You're about to put your house on the market! Congrats -- that's a big move. When that for-sale sign goes on the front lawn, dozens of eager real estate agents and many potential buyers will stampede through your front door and into every room of your house. You'll have strangers combing through every nook and cranny of your house -- and your life that you live there.
Selling your home is such a huge financial undertaking that you want to give your home the best opportunity to sell for the highest price -- but you still have to live there. Is there a way to honor both? You bet! Follow these key survival steps:
Start Packing Now
As of this moment, you may only have 90 to 120 days until sale day and that moving truck arrives -- or less! So keep in mind that you're not going to need many of the extra space-gobbling items that are currently filling your rooms and closets over the next few months. So, if it's May and you live in Pennsylvania, you won't need those winter clothes. Pack them up! The secret to getting a house clutter-free is to remove the things you can live without while your home is on the market. That's the mindset you'll have to have as you go through each room and closet. With that it mind...
Save it, Store it, Sell it, Chuck it or Donate it!
Clutter eats equity and kills deals. The concept of less is more -- clutter removal and the creation of space -- is at the heart of preparing to sell a home, because space is an extremely precious commodity. Having a little extra breathing room and a sense of expansiveness in your home feels luxurious, rich, calming and uplifting. And, as obvious as this seems, a buyer will naturally be drawn to and pay more for a home that feels like it has extra space than one chock full to the ceiling with stuff. And more importantly, it's an essential step in preparing your home for an upcoming move.
Get Squeaky Clean
Of course your house not only has to look good and be clutter-free, but it needs to be spotless. Kiss cobwebs, dust, grime, rust, mildew, and stains goodbye! I know, no one likes to get on their hands and knees and scrub. You'll say, "I have never cleaned the house so thoroughly before!" Well, if you can make $5,000 to $10,000 more at sale time, I'd say it's worth it! You should be able to eat off the floors. The windows, glass and mirrors must sparkle. The sinks and toilets should look 'five-star hotel perfect.'
Maintain Your Privacy and Safety
Believe it or not, people will look through your drawers, closets, and medicine cabinets at open houses or showings. Make sure your listing agent is clear to other agents that they should always be accompanying their prospective buyers. Also, don't keep anything in the house that you don't want anyone else to see. That includes personal documents and valuables. Never leave mail sitting around. Lock up all checks, credit cards or any other information that would be of use to an unscrupulous "home buyer." Lock up or remove all prescription medicine bottles. Be sure to enable passwords on your in-home computers and laptops. And if you have a diary or journal, don't leave it bedside! Be extra cautious about anything of monetary or sentimental value. When in doubt, put it away and lock it up.
Send your Pets On A Holiday
I love animals! I have a wonderful welsh terrier pup that I rescued a few years ago, so keep in mind that this advice is all about helping you get your house sold and not neglecting your little furry family members. When putting a house up for sale and taking the pictures for the online listing, pre-arrange with friends and family to take your pets for the day. Come opening day, when your home hits the market and the open houses and showings begin, plan on boarding your pets elsewhere. It takes a bit of planning, but it's oh-so necessary.
Prep Like A Pro
I want to mentally prepare you for the work it takes to sell a house. When you are living in the house, you need to be prepared to "Show Prep" your house for each showing. Even though my real estate agents are fantastic, they are busy and they often arrive at the same time as the buyers. They may not have the opportunity or time to prep the house. When those buyers arrive, you must have this house on! Every light set perfectly, the music softly playing, the fireplace going if it's cold, the doors and windows open if weather permits, and the temperature exactly right. Remember you want to your house to be seen at its very, very best.
Involve Your Kids In The Process
If you have children, you have a lot of stuff! And of course, your kids need to be able to play and continue on with their everyday lives. So how do you get the house looking perfect for every showing? Involve your kids. Make the process a game and get them to participate. Let them understand that it's time to put the house "on show" and you all need to set the stage together. Have them pick their favorite toy and stuffed animal to showcase in a perfect spot each time for the show, and put the other toys away. You will be surprised how cooperative the kids are and how much fun they have when you yell "Show Time!"
Get It Ready and Get Out
Once you have gone through the checklist of everything that needs to be done before each showing and the house is ready for its close up, get out! You want the potential buyers to feel that this is their beautiful house. After you have worked so hard to control every aspect of their experience, don't muck it up by lurking around. You'll spoil the fantasy--and the sale. And every real estate agent will tell you, the worst thing a seller can do is hover around prospective buyers and their agents. They need the ability to speak openly and candidly to both your agent and the buyers.
Final Panic: "I Can't Live Like This!" - Yes You Can!
You'll wonder, "How can I keep the house this perfect or this clean forever . . . and where are my things?" Well, don't worry! If you truly dress your up house for sale, it's going to sell right away and you'll be moving soon. Since your things are packed, well-organized, and edited down to what is essential, because you purged your closets and cleaned out the garage, moving will be a snap. You'll be shocked at how little you actually need for the three months your home is on the market.