The first step in getting your home ready for sale is to de-clutter your home. This is not simply throwing away old magazines and having a cleaning service come in for a deep clean. The idea is to prepare your home where a potential buyer can envision your home as their new house. To acomplish this, you need to think of your house as a marketable commodity rather than your home. Remove all emotion about your home from consideration. To get inspiration, try visiting a model home in your area. Builders spend a lot of time and money on interior design to optimize the appeal of a home for potential buyers.
When you visit a model home, you will notice that most of the rooms are devoid of specific personalities. Personal photos, collectibles, trophies, souvenirs and other personal items should be boxed up and put into storage. You are going to have to pack them up eventually when you move into your new home, so why not go ahead and take care of that now. Once you have those items boxed up, don't just store them in a closet, attic or the garage. Place them in a storage unit away from where potential buyers can see them.
After years of living in your home, it is common to form an emotional bond with items in your home. That brass figurine you received from Aunt Sally 10 years ago and those bongo drums you picked up on your last caribbean cruise generally don't help accent your room. These items tend to collect on shelves, cabinets, in drawers, garages and attics. You may not realize it, but these items have a negative effect on your potential buyers view of your home. Your potential buyers need to be able to see the walls. They need to see where their furniture is going to go. Take a step back and imagine you are the buyer. Ask a good friend to view your home and ask your agent to solicit feedback from viewings to know what you still need remove. When in doubt, pack it up!
The kitchen is generally the heart of every home so it is best to start there. Look at your countertops. You will want to have those as clean and clear as possible. Yes, you may use the crock pot a couple of times a week and that toaster every morning, but your potential buyers will still see this as clutter. Store the crock pot and any other appliences not used on a daily basis below. Thoroughly clean appliences you use on a daily basis such as the toaster and try to store those away when potential buyers come by.
Look under the sink and clean and organize anything below there. Remove any excess cleaning supplies and make that space as empty as possible. It is a spot buyers often view. If there are any signs of water leak or damage, you will want to correct this as soon as possible.
Open up your drawers and remove everything to wipe down the drawers and only restock them with things you need. Box everything else up. Potential buyers will open up your drawers to make sure there is enough space for their items. If your cabinets and drawers are packed full of stuff, buyers will think that their kitchen items will not fit.
Now, let's talk about that junk drawer. Every house has one and its called a junk drawer for a reason. Chances are if it ends up there, you don't need it. Take an hour and go through it, discarding what you don't absolutely requre. That includes coupons that are about to expire. If your really going to use them, put them in your car, purse or wallet.
Next, move on to your pantry. Your goal is the same as for the drawers and cabinets. You want to have as much empty space on your shelves as possible. Take the time to discard what you don't absolutely need, wipe down the shelves and re-organize what is left. If you have not used an item in the past 6 months, chances are you are not going to use it in the coming 6 months. Discard it!
There have been plenty of movies about the monsters in the closet but the real scary thing about closets is the amount of clutter they collect. Old blankets, board games, clothes, and boxes and boxes of stuff. Don't be scared of the closet monster for it can make you some extra money. Empty your closets out and make three piles. One for selling and/or donating, one for keeping and one for trash. Those items you have outgown or no longer use, can bring you some additional cash through a garage sale and donating your items to a worthy charity will ensure they are used again for their intended purpose rather than collecting dust in your closet. All that which you do not deem worthy of keeping, selling or donating should be thrown out. You will be surprised not only at the amount of trashbags you fill up but also at the amount of space you will re-aquire in your closets.
When viewing furniture in your rooms, try and think of that room as a hotel room. Just the bare minimums are best. A bedroom should have a bed and dresser and maybe a desk and chair if space allows. Just enough items for your daily living needs. To much furniture gives the impression that the room is too small. Your not a furniture gallery. Your purpose is to sell your own. Open up the space to allow buyers to see the potential of your home.
Many people work from home nowdays. If your desk is loaded with paperwork and files, take the time to organize and file your paperwork away. Pack up old files in banker boxes and store, sell or discard old equipment you no longer use. Create an environment where buyers could see sitting down for a meeting in that room.
Potential buyers come in all ages and life stages. Just beacuse you have kids and your neighborhood is full of elementary aged children, don't assume your new buyers will have kids. What you see as a cute play area, others may see as junk. For toddlers rooms, keep their 6 or 7 favorite toys and pack up all the other toys. Organize cabinets and shelves. For older children, now is a good time to go through their drawers and sell-donate any clothes they no longer wear. Pack up any toys or games they no longer play with. Kids are a walking magnet for junk and clutter. So once you get their items packed up, make it a weekly occurance to check their rooms newly accumulated items.
If you have teenagers, try and get them to help you sort out what they want to pack or sell. Chances are they will not be much of a help, so get them started by sorting the items into piles for them (keep, sell-donate, and trash) and then have them re-sort if needed. While your at it, make sure to have them take down their posters. They ones they insist on keeping up, consider buying a frame for them to give the room a neat and organized look. Just keep thinking Model Home.
Once you get everything boxed up, don't just move it to the garage, basement, attic or closet. Potenital buyers view these areas with just a critical an eye as other areas of your home. Your going to be be moving anyway. Get those items into storage or make some money with a garage sale and get half the work done when it comes time to move out.
Next: Step 2 - Staging Your Home - Interior Tips: