20 Ways to Make Your Home Look Attractive on the Market
Want to make your house stand out from the rest of the housing stock, follow these 20 tips on how to appeal to buyers.
It's important that your home makes a good first impression. When potential buyers drive up to your home, you want them to think, "Wow! I could live here!" To make sure buyers want to see the inside of your home, make sure the outside is well-kept, tidy and inviting. It's important to touch-up or completely repaint trim, keep the grass cut, edge along sidewalks and paths, maintain flowers and shrubs and keep the yard tidy. You never know when curious buyers will drive by. For a list of ideas of where to start, begin here.
Resist the urge to roll your eyes at this one. It is imperative that your home looks livable. Potential buyers may not be able to see past your clutter. Think of it this way—don't move things you no longer want or need. Make decisions now and your house will sell faster and your move will be easier. It's no secret that getting started is the hardest part of decluttering. Take one room, or even part of one room, at a time and dive in. Recycle or shred paper. Donate books, toys, clothing and duplicate household items. If you're getting frustrated and you can't deal with one more stack of papers or shoebox of old photos, put them in a plastic tub, label the tub and stack it somewhere out of the way. A stack of tubs doesn't look like clutter. For completely out-of-the-way plastic tub storage, check out this simple rack for storing tubs overhead in your garage.
If you decide to do some interior painting, stick to neutral colors. You've heard it before, but it's the truth. Neutrals don't distract and they allow potential buyers to imagine their things in your home. If you'd like some guidance on choosing colors, check out this collection of tips. For help on painting, check these ideas.
This may be the most important step you take toward getting your home ready to sell. For a home to live up to the "move-in condition" description, it has to be clean. If you already keep a clean house, simply keep up the good work, checking to make sure you don't overlook little-used closets and other nooks and crannies that aren't part of your weekly routine. This needs to be a deep cleaning. For the rest of us, it's time to get serious. Start at the top (the attic or second-story rooms) and work your way down. Clean ceiling light fixtures first, scrub walls and woodwork and finish with floors. As you work your way from top to bottom, don't leave one area until it is completely clean and then move on. Don't drag dirt from one area back into the place you just cleaned. Finally, don't underestimate the power of clean windows. Buyers won't walk in and think, "Wow, clean windows!" But, freshly cleaned windows look great from the outside and with the lights on, they sparkle on the inside. And with this method, window cleaning is not all that bad.
Rearrange Your Furniture
Your furniture is arranged the way it best suits you and your family. When you're staging your home to sell, you'll need to use your furniture as marketing tools to help create inviting vignettes. Avoid having furniture lined up along the walls. Pull the sofa away from the wall and pull chairs close to create a conversation area. Also, you may need to remove some furniture so it's easy for people to walk around in the rooms. If you've toured model homes and had the feeling you could move right in and live there, that's what you're going for. Be sure to use best lifting practices as well.
If your windows are covered with heavy drapes, flouncy curtains and/or clunky valances, take all that stuff down. You want every possible ray of natural light coming in through your windows. It’s also a way to make a room look bigger. Most people want shades or blinds to provide privacy, with as little obstruction as possible. If you have shades with a broken lift cord, here's how to fix it.
Buy Fresh Flowers and Plants
If the weather allows, plant flowers in pots, window boxes or right in the ground to add color and pump up the curb appeal. Pay close attention to the plants, keeping them watered and trimmed. Inside the house, fresh flowers in vases add color, life and the feeling that you, as the home seller, are putting your best foot forward. It may not matter to some buyers but others will appreciate this detail and take it as a sign that your home has been well cared for. If you grow vegetables indoors or want to, here’s how to get those seedlings to sprout.
Create a Welcoming Entry
The potential buyer's lasting first impression takes place at the front door. Curb appeal is important, but a negative impression as a buyer steps up to and through the door could be a deal killer. Be sure the steps and/or walkway up to the front door are in good repair with no big cracks or overgrown weeds. Check that the door (and storm/screen door, if you have one) is in good shape and is working properly. Also, check the lock. You don't want the real estate agent to fumble trying to open the door. Check the threshold to make sure it's clean and in good repair. Replace any dangling or loose weather stripping. And finally, put a wreath on it. hokey or not, a simple wreath on the front door is an inviting and welcoming sign of good thing to come inside.
Now is the time to fix all of those nagging things that you just lived with. Inside the house, look for things like stained ceilings, missing tile, broken windows and doors, heavily scratched floors and other signs of neglect. Outside, look for broken or missing shingles, patio pavers and tuckpointing. If you have a deck, check for cracks in floor boards and loose railings. Make a list of everything you see and then decide which things you're going to tackle. A real estate agent can be very helpful in determining what needs to be done and what doesn't. Here are complete how-to instructions for several common repairs: Wall and Ceiling Repair, Laminate Floor Repair, Shingle Repair and Deck and Railing Repair.
Every homeowner has at least a couple ongoing projects that never seem to get finished. Now is the time to finish painting the guest room, install the ceiling fan you bought last summer and stain that beadboard you put up in the pantry. If painting is on your list, this collection of tips will help you finish the task with a lot less mess.
Upgrade Your Mailbox
Whether you have a box mounted to the house, a letter slot next to the door or a freestanding box on a post near the street, a new mailbox can add a splash of curb appeal. Purchase an approved mailbox and follow regulations regarding height; for example, curbside mailboxes must be mounted so bottoms are 42 to 48 inches above the ground. Having trouble with how to put that post in for the mailbox? Check out how to do it here. The mailbox doesn’t have to be elaborate either, here are some low maintenance examples. And remember, hanging plants and flowers growing around a mailbox may increase curb appeal, but the bees and other stinging insects these plants attract aren't always your mail carrier's best friend.
Line a Walkway With Bricks or Pavers
Is your concrete walkway in decent but boring shape? Adding color, texture and width to an existing walkway by lining it with pavers is a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing it. Stone, clay and concrete pavers are all good choices. The basic procedure involves digging a trench one paver wide along the walkway, leveling in a bed of sand or pea gravel, then setting and tamping pavers so they're flush with the top of the walkway. You can also do it for the garden.
Plant a Tree
Plant a young tree now, and before long your investment will add valuable curb appeal to your property. Before planting, make sure to consider how large the tree's root systems will be when it's fully grown, and choose a species that is recommended for your area–your local extension service will be able to provide a list of the best trees for your region. And as always, before you dig, make sure to call 811 and someone from the utilities company will come out and mark the underground utility lines. Read more tips for trouble-free tree planting here. Shade trees can be especially nice in the backyard.
Add Low-Voltage Lighting
Low-voltage lighting can dramatically improve your home's nighttime curb appeal, and by lighting walkways and dark corners, it can improve safety and security as well. Lighting can be grouped into three basic categories: downlights, uplights and specialty lights. Buy a transformer that includes a timer or light sensor so the lights automatically turn on and off. Follow some tips on how to do it.
Decorative shutters can add color, quaintness and depth to a house (as do window boxes). Shutters with louvers or raised panels have a traditional look; those with decorative cutouts have more of a cottage or country feel. For an authentic look, mount wood shutters using special shutter hinges and keep them pinned against the house with old fashioned shutter dogs. Shutter clips are available for “invisibly” mounting vinyl shutters. Some shutters are even helpful in events of severe weather. Plus: 10 Techniques for Painting Windows That Will Save You Time and Energy
Install a New Storm Door
Even if your primary door remains the same, a storm door with an oval window or decorative glass can act as a great cover-up. It can add security and increase your home's energy efficiency. Self-storing units with glass and screen panels that can be adjusted in tracks according to season are the most convenient. Those with interchangeable screens and storm panels have a cleaner, uninterrupted look but require a safe place to store the unused panel. Replacing a storm door can be quick and adjusting it is a snap.
Install Flower Boxes
Few projects add as much charm and color to a house as flowers in window boxes. Build your own window box or buy one from a garden center. These work best when mounted below double-hung, slide-by or stationary windows casement and other swing-out window sashes will decapitate the flowers. Use a plastic liner to prolong the life of the planter and simplify fall cleanup. Easier yet, arrange container gardens in pots and planters on the front stoop or along the walkway. Too busy to water all the time? Check out these suggestions on creating a self-watering planter. Plus: 13 Bush Pruning Tips for Healthier Bushes
Add Whole Home Audio
Portable audio devices are great but piping in sound throughout the home can be luxurious. Getting up from watching a movie doesn’t mean you have to pause it or cooking can be melodious with sweet sounds. The music can even go outdoors with speakers and make gatherings pleasant. Check out great tips on how to wire the house for audio and how to set up a home theater.
Be Proactive and get a Home Inspection
Getting a home inspection ahead of time can save money and frustration later. A home inspector will point out any concerns with your home and prevent any sale from falling through. These tools can help you spot problems but anything you don’t catch, a home inspector will. Plus, it shows buyers you’re motivated to sell.
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Price it Right
When residential real estate inventory is low, the market is hot for sellers. However, that does not mean buyers are going to overpay for a home. Too often some sellers treat the real estate process like they are trying to sell something online, and will leave room to negotiate. Correct pricing allows the market to dictate how much the home is really worth by creating the possibility of multiple offers. The seller who shoots for the moon and asks for more than their home is worth ultimately loses out on ready, willing, and able buyers. The home can then become stigmatized as over priced and buyers may choose to skip the property outright. These tips give sellers an idea of what buyers are seeking. Get the most of your home inspection as well.