1. Take a Fresh Look at Your Home
Your home looks great to you, but buyers want to see and feel what it’s like since they might be living in it -- so take a fresh look at your dwelling. Hop in your car, drive around the block, and then scrutinize your home as a prospective buyer will see it for the first time. First, consider what's called "street appeal;" does it need washing or painting? Does the driveway need repair work? Is the landscaping in good shape? Is the yard neat and trimmed? Does the beach need cleaning? What about the view from the front yard or lake? Then, walk inside and size up the interior as though seeing it for the first time. Remember, be very critical; your buyer will be.
2. Clean Out the Clutter Before You Start to Sell
Before putting your home on the market, get rid of clutter in every area -- closets, attic storage, kitchen cabinets, drawers, bath vanities, and shelves -- everywhere. Remember, this is no time to be sentimental: if you don't use it, lose it. Potential buyers are seriously put off by clutter, and most of us drag a lot more things through life than we really need. Also, don't forget the furniture and fixtures when getting rid of clutter -- most of us put too much in too little space, which makes a buying prospect, think your home is too small.
3. To Sell, Sell, Sell -- Clean, Clean, Clean
After you've cleared out the clutter, it's time to really clean. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, strip and polish the floors, scour the bathrooms, go over the laundry room, polish the furniture, scour out the cabinets, wash the windows and window coverings, and spiff up the ceiling fans and kitchen appliances. In short, clean everything.
Don't forget the exterior; paint or power-wash everything that needs the work. Remember, this is a ceiling-to-floor, roof-to-foundation clean-up project.
4. Get More for Your Home: Repairs Pay Off
After you've cleaned the place to within an inch of its life, the next project is making all the repairs necessary to attract a buyer. So, patch up the roof, touch up all the paint, repair the screens, spruce up the porch or deck framing, and make your entry area really shine. Don't forget to water the lawn and landscape beds, and take the time to trim, mow, edge, rake the beach and get rid of sick or dying plants. Inside, fix the grout in the bathrooms and on tile floors, adjust any doors that need it, fix any scratches on the walls, cover any stains, and be sure to fix any plumbing problems. Remember, do what your home needs before the first buyer appears at your door.
5. Putting Your Home on the Market: Show It to Sell It
After you have cleaned, shined, mowed, cleaned the beach and generally whipped your property into shape, it's time to attract a buyer.
Regardless of who markets your home, you or a broker, there are other, small things you must do to attract buyers. For example, even if it's bright daylight, open the blinds and turn on the lights. Also, open all the interior doors to make the home appear roomier. Be sure to remove all your kids and pets -- they're cute, but a prospect wants to see your home, not your pride and joy. In addition, make sure your pet's litter pan is clean so the home smells clean and fresh, not like air freshener. Remember, you need to make sure your home is available to be seen by a prospective buyer with as little notice as possible. That means less than an hour, or even five minutes, if possible.
6. Get a Sense of the Market:
Before you put your home on the market, take a day or two and check out the competition: homes with similar prices, lakeshore frontage, beach, yard, etc. Remember, after location, the most important item to a buyer is a well maintained home. Many flaws can be overlooked if the buyer knows he can move in without a lot of trouble and expense.