What preparing for holiday visits can teach you about selling your house

It’s officially the holiday season. And, for many of us, that means it’s time for buying presents, baking yummy desserts, and getting the house ready for visits from family and friends.

About that last one: If you’re like most people, getting your house ready for guests probably involves a certain protocol of cleaning. You probably spend some time scrubbing the bathroom, giving the kitchen a thorough cleansing, and tidying up the rest of the rooms in the house so they’re presentable and clutter-free.

It just so happens that the same process can be extremely useful in preparing to sell your home.

When you place your home on the market, preparing your property for open houses and accompanied showings is a lot like getting it ready for house guests around the holidays. You want your house to be as clean, warm and inviting as possible.

Two important places where we often instruct clients to focus their efforts are the bathrooms and the kitchen. That’s because those are two areas that buyers focus on the most when they look at a house. In general, the cleaner, more stylish and well-appointed those rooms are, the better. As for the rest of the house, it’s important that other rooms be neat and tidy and that they be as free of clutter as possible – just like they would be if you’re having guests over for a visit. Buyers want to be able to see themselves living in your space (sometimes buyers even start mentally ‘placing’ their furniture in your rooms during a showing), and if they can’t do that because they can’t see past your stuff, they’re less likely to buy your house.

But, it’s not all about cleaning and tidying. Sometimes there’s more to the story. People often ask us where they should focus their efforts if they’re hoping to make improvements to their house before putting it on the market. Pre-market renovations don’t always generate worthwhile returns, but if you do intend to make improvements,, the rooms where you can get the most bang for the buck are often the kitchen and the bathrooms. Like we said, buyers pay special attention to these rooms when they look at a house, so the shinier and more impressive they are, the better. (It’s also no coincidence that when you watch one of those house flipping shows on television, those are the rooms where they focus their renovation efforts. Flippers know that having a nice kitchen and bathrooms won’t necessarily sell a house, but if those spaces present poorly to prospective buyers, it can impede a successful sale quite a bit.)

So, if you’re thinking about selling, put yourself in the shoes of someone coming over to visit for the holidays. What would their impression be of your home, and what would you do to improve it before they arrived? Even small steps, like colorful bathroom towels or shiny kitchen appliances, can go a long way to making a positive impression, and in real estate first impressions mean everything.