Get Your Home Ready For Sale In 30 Days.

Are you thinking about selling your house or condo?  Here’s my 30 day plan to get your house ready for sale:

Day 1:  Get some boxes and duct tape.

A big part of the adventure you’re about to embark on involves reducing clutter.  While Costco might be a cheap option for boxes, it sure isn’t convenient.  An investment under $200 will get you proper packing supplies and reduce your stress.  Consider Frogbox – re-useable boxes that won’t fall apart.  If you’re going to be moving a lot of stuff out of your house for the sale, consider renting a POD storage locker – you fill up at your house and then it gets carted away, stored and delivered to your new home when you move in!

Day 2:  Make a list of all the little stuff that you’ve been avoiding repairing.

Including the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc.  and get it done once and for all.  If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a handyman to take care of it.  Youtube is also a good source of ‘How to Videos’ if you wish to tackle a project on your own.

Day 3:  Store vs. donate vs. throw away.

It’s a pain, and expensive, to store all the stuff you don’t really need.  Start planning on what is not coming with you to your new home, and call some charities to arrange removal of items you don’t need or want.

Day 4:  Get rid of all the things that make your home yours.

Ouch.  I know it hurt to read that.  You want your house or condo to appeal to as many Buyers as possible, and that will only happen if they can picture their own stuff in your house.  Get rid of all the family photos, the collections and the souvenirs.  Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a Buyer.  If what you see helps people get to know you as you, remove it.

Day 5:  Tackle what you can’t see:  Closets and storage areas.

Much as I’d love to say that you cram all the stuff you don’t want on display into your closets, the truth of the matter is that Buyers will open your closets.  They’ll look in your cupboards, and they’ll judge you.  The last thing you want is for Buyers to think there isn’t enough storage in your home, so take the time to pack away what you don’t need in the immediate future.

Day 6:  De-clutter, organize and clean the basement.

If your basement is anything like most, this is going to take more than one day.  Whether your basement is finished or just a storage area for extra stuff, you’ll need to invest the time to make it look as spacious and clean as possible.  And what a great way to rid yourself of all that stuff you never use.

Day 7:  The entrance.

Remember that most Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering it, so what they experience at the entrance is CRITICAL.  You want your entrance to be clean, de-cluttered and inviting.  And no, won’t really wear all your shoes and coats while your house or condo is for sale, so be disciplined and store things away.  If you don’t have a hall closet, don’t pile 15 coats on a coat rack – that’s just drawing attention to your lack of a closet.  Another thing to consider is having a larger sized boot mat.  Normally during a showing 3 adults+ enter your entrance at the same time.  Having room to remove footwear without getting your floors dirty is a big bonus for any showing!

Day 8:  Tackle the living room.

Clean the sofa and chairs and invest in some new throw pillows.  Consider getting an area rug to bring the room together.  Hide the magazine rack and all the clutter that has accumulated.  Hide the wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.

Day 9:  Make your dining room look like a place someone might actually want to eat in.

Remove the kids’ homework and the piles of stuff that have accumulated on the dining room table.  Clean up the hutch.  If your dining chairs have seen better days, consider getting them reupholstered.  Invest in a new table cloth to hide an old table.

Day 10:  Next up – The Bedrooms.

The bedrooms should be inviting, and that means more cleaning and de-cluttering and investing in a few props.  If you don’t already have one, invest in a neutral colored duvet cover and some new fancy pillows.  Straighten the bookshelves.  Remove personal photos, knick knacks and personal grooming products.  Clean out the closets.  Consider getting an area rug if the floors are cold.  If you’ve jammed in a dresser or armoire that doesn’t fit into the space, consider storing it offsite.  If you’ve converted two of your three bedrooms into offices, covert at least one of the back to a bedroom.

Day 11:  Spruce up the kitchen.

The kitchen is one of the rooms Buyers are most attracted to so if you’re looking to skip a room, this shouldn’t be it.  Remove your blender/George Foreman Grill/Kitchen Aid mixer/toaster/and any other gadget from the counters – you want the counter to be as clear as possible.  Clean inside all the cupboards (and yes I mean remove everything and wipe them out).  Don’t cram all your dishes and food back in – again, you want to convey to Buyers that your kitchen has enough storage for the Buyer’s stuff.  Clean inside the fridge (and remove the magnets, photos and reminders).  Turn on your self-cleaning oven.  Store your alcohol collection and remove all the empties.  Consider investing in some fresh flowers and a beautiful bowl with some fresh fruit in it.

Day 12:  Tackle the bathrooms.

Remove all the toiletries you have on display (nobody wants to know you use Head & Shoulders).  Invest in some new white towels (and no, you don’t get to use them).  Visit Homesense for affordable accessories:  soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc.  If your toilet seat, shower curtain or bath mats are gross (be honest with yourself), replace them.  Consider replacing the toilet paper holder and towel rack/hooks too.  The biggest turn off in a bathroom is a strand of hair.  So make sure you have Lysol wipes handy for quick cleans when the house is on the market.

Day 13:  The front yard.

Curb appeal matters and will significantly impact people’s first impression of your house.  Stand on your street and take in your front yard.  What do you see?  At minimum, clean the scuff marks off the front door and touch-up the chipped paint or give it a fresh coat.  And if your front door has seen better days, consider investing in a new one.  If you have a front porch, make it look inviting (and not just a receptacle for more of your stuff).  Invest in some seasonal plants.  Clean up the garden.  A lot of Buyers will see your home at night, so make sure that your outdoor lighting is showing off your home.

Day 14:  The backyard

What you can accomplish in the back yard will of course depend on what time of year you sell.  If you’re selling in the spring/summer; clean up the gardens, trim the trees, cut the grass, stain the deck and clean the patio furniture and BBQ.  If it’s winter, do your best to make it look presentable.   If you have a garage: tidy it up and fix and peeling paint and the sagging roof.

Day 15:  The walls and doors.

If your walls and doors are scuffed, buy some Magic Erasers and go to town.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.  If your art needs an update, now’s the time to do it too.

Day 16:  Paint touch-ups and re-painting.

A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home.  Bold colors are bound to be a turn-off to some Buyers,  so to appeal to the most people possible take the time to re-paint that red bedroom and blue bathroom.  (Tip:  Light colors will help small rooms look bigger).  Don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings – they might need some paint too.

Day 17:  Change light bulbs and update light fixtures.

It’s easy to forget about all the bulbs that have burned out over the years, but you want your home to be as bright as possible.  Lighting makes an incredible difference to how a home looks to potential Buyers.  If you have dated light fixtures (it’s OK, a lot of us do), take a quick trip to IKEA or Home Depot and pick some modern ones.

Day 18:  Get the windows cleaned.

I know, you probably don’t even think about cleaning your windows, but rain, snow and construction can really make your windows dirty.

Day 19:  Get the carpets cleaned.

Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them steam cleaned (or do it yourself).  You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.

Day 20:  Don’t forget about the floors.

You’ll need more than a Swiffer to get into all the corners and cracks.  If your floors are scratched, there are some great products out there to make them look almost-brand-new.

 Day 21:  Make an extra set of keys.

Prospective Buyers and their agents will need to access your home, so you’ll need an extra set of keys.

Day 22:  Get a pre-listing home inspection (for houses) and order the surveyor to do a property survey (RPR).  Order the Condo Document Package (for condos).

If’s not fun to find out what’s wrong with your house or condo at the negotiating table, so arm yourself with the information BEFORE you list your home.   You can either fix the problems before you list your home, or factor it into your asking price and expectations.

Day 23:  Make plans for the kids and the kids stuff.

No Buyer wants to look at all your kids’ toys, finger painting works of art or dirty diapers, so put it all away and make a plan to keep it concealed.

Day 24:  Make plans for the dog/cat/ferret/hedgehog/reptile.

I love my dog too, but prospective Buyers won’t appreciate the barking/jumping/submissive peeing.  Make a plan to get your pets out of the house:  Doggie daycare?  Grandma and Grandpa?  Multiple walks?

Day 25:  Hire a Realtor.

If you haven’t already hired someone, today is the day!  A Realtor will likely need a few days to schedule and prepare the marketing.  An experience listing agent will also guide you through the home preparation and staging process, so you can bring them on board earlier.

Day 26:  The final clean.

By now you’re probably exhausted…sorry about that.  While you can do this final step yourself, we always like to bring in professional cleaners who will make sure to clean all the spots you don’t like the baseboards, inside the lights, the fridge, etc.  I think this step is so important.

Day 27:  Make your house smell good.

If you’re a dog owner, wash any couches, beds and surfaces where the dog sleeps.  You may not smell him anymore, buy Buyers will.  Tuck the litter box away (and clean ion twice a day while your home is on the market).  Use Febreeze on EVERYTHING.  Consider lighting some candles (but avoid strong air fresheners).

Day 28:Prep the paperwork.

Buyers and agents are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now:  utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.

Day 29:  The final once-over.

You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time to step back and admire your work.  How does it look?  Do you see anything that might distract or turn off a buyer?  Take one final walk through all the rooms and adjust as necessary.

Day 30:  Photography.

When your house or condo is de-cluttered, cleaned and ready for prime time, it’s time for the photographer to work magic.  This will happen when you list your home for sale, and may include a virtual tour or video.  Make sure to tell your Realtor the times when the light is best – that’ll make a big difference in the photos.

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