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10 Easy TTD's as you prepare to list your home

by Colleen Lawler

When I show a home, little things can mean a lot.  Consider addressing these easy little things to make a great first impression:

Front porch - sweep it, clean it, and make sure the exterior lighting is shining inside and out.

Air Return Vents - use a vacuum attachment to clean these of dust bunnies.

Ceiling Fans - clean the tops of those fans! 

Window Sills - open the window and clean between the window and the screen

Inside plants - get rid of brown leaves and overgrowth - if they don't look great, give them a decent burial.

HVAC - have your furnace and a/c serviced, then use that vacuum attachment to clean the top of the appliance, and if you have something "gucky" where the condensation hose drains, clean it.  Purchase a pack of furnace filters and change every 30 days.  For the rest of your life.

Water Heater - clean the top of the hot water just sits there collecting dust for years.  

Linen Closets - PURGE!  get rid of all the mis-matched towels and linens.  Pull everything out, and put on your OCD to put it back together again.

Decks, sidewalks and patios -  Power wash all these surfaces, everything will look 5 years newer.  Guys love to power wash things so if you are woman, go find a man, hand him the power washer and let him have that fun.  

Basement - Go to the unfinished part of your basement and look up.  See cobwebs? Go on attack with your vacuum attachment.  

Some of these chores will take less than 15 minutes.  All of them will help your buyer see your home as cared for.  It's not like buyers are going to stare at the water heater and marvel that it's the cleanest one they have ever seen, but they will come away with an overall impression that is positive.  

Remember that you are in competition with other sellers,  Some of them will be tooth brushing the lint out of the dryer vents and replacing dirty light bulbs!

5 Ways to Stage, without breaking the Bank!

by Colleen Lawler

So...I just spent about 5 minutes looking for my notes for this post.  I think I need to stage my in basket!

Here are tried and true ways to get your home ready for market, but first, I want to reinforce that it's not easy, it takes time, and the best way to tackle this is to mentally cordon off a small area, tackle, it, make it perfect, pat yourself on the back, and then move on to the next area (even if it's the next corner of the same closet!!)

1.  Closets:

Box up the clutter, use matching hangers.  All the clothes should face the same direction, all the pants should be with pants, the shirts with shirts, skirts with co-mingling!  Ideally I like to tell sellers that their clothes "shouldn't touch"  

Nothing should be on the floor, so get a shoe rack or store shoes in boxes on shelves.  Cute bins can hold purses and "stuff"  But pack up a lot of it, you are going to have to box it up sooner or later, so do it now!

2.  Bedrooms

Paint, change up pillows and bedding, try to make them "gender neutral".  Bedrooms are places to sleep in, so put away the laptops and the ironing boards, office furniture, and the tv.

3.  Living Room

Make sure  the shades open up, the paint is fresh, and the flooring is in good shape.  This space should have a focal point.  ONE. FOCAL. POINT.  (A TV in one corner and a fireplace on another all  = 2 FOCAL POINTS.  A TV is probably easier to locate than the fireplace :-)

4.  The Kitchen 

Clean it like you have never cleaned it before.  Toothbrushes and toothpicks, boxes of Mr. Clean Eraser bars, grout cleaner.  The sink and faucets should be sparkling (Bartender's Best Friend is great) Replace older cabinet hardware (aka "kitchen jewelry").  Target sells packs of 6 or ten knobs or pulls, and that's usually less expensive than Lowe's or Home Depot.  Remove rugs to make the space feel bigger, and organize your drawers and cabinets, because the buyers will be looking in them!  If you are feeling really inspired, new plumbing and light fixtures will more than pay for themselves!   

5.  Bathrooms

All that stuff you used to clean the kitchen?  March it straight into the bathroom!  Caulking and shower doors almost always need some attention.  That Mr Clean bar is just about miraculous in the the tub, shower, sink, tile surrounds...and invest in a squeegey to keep shower doors spotless.  Once you start you might not be able to stop.  Using Rainex after cleaning shower doors to minimize water spots if you like!

ps.  I know the title says "5 Ways" but here's tiny little p.s.  Grab the attachments to your vacuum cleaner and clean all light fixtures, all the cold air returns, vents, and even the exterior of your furnace, a/c and hot water heater.


The bottom line is clean, uncluttered, neutral.  Anything else will cost you time and money in the real estate market!




20 Steps to Curb Appeal

by Colleen Lawler

     There is nothing worse than pulling into a driveway with qualified buyers, only to have them refuse to get out of the car because they don't like the house!  People sure do judge a book by it's cover!  

     On occasion, I've been able to cajole buyers into a house over their protests.  Usually, I set the rules of the game before we even get in the car..."I made an appointment, these sellers prepared for your showing and vacated their house, so we WILL look at it, even if it's just our of courtesy for their efforts."  

     Most agents are unarmed when they are showing property, so they can't force someone at gunpoint to look at a house when the outside is not attractive!  First impressions are really important!

 So, if you are getting your home ready for the market, start by standing out in front of your home...What's more appealing...this?

or maybe this?

(sometime soon I'll talk about the importance of good photography, and how framing a front shot so that more than half of the picture is NOT of the pavement in front of the house is probably a good idea.  But, I digress...)

So, here are some quick and easy guidelines, rules, regulations,decrees, or ultimatums, ...for staging the exterior of your home.

1.  Shrubs and landscaping should ENHANCE, not hide, the home! 

2.  Tree limbs should be far enough from the ground that you can walk under them without putting your eye out!

3.  Flowerbeds should be clean and look good in ALL seasons, with a sharp edge, free of leaves and debris.  

4.  The lawn should be mowed and neatly edged.

5.  Overseed any bare or thin spots in your lawn.

6. Arrange for a lawn company to keep your lawn deep green and weed free.

7. matter the season

8.  Remove all trash cans, scraps, and trash.  Restack wood piles, and remove all storage containers, children's toys, and any other unnecessary objects.

9.  Make all windows spotless.  This includes frames around the windows, sills and shutters.

10.  Paint or clean ornamental fences, light posts, and railings.

11.  Clean all outside light fixtures inside and out.

12.  Open up and clear any pathways to other amenities on your property, including trimming low hanging branches.

13.  Repair cracks in the driveway and sidewalks.  Caulk is your friend...

14.  Clean gutters and paint or wash trim if necessary.

15.  Consider an exterior power washing.

16.  If you think your front door could use a coat of paint, you are right!  At the very least, clean the door and hardware.  Make sure your doorbell works and that it is not cracked or broken.

17.  Keep your front porch swept.

18.  Have an attractive welcome mat for people to wipe their feet on.

19.   Make sure the mailbox is clean and rust free.

20.  If  you have outdoor furniture, make sure it is clean and inviting, and someplace someone would actually like to sit!

I know that this list seems long and maybe even the work of someone with a severe case of OCD.  The fact is that when sellers take the time and trouble to tackle this list, their homes sell quickly, and usually for the highest price possible.  And in my experience, the entire transaction goes smoothly.  

I'll give you some time to get this done, and next time we'll work on general inside appeal!  Have fun!

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Photo of Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam Real Estate
Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
111 Chesterfield Towne Centre
Chesterfield MO 63005
Office: 636-391-2100
Toll Free: 800-791-3276
Fax: 636-536-3018