House with for sale sign in front.

One morning I was staring out the window, drinking my coffee and dreaming of my dream home.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked our house.  We were living in a cute three bedroom bungalow, but it was becoming a little crowded with our two-year-old toddler and two large dogs. That was the moment that I knew that it was time for my husband and I to sell our house and move.

The first step we took was to find a realtor.  A realtor can give you helpful feedback about what potential buyers will be looking for and, more importantly, looking at.  You become accustomed to the stain on the carpet, the cabinet that squeaks and the faded paint.  Here is some of the advice our realtor gave us on what steps to take to make our house sell.

Step One:  De-clutter 

If you have a toddler, it's typical to have clutter like toys, books, clothing and shoes scattered throughout the house.  It becomes part of the décor.  However, potential home buyers cannot look past clutter when looking to find their dream home.  Our realtor suggested renting a storage unit to move all non-essential items there for the time being.  We also purged our house of items that we no longer needed.  My husband and I were able to donate many items to local charities, and were able to deduct it from our taxes.  The rest of the items that we couldn’t donate, we recycled or threw out.  It was liberating and made moving a lot easier!

Step Two:  Remove Personal Items

Wedding pictures, our son’s art work and family heirlooms were prominent in our home.  But our realtor brought up an excellent point that people want envision themselves in your home, not you and your family.  It was important for us to understand the mentality of a potential owner, and to try to remove ourselves from the equation.  We moved those items to the basement out of sight.

Step Three:  Make necessary repairs

Patch holes in the walls, fix leaky faucets and fix squeaky doors or doors that do not close properly.  This goes for exterior and interior doors, and especially the doors in the kitchen and bathroom drawers.  Consider painting your walls a neutral color – you will need to cover the hole patching anyway.  Make sure all light bulbs are working.  The little things do matter!

Step Four:  Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets

Remember that buyers like to peek and will open closet and cabinet drawers.  Present well-organized cupboards and closets.  Believe it or not, tidy closets may send the message that you have taken great care of the rest of the house as well.  Nothing on the floor of closets, clothes hung neatly and not squashed together like they may normally be.  In the kitchen, the small things count too.  Remove clutter in cupboards, stack dishes neatly, face all cup handles outward, turn all labels to the front and group similar food types together.

Step Five:  Consider Renting a Storage Unit

Any home shows better with less furniture in it.  Remove anything that hampers a clear path from room to room.  A potential buyer should be able to tell the purpose of the room easily.  Remove the pieces you love that are going with you, not staying.  This is easier than a buyer falling in love with a piece too, and then finding out they can’t have it. 

Step Six:  Make the Home Sparkle

Do the best and most thorough cleaning you have ever done.  Clear the cobwebs from corners, vacuum or dust mop all the floors, wash the blades of the ceiling fans, clean the grout in the bathroom, lay new caulking, hang up fresh towels, polish all faucets and fixtures so that they shine, and wash the windows inside and out.  Sweep the sidewalk, walkways and porch.  You may even consider spray washing the outside of the house.  Put some vanilla flavoring on low heat on the stove for a welcoming aroma.

Step Seven:  Say Goodbye

If you have lived in the house for a while, it is home to you and not just a house.  Emotionally, start making your way back to thinking of it as a house and begin to let go.  The memories you have associated with the home do go with you.  Walk in every room and make peace with saying goodbye.  You have done well by the house and the house has done well by you.  Now it’s time for you to turn it over to someone else while you create your  new home --- the one with space for all the kids and that yard you have been wanting.