The “For Sale” sign is up. You’ve completed the big projects and the little tweaks, so now you’re hopeful your efforts will pay off. The most critical part – the day of a showing or an Open House has arrived. It’s very important to make a positive first impression. Before opening the door to potential buyers follows these tips:
- Welcoming door and working doorbell. The buyer will be looking around as the Realtor is getting the key from the lockbox. Fix any cracked or peeling paint in the doorway or on the front door. Hang a lovely wreath or place a lush planter near or on the front entry. Do not over crowd. Be sure the doorbell actually rings.
- Spot treat blemishes. Fix any scuff marks, cracked paint and nail holes. Remove peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutral colors to maximize the natural light. If you are unable to repaint be sure the walls are clean.
- Clean!!! This seems so obvious and is inexpensive. Hopefully you have completed a big clean leading up to the listing picture day. Shone the windows, cleaned the floors and wiped down the appliances. Don’t overlook details like crumbs from breakfast, toothpaste in sinks, half-full open trash cans and daily clutter. Just before a showing switch to clean towels.
Do a quick clean on the exterior and landscape too. Cut the lawn and trim any bushes. Check for broken flashing material or downspouts. Be sure the garage door works properly and wipe down lawn furniture.
- Detach from your stuff. Remove most (not all) of the family photographs and religious items. It is important to emotionally separate from the house and the objects within it. Embrace the thought that your house is a commodity that needs to sell and focus your emotions to your new destination.
Remember that foyer tables, fireplace mantels and refrigerator doors are often display spots that need to be pared down.
- Remove sight-line impairments. Remove items that stop the eye from moving. Let the eye stop on something appealing, a beautiful color or the next room. Remove bath products or small appliances that make the room look small or cluttered. Have bins or baskets on hand to clear off countertops, floors, tables and desks. Kitchens look larger if your eye doesn’t stop at a dishtowel hanging on the oven door or the sink.
- Storage. If buyers see your stuff doesn’t have a home they get the impression that there is not adequate storage. Remove one third of what you have in your closets and what is left should be organized. When closet space is at a premium repurpose other areas for storage.
- Improve traffic flow. Walk through each room being conscious of the natural flow. A coat rack by your front door may work for your family but does it look like there is not enough room for coats or bring attention to no coat closet? Move furniture so that there is a natural flow with no barriers for movement.
- Select the right scent. Diffuse cooking, pet and musty odors by opening windows or using an air purifier. Smells like fresh brewed coffee or baked bread will be appealing to most. Be wary of strong candles or sprays but if you choose to use find one soft scent you love and use it throughout to avoid scent overload. Some people have allergies to scents. Remember that pet beds and litter boxes have distinct smells. If possible stow these items or remove them during showings.
- Create comfort and light. The home’s temperature, lighting and noise level should be just right for an open house or showing. Windows should not be totally covered so that natural light comes in, lights should be on and the home should have a comfortable temperature and if using music the choice should be soft and calming.
- Personal valuables. Place small electronics, jewelry, medications, financial statements and documents in a safe place. It is also wise to shut off or password protect computers.
- Finish with finishes. Neatly folded towels, new bath mats, new shower curtains all make a bathroom look updated and clean. Replacing faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can brighten a room without doing a complete overhaul. Setting up small vignettes suggest ways that the home could look or be used. A book placed neatly on a nightstand, an outside table set for dining alfresco or the dining room table set for a romantic dinner.