Yard Sale Northern California May 2005. This i...
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For many sellers, there isn’t a bottomless pit of money to get the house ready to go on the market.  Simply put, between pressure to get to market, the need to pay sales fees, buyers needing concessions like closing costs and even the cost of moving expenses, there isn’t enough money to go in and make major renovations to the house before selling…

In fact, it is seldom worthwhile to make major changes to the home prior to going on the market.

But there are some inexpensive and relatively simple things that can increase the sales price of your home and decrease its time on the market.

Tip #1…  FREE!

master_bedroom_3
Image by lane.bailey via Flickr

Perhaps the VERY first thing a seller should do as they prepare to bring their home to market is get rid of stuff.  Not only can this be free, but it can actually bring IN cash.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Go through your stuff…  Look at the kids toys and clothes, see what really needs to make a move and what doesn’t.
    • Are the kids still playing with that toy?
    • Can they still fit in those clothes?
    • Are you still wearing all of the clothes in your closet?
    • Do you really want all of the furniture that is in your house?
  • Now that you have a big pile of stuff, figure out what needs to be in the house while it is on the market (major furniture like dining room tables, beds, sofas, etc. may need to stay.  Minor things, like extra dressers, tables or chairs may not need to be there).
  • Talk with a Stager
    • I recommend doing this, but it isn’t my money.  The Stager might be able to help you figure out which items should stay and which should go… they also may suggest alternate arrangement for the remaining items.
    • A Stager is NOT the same as an Interior Designers.  The goals are different.  A Designer wants to make a space you like.  A Stager is trying to create a more appealing environment for Buyers.
  • great_room_3
    Image by lane.bailey via Flickr

    Get rid of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of…

    • Garage Sale (maybe it will cover the cost of staging… and even a nice dinner to relieve some stress from doing all of this work.
    • Donate some things to charity.  Often, when we have a garage sale, everything that is left ends up with a local charity.  If we don’t feel like having a garage sale, everything goes to a charity.  Our toys and clothes that have been outgrown usually find their way to charities like Family Shelters.
    • Give stuff away to family and friends that may be able to use the items.
    • Finally, throw away things that are at the end of their useful life. Don’t donate junk just to try to get a tax write-off.

We aren’t done yet…  We have removed things that we can’t use anymore, or that are worn out.  That doesn’t mean that the house is ready to show…  That just means that we are a big step closer.

Remember when I said that you should talk with a Stager? The Stager will likely have told you to “declutter” and “depersonalize”.  That means that there are probably some things that you intend to keep, but they don’t need to be on display in the house.

Pack It Up…

BRAC will cause hardships, expanded HAP could ...
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Whether you get a storage unit, move items to your new home or just pack things away in boxes to neatly store in the basement or garage, you NEED to clear out the house of excess stuff.

I hate saying it to you as much as you hate hearing it.  Seriously.  I don’t want to do it in MY house, and I don’t think you want to, either.  But it is important. The goal is to allow the buyer to be able to visualize THEIR FAMILY in the home… not your family.  That can be kind of tough with your “World’s Largest Collection of Plaid Fishing Lures” or “The Ultimate Precious Moments Collection”.  I regularly see buyers spending more time looking at the items in the home and wondering about the people that live there than looking at the home itself.

A final note…

I hate to even have to say this, but it HAS to be said.  Absolutely pack up things that can’t be replaced or that you don’t want folks to see. “Strangers” will be wandering your home.  They should be accompanied by a real estate agent, but one agent (or even two) can’t see everything happening at once.  Kids might bump something.  An item could turn up missing.  I’ve never had it happen to my sellers, and I’ve never gotten a call related to one of my buyers, but it CAN happen.  Be proactive.

Some of the things I recommend locking away or packing up include:

  • Jewelry
  • Cash  (I have walked into a house and seen several hundred dollars laying on a dresser, out in the open)
  • Prescription Drugs (and other things that might be related…)
  • Guns (an agent that I know had a kid walk out of a bedroom with a handgun that belonged to the owner…  EVERYBODY was a little freaked after that)
  • Collectibles
  • “Adult-themed” items…  I have stories about things that have been out in plain view ;^ )

Assuming you didn’t go out and get a storage unit, and you were able to score some boxes from a local liquor store or grocery store (they often will keep boxes assembled and give them to you if they know you are coming for them), you might actually have come through this step with a little more change in your pocket than when you started.

That is the ultimate “Cheap Tip”…

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