Seven Steps to Showing Your House

Preparing to move and show your home in pictures or in person can be an overwhelming process. You may want to share your personality and decor with the world but you also want to give potential buyers the impression that they would be at home in the space. Looking at houses and explored multiple properties over the years I’ve pulled together a short list of what stands out and makes a difference to buyers. These are the very same rules we applied when placing our home on the market and selling it within a weekend – full disclosure, this happened during 2021’s incredible market, but the rules remain relevant nonetheless.

  1. Cleanliness – I know I’ve been posting a lot about this over the past few weeks but it really makes a difference. When a home is clean it makes buyers more comfortable. Someone who cleans the stovetop and takes the time to vacuum the floors is also likely to switch their air filters regularly and see to it that minor repairs are completed before they become a major issue. This appeals greatly to home buyers as it means they will have fewer expenses repairing projects the previous owners ignored or worse yet, didn’t even notice.
  1. Declutter your surfaces – Making a space look loved and seeing your mail stacked on the counter are two different things. Buyers want to see themselves relaxing and enjoying the space. If they walk in the door and are immediately confronted with piles of paperwork, unfinished laundry, and knick-knacks to dust they are not envisioning Christmas morning, they are envisioning the daily grind and that does not appeal. Clearing the sorting bins from the laundry room may not seem like a big priority but when it makes the room look twice as big and makes laundry seem like a breeze, buyers are more apt to want to wash their stuff at your house instead.
  1. Let in the Light – Any space feels larger when the drapes are pulled back and natural light is able to pour through the windows. Even if all you have is an unobstructed view of the neighbors play set, the natural light makes a room feel airy and spacious and buyers are always drawn in by spaces that feel large and expansive.
  1. Define your spaces – If you have any awkward drop zones or oversized lofts – even if you don’t use them in real life, place a chair, small area rug, or table with a lamp to suggest how the space might be used. We have walked away from houses as buyers because we could not see how to utilize the awkward extra space. Take some guess work out of the equation and give buyers a suggestion – this could be a great place for a reading nook!
  1. Remove all evidence of pets – Buyers may have allergies and even if they don’t mind furry friends walking into a home where the smell of animals is the first sensory experience is going to cost sales. Animals can be hard on a home – potty training, muddy paws, and the telltale scratches on hardwoods or furniture. Buyers want to see the house and imagine their pets, not yours. The house we ended up buying had cats, but we didn’t know it until we got to basement storage area towards the end of our tour and found the cat tree. This is huge, we went through the entire property having no idea and were completely surprised, by the time we got to the basement we were already in love. See tip 1. 
  1. Finish work – We have seen a fair number of flips in this market and while it’s wonderful that people are finding ways to re-finish and re-furbish well loved properties there are some basic final steps that really get in the way of getting the higher offer. Finish work is a big one, caulking, door locks that are mis-matched, poor paint jobs, and in one house absolutely no transitions between different flooring types. When you don’t do the finish work well it makes buyers wonder what other steps you skipped or went cheap on. It’s a basic buyer beware, if a flipper didn’t take the time to do the easy finish work they may also have forgotten to ground your outlets or obtain proper permits or inspections for their work and that can leave buyers in a lurch or worse yet, legal proceedings.
  1. Bonus – Remove your pets! – We were looking at a home once and found a cat in the master closet. No mention was made by the sellers that the cat would be at home. Instead while surveying the storage options our relator asked, “Is that a live cat?” I looked up to see it move and no Halloween scare is as terrifying as thinking you are alone and coming face to face with an unfamiliar animal. The cat was fine, she didn’t hiss, and really I’m pretty sure we woke her from an otherwise cozy nap. Still that house went to the bottom of this list fast!

What tips do you have for making your home show worthy? Are there any staging ideas you swear by?