Back in February, we spent 2 separate weekends house hunting in Raleigh and it was such an eye-opening experience. Not only were we discovering an area for the very first time and, with that, admiring a new kind of architecture and landscape, but peeking into dozens of homes gave us so many ideas of what we want to do when it comes to staging our home for sale, and some turn offs.
We had an entire evening in Raleigh before actually seeing some homes the next day and we took that opportunity to drive around and check out the location of the homes on our list–you can only see so much on Google Street view!
This is where curb appeal really comes into play. It’s like the pre-first impression. The driveby! I was enamored with the homes that had great landscape lighting, or at very least, the lights on in the house so it looked so glowy and the front porch lit up. Something I took note of–when you’re trying to sell your house, make sure the lights are on and your exterior presents well!
We listened to road noise, we walked around neighborhoods to see how active it was. We mapped how close grocery stores, restaurants, schools, trails, doctors, hospitals, and other activities and necessities were. We did this all before even looking inside the home! Of course, a lot of these things a home owner doesn’t have control over, but we went in so many homes that had a flyer that listed the distance (in miles or minutes, sometimes both!) to amenities and was such a nice thing to see and be aware of.
I think everyone has a different opinion about what makes a home attractive to buyers (we put up a question box on Instagram and the answers were all over the board–we’ll share some some responses on Instagram!), but for me, there were definitely a list of things that I noticed that made a positive impression. I made notes to pass on to you, but also to implement when we have our own showings.
Before we get to the list, I hope it goes without saying–cleanliness is the bare minimum when it comes to prepping for a house showing. Clean, dust, polish every inch of your home! Even hire a cleaning crew if you need extra hands making sure baseboards and windowsills and floors and faucets and sinks are all clean (we might, to be honest!) Dust the surfaces and shelves, for sure, but also ceiling fans and trim work and the top of lighting and art.
Besides cleanliness, these are the ten other things in homes that really stood out to me:
- Curb appeal: I talked about this above, but curb appeal is almost the pre-first impression. Trimmed landscaping, fresh mulch, no chipping paint on the front door or trim. A swept walkway and porch. The front porch light on (and cleaned!) all go so far!
- Turn on every light and lamp!: Inside, make sure every light and lamp is on! It creates a really cozy and bright ambiance that just sucks you in and makes you feel at home. It also eliminates the frustration and confusion of trying to find a switch. I saw several houses where there was a note asking not to turn off any lights because there were multiple showings that day–smart! There was one house where they had the lights on but the bulb colors in the living room were really cool (like a 5000K) and they had it mixed with warmer bulbs (like a 2500K) in the same room. It was really difficult to see the room for what it was! I made a note to make sure the bulbs in the house all work and are matching in color–I like 2800-3000 Kelvin, personally.
- Music playing: I honestly had never thought to have music playing, but it was playing in two of the homes we looked at and woooowwww, what an impression that left! One house we looked at was absolutely an entertaining house and they had a samba-like party music playing and, honestly, it fit the mood of the pool and outdoor entertaining space a game room with pool table. And there was another house that just had calm instrumental music playing and it was a terrific addition. I don’t think it’s necessary, but bonus points for sure!
- Clear countertops: I’ll say this–I probably didn’t really notice when the countertops were clear, but I noticed when they were cluttered. You know? When there was clutter on the countertops (or even the side of the fridge!), you start thinking there’s not enough storage here. Cleared surfaces are a mental game. They give the impression of an organized, cleaned, maintained home.
- Open the blinds! I actually went in a lot of homes and opened the blinds to see how much natural light the room got (natural light was at the top of our wish list). We weren’t there during a particularly hot time, so I wasn’t sure why the blinds were closed but it really made a difference in my mind. So my recommendation, open the blinds, curtains–whatever! Let as much natural light in as possible and this step might include making sure your windows are clean!
- Smell makes a strong impression: A lot of our audience mentioned they preferred a neutral, clean smell over a strong overpowering scent. But no matter what, the smell of pets, mold, smoke, sewage, stale air are NOT a good look. Cleaning and deodorizing will help neutralize smells. If you want something more, candles aren’t exactly safe during showings, but you could try a home fragrance like Pura.(I like it because you can choose your scents!)
- Leave notes detailing special features that might not be seen: I was so impressed with this detail that I saw in multiple homes. They varied from typed and taped to hand written post-its and I read every one! One house talked about the mosquito perimeter repellant that was installed, one talked about the fiber internet or heated floors or a new major appliance or even a gas fireplace! It’s a great way to communicate some of the best features in the home without being there.
- Declutter and Organize your Closets!: I didn’t even do it consciously, but I opened every closet in every room. I wanted to check out the closet sizes and storage available more than anything, but you are naturally going to see what’s in the closet at the same time, so make sure it’s neat, purged and tidy. (I’ll say I didn’t open any kitchen or bathroom cabinets).
- Remove Large Family photos that are a focal point: To be honest, I’m someone that likes seeing family life represented in a home because I have a family and it makes it easier for me to imagine us, as a family, there. But family photos on a sofa table or hung in the hallway are different than a huge portrait hung over the fireplace, imo. The huge portraits can at times feel like we’re intruding on someone else’s house and they. are. watching! It’s uncomfortable!
- Touch up paint!: Scuffed, peeling or chipped paint is a part of life, but it’s also one of the easiest things to fix. Fresh, crisp paint makes such a positive impression.
Overall, it was such a positive and motivating experience to see so many other homes before we listed our own. People were so thoughtful! I love the houses that provided booties if they requested no shoes. (We saw this and hand sanitizer in a lot of homes)!
Would love to hear in the comments things that you would add to the list!!