10 Important Things Home Sellers Often Forget to Do

Getting your home ready to sell is a big step that requires you to examine your house through a new lens. Even the tidiest of homeowners will need to do some work to get their home in top condition to show to prospective buyers.

It’s hard to erase a buyer’s first impression, so preparing your home for a showing is an essential step in the home selling journey. To make sure you fly through this task with ease, take a close look at this list of the top 10 things home sellers forget to do when getting their home ready for a sale.

1. Check your light bulbs

Remember that flickering bulb in the upstairs hallway you’ve charmingly dubbed the haunted light? A buyer may find that much less endearing. Be sure to replace any faulty or missing lightbulbs before your showing. You’ll also want to make sure fixtures with multiple bulbs have the same type of lighting. Soft white bulbs mixed with warmer daylight hues can create a confusing vibe that might throw off the look of your home.

Don’t overlook exterior lights, either! And if a room doesn’t have adequate lighting, consider adding a lamp or plug-in pendant light.

2. Clean and organize closets, built-ins, and all cabinets

You might not think your messy spare room closet is a big deal, but having Halloween decorations falling on buyers when they open doors is sure to stick with them. Don’t just tidy up closets, built-in cabinets and bathroom and kitchen cupboards — downsize and organize, too. Consider what you would want to see when touring a home, pare down your belongings to focus on just what you need, and pack the rest away. You want a seller to be able to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your clutter gets in the way.

3. Deep-clean rugs and flooring

This is a must if you have kids or pets. You might no longer smell the faint tinge of apple juice or dog food on your dining room rug, but a buyer might. Invest in a carpet cleaner — you can rent a machine for an affordable price — to deep-clean your rugs, or hire a service to help. 

Make sure you give any hard floors a good scrub, too. That might involve scrubbing or repainting caulking between tile or checking for any finish that might have come off of hardwood.

4. Clarify any items in the home that are not staying

You don’t want a seller to fall in love with a chandelier you’re taking with you or custom window treatments you plan on installing in your new home. If you can’t take these items down and replace them with other options ahead of the showing, be sure to note up front what is and isn’t going. And be prepared for a seller to push back if they really love a particular piece of furniture, art, or decor that you own.

5. Pay attention to the exterior of your home

First impressions are hard to beat, so step into a seller’s shoes and walk up to your house. How does the greenery look? Does anything need to be cut or tamed? Maybe there’s a bare spot in your garden that could use a new plant.

Now approach the door. If you have a porch, make sure it’s clean and neat. You might even want to repaint it if the paint is peeling or faded. Then consider your door. Make sure it’s clean and any glass is free of smudges. 

Lastly, check the doorbell. A buyer might be turned off if the first thing they touch doesn’t work. And they may wonder what else is broken in your home.

6. Close toilet seat lids

Whether you leave this lid up or down, make sure you close them before sellers come to visit. Your home will be more inviting if the seller isn’t face to face with the inside of your toilet bowl. It could even distract them from taking in the rest of the bathroom.

7. Scale down your personal items

Swap out family photos for more neutral art pieces, funky collectibles for greenery or candles, and a barrage of books for a pared down collection. While your home might be tastefully curated, it can be a challenge for a buyer to envision themselves living in your space if it’s full of your personal belongings. 

8. Don’t overlook the garage

If you have a garage, shed, or driveway, make sure it looks presentable. Even an older garage without much storage can be made to look better by fully emptying it or only storing absolute essentials during a showing. Make sure the garage opener works and pick up any trash or debris that may have collected over the years. If you use your garage or shed to store old furniture or other large pieces you no longer need, consider calling a junk removal service to help you clean out this space.

Driveways can be repaved if necessary, and should at least be hosed down. If you have pavers or any other landscaping elements, make sure nothing needs to be replaced.

9. Let natural light in

While you may have spent hundreds on impressive window treatments, buyers will want to see the amount of light your home gets. Open any window treatments at least halfway to help enhance your home’s overall lighting. You should also check for any broken blinds or fraying linens and replace them prior to the showing. 

10. Clean basements and attics as well as you can

Even if your home only has an unfinished attic to house insulation or a dirt-floor basement where the HVAC system is found, cleaning these spaces to ensure they’re free of water, mold, and dust can make them look better than you might have imagined. While these rooms aren’t likely to make or break a sale, they could count as another pro in your home’s favor when buyers are weighing their options.

The bottom line

Talk to your real estate agent before scheduling your showing to get their tips on staging your home and avoiding common seller faux pas. And you’ll also want to google your home’s address to make sure nothing incorrect or harmful pops up. Although all of the cleaning and rearranging may feel cumbersome, it could help you find a buyer more quickly — and may even boost their offer price. 

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