My team and I are in the middle of a blog series tailored to sellers. We hope you'll find some great tips to help you prepare your home to sell. You can click the link below for the first part of the series.
I start by telling my clients to fix all the little things - if buyers walk in and see little things that need work, they presume larger things do as well. Make sure every door has a functioning doorstop and if doors have opened into walls fix the damage. Make sure sinks, toilets and tubs don't leak. Make sure the shower diverters work and sinks have stoppers that work (even if they are rubber plugs). Fix cracked windows and make sure all windows and doors open smoothly and latch shut. Put a clean furnace filter in and put the largest light bulb the fixture is rated for in each light fixture. Make sure that every room has a working light fixture - even if its a lamp that works off the switch by the door.
Have a building inspector go through and do a thorough building inspection - if you find out the issues prior to putting the home on the market you have more control over the cost of the repairs then if you wait for the buyers inspector to find them when your less than a month away from closing and they want a licensed electrician to fix something a handyman can fix. If you have a fireplace get it cleaned and inspected by a chimney sweep.
Your realtor will know if your municipality has required occupancy inspections. Some sellers do those upfront so they can advertise that the home has passed the inspection and can be moved into right away. Others will wait since they have timelines they have to be done within written into the contract. Often the municipality will give you either a copy of their inspection checklist or a list of items they often writeup to work from when you are doing your repairs.
Fresh paint in a neutral (do not use white or cream use a warm tan or brown) color scheme makes a world of difference.
Don't forget the front entry and door inside and out - it sets the first impression for the entire home - should be freshly painted, warm and inviting, the key should easily work to lick and unlock the door, no bird poop to walk through as you enter the home. Make sure their are numbers on the front of the home and mailbox that can easily be read, in daylight or at night, from both directions as people drive down the street. Make sure, even in winter when the garden isn't in bloom, that the home has good curb appeal.
Then address the inside of the home. You are moving - other than things that are needed for staging the home, get rid of the stuff you wont be taking with you to your new home. Then pack up everything you wont need till you get to your new home. Then pack up everything you wont need for several months (seasonal clothing, etc). Then depersonalize - its ok to have a few pictures and family things out but not to have a wall covered with them or a shelf where you cant see the shelf for the pictures and knick knacks. Let your homes features and personality shine not yours - emphasize the areas that you fell in love with that made you buy this home rather than the one down the street - those are the same features that will typically make the new buyer fall in love with it.
Then have your realtor and or a trusted friend who has good taste go through the home and tell you what else to pack up and take care of. Then have someone with good taste (often a stager) come through and help you "tweak" the home for focal points - bright cushions, flower arrangements, etc
Note that a home is staged twice - once for the pictures that will be used online and once for people who will be walking in the door
Follow your Realtors advice - they have years of experience in how to make a home stand out