The old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression rings true for sellers showing their homes in today’s competitive market. The spring market will soon be here. It’s traditionally the season when the market picks up, so many home sellers are wondering what they can do to help get their homes ready to sell and shine above their competition. Here is a checklist from SILVAR REALTORS® that might prove useful to prospective home sellers:

* Clean and reorganize
Clean your home from top to bottom and make sure all appliances are spotless.  Reorganize closets and pack away some of your belongings. Storage room is a priority for buyers and a full closet does a poor job of showcasing the amount of storage space available. Pack away the clutter and ensure the space is properly furnished.

  • Clean sinks, bathrooms before each showing.
  • Vacuum rugs and carpets before each showing.
  • Wash dirty dishes and put them away.
  • Empty waste baskets and trash.
  • Put away clothes and personal items.
  • Organize mail, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Fold towels and make beds.
  • Eliminate offensive odors from pets or cooking. No smoking; it can be offensive to buyers.
  • Keep landscaping neat and mowed. Sweep driveways and sidewalks. Shovel snow. Pick up litter on property.
  • Clear litter boxes and pet food and water bowls, and pick up animal droppings in the yard.  Not all homebuyers are pet-friendly.

* Detach your emotions, keep it neutral
Your goal is to sell your house, not your collections or mementos. Create a space in which as many people as possible will be able to envision as their potential home. To properly prepare your home for sale, you will have to pack away many of your personal items, including photos, souvenirs and other mementos.

Keep your décor simple and modern with neutral wall colors. Unusual accessories and strong wall colors will limit your pool of buyers. This is also true for renovations. The right renovations can often boost the price of a home but be careful not to do it with too much flair. Your unique style may set you apart but it will also shrink your potential pool of buyers. Keep it simple and modern.

* Brighten and lighten
Light-filled rooms are always appealing. Open blinds and make sure your windows are sparkling clean. If there are no windows in the room, make sure the lighting is adequate and keep all the lights on when showing the property, even during the day. A fresh coat of neutral colored paint goes a long way to brighten up the space.

During the day, open all draperies, shades, and blinds. Natural light is at the top of most buyers’ wish lists. Dark homes are not inviting. Don’t forget to turn on the outside light by the front door. Make sure your house numbers can be read at night.

* Stage it well

  • Consider furnishing empty rooms. People buy homes, not houses. Empty rooms make it hard for buyers to get a good sense of the space. Oddly shaped rooms make it especially hard for buyers to visualize how to arrange the room. Staging your empty property with the right furniture is key to ensuring that buyers will be able to visualize living in the space.
  • Have photos of your garden available and consider displaying before and after pictures of major remodeling and landscaping projects.
  • Spark your buyer’s imagination
    Set the dinner table for a formal dinner, light the fireplace on a cold day, and add some fresh flowers to your décor. Creating the proper atmosphere helps buyers envision themselves living in your home.

* Fix minor repairs
Buyers prefer to see a home in move-in condition, even small things such as a dripping faucet can detract from the value of your home. 

* Keep your neighborhood in mind when renovating
Actual returns on renovations depend not only on the renovations itself but also on how your home compares to that of your neighbors. If your home is already above market value for your neighborhood, your renovation may not yield a higher return. Buyers looking at moderately priced homes won’t be able to pay a premium for luxury finishes. Ask your Realtor to give you an assessment of homes in your area before embarking on costly renovations.

* Improve security
Household security is a sought after feature in homes and simple measures such as adding window locks and motion sensor lights outside can boost the attractiveness of your property.  In densely populated urban areas, simple additions such as blinds and shutters are good additions to provide privacy.