Getting The House Ready To Sell

Home For SaleAh! Spring! Time to put away your wool clothes, get out in the garden, and even fall in love. It’s also a good time to put your house on the market.

Having prepared five houses for sale in the past 35 years, I have experience in presenting a house for sale. And my husband Skip and I have bought more houses than most couples, so I know the buyer’s perspective as well.

First impressions are important, and the “curb appeal” is the first impression your house makes.

  • Remove campers, trailers, boats and extra cars from the front of your property so people can actually see the house.
  • Paint the exterior, or have it pressure washed to get rid of mildew and dirt. If you painted your shutters Chicago Bulls Red or Kelly Green accented with white shamrocks, now’s the time to tone them down.
  • Trim the bushes and shrubs, keep the lawn mowed, and plant some colorful annuals.
  • Inside the house, clean or replace carpets, paint dingy walls, wash smudges off woodwork, and reduce clutter.

“Rent a storage space and take all your unnecessary furniture there,” advises Tony Manduley, an agent with Coldwell Banker in Vancouver. “Too much furniture makes the rooms look small.” And take down the family photo wall displays. Tony finds they distract buyers who want to visualize their own things in the house.

Once Skip and I were able to negotiate several thousand dollars off the price of a house we were buying by telling the sellers we would have to remove all the wallpaper. We thought three rooms and the kitchen papered in different varieties of country hearts and bows were way over the top.

To top it off, the master bedroom and bath were covered with roses and other flowers. The room was so florid I knew I couldn’t sleep in it and risk being disturbed by a handsome prince who mistook it for Sleeping Beauty’s bower.

But the piece de resistance was the bedroom papered in kittens and geraniums. I told Skip, “This is too much! I cannot buy a house with cat wallpaper.” He assured me we could take the wallpaper off the walls easily.

He was enchanted with the third car garage, which would make a wonderful wood working shop. So we got the price lowered, citing the extensive wallpaper removal. The seller was incredulous and angry, but agreed to the lower price.

The price reduction was a fair reimbursement for my time and trouble. Even after extensive steaming, the wallpaper adhered to the walls. I spent the next several weeks scraping with putty knives and peeling off minute scraps with my fingernails. Then I had the task of repainting. I will never buy another house with tasteless wallpaper.

The best way to make money selling your house is to broaden the appeal to the widest possible market, even if it means having to get rid of your favorite cat-covered wallpaper.


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