- Pack or remove all valuables (e.g., jewelry, valuable artwork, antique or sentimental china) before the movers arrive.
- Put items that the movers should not pack into the bathtubs. Hang a “Do Not Move” sign on the shower curtain.
- Donate or throw away unused belongings before the packers arrive – you don’t want to pay to move items that you no longer need!
- For local moves, move lampshades yourself, to cut down on the number of boxes moved (movers will usually put 2 shades in a large box).
- Also consider moving framed pictures yourself, to cut down on boxes moved.
- Move all items into the room that they will live in at your new house; this way they will be packed in the correct boxes and will be unpacked in the correct room.
- Gather all house and storage keys, as well as garage door openers, in one location to be turned over to the new owners. Also include any appliance manuals or warranty information.
- Create a file of important paperwork (financial, insurance, checks,stamps) that will be needed during the move.
- Create a file of magazine and favorite catalog labels, which you can use to change address prior to moving.
- Keep a box of essential items, including toilet paper, garbage bags, cleaner and paper towel, extra light bulbs, a hammer,screwdriver and picture hangers. Place this in your car so that itis easily accessible.
- Separate out bedding and towels so that they are easily accessible once moved; consider moving these yourself.
- Clean area rugs prior to move; leave rolled for moving.
- Determine if you are responsible for cleaning the existing house once it is cleared of contents; arrange for a cleaner to come in once your furniture is on the moving truck.
- Pack an overnight bag with toiletries, a change of clothes and some snacks and drinks. Bring this with you to the new house.
- Arrange for your new house to be cleaned and painted prior to moving in.
- Order any new shades or curtains that will be needed 3 – 6 weeks before moving.
- Measure your furniture and determine its placement in the new house. Draw floor plans for each room so that you and anyone helping you can direct the movers.
- Designate a space in each room for boxes to be stacked – choose a location that does not block traffic, and that you can work around in case the boxes remain there for a few days.
- Designate a space for empty boxes. As boxes are unpacked, flatten them and carry them out to that space. Determine what you will do with the empty boxes – recycle, throw, or have your movers take them.
- Unpack wardrobe boxes first, as they take up a large amount of space.
- Place toilet paper and a roll of paper towels in a convenient bathroom so that you and the movers have a bathroom to use!
- Consider what you will have for lunch that day – and whether youwill bring in food for the movers (a nice touch so that they don’t have to leave to get lunch, but not a necessity).
- Identify your bedding box as soon as possible, unpack and make your beds so that everyone can go to sleep at the end of an exhausting day!
- Unpack your kitchen, then bathrooms, then main living areas.
Many home buyers view and research homes on the Web and then do their own drive-bys before contacting an agent. Make sure home exterior looks clean and presentable.
- Make sure lawn is mowed and the landscaping is pristine. Keep your gardens neat and healthy, and repair visible damage. Always keep junk, including trash barrels, out of sight.
- Freshen up, trim, and touch up concrete steps.
- Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door.
- Place a new and colorful welcome mat at the front door.
- Add a potted plant to the side of the front door.
- Invest in a new door knob and lock.
- Make sure the street numbers are polished and in place.
- Replace that old, rusty mailbox in favor of a sleek, modern one.
- Clean up the yard. Remove any visible trash cans, toys, tools, rusted outdoor furniture.
- Wash windows inside and out.
Clutter eats equity.
- Purge closets, empty storage areas, box up appliances.
- Reduce the visible number of books, CDs, DVDs, etc.
- De-clutter all bathroom and kitchen counters.
- Remove all refrigerator magnets and papers.
- Personal touches have to go. Buyers should think of it as their home not someone else’s. Get rid of family photos, diplomas, trophies, and souvenirs. Also, remove all traces of day-to-day life.
- Get rid of excess furniture. Less furniture makes the property feel more spacious. Rent a storage locker to store extra supplies and furniture if necessary.
- Gather house plants and either remove or display together.
- Empty closets and leave a few hangers in it so the buyer can visualize their winter coats.
- Have a garage sale before listing.
- Donate goods to charity.
- A general rule of thumb: Count every item in each room including furniture, books, vases, cards, etc. and eliminate 50% of them.
- Stimulate the buyers’ imaginations by setting the dinner table with the best china, putting a pair of wine glasses and a vase by the fireplace.
- Make sure interiors are bright and clean, not dingy and dirty. Brighten up interiors with better lighting and fresh coats of paint.
- Finish all the little fix-it things that have been neglected. Buyers don’t want to see these even if the seller has put up with them for years. Replace cracked light switches, spackle those dents or nail pops in the wall, and fill in those base board gouges.
- Clean bathrooms until they sparkle. Old bathrooms can be charming, but only if they are totally clean and shining.
- Add a new shower curtain in the bathroom.
- Hang fresh bathroom and kitchen towels.
- Make sure faucets are drip-free.
- Vacuum the carpet/floor each morning. Also consider getting your carpets cleaned.
- Consider refinishing your hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are often a home’s most compelling feature.
- Make sure wall paint is fresh and neutral. If the house contains bright or dark colors, remember that neutral colors are best for marketing a home for sale.
- Replace any light bulbs that don’t work.
- Thoroughly clean all appliances, including the oven and microwave.
- Let there be light by opening all blinds and curtains. Sunshine is the world’s best decorator. Turn room lights in case the day is cloudy. Increase bulb wattage in the laundry room, kitchen, bathrooms, and closets. Turn on all track or recessed lighting.
Be Ruthless about Odors
Keep the home smelling fresh. One of the toughest preparations sellers must
remember is to make sure the home doesn’t smell.
- Keep the house free of pet messes and odors.
- Keep the dog or cat out of sight during showings.
- Change litter box daily.
- Put cedar chips in closets.
- Bake a fresh batch of cookies and display on the kitchen table.
- Place potpourri in the bathrooms.
- Don’t smoke or let others smoke in your home.
- Keep the garbage disposal and drains clear.
- Empty all trash cans.
- Clean out your fireplace.
- Tip: If you put a drop of vanilla extract on a light bulb, once you turn on the light the vanilla heats and disperses.
Make sure there is furniture in the rooms. People envision themselves living there much more readily if there are attractive, cozy furnishings.
- There are companies that will rent furniture for houses on sale.
- Generally costs average $1 a square foot for three-months, with additional costs beyond that specified in the contract.
Goal: To set a scene that will encourage buyers to imagine themselves living in the home.