So, you’re thinking about selling your house in 2023. If you’re a first-time seller, we have some news for you: Doing so takes some work if you want to maximize your home’s worth. This means you’ll have to invest a little time and money, depending on the condition of your home and your budget.
While redoing an outdated bathroom or kitchen may not fit into your timetable, there are “hot spots” in those and other rooms that warrant your attention—because potential buyers will be looking. NJ HOME spoke with George Chicolo III, a licensed Realtor with Terrie O’Connor Realtors in Allendale, who offered a few tips to consider before you put your house on the market.
Create Curb Appeal
The photo gallery of an online listing usually begins with an image of a home’s exterior, so you’ll want the shot to stand out. Whether potential buyers are looking on the internet or in person, your home needs the all-important curb appeal. A new door or stylish doorknob, window shutters and even a shiny, easy-to-see house number can go a long way in making a good first impression. “A fresh coat of paint on your front door, shutters, railings and mailbox will really go a long way,” Chicolo says. “And good landscaping is essential and increases a home’s value.” Make sure your lawn is in tip-top shape and is clear of debris. Flowers, too, can make an impact—people want to see a thriving landscape. Other minor projects to consider are power washing walkways and driveways; cleaning gutters and windows; staining garage doors and fences.
Clear the Clutter
You’re going to get rid of things when you move, so it’s never too early to start the decluttering process. “Less is more,” Chicolo says. “You really want a buyer to come in and be able to envision themselves living there. Having too much clutter can make it more complicated for them.” Remove unnecessary items from tables, counters, windowsills as well as inside drawers and pantries—people will be opening closets and cupboards. Potential buyers want to clearly see the size of each room and envision the space with their belongings, so nothing is off-limits.
Make It Impersonal
Remove family photos, bold artwork and funky furniture—anything that made the house “yours.” While these items are special to you, it’s best to give buyers a clean slate that they can imagine their family filling up. The more you clear now, the less you’ll have to do later. This also makes dusting and polishing a lot easier.
Pass the Sight and Smell Tests
Whether you’re welcoming friends or potential buyers to your home, you always want it to look its best. Sweep and mop floors, dust windowsills and blinds, vacuum and remove stains from rugs and carpets. Be wary of strong odors as well. Lingering pet odors and even a stench from the kitchen can throw up red flags. If possible, professional cleaning might be required to rid the home of stubborn scents. Consider a light scent when using candles or room deodorizers, as some stronger aromas might deter people with allergies. Chicolo’s tip: “Try making a simmer pot by filling up a pot of water with some fresh rosemary, sliced lemons and vanilla extract.”
You don’t have to redo the kitchen, but make sure to tighten things like doorknobs, drawer pulls and faucet handles. Lightbulb out in the bathroom? Make sure everything is in working order. Otherwise visitors will wonder, “What else doesn’t work?” The same goes for chipped paint and scuff marks on the wall—these areas should be touched up even if you’re not giving the entire house a new paint job. If you made eclectic choices over the years and have a hot pink or other unusually colored accent wall, consider redoing it with a neutral before you start showing your house.
If your budget allows, “don’t be afraid to hire a home stager,” Chicolo says. “According to the National Association of Realtors, when a home is staged, 23 percent of sellers’ agents reported a 1 to 5 percent increase of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes.”