Getting ready to trade up? Then it's time to roll up your sleeves and get your starter house (or condo) ready for the resale market. Here are some dos and don'ts to help you get the best price and ensure your big flip isn't a flop.
It's one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do and also the most effective. A dingy or scuffed wall definitely needs repainting, but even walls in good condition can use a new paint job if they're currently an unusual colour. Neutral tones like white, cream or sandy taupe will appeal to the largest group of potential buyers.
Don't do any major renovations
Sure, you need to do some fast facelifts to get your home looking as clean, bright and spacious as possible, but don't spend big bucks hoping to make even bigger bucks. Your goal is to get your home looking as neutral a canvas as possible so the greatest number of potential buyers will want it. Think one-day makeovers, weekend projects and simple fixes -- not dream renos.
Let your home's "bones" shine through by banishing clutter. If your primary rooms are stuffed to bursting with furniture, move some of it offsite to a storage facility (don't let it block sightlines in your basement or attic either). And if anyone's coming to view your home, stash your everyday messes (toys, coats, old newspapers and magazines, etc) out of sight, too.
Don't make a bad first impression
Make sure the first look potential buyers get of your front walk wows them. Repaint your front door and porch and replace a dingy mailbox or tarnished door hardware with newer models. If your porch light is out of date or ho-hum, replace it -- a stylish light costs under $100 and can make a huge impact.
Do hire a professional cleaner
Get your house the cleanest it's ever been. Common problems like a greasy rangehood or backsplash, dirt-scuffed baseboards, and residue-covered shower stall tiles need some real elbow grease. If you don't want to get intimate with that kind of grime, hire a pro. (Pay extra and request a "deep clean," rather than standard weekly cleaning.)
Don't let your bathroom stay in a time warp
While major renos are out of the question, simple under-$1,000 switcheroos will actually pay off. Replace unattractively coloured ceramic fixtures (avocado green toilet and pedestal sink, anyone?) with basic white ones, and install new vanity lights if the existing fixture channels the wrong era.
Do put your home in bloom
Even though you're moving, it's worth keeping your flowerbeds looking their best -- a nicely landscaped house is one that really says "home sweet home." (Add a bouquet indoors, too.)
Don't let your house have B.O.
A stinky house doesn't send potential buyers a gotta-buy message. The thing is, though, if you smoke, have pets or cook extremely aromatic meals, you'll be so used to the smells that you won't be able to detect them. But outsiders will. So, if any of the above describes your household, embark on a de-scenting regimen. Steam clean all your carpets, drapery and upholstery, repaint your walls, change your furnace filters, and on days you're showing the house, either bake some cookies, light some scented votive candles or brew a fresh pot of coffee just before you go (make sure your agent is on board with ensuring the candles are blown out and the oven turned off to avoid fire hazards).
Do let the dogs out
Keep your pets out of the house during viewings and open houses. (And you stay out, too!)