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  • 8 Terrific Tips to Keep Your House Show Ready (For Potential Buyers)

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    When we think of selling our house, we immediately think of the dreadful task of going through and purging unwanted items, putting our remaining belongings into boxes and then hiring movers or possibly contemplating doing it all ourselves. 

    What we don't think about is that with multiple showings a day (which is the best thing ever!) comes the daunting duty of keeping your occupied home show ready for potential buyers.

    I would like to share with you some show ready tips to prevent this daily battle. Sorry to make it sound negative, but all of those little details that you could normally not pay attention to all of a sudden become the center of attention when buyers walk through. 

    Regardless if you are a single professional or have a family of five, living in your house while accommodating showings is tricky. You can no longer run out of the house without making beds or your kids toys all over the house. 

    Keep in mind that most potential buyers can see past the little things. No one will mind if there are a few dishes in the sink, but they will mind if the entire house is out of sorts. Your goal, as the seller, is to create a welcoming environment for the potential buyers and see your house in the best light possible while showcasing the best features. 

    Keeping it clean, neat and tidy is one easy (but time consuming) way to make that happen! Don't short change yourself; go the extra mile to keep your house show ready. It will be worth it. I promise.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, real estate doesn't stop for anyone which means that a potential buyer may want to tour your house at a moment's notice. With these tips, you will have a head start on making your house show ready.

    Tip 1. Clear out all personal items. We all want our house to feel like a home, but when you're selling your house, you want your house to feel like it could be someone else's home. Potential buyers will have a better experience touring your house because they can focus on important features while hopefully placing their own furniture in each room. 

    Personal items, mainly photographs, serve as a distraction and are a magnet to the onlooker's eyes. I promise you that all of their attention will be on your photographs instead of the house. Don't give potential buyers this opportunity! Steer them to see the features that will make them fall in love with the house. You're essentially trying to remove yourself from the equation.

    When it comes time for the buyer's to recap what they saw, your house could possibly be remembered as the house with all of the glamour shots instead of the house with the exceptional floor plan or oasis like backyard (true story!). By leaving your house as neutral as possible, you are welcoming all types of buyers to visualize themselves living in your house. 

    Tip 2. Declutter. When potential buyers walk in to your house, they want to see a tidy home. Clutter attracts the eye; therefore, similar to tip number one, buyers will focus all of their attention on the clutter and remember your house as the house with clutter.

    Potential buyers see nothing but stuff. Remember these people who are walking through your house want to see themselves there. To state it bluntly, they will be turned off if they walk into a house filled with, what they may perceive as, junk. 

    In addition to not being visually pleasing, clutter makes a room feel small. We all become desensitized to our own clutter and our mismatched furniture and after some time, we don't see anything wrong with it. Try to look at your own house as if you were walking into it for the first time. What would you see? How could you make this room more appealing? Sometimes taking a picture helps you see what needs to be removed or rearranged!

    On a small scale, all visible surfaces should all be relatively neat. Armoir's with glass fronts, kitchen counter tops, bathroom counter tops and even closets and cabinets are more attractive if they are organized. 

    Limited space in some houses is a solid reason for overstuffed closets and cabinets, however, if they are jam packed in an organized way, it gives off a completely different vibe than if everything is thrown haphazardly into the cabinet just to get it out of the way. You would be surprised at how buyers react to these little details.

    On a large scale, each room should have the “correct” amount of furniture. Over the years, we all accumulate more and more. As time goes on, it's harder and harder to sell off or give things away because we have become emotionally attached to them. Where do these items end up? In our house! Bad idea when selling your house. 

    Do your best to not have too much furniture in any room of your house as it will make the house feel smaller than it is. Your goal as the seller is the make the house feel bigger than it is!

    The summary of clutter is that for those buyers who don't have vision, walking into a house that 's full of “stuff” will result in a big fat X through that MLS sheet. It will feel like there is too much work to be done. No reason to deter potential buyers when this step is so easily accomplished!

    Tip 3. Professionally clean your house. Having your house professionally cleaned makes a world of difference. The frequency of professional cleaners throughout the time your house is listed is up to you, the seller, but you should absolutely without a doubt have an initial cleaning. This goes for both occupied and vacant houses and would be the last step to making your house show ready. 

    Potential buyers notice everything. And I mean every little thing. The list includes refrigerator shelves, inside the oven, dust and cobwebs on chandeliers and fans, door frames, baseboards, windows, door and cabinet hardware and kitchen shelves/pantry. 

    I take pride in everything I do so I always suggest to my clients to take pride in the house they are selling and have it cleaned, spotless and decluttered so it's show ready! Spend the money to make it presentable because the buyer who puts a contract in will ask for it to be professionally cleaned prior to moving in anyway.

    Tip 4. Daily chores to stay on top of it. Since you never know when you are going to have a last minute showing, figure out a quick and easy routine that works for you and your partner or family everyday so the chores don't pile up. 

    Consider having a list of chores one day then a second list of chores the next. This can help prevent the overwhelming feeling that the entire house needs to be cleaned. Choose a reasonable time of day and amount of time you are willing to spend on these little details that will help make the house feel ready to go!

    Do your best to keep the floors swept, dishes out of the sink and organize messes. No one has to know that you have no clue what to do with the pile of papers on your desk. If you stack them neatly, the desk will look spic and span! Makes all of the beds every morning, hang all of the towels in the bathroom, keep clean clothes hung or in a dresser and dirty clothes in a hamper.

    My rule is that if it takes less than five minutes, do it now. Look at it as a great way to start new habits!

    Tip 5. Keep the landscaping alive! Keeping the exterior show ready is just as important as keeping the interior show ready. Too many people want to forego or lessen their water bill and the first thing to go is the landscaping. By paying a small amount monthly to maintain the exterior grounds, the curb appeal is that much more attractive. Once you let the yard go, a buyer will want thousands of dollars off of their purchase price because they now have to pay for the yard to be redone. 

    Sellers have a tendency to want to stop paying their water bill once they have an accepted contract. This is the worst time to let everything die because once the final walk through comes around, the buyers are going to come back and say that the yard isn't in the same condition as when they purchased the house.

    Guess who is stuck with an even bigger bill to bring everything back to life and, in some cases, replace trees and flowers? YOU! It's crucial the seller pays the water bill through the close of escrow.

    Tip 6. Maintain the pool. Similar to tip number four, the pool needs to be in the same condition on closing day as it was on the day the buyers put the offer in. If the pool turns green, if the pool equipment no longer works, if the deck-jets or water features aren't in proper working order on the day of the final walk through, the seller is responsible for repairing these items. 

    The point I'm trying to drive home between tips four and five is don't cost yourself more money in the end by not maintaining the services for another four to six weeks once you've gone into escrow.

    Tip 7. Fix broken items. Although it may seem like nothing to you (going back to the feeling of being used to your own house), the buyer wants to move into a “brand new” house (the feeling, of course). We all have items in our houses that need attention but we just don't want to take the time or spend the money. Sometimes we hope the buyers notice broken items or won't ask for them to be repaired, but potential buyers are investigators. Another reason to keep your house show ready!

    Unfortunately, it costs money to sell a house and most buyers will ask for broken items to be repaired. I've had sellers say over and over again, “I should have fixed the drawer in the refrigerator a long time ago because now I've paid to have it repaired and I don't get to enjoy it.” Put yourself in the buyer's shoes, you would want the seller to fix these items for you! If that's not enough for you, think of it as good karma (:

    Tip 8. To scent or not to scent? That is the question! Most of us think it's safe to assume that everyone enjoys a nice scented candle burning. This is not the correct assumption. Although it's few and far between that I hear clients say that candles or potent scents bother them and they can be a deterrent to potential buyers. 

    It's funny to see both sides. For example, I have sellers who think they are warming up the house and providing a relaxing, home type feeling through music and scents. Little do they know that when I walk into their house with the potential buyer, this person is instantly complaining about the candle and how they can't stand strong smells. It was a gesture of kindness in the seller's eyes and the potential buyer isn't a happy camper. I hate to break it to you, but to be on the safe side, as a seller, refrain from lighting candles during showings and open houses to ensure you aren't creating an unwanted environment.

    Lauren
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