Are you having trouble selling your home? It could be the time of year, or it could be the cat litter stinking up your basement.
“I suppose our basement does smell a little,” said one puzzled homeowner who has two cats.
If the basement smells a little funny to a cat owner, imagine how it smells to someone who doesn’t have a pet or is allergic to animals.
When it comes time to sell your home, the difference between getting an offer and having your home languish on the market often comes down to the details. The problem is, if you’ve lived in the house for more than a couple of years, these details may completely escape you.
Let’s say you want to trade up from a 3-bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home to a home that offers more space. Your closets are filled to the brim, and your basement has boxes stacked up everywhere. When a buyer comes to that house and sees closets that are stuffed to the max, he or she will assume that the house is short on closet space – a big turnoff.
In fact, your closets may be stuffed because you’ve lived in your home for 9 years and now have two or three growing children. Or, you may have inherited everything from Aunt Liddy’s house and haven’t had time to sort through it yet. Or, you might be dreadful at organizing.
But that isn’t what the buyer sees. So you have to transform your home into what the buyer is looking for: A gracious home that feels large, clean and newly remodeled. You need to remove any obstacle that may stand in the way of the buyer making you an offer.
Take a crack at solving these potential obstacles:
If you can’t make your closet look like an ad for a closet organizing company, you’ve got too much stuff in it.
Pack up all clothes from the most recent season. Give away what you won’t wear again, label the rest. Now, organize everything into categories of clothing: jeans, shirts, skirts, suits, blouses, and dresses. Don’t forget to organize your scarves, mittens and hats.
If your closets still looks too full, pay a visit to your local home improvement store to purchase closet organizer shelving and hooks. Making the most of your space will hopefully give your closet a new lease on life.
-Smelly odors and pets.
Do you smoke? Do you clean your home regularly? Does your home have a funny smell? Do you have pets? Do you have dirty diapers lying around?
When you live with a smell long enough you may not even notice it any more. But buyers have sensitive noses and if there’s something foul-smelling in your home, you may not get a single offer.
Start by thoroughly scrubbing down your home. Wash the walls, clean the carpet and draperies, scour your refrigerator and freezer, grind up a few lemon rinds in your kitchen sink disposal. Keep your pet and it’s area clean and fresh smelling. If you have babies, throw dirty diapers out as quickly as possible.
If you normally keep garbage in your garage, consider purchasing an inexpensive plastic shed that will house two cans outside. If you smoke, take it outside the house and have your furniture cleaned. If your house still smells, a coat of fresh white paint may help, as will changing the carpet. You may also want to change the filters on your furnace.
-Clear out the basement.
If your basement looks clean, warm, tidy and dry, a creative parent of young children may see it as the ideal play room. Or, someone may want to finish it and use it as a home office. But no one will see your basement’s potential if you have boxes and old furniture stacked haphazardly around it.
If you have too much stuff in your house, the inclination is to move it to the basement. But when you’re selling, your basement becomes prime real estate – even as storage space. Throw out or give away what you don’t need and move the rest into a storage locker or a friend’s basement until you move into your new home.
-Clear out your shelves; clear off your countertops.
Typically, your kitchen countertop ends up covered with old newspapers, notes from school, jackets, art projects, and mail, not to mention utensils, bowls, cups, the coffee maker, microwave and dirty dishes.
Start by taking every single item (including the kitchen utensils) off of your kitchen countertops. Pack away, throw away or give away what you don’t need. The key thing is this: Don’t put anything back on your countertop except the appliances you need every day.
Now do the same thing with your bathroom shelves, linen closet, laundry area, bookshelves, and living room tables.
Once you have taken away the obstacles, a home buyer can see quickly and clearly whether yours is really the home of his or her dreams.