First published on USNews.com. 5 Tips for Whipping Your Home into Showing Shape.
It can take a lot of work to prepare a home for the market, and the number one piece of advice for homeowners who are getting their home ready for showings and open houses is to get organized. You’ve cleaned. You’ve made repairs, freshened the landscaping, brought in fresh flowers and you’re ready for your photo shoot. At last, you’re ready to list your home.
The problem for most sellers, however, is that it can be almost impossible to keep your home in this condition at all times. And there will inevitably be last-minute showing requests that will leave you scrambling to accommodate them. The best way to keep your sanity and always make sure you’re putting your best foot forward is to get organized and make a plan ahead of time.
1) Do a walk-through of your home. Identify all of the items that need to be put away. You’ve probably already decluttered and moved some items into storage, but there are still things you need on a daily basis that you won’t necessarily want on display for showings and open houses.
Clear off countertops and tables of personal items particularly in the kitchens and bathrooms. These could be an overabundance of countertop appliances, tooth brushes, cosmetics or family photos that you aren’t quite ready to pack up yet. Make room in your pantry, cabinets or storage areas so you can quickly and neatly tuck these items away, and pull them back out again when the showings are over.
If you have kids, you might want to invest in a few extra storage bins so toys can be easily tossed in and then hidden out of sight
2) Keep a stash of clean linens handy. A set of clean white towels for each bathroom can be set aside and brought out right before a showing or an open house. You can even keep a fresh, neutral bed spread and extra throw pillows in the linen closet to be ready at a moment’s notice. A freshly made bed with crisp white linens makes bedrooms feel more welcoming to potential buyers. You may have just rolled out of bed and ran out the door to make way for a showing request, but you definitely don’t want potential buyers to know that.
3) Stay on top of general cleaning. If you put off regular cleaning, it can be overwhelming when you’re in a time crunch. Showing a clean home is of utmost importance. Nothing can turn off a buyer faster than a home that’s dirty and disorderly. If you’re able to keep up with general maintenance it will save you time and headaches. When your agent calls for a showing, you’ll just need to wipe down the counters and throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher before you’re ready to go.
4) Lock up your valuables. You never want to have to worry about your possessions going missing during a showing or an open house; although, unfortunately, it can happen. Even the most experienced and diligent real estate agent may not be able to keep her eye on everyone and everything at all times. For peace of mind, it’s always best to lock up your valuables including jewelry, small electronics and items of sentimental value.
5) Put on the finishing touches. Fresh flower arrangements, a bowl of colorful fruit in the kitchen or a crisp white orchid in the bathroom can actually make a difference in the way your home shows by adding color and personality in a very neutral way. If you have time, open doors and windows to bring in fresh air, or light a few fresh-smelling candles. Keep everything neutral and avoid strong smells that could turn some people off.
Selling your home can be stressful but you’ll be better prepared to tackle the unexpected and present your home in the best light if you are organized and have a plan.