Seattle Sellers: Prepare the Interior of Your Home For Sale Part 1
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Preparing the interior of your home for sale.
Preparation of the interior of your home is every bit as important as preparing the exterior. As buyers approach your house they will be forming an opinion about how well or how poorly you have maintained things during your time of ownership. If you have taken care of the things I recommended in Prepare the Exterior of Your Home for Sale, you will have the buyer in a good frame of mind.
We took care of the outside by addressing one area of the property at a time and doing everything needed in that area at once. Inside we'll write things down by category and attempt to clean up these details one type at a time.
You're going to be surprised by my first suggestion. You'll laugh. You'll say I'm crazy. And then, one month from now, you'll thank me for the suggestion. I want you to go to a moving company, a storage facility, the post office, or a parcel delivery store and buy 50 boxes that are all the same size. Get the small boxes, about 1.5 cubic feet. Get a couple of rolls of strapping tape while you are at it and a good marking pen. If you've been in an average size home for more than 5 years, 50 boxes won't be enough but it will go a long way to making your home market ready.
Okay, grab your clipboard, 6 boxes and one roll of strapping tape. Head to the bedrooms. Put some boxes in each bedroom. We just want to have them handy for when you start to pack things up. In each bedroom I want you to check the entry door and the closet doors. When you pull the door shut does the lockset click into the strike plate without undo force? Does the door bind at the top or along the side. Is the knob loose, does it bind, or is it just right. Next check the closet door. Write down DOORS as your first heading and give this bedroom a name. On the second line write down the bedroom name and the deficiencies you've seen in the doors. Next proceed to another bedroom, and then the bathroom, and then any closet doors. Do all of the doors on that floor of the house. Then move on to another level. Don't worry about the boxes.
Once you have noted repairs on all of the doors in the house, from top to bottom, put a clean sheet of paper in the clipboard and label it WINDOWS. Go back through the house in the same order you did the doors and write down deficiencies. You're looking for windows that don't operate as they should. You're looking for insulated glass that has lost its seal and is now "fogged." You're looking at the shades, blinds, drapes and other window coverings to see if they are in good shape or falling apart.
You're probably feeling like you have already been at this for an hour and haven't really done anything yet. Granted. Take a little break and in one of the bedrooms, assemble the boxes that are there and fill them up. You aren't going to be reading any of the books on the bookshelf anytime soon. Are their any seasonal clothes in the closet or dresser than you won't be needing for the next three months? Box them. All of those cute stuffed animals you've had since high school. In a box. If it's going good, go get some more boxes and fill them up. Eventually the whole house will be decluttered. You're doing this so the the buyer will see that there is plenty of room in this house to put all of their treasures.
Clipboard time again. You might even want to go to a hardware store and pick up an electric polarity tester. A small device that plugs into any wall outlet and it will tell you if it is wired properly or not. Clean sheet of paper. Write ELECTRICAL. Proceed through the house again in the same order as before. Check all of the light switches and outlets in each room. Take a look at the overhead fixtures. Are they full of dead bugs? Have they never been cleaned? Don't forget the kitchen, the pantry, the basement. Do the electrical check everywhere. In the basement there are often junction boxes without cover plates. Not covered? Not safe.
One more tour of the house with the clipboard and the clean paper with PLUMBING in the upper right hand corner. You don't have to do all of the rooms this time. Just where the plumbing is. Look for dripping faucets, leaks, anything that doesn't work right.
In part two of this series I'll talk about how to use these lists effectively and what other things will need to be done. Put the four lists in a safe place, and if you have any time left today, pack up a few more boxes.