Steps to Improve Your Home's Appearance for a Quicker Sale

Home to improve the chances for selling your home. Declutter your home, improve the front entry and key rooms.

When selling your home in these tough economic times, you will want to improve your chances of making a quick sale and getting as much money as possible. Here are a few simple and cost-effective steps you can use to increase your chances.

The most effective way to improve your home's appearance is be de-cluttering. You will have to go through your home to pack in preparation for a move, so you should start well in advance of putting your home on the market. If the listing occurs on short notice, then try to remove as much of the clutter as possible before showing your home. Don’t just shove all of the stuff in a closet, basement or garage, either; consider renting a storage container that can be moved to your new residence or stored until you are ready to have it delivered to your new residence. There are several local and national companies who can provide this service for you.

If money is tight, consider asking a neighbor if they can store some items for you. Make sure you box up everything and label it well since you are inconveniencing your friends. If this is the case, space will probably be limited so only remove the items that will help show off your home’s best qualities-- extra clothes and coats from closets and toys are a great place to start.

The Outside

The front entry is the first thing potential buyers will look at, so focus your efforts on the front door and sidewalk. Landscaping is great, but densely packed shrubs cover the front and make it look like you're hiding something. Trim back overgrown bushes and trees so your house is visible from the street. Plant colorful annuals in the flowerbeds. Keep the lawn green and trimmed, fertilize about 2 months before you list your home and water it at least three times per week. If you are selling your home in the late fall or winter, add a layer of new mulch to improve the look of the beds.

By painting exterior doors and window trim, you can improve the look the home without repainting the whole front. Replace your front entry hardware, including the lockset, deadbolt, knocker and doorbell. Remove torn or faded screens; this will make the windows look bigger from the outside. Clean all the windows. Make sure that all of the exterior lights are working--clear bulbs improve the look of the fixture. Consider power washing your home instead of repainting. Remove any spider webs front porch overhangs and corners.

Leave only a few pieces of furniture on the front porch, two chairs and a small table are plenty. Store any extra deck or patio furniture.

Too many flowerpots are distracting, use a few large pots with healthy plants. Never have empty pots or dead plants visible. A dried wreath may be used on doors as a simple focal point.

The Inside

Take at least a full day to clean your home. Clean grout in bathrooms, scrub floors, vacuum carpeting and polish hardwood floors. Consider hiring someone to clean the bathrooms, windows, and kitchen; and having your carpets professionally cleaned.

The kitchen is probably the most important room in your house. If it is small, you’ll want to clear out as much stuff as possible. This includes extra pots and pans, baking sheets, extra dishes and glasses. Remove notes and pictures from the refrigerator. Clear the counters completely, then add back a few decorator items such as a fresh flower arrangement, fruit, cookbooks, wine, bowls, antiques, new dish towels, or small designer appliances.

Clean out everything from under the kitchen sink and then leave only a few essential items. Always remove trash containers before a showing.

Empty your pantry. Store cans in one layer, don’t stack them on top of one another. Organize your pantry with everything facing forward and remove excess food and containers.

The foyer or entry should be free of any utility objects. Paint the foyer walls and trim since this area usually gets the most abuse. Buy a new door mat, but not anything seasonal, like a spring theme or Halloween mat. Simple is better.

In bathrooms, remove any personal items and store them in a container inside the vanity. Place new hand towels in all of the bathrooms. Clean the counters and fixtures thoroughly. Place new soap in the bathrooms, and consider buying a few designer items. Make sure that the lights and exhaust fan works. If the fan is too noisy, replace it. Sometimes you can fix a noisy fan by either tightening or loosening the mounting screws. Installing rubber washers in between the fan frame and the screws can also help with vibrations. Clean the fan blades and interior. Caulk any gaps between walls and countertops. Any small deficiency will draw the buyer’s eye closer and they may find more problems. Fix or replace leaky or worn faucets.

The bedrooms and closets are also very important, so de-cluttering them will also improve your home’s appeal.

You should use your best covers, or invest in new ones if yours are worn. Clean bedside tables, and add back just a few books or nice items. Bedside lamps add a warm ambience for showings, and you should use incandescent bulbs to improve the look and color of the room. Remove excess paintings or photos from the walls. Old outdated curtains do more harm than good. Take them down and clean the windows. Relieve your closets if they are stuffed. Pack items that are not needed.

In children's bedrooms, take down posters and box up toys. Avoid an overcrowded look. Remove books and leave only a few hardcover storybooks.

The laundry room often functions as a spill over room with junk on the shelves. Clear everything out, and have just a few soap boxes visible.

Rooms should be sparsely furnished to appear larger and lighter. Remove any large unusual items such as drums, telescopes, and exercise equipment. Don’t allow furniture to block windows, doorways, or traffic patterns through rooms. Remove any extra extension cords and power strips. Not only is this a safety concern, it also makes your home look like there aren’t enough outlets.

Choose one or two elements as the main points of interest in a room, such as wood floors, a view, a table or piece of furniture, built-in bookcases or paneling, etc.

Remove personal collections and photographs; they are distracting for buyers. Limit them to just a few high-quality pieces. Remove any hunting or fishing trophies. Large plants can take up too much space in a room, so replace them with a few small healthy houseplants.

Bookshelves should not be overcrowded. Place books in an even line and stack some books horizontally. Leave an open space or two for art objects. You should open window blinds and leave on a few lamps for pleasant lighting.

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Louie Jerome
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Posted on Oct 13, 2009