Thinking of downsizing your empty nest?
Are you ready for a smaller castle with less responsibility and less time spent on the ‘joys of home-ownership’? Dreaming of the idea of downsizing? Are you ‘working on’ your parents to sell their home (but the thought of that nearly pushes to a panic attack)?
DO NOT PANIC! While the initial thought of such an endeavor seems overwhelming, it always helps to have a plan.
I’m here to help! Just formulating a simple initial plan and checklist can make this feat doable. I’ve sold a home or two, or three, or four. All of them were different, in unique markets, but these basic principles below are the same across the board.
Just last summer I spent a few weeks getting our former home (later a rental property) ready to sell and I learned some new tricks to add to my home selling bag of tricks. If I can tackle this project, so can you!
These easy fixes go a long way in making your house audition well to become a buyer’s home. Most do not require expert skills at all, yet can make a HUGE difference both in initial impressions, and later that translates into more money.
Need some decluttering help along the way? I’d love to send you my free printable 20 Ways to Redefine Yourself in your midlife. Just shoot me your email at the bottom of this post!
So when you’re ready to finally downsize and sell, don’t overlook these easily fixable details:
Front yard and landscaping
I might say this ONE aspect of your home is the MOST important feature for someone interested in your listing. (As a buyer, I have been known to not even go inside if the outside looks shabby. Seriously! )The first impression is THE most important! It sets the mood and either draws a buyer in or makes him hesitant about the rest of the house. And this is such an easy area to fix up! Spend some time manicuring the lawn and flower beds. There’s no need to spend thousands of dollars in new plants or a landscaper. Just trim and cut back the existing bushes or trees. Pull weeds.
My greatest tip: Add fresh BLACK mulch! Why black? A dark mulch adds crispness and contrast to the lawn which defines a landscape area, making your yard look cleaner.
Manicure your front door
Also an easy fix, throw a fresh coat of paint on your door if it’s painted. If it’s wood, make strides to wash it down and cover scratches, etc. Look up as you stand in the doorway on the porch. Clean the grime and cobwebs from the entry. Last summer I was so surprised at the filth that had accumulated quickly around the entry area. I power-washed what I could, being careful of the paint, cleaned windows and painted the trim.
Clean windows and remove screens
One tip that my fantastic realtor suggested was to take the screens off all the windows ( or at least the front ones). After cleaning (or repairing them) store them in the garage. Now just make sure the windows are sparkling clean! I was amazed at how much difference this little trick made.
Add (or touch-up) a trendy neutral paint color to interior walls
Fresh paint provides the MOST bang for your buck in selling your home. In recent years we’ve seen paint trends move from earthy golden neutrals to calmer gray neutrals. I know this seems like a lot of work, but the payoff is immense! If you have molding that is white, repainting the molding alone can be like night and day because the molding gets dingy first, with handprints and scuffs near the floor.
Freshen wood cabinets, fixtures, and pulls
Even dated wood cabinets can be made to look new if they are scrubbed down and conditioned. I added some furniture oil and perhaps some scratch cover as well.
Here’s the trick: Add some new trendy pulls to the cabinet doors. Often it’s only the pulls that look dated! This also goes for the fixtures. While not pricey, this trick can transform a kitchen.
Brighten tile grout
Dirty tile grout is just yucky, and it’s another easy fix. I spent a little time with bleach spray and a scrub brush in one of my bathrooms and ended up with what seemed like a brand new floor! It might take several sessions but your white grout will return!
Downsize your furniture
Here’s the trick: When less furniture resides in a room, the bigger the room looks. If you can get rid of some furniture, now is the time. Think about model homes and the furniture placement in them. Less is more. Besides, aren’t we on the downsizing boat anyway? I’ve heard people say that you should rent a storage room when you’re selling your house to hold all your excess furniture. But, aren’t we downsizing anyway? Let’s get rid of these extra pieces now and be done with them. Remember you will be blessing someone else with your treasures to enjoy.
Take a good look at the carpet
Your carpet is your biggest decision when selling. Should you invest in new carpet or not? Well, that answer is probably self-evident. Would you buy a home with a floor that looks like this? Are there stains or worn areas? New carpet is always a selling point for a home. But, if replacing carpet isn’t in the budget, at the very least have the carpet professionally cleaned. They can treat stains and deodorize as well.
Clean out and organize closets
I so wish this wasn’t a thing. Ugh. But, everyone looks in the closets. Everyone. Big closets are a big selling point in any home. Even if your closets aren’t big, you can make them LOOK big. And how do you do that? Have less stuff in them. Simple. Organize the contents with containers which also corrals loose items and adds uniformity.
Eliminate bad smells
Do not underestimate how important this is. Our property was on the market for a couple of months before our renters moved out. We had several showings where we heard that potential buyers left just as soon as they set foot in the door because of smells. After they moved, and I was living there repairing and readying the house for sale, we had to rip out the carpet because of how badly it smelled (pet urine). This was long before the new carpet arrived. It was bad. Getting rid of the culprit will solve a ‘bad smell’ problem. A subtlely clean smelling home makes a wonderful impression. If it’s clean it will smell that way.
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All in all, remember that moving is good
My friends, moving stinks. It just does. BUT the ALL the work leads to growth.
Probably the greatest advantage of moving is that it forces us to ‘deal’ with our stuff. It is the definition of change, which is almost always uncomfortable. But change always grows us.
Plants need to be repotted when they grow, and sometimes they can be divided and put into separate pots. That’s really what’s happening when we downsize. We’re splitting up our stuff and getting it to its rightful owners (maybe our kids) or new owners of our vacating stuff who will love to take our excess belongings off our hands.
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