30-Day Action Plan for Sellers
So, you’ve decided to sell your home. You’re excited for all the new possibilities! I know you want to get top dollar but, how are we going to make that happen? Here’s a 30-day plan of action:
Day 1: Change Light Bulbs and Update Light Fixtures
It’s easy to forget about all the bulbs that have burned out over the years, but you want your home to be as bright as possible. Lighting makes an incredible difference in how a home looks to potential Buyers. If you have dated light fixtures (it’s OK, a lot of us do), take a quick trip to IKEA or Home Depot and pick up some modern ones.
Day 2: Prepare the Paperwork
Buyers and agents are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now: utility bills, tax bills, renovation details, warranties, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.
Day 3: Get Boxes and Duct Tape
A big part of the adventure you’re about to embark on involves reducing clutter, and while Costco and the LCBO might be cheap options for boxes, it sure isn’t convenient. An investment under $100 will get you proper packing supplies and reduce your stress. If you’re going to be moving a lot of stuff out of your house for the sale, consider renting storage locker.
Day 4: Make an Extra Set of Keys
Prospective Buyers and their agents will need to access your home, so you’ll need an extra set of keys. It’s worth the $3 not to have to open the lockbox every time you want to come home.
Day 5: Tackle The Bathrooms
Remove all the toiletries you have on display (nobody wants to know you use Head & Shoulders). Invest in some new white towels (and no, you don’t get to use them). Visit Winners or HomeSense for affordable accessories: soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc. If your toilet seat, shower curtain or bathmat are gross (be honest with yourself), replace them. Consider replacing the toilet paper holder and towel rack/hooks too.
Day 6: Declutter the Kitchen
Buyers are most attracted to the kitchen so if you’re looking to skip a room, this shouldn’t be it. Remove your blender/George Foreman Grill/Kitchen Aid mixer/toaster/bread machine from the counters – you want the counters to be as clear as possible. Clean inside all the cupboards (and yes, I mean remove everything and wipe them out). Don’t cram all your dishes and food back in – again, you want to convey to Buyers that your kitchen has enough storage for the Buyer’s stuff. Clean inside the fridge (and remove the magnets, photos and reminders). Turn on your self-cleaning oven (probably for the first time). Consider investing in some fresh flowers and a beautiful bowl with some fresh fruit in it.
Day 7: Next up: The Bedrooms
The bedrooms should be inviting, and that means more cleaning and decluttering and investing in a few props. If you don’t already have one, invest in a neutral-coloured duvet cover and some new fancy pillows. Straighten the bookshelves. Remove personal photos, knick-knacks and personal grooming products. Clean out the closets. Consider getting an area rug if the floors are cold. If you’ve jammed in a dresser or armoire that doesn’t really fit into the space, consider storing it offsite. If you’ve converted two of your bedrooms into offices, convert at least one of them back to a bedroom.
Day 8: Tackle The Living Room
Clean the sofa and chairs and invest in some new throw pillows. Consider getting an area rug to bring the room together. Hide the magazine rack and all the clutter that has accumulated. Hide the wires from your TV/stereo/speakers.
Day 9: Make Your Dining Room Look Like a Place You Would Serve Dinner
Remove the kids’ homework and the piles of stuff that have accumulated on the dining room table. Clean up the hutch. If your dining chairs have seen better days, consider getting them reupholstered or buy those stretchy covers. Invest in a new tablecloth to hide an old table.
Day 10: De-clutter, Organize and Clean the Basement
If your basement is anything like ours, this is going to take more than one day. Whether your basement is finished or just a storage area for all your extra stuff, you’ll need to invest the time to make it look as spacious and clean as possible. And what a great way to rid yourself of all that stuff you never use. (See Day 12!)
Day 11: Tackle the Closets and Storage Areas
I’d love to say that you can cram all the stuff you don’t want on display into your closets, Buyers will open your closets. They’ll look in your cupboards. And they’ll judge you. The last thing you want is for Buyers to think there isn’t enough storage in your home, so take the time to pack away what you don’t need in the immediate future.
Day 12: Store vs. Donate vs. Throw Away
It’s a pain (and expensive) to store all the stuff you don’t really need. It’s much cheaper to rent a dumpster and get rid of it. If you think some items are worth donating, plan a Goodwill pick up/drop off.
Day 13: The Entrance
Remember that most Buyers will have an emotional reaction to your home within 15 seconds of entering, so what they experience at the entrance is crucial! You want your entrance to be clean, de-cluttered and inviting. You won’t really wear all your shoes and coats while your house or condo is for sale, so be disciplined and store things away, especially off-season wear. If you don’t have a hall closet, don’t pile 15 coats on a coat rack – that’s just drawing attention to your lack of a closet.
Day 14: Store All the Things That Make Your Home Yours
I know it hurts to read that. You want your house or condo to appeal to as many Buyers as possible, and that will only happen if they can picture their own stuff in your house. Get rid of all the family photos, the collections and the souvenirs from your trip to Asia. Walk through every room in your house and pretend you’re a Buyer. If what you see helps people get to know you, remove it.
Day 15: Hire a REALTOR®
If you haven’t already hired someone, today is the day! A REALTOR® will likely need at least a week to schedule and prepare the marketing. An experienced listing agent will also guide you through the home preparation and staging process, so you don’t have to do it alone. A great agent will have access to a professional photographer and staging company. Pick me!
Day 16: Paint Touch-ups and Re-painting
A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up your home. Bold colours are usually a turn-off for some Buyers, so to appeal to the most people as possible, take the time to re-paint that red bedroom and blue bathroom. Don’t forget about baseboards and ceilings – they might need some paint too.
Day 17: Repair What You’ve Been Avoiding
We all have that list of never-never repairs and fixes. Now’s the time to get to it, including fixing the leaky faucet, the picture holes in the wall, etc. and get it done once and for all. If you aren’t handy yourself, bring in a handyman to take care of it.
Day 18: Get the Windows Cleaned
I know, you probably don’t even think about cleaning your windows, but rain, snow and construction can really make your windows dirty. Clean windows and screens really help bringing in more light.
Day 19: Focus on the Front Yard
Curb appeal matters and will significantly impact people’s first impression of your house. Stand on your street and take in your front yard. At a minimum, clean the scuff marks off the front door and touch-up the chipped paint or give it a fresh coat. And if your front door has seen better days, consider investing in a new one. If you have a front porch, make it look inviting. This can even be done in winter. Clean your outdoor light fittings; they can get really grimy. A lot of Buyers will see your home at night, especially at this time of year, so make sure that your outdoor lighting is showing off your home.
Day 20: Pimp Your Backyard
What you can accomplish in the back yard will, of course, depend on what time of year you sell. If it’s winter: do your best to make it look presentable. If you have a deck, shovel it off so Buyers can see its size and condition. If you have a garage: tidy it up and sweep out the floor.
Day 21: Get the Carpets Cleaned
Unless your carpets are brand new, you’ll want to have them steam cleaned (or do it yourself). You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes.
Day 22: Don’t Forget About the Floors
You’ll need more than a Swiffer to get into all the corners and cracks. If your floors are scratched, there are some great products out there to make them look almost-brand-new.
Day 23: Tackle the Walls and Doors
If your walls and doors are scuffed, buy some Magic Erasers and go to town. You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. If your art needs an update, now’s the time to do that too.
Day 24: The Final Clean
By now you’re probably exhausted. While you can do this final step yourself, we always like to bring in professional cleaners who will make sure to clean all the spots you don’t: the baseboards, inside the lights, the fridge, etc. I have a great cleaner that I can recommend.
Day 25: Make Plans for the Kids and Pets
No Buyer wants to look at all your kids’ toys and finger painting works of art so put most of it away and plan to keep it concealed.
I love my dog too, but prospective Buyers won’t appreciate the barking and jumping. Devise a plan to get your pets out of the house: Doggie daycare? Grandma and Grandpa? Lots of walks?
Day 26: Staging Day!
If you’re working with a professional Stager, this is usually the day they will come and stage the house. They’ll move, re-arrange and add furniture and use accessories and colour to make your home look it’s absolute best. Pro staging has been proven to help homes sell faster and for more money – and many real estate agents work closely with a preferred Stager.
Day 27: Make Your Home Smell Good
If you’re a dog owner, wash any couches, beds and surfaces where the dogs sleep. You may not smell him anymore, but Buyers will. Tuck the litter box away (and clean it twice a day while your home is on the market).
Day 28: Get a Pre-listing Home Inspection or Status Certificate
It’s not fun to find out what’s wrong with your house or condo at the negotiating table, so arm yourself with the information before you list your home. You can either fix the problems before you list your home or, factor it into your asking price and expectations. By getting a Status Certificate yourself, the timing of any condition on status will be shortened up considerably.
Day 29: Photography
When your house or condo is de-cluttered, cleaned and ready, it’s time for the photographer to work his magic. This will happen a few days before you list your home for sale and may include a virtual tour or video. Make sure beds are made, blinds and drapes are open, and the TOILET SEATS ARE DOWN!
Day 30: The Final Once-Over AND… TA-DA!
You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time to step back and admire your work. How does it look? Do you see anything that might distract or turn off a Buyer? Take one final walk through all the rooms and adjust as necessary.