How to prepare your home for sale


If you're trying to sell your home in this real estate market, you want to make the best impression possible when prospective buyers come to see it. Real estate legend Barbara Corcoran walks us through the do's and don'ts of preparing your home for sale.

How to prepare your home for sale You’ll get a lot more money for your home if you know what will impress a buyer. These simple steps can get you 10-20% more for your home.

  • Think about the first impression your house makes from the street. Look at your house with a critical eye.
  • Don't draw attention to any negative attributes.
  • Pay attention to details. Update or fix even small things that are broken.
  • Remove any dead plants.
  • Weed out any extra furnishings, clutter and personal belongings. Help the buyer feel like his/her belongings could have a place there.
  • Trim any bushes that block light; light sells homes.
  • Don’t make major improvements to a kitchen; you won’t make your money back.  Instead, put on a fresh coat of paint and clear your countertops.
  • Don’t totally remodel your bathrooms; fresh caulk may be all you need.
  • Keep all rooms clean, even if you have to pay your teenagers to clean their rooms!
  • Clean and organize your closets; buyers will think that if you don’t keep your closets neat, perhaps critical structural details of your house (plumbing, wiring, etc.) aren’t being kept up either.

I'm Barbara Corcoran and today I'm going to show you how to make a house ready for sale. You get a lot more money for your house if you know what little changes to be made to impress the buyer and be paid, or should I say overpaid, for your house. And I'm going to show you the tricks of the trade.

This is the big first impression and it's probably the most critical part of marketing your house.  So you have to look at it with the most critical eye. What's wrong with this picture? A lot can be improved. That's got ot be the loneliest bench in the world over there. The problem with putting a bench like that is this is not a good front yard for lounging around. So the bench draws attention to the negative; the bench has got to go. And look at these phenomenal trees. What's more impressive in any surburban area than a large tree. It's truly a status symbol in surburban markets. So you want to draw attention to the large trees, but instead your eye is drawn to these middle trees. They take the money out of your pocket because they're taking the light out of the house. Imagine this facade with just small, tidy hedges along the front. It would look more cared for, allow the wonderful commodity of light to come back into the house.

The front door: pay attention to details. This is an expensive house, but judging by this cheap handle and cheap screen door it doesn't look or feel like an expensive house. Ah. The prettiest room in the house. And every buyer will judge your house upon eight seconds of going in the first door. So what do you see in these eight seconds? Too many things and dead plants. They both have to go. You have to mentally allow a buyer to move in and he's not going to move in in his mind if he can't see past your stuff. 

Now this is the dining room, but look how dark it is. It feels sad because it lacks light.  The curtains are not a good idea, they're the wrong color, they take away light, but even without the curtains the bushes outside are stealing all the light. You've got to get rid of those to let the light come in. Light sells homes.

The kitchen is the most important room of every house and there's absolutely no reason to make major improvements and spend a lot of money on it. You'll never get the money back and frankly the only changes you should be making is a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets. Make sure nothing's on the counter and that's it. The best changes the make in the kitchen. 

The second most important room in the house, of course, is the bathroom. You might think a bathroom like this that's fifty years old needs to be totally redone; it doesn't. The grouting was redone as well as the bathtub has been reglazed and so the bathroom is fresh and new. The only thing wrong with this bathroom, again of course, is the clutter. If the clutter is gone it would really be a dream bathroom. 

What people want in bedrooms is peacefulness and cleanliness. And so if you have a teen, pay them to clean up the rooms, but remember that clean rooms look bigger. You have to make the house look big. 

And now, the linen closet. And as crazy as it sounds we know that buyers judge the inside of a house based on the impression of the linen closet. This linen closet is a mess so a buyer will naturally assume that your plumbing and the things behind the walls are really a mess too. But if can clean the linen closet and make it meticulous buyers will assume the very best of your house. So pay a little bit of attention to your linen closet.

So these simple changes don't cost a lot of money, but they can add ten to twenty percent of the value of your home. So good luck and happy selling. I hope you make a ton of money. 

meet theexpert
  • Barbara Corcoran

    Barbara Corcoran Real Estate Contributor, The Today Show Barbara Corcoran’s credentials include straight D’s in high school and college and twenty jobs by the time she turned twenty-three. It was her next job, however, that would make her one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country, when she borrowed $1,000 from her boyfriend and quit her job as a waitress to start a tiny real estate company in New York City. Over the next twenty-five years, she’d parlay that $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar real estate business. Barbara i more about this expert »

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