I have a friend who compulsively alphabetizes everything in her home – books, CDs, even her spices continually get organized.
While this may seem like a lot of work, her home is always in perfect order. And, that impresses everyone who visits her home. You can walk through at almost any time of any day and, if it was for sale, show her home to a prospective buyer.
Unfortunately, most home sellers don’t keep their home in the kind of condition they need to in order to sell their home quickly, and for as much money as possible. While they may clean up their home, and organize it, in truth, there’s a lot that isn’t getting done that could make a nice house shine.
Here are a few things you might want to do before your next showing:
Clean up your “stash.”
Everyone – even exceptionally neat people – has a place where the day’s paperwork collects. If you have children, it might be several places where their artwork, memos from school, or camp applications might be found. You might have take-out menus, envelopes with friends’ addresses, or even old holiday cards. Or, perhaps it’s a junk drawer that’s grown out of control.
There are a couple of problems with having a stash, particularly if you’re selling your home. First, if you sweep everything into a pile, and stash it under your bed, it’s a great way to lose things. Next, if you have a pretty wicker basket and put your stash in there, covered with a fancy cloth of some sort, you run the risk of someone peeking into the basket and thumbing through your personal items.
Keep your private information private.
Many homes have a home office. It’s the place where you catch up on the household bills, or perhaps you run a small business from your home.
Sometimes the home office is actually an alcove in an upstairs hallway, built out to accommodate one or even several computers. It allows parents to monitor their children’s homework and Internet habits.
It’s likely that your home office space and computer contain sensitive financial and personal information about your family. There might be medical bills, credit card bills, department store bills, and other pieces of paper that identify you, the seller, in a way that could provide someone with ulterior motives enough to cause you considerable harm.
Before you have a showing, lock down your family computers, and put away sensitive information, bills, and paperwork. If you have a cabinet in your home office that locks, use it. Although most home buyers couldn’t care less whether you’re carrying a $4,000 balance on your Visa card, there are people who pretend to be home buyers simply to steal items and information from unsuspecting homeowners.
Remove half the items from each closet, and reorganize.
The one thing about home buyers is they like to poke about. They’re not really being nosy. What they’re trying to do is gauge how easy it will be to fit their stuff into your home.
Having ample closet space can be a huge selling point when it comes to a home. Most people aren’t that organized, and having a large closet where they can shut the door is a big plus. If closets weren’t that important, all of those companies that have sprung up to build out closets would be out of business.
To sell your home successfully, you need to play to the buyers’ expectations of what a suitable home should have. And what every buyer thinks the right home has is a lot of closets.
You can’t actually build additional closets in your home, but you can show the buyer that you have enough closet space for your stuff – even if you’re a little short. Go around your home to each closet and systematically remove half of everything inside the closet, particularly if the closet is overstuffed.
Once you’ve removed half your clothes, half the linens and towels, and half the toys from the kids toy closet, refold and reorganize what’s left. Your closets should look neat and spacious enough for Martha Stewart.
You’ll enjoy several results from all this work. First, your home should feel much bigger because you’ve created extra space. Second, if you’ve either packed away or given away all the stuff you took out of your closets, you’re way ahead of the game when it comes time to close on your sale and move.
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