Checklist For Selling Your Marin Home
The Front Yard and Exterior (Your First Impression)
Paint: Paint provides the most bang for your buck. And do it right. Before painting, scrape or water blast any blistered or peeling paint; repair gutters and down spouts and replace wood showing dry rot. Wood, trim work, gutters, and wrought iron should receive serious attention.
The Front Yard: All woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the front door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Repaint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Mow and trim the lawn. Weed flower beds; remove or replace dead plants or trees. Water regularly during the growing season. With desert-type landscaping, make sure that no plastic is exposed, that rocks and sand are tidy, and that weeds and grass are removed.
Driveway and Garage: Clean up all grease and oil spots. Remove the soil, if not the stain. Be sure that the garage door opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, don?t park cars in front of the house or in the driveway.
Fence: Missing stakes or slats are real eyesores to buyers, yet such things are usually an easy fix. Repair, paint, or stain as necessary.
Roof: Remove visible debris or toys. Straighten the television antenna if necessary. Remove any tree branches touching the roof or gutters.
Patio: Nice outdoor furniture really enhances the look of patios. If necessary, borrow some.
Swimming Pools: Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Hose dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.
Take a Long and Critical Look at the Inside
Windows: Repair or replace torn or bent screens. As a last resort, remove them entirely; no screens are better than torn or unsightly ones. Replace any cracked or broken panes. Also, pay attention to creeping foliage near windows. A window framed in ivy can give a warm, homey feeling, but cut it back if it is restricting light from coming into the room. Drapery rods should be affixed firmly to walls and work smoothly; draperies should be reasonably clean and hang properly.
Doors: Repair or replace doors with holes. Check to see that all doors open and close freely, including closet doors and patio or sliding glass doors. Oil squeaky doors. Tighten the hardware, particularly doorknobs. And, while making this kind of adjustment, tighten hardware on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, too.
Walls: As with the exterior, painting pays dividends out of proportion to the time and effort spent. Wallpaper should be clean and adhere smoothly to walls. Patch all major holes in wallboard and plaster. Loose handrails on stairway should be secured to walls. Clean, paint, or replace your old air-vent covers.
Floors: Repair or replace missing or damaged pieces of tile; polish if needed. Repair of loose stair tread-plates or loose carpeting on a stairway is a top priority.
Carpets: Steam-cleaning is the best answer for soiled carpet; shampooing seldom does the job. If pet odors are present, be sure to clean the carpet some time before the home is placed on the market to be sure the odors have been eliminated. Loose carpet should be anchored properly.
Make it Feel Spacious
One of the best and least expensive ways to improve the look of your home is to open up as much space as possible. Openness stimulates the buying impulse. Overstuffed rooms or closets give the impression of being smaller than they really are. You can?t change the size of what you have, so present it in a pleasing way. Rent a storage space for your extra belongings while the house is on the market.
Closets and Storage Areas: One of the most frequently voiced requirements of buyers is for closet and storage space. Open up your storage areas by getting rid of items you aren?t using.
Counters and Cabinets: The same principle applies here: Over crowding gives the impression of inadequacy. This applies to bathrooms and kitchens, with the kitchen being most important. Store infrequently used counter-top appliances. Do some prudent discarding in cabinets.
Garage: Buyers will pay a premium for a garage if they can visualize it being of value to them, but it?s hard to sell the virtues of a garage when it is filled to overflowing. If your garage has become a two-car attic, move the excess to storage.
The following comments touch only on areas often neglected or overlooked. Remember, because entropy increases with time, we must apply ourselves to keep things clean.
Bathrooms: Few places in the home can get so dirty so fast. Vanity, sink, faucet hardware, and mirror are the focal points, but other potential problems include soap residue in a shower, moldy shower curtains, dirt in the track of the sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, stained toilet bowls, and dirty or battered bath mats.
Kitchen: Like baths, kitchens get dirty all by themselves. Most buyers will inspect this area carefully, so extra time invested here is well spent. Clean the stove inside and out. Replace badly stained or corroded reflector plates under the heating elements on electric range tops. Don?t neglect the kitchen exhaust hood; buyers frequently check this area as a clue to general housekeeping (no, I?m not kidding).
Windows: Clean windows are an absolute necessity.
Bad Smells Unsell
Bath Towels: Residents of a home frequently aren?t aware of what a potential source of bad odor these are. Replace all used towels with fresh ones before a showing.
Dirty Laundry: When the house is being shown, keep dirty laundry out of the living area. Move it to the utility room, garage, or storage area. This applies especially to diaper pails.
Garbage: Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related trash from the kitchen. And make sure no potatoes or onions are going bad under the sink or in the pantry. After running garbage through a disposal unit, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell (or squirt some liquid detergent in the running disposal).
Sewer Smells: This cannot be. Do whatever it takes to correct this problem before the house is placed on the market.
Dogs and Cats, etc.: As a first step, move the cat?s litter box out of the house. And be sure to clean up after the dog before any showings. Animal smells and hair are a major turn off for potential buyers. Be sure that all evidence of pets is minimized at every level.
Valuables: You may have valuable possessions that you like to display in your home, but when the house is being shown to strangers is not the time. Never leave small valuable items lying around on counters or visible in closets or cabinets. Get them out of sight, if not out of the house. Don?t invite a problem.
Prescription Drugs: Yes, buyers (or people posing as buyers) have been known to go through medicine cabinets looking for prescription drugs. Hide them.
Exclusions from Sale: Make a note now of the items you do not intend to include with the sale of the house. Freestanding items generally are not included, but when in doubt, spell it out. Some items that often cause misunderstandings are light fixtures, draperies, large mirrors, some appliances, and garage door openers.
Keys: As you are readying the house, make a note to gather all the keys for the house, including keys for doors, deadbolts, garage doors, and any padlocks around the property.
Instruction Manuals: As with keys, gather manuals and warranties for the mechanical equipment in the house – kitchen appliances, water heater and softener, air conditioning and heating units, pool and filtration equipment, and electronic air filters.