, so don’t go overboard. Also, since I’m on the subject of boxes, remember to hide the boxes when you’re done. If you just stack them in the corner of the garage or in a closet, it looks like you have to get out soon and that could lead to lower offers. Why? Put yourself in the buyers position; “These people are packing and their home is not in escrow yet! They must really need to get out. Let’s offer less!” My suggestion is to get a storage unit or have a container from a company delivered to your house that will be removed right before the sign goes in the front yard.
I know everyone who is reading this religiously vacuums their carpet every few days so your carpet looks like new even after 20 years! Wrong. Call a reputable carpet cleaning service to perform an extraction, not just a shampoo on your carpet. This will deep clean your carpet and leave a good scent in the rooms. The last thing you want is for people to come to your home and criticize your carpets, even if they do need to be replaced. The extraction will cost about $400.00 where new carpet will run over $4000.00. Back to the “reputable carpet cleaning company” I mentioned. You need to be aware that in order to clean your carpet, people need to come into your bedrooms, closets, and other places where you “hide” your possessions. You also need to realize that not all carpet companies do background checks on their employees. Put these two variables together and in a few days you’ll be asking law enforcement why after 20 years in your home, someone finally broke in right before you sell your home. Always check these companies out and never leave while they are in your home.
Now the ugly part; cleaning. Roll up those sleeves and get ready because you are about to clean stuff that most people never think of; base boards, vents, cabinet faces, ledges, stone or brick, light fixtures, fireplaces, blinds, curtains, etc. Are you starting to see where this is going? All of these things are things that don’t normally get cleaned on Saturday mornings and after time, they can really get dirty. Cleaning these items can eliminate odors and brighten things up.
I have found that when people are looking for a home, they don’t expect to purchase your home and have it look like a model home. If it is too clean, too fixed up, or too perfect, they will wonder what you are trying to hide and that could work against you as well. Don’t let your real estate agent coax you into spending too much money. If you need new carpet, tile, fixtures or things like that, determine how much you are willing to give as an allowance and leave it at that. If you put in new carpet, the chance of someone having the same taste in carpet as you is very slim and it’s a waste of money; your money, that you will not recoup in the sale. Now, grab the boxes and cleaning products and get to work!