Interior Home Appeal – Quick and Cheap
The house is going on the market and we are anxious to make the sale. However, the real estate market is slow and there are several comparable homes on the market. How can we make the interior of the home a memorable experience, and remain in the minds of the potential buyers?
The obvious items such as a fresh coat of paint, new kitchen cabinets, countertops, etc. are all possibilities; however, we aren’t looking to spend all the profit, we are hoping to make on selling the house, on the house, to enhance the sale.
Are there any Quick and Cheap things we can do?
These items are suggested for the interior of the home, see Curb Appeal – Quick and Cheap for ideas regarding the exterior of the home.
- The home MUST smell inviting. Unfortunately the presence of animals in the home does not present a very positive odor. Make sure all litter boxes are kept ridiculously clean and de-odorized. The dogs must consistently have baths and must be brushed, all the time! This is so important that it remains one of the most difficult issues for homeowners that are animal lovers to understand. Smell will remain with the buyer, far longer than the color of the master bedroom. I would recommend, if possible, the removal of all animals from the home while it is being shown, or at least the removal to an outside kennel or run in an effort to remove the hair, smell and their proximity to the home itself.
- If you have a fireplace and it is the season, make sure you have a clean burning fire, burning in the fireplace. Do not use wet or incorrectly seasoned wood. Purchase wood from a local hardware store for the times that the fireplace is burning during showings. Again, I stress the importance of a clean fireplace smell and not a musty smoky smell.
- Clean the carpets. Hire a professional to come in and clean the carpets, or at the least, rent a carpet shampooer and perform the chore yourself. This will not only clean the carpets but will clean up the smell within the home.
- Make sure that windows are opened and ventilation fans are activated several hours prior to a showing of the home. Again, not to dwell on the issue, but your family living in a normal fashion, may incur a negative odor to the home, which will be negatively perceived by the buyer.
- Use WD-40 on all door hinges, cabinet hinges, window hardware, etc. Any possible squeak, if possible, must be treated with WD – 40 to present a maintained, good condition appearance and feel.
- All hardwood floors should be wet mopped to remove the dirt and grime from the floors. There are several good detergents that are suitable for hardwood floor cleaning. Do not think that the mere appearance of water on a wood floor will produce stains and damage. NO, soapy water works fine on standard wood floors if it is not allowed to puddle for any length of time, or remain on the flooring. Mopping and immediately drying with a clean towel will not only clean the floor, it will solve some of the animal odors which have penetrated into the flooring. Cleaners such as Pine Sol are a wonderful cleaner and deodorizer for this process.
- Clean all the window sills, including the difficult and dirty areas on either side of the window that accumulate all the exterior dust and dirt. Clean window sills, make a remarkable difference, and a little coat of new white paint would certainly help.
- Replace all light bulbs to ensure all light fixtures operate. There is a very negative vibe presented, if a buyer flips the switch, and the ceiling light fails to turn on.
- As much as possible, try to make sure all appliances, ceiling fans and other pieces of equipment If they do not work, make sure the buyer understands that the fixture or appliance is going to be replaced. In today’s market, the small expenditure to replace broken fixtures or appliances is a very small price to pay to obtain the sale.
- Increase the wattage in lighting so that there is brightness to the room when the lights are turned on. I agree that it is more economical to keep the wattage low; however this presents a dim, shallow and negative environment which can be easily brightened up by increasing the wattage of the lamps in the fixtures.
- The illumination of the attic and basement spaces is very important. Light fixtures should be replaced if they are simply bare bulb incandescent fixtures. Inexpensive fluorescent fixtures can easily be installed, and the appearance of the light, as well as the illumination, will enhance the space.
- Everyone says this / I mean it! Declutter and that is mandatory. Do NOT keep anything on the counters, shelving, etc. It is so important to remove all items that are not immediately conducive to living in the home. Personal cute stuff, get rid of! All the trophies on the shelves are definitely items to be proud of, but they clutter up the shelving and close in the space. The presence of miscellaneous “ garbage “ which is exactly what a buyer will think, diminishes the presentation of the space, and reduces the spaciousness of the rooms, the closets, the garage, etc. Order that 30 cubic yard dumpster one month prior to showing the home and FILL it!!
- The garage must be able to fit the cars. It is not cool or entertaining to have a garage and make the statement, we have never used it. This shows nothing but lack of coordination, lack of discipline and definitely does not convey cleanliness and organization. Please, clear out the garage and park the cars in the garage.
- Make sure the garage door openers ( if you have one or more ) work, and the light fixtures also work. Obtain the proper number of garage door openers and the exterior keypad must also work. Call a vendor if need be, but this equipment must work.
- If you have a bilco door leading out from your basement, make sure it is clear and accessible. Also, if there is a door from the basement into the well of the bilco door, make sure this door opens and is easily operable. Clean the bilco door and WD -40 the mechanism so that it functions the way it was intended to.
- The basement should be clean, neat and dry. Obviously you are not going to spend the money on a sophisticated dewatering or basement drying system, however, if it is wet, you will need to deal with the negative impression this will produce.
- The attic should be clean and neat. If the attic is a walkup one, there should be ample flooring to accommodate its usage and the stairs to the attic must be clear of stuff!
- Make sure all smoke and fire detectors have new batteries. It is embarrassing, if one hour prior to a showing, a smoke detector starts beeping due to a dead battery.
- Closet doors should be closed and bedroom doors opened to allow visual access and the sense of openness. All doors should easily work. Closet doors should not stick and be difficult to open. One day of investigating and lubricating door hinges and ensuring their operation, will produce a positive impression to buyers.
- Bathroom toilets should be clean and seats down and closed.
- No water should be running in toilets, basins, wash tubs, bathtubs, etc. All faucets should work and be closed.
- Clean all sink drains in bathrooms and kitchen. Water should drain easily and rapidly. No standing water in sinks.
- Toilet paper rolls should be replaced with full rolls. This may sound ridiculous, but every positive impression is necessary. This goes for rolls of paper towels throughout the home.
- Shower curtains should be freshly washed and ironed and hanging straight and neatly.
- Shower doors MUST be cleaned. Clear glass, must be clear! Frosted glass must only show the intended frost and not a combination of soap film and frost.
- Bathroom rugs should be cleaned and lay flat, no curled or dirty bathroom rugs.
- NO clutter, no toothpaste, contact solution, shaving crème, razors, etc out in view.
- All medicine should be locked away in a private spot and not easily accessible in medicine cabinets. Medicine cabinets should be wiped out and clean.
- Liquid Soap dispensers should be in every bathroom and not a half used bar of soap in a dirty soap dish.
- Windows must be clean. Especially concentrate on the westerly facing windows due to the natural scheduling of most showings which will be later in the afternoon, or early evening, when the westerly sun is comically showing every window streak and film.
- Curtains, shades, blinds, window coverings must be coordinated to be all the same in their state of open or closed. If the blinds are down, all of them should be evenly down. If the shades are half way, they should all be uniformly half way.
- Chandeliers must be cleaned. The clear globes must be clear and not covered with the dust of decades of neglect. Sorry, this is a chore, but the chandeliers must be clean.
- Ceiling fans should be operational and preferably working. Also they should be dusted and clean.
- Heating and air conditioning filters should all be replaced, prior to the start of showing the home. If an very aggressive buyer decides to immediately get down and dirty with their investigation of the home, wouldn’t it be nice for them to open a grill and find a clean and newly installed filter. This would show a positive level of maintenance and care.
- If your doors and windows are stained and show signs of wear, simply wiping down the wood with a similar wood stain on a rag, will hide the majority of nicks and blemishes. Try this technique of wiping down the woodwork with a rag soaked in stain and you will be amazed at what you can correct.
- WD – 40 is an excellent cleaning agent for miscellaneous stains and markings on toilet fixtures, bathtubs, flooring, etc. Experiment with this product, WD – 40 is a natural substance and can actually be rubbed on the human body.
- Ensure that all expansion rods and curtain rods are tight and properly installed. Repair any hanging support brackets, etc. that may have pulled from the wall.
- The use of spackling compound on holes and imperfections in the walls and the ceilings is an easy method of patching. Mixing the spackling compound with the proper paint will allow the patch to blend into the surface.
- Common white out used in clerical work will clean up acoustical tile that has been marked up.
- White chalk will clean up any acoustical white material such as acoustical panels, both ceiling and wall.
- Black magic marker will clean up darker surfaces that have been nicked or scratched such as black appliance trim, etc.
- Correct any stickiness in any of the exterior doors. A bad impression is clearly made, when the owner needs to jam their shoulder into a door to open it. Make sure all doors easily and cleanly open and shut. Also ensure that the keys work easily for all doors.
- Replace the doorbell if it does not function. There are very economical wireless door bells that can be installed very quickly and easily.
- Replace all screening if it is ripped or damaged. This is an easy fix and fiberglass screening can easily be installed. This is especially important on sliding door screens that maybe left open in pleasant weather.
- Window grills, (the wood or fiberglass checkerboard pattern that imitates true divided lights) especially the removable kind, if they are damaged, inconsistent throughout the home or partially missing, it is best to simply remove them all. It is better to have a consistent open sash than inconsistent grill installation.
In summary the presentation of a clean, uncluttered, maintained property is the goal. There is not much that can be done about the square footage, the number of bedrooms or baths; however the presentation of the home resulting in a positive impression is extremely important.
Think about walking into an “ Open House “ on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, how will you leave?
Will you leave disgusted and feeling dirty and in need of a shower, or will you leave with a positive attitude and the feeling of cleanliness and order.
It is obvious which reaction we are all striving for!