Every year around this time I try and remind homeowners what potential buyers are looking for. Even though our market remains brisk, we are on the brink of the busy selling season, which will get in full swing as more and more visitors return to the Island with an eye to purchasing their paradise home.
Let’s start with the old chestnuts of getting your house ready for sale. Since cleanliness is next to you-know-what, every inch of your house needs to be spotless. On an island where there are more sand and salt than the average Northerner sees in a lifetime, it’s always a challenge to get it out of our homes and off our windows. But out it must go; not a speck of sand on the floors and not a grain of salt on any of the glass.
Island living also means that mold grows on any damp surface faster than McDonald’s cranks out Big Macs. Scrutinize every inch of bathrooms, kitchens, grout and outdoor furniture looking for mold or the beginning of mold. Remember mold and dampness smell. You don’t want your home smelling like a high school locker room.
Clear off countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, especially if you have really nice hard surface ones. Organize and declutter closets, the kid’s toys and the laundry room. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, clean it out to make room for an actual vehicle, not just bikes, lawnmowers and old paint cans.
You also might consider storing away any collectibles you may have on display, including family photos that could become a distraction to buyers touring your home. The object is to make everything look larger than it might really be and keeping the buyer’s eye on the ball, not your daughter’s wedding.
Make sure all systems like heat and air conditioning and appliances are in working order and there is no peeling paint. When buyers pull up to your home, they want a reason to get out of the car, so give them one. Make sure there’s nice landscaping, the weeds are pulled and walkways cleared. How about another old chestnut, painting the front door a jazzy color. They say red is good luck.
You can’t totally remake your property before sale, but you can keep it as neutral as possible.
A little paint goes a long way, so consider painting some of the walls where needed in a light gray color, which is very much in vogue right now. Even removing some heavy dark furniture will give a feeling of more space, as well as a lighter, more open impression.
You may not be able to create high ceilings overnight, but you can make sure the ceilings don’t have any cobwebs dangling from them. And in a hurricane-prone area like ours, owning a generator that can be passed on to a new owner could be just the right touch.
Finally, anything just a little off about your property could raise a red flag to buyers who may already be guarded during their house hunting experience. Don’t make them think that you’re not a responsible homeowner because you missed something as minor as a cracked bathroom tile or broken doorknob.
If you’re putting your property on the market this season, good luck. Everything is pointing to the Island being busy and the real estate market being equally busy. Let the sun shine through those windows.
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