What projects can we do ourselves now to help sell an apartment next spring?
September 25, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I will be putting his Co-op in brooklyn on the market early next year. We want to sell it quickly- what are the winter projects we can take on now to help move it this spring?

We are not handy people, but we are enthusiastic! We know we can handle the interior painting, but after looking at the list of things that can help the place sell- I am not sure what is going to be possible and what is just going to turn into a bigger job for the guy we hire to fix the stuff we can't.

The bathroom needs to be re-grouted, and a hold needs to be patched into one of the walls. The patch, I think I can handle- but grouting seems a little much, amirite or am i being lazy?

There are tiny holes in the walls from screws and such- should we patch all those before we paint or does it even matter? We have tons of art on the walls- and every website says to get rid of clutter- should we take (most of) the art down, patch those holes too?

Are there other things we can do? should we do something fancy to the floors or something? Any thoughts would be great.
posted by Blisterlips to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(The floors are wood everywhere except the kitchen and bathroom, where they are tiled.)
posted by griphus at 11:28 AM on September 25, 2012

I guess it depends on how large the hole in the wall is and whether any of the tiles that need to be re-grouted also need to be reset...

Either one of those projects could be more complicated...
posted by dfriedman at 11:29 AM on September 25, 2012

Since you're not handy, I would focus on getting the house into a sparkling-clean state, and decorating in an inoffensively stylish manner that shows off the apartment's features - play up good lighting, make it seem bigger and more airy by removing clutter-y nick-knacks etc.
posted by fermezporte at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2012

Kitchens and bathrooms are big sellers of property. Freshen them up but try to do so as cheaply as possible. Maybe wallpaper the bathroom but try to get wallpaper out of the clearance bin. (Bathrooms tend to be small and clearance bins tend to have smaller quantities of discontinued paterns. This works less well for larger spaces.) Don't decorate it to your tastes. Go for something fairly neutral.

Yes, do take down the art, spackle the holes and paint. I knew someone who bought a house that had pictures hung everywhere. The new owners were incredibly annoyed at the many little holes in the walls and the "shadows" of old picture frames. Don't let something relatively small like that scare off a potential buyer.

Also, yardsale stuff or donate. Don't just cram all the clutter in a closet somewhere.
posted by Michele in California at 11:38 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Refinishing hardwood floors isn't that difficult. You just need to rent a sander at your hardware store and apply the finish. Also think about changing your kitchen tiles if the linoleum is discolored. You'll need to rent a heat gun to remove the old tiles for that.
posted by cazoo at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2012

Grout isn't that big a deal. I recommend that you check out some how-to videos on You Tube.

You should spackle the walls, that's really, super easy. Get the paint and primer in one product and use a color from the lightest part of the color swatch. I ordered Antique White and it was freaking YELLOW! Paint will dry/cure darker than it looks at first. Invest in a few of the test cans first and look at them in different light. Don't try to figure out what the decorator color of the century is, you want either cream, beige or gray. Something neutral. Let the new owners repaint if they want to.

Do scrub and repaint your woodwork. Nice, shiny white is the best, unless it's a gorgeous original wood, in which case, just some elbow grease should be enough.

Don't do anything fancy to the floors, the new owners may source barn-wood from an old colonial barn in Delaware or something. Dust and mop them like it was your new religion on a regular basis.

Hire a hazmat crew to do a deep clean. I'm talking windows, baseboards, ceiling fans, top of the fridge all the places you never look and be honest, never clean.

New furnace/HVAC filters.

If you have drip pans on your stove, buy new ones. Get a brand new broiler pan. If your appliances are nearly new, download the owner's manuals for them. If you can, go to the Sears Outlet and drop a few hundred on new appliances. Seriously, the discounts are so good the investment is totally worth it.

Get everything off the counters in your kitchen. If your coffee pot is beat up, get a nice new one. Pack away the microwave, and any other crap that takes up counter-space.

Your house is no longer your house. Pack up your art, your tchotchkes and your bibolots. Pack books, CDs and DVDs. Those shelves. Stage them. If among your tchotchkes and bibolots you have bowls, boxes, and other non-descript items that will look nice on a clean, bare bookshelf, arrange them thoughtfully thereupon.

Get the boxes off the premisis: storage unit, grandma's garage, the basement are good choices. Consider getting those plastic tubs to store it all in, rather than cardboard boxes. They're better against weather and conditions. Double-plus better, huge plastic bags first, then plastic tubs. (Bugs, dust, water, etc.)

Change your bedding. The more hotel looking the better. Same with towels. You can't blow it with white linens and towels. You're aiming for "Spa-Like". Update light fixtures. You'll be amazed at how cheap they are. Easy to wire up too.

For some reason, if your house looks like Pottery Barn, people love it. Personally, I don't get it, but there it is.

Some things to watch on line, Designed to Sell, Sell this House (this is EXTREME, but they had a version where they hung new curtains and arranged furniture.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

Inexpensive and easy changes include updating cabinet pulls and light fixtures, changing out the mirror in the bathroom if it's one of those 80s-style clip mirrors.

Grouting isn't hard, but I wouldn't do your own grout if you haven't done it before. It would be different if you were re-doing the bathroom to your own taste and were willing to live with small mistakes, but you're doing this to sell the place, and if you're going to do it, it should be perfect.

You'll have to take all the art down to paint anyway, and painting is one of the last things you should do before putting it on the market, so just pack it all up at that point and you'll have one less thing to move. Definitely spackle all the little picture holes.

Make a mental list of all the things that annoy you about the apartment--there's always something--and think about whether there are ways to address the ones that are obvious.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unless you're willing to do a LOT of moving around of furniture, then refinishing your floors is probably not an option -- obviously the rooms have to be completely empty, and then they take a while to dry, so unless you're willing to live in a state of upheaval for about a month as you clear and refinish one room after another then I'd take a pass on this. (If you do decide to refinish your floors, I had a good experience with Verrazano Flooring when I bought my new place last year.)

Absolutely fix any and all problems with your bathroom, including the grout, if you can. Water damage is such a horror to deal with, and anything that makes a buyer nervous about the state of your bathroom and its ability to keep water out of your downstairs neighbor's apartment will make them less enthusiastic about your place.

Same goes for any water damage or stains on your ceilings. Fix any leaks and then repaint your ceilings.

If you have curtains or blinds on any of your windows, make sure they're clean and that they're open before anyone comes and looks at your place. If you're storing anything on your fire escape that isn't picturesque, it should probably go someplace else.

Patch holes and paint your walls a warm, neutral color.

Clean up clutter and get rid of any furniture you don't need, or put it in your storage area.

Organize your storage area a little bit, if it needs it -- prospective tenants will probably want to see it.

Clean out and organize your closets. Do anything you can to make them look as large and user-friendly as possible. If you have those awful deep closets that are really hard to use, figure out a new storage system that makes the back of the closet more accessible.

If you have pets that have caused even minor damage to your place, particularly if that damage is obviously pet damage (like molding that a dog has chewed on) repair it if you can. People get incredibly nervous about moving into a place and discovering that one of the closets permanently smell like cat pee or what not. It's not really fair, but it's a thing.

Anecdata from the buyer side: When we bought our Brooklyn coop last year, we got it for about $30,000-$50,000 less than similar places were going for because of the state it was in -- really cluttered rooms, half-finished home improvement projects like missing doorknobs and mis-matched molding, a storage bin full of random crap that we suspected (rightly) he wouldn't get rid of himself, a hallway that was being used as a closet, etc etc etc. The apartment was VERY CLEAN, the bathroom was in great shape, and a lot of the improvements he'd made were good ones. But there were lots of ticky-tack pain in the ass little problems, and our willingness to deal with them meant that we paid a lot less for our place.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:09 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Rule of thumb: De-personalize. The apartment should not look like "your home" because it makes buyers uneasy about intruding. Thus, pack up the family pictures as well as the posters. Yes, spackle the holes before painting in the pale colors recommended above.
Neutrally comfortable and attractive is the look you need. Storing any furniture that you can get along without is a way to make the square footage look larger. Absolutely no pet smells. Some sellers keep a pot of cinnamon-scented potpourri simmering on the stove during an open house Sunday showing.
Floor refinishing is not for the faint of heart or the unhandy. It requires breather masks, muscle, and time, plus the expertise to patch in little irregularities. If it must be done, you might consider hiring a qualified, experienced company, or offer a deal to the new owners to have it done after you move out and before they move in.
Any rugs or carpet, curtains, blinds, or draperies should be cleaned. Even if they are going to your new place, they have to look good in your old place.
posted by Cranberry at 3:17 PM on September 25, 2012

Purge, purge and purge some more. We all get used to our clutter and we also "live" in our houses. But when you're selling, you want to make your place look clean, spacious and neutral. There should be nothing on your counters that you wouldn't see in a catalog or magazine. Every item should be lovely, this means in your bathroom no lotion, deodorant, mouthwash, toothbrushes, etc. on the counter. Instead, have brand new clean towels artfully folded and a vase of flowers or orchid plant.

Same in the kitchen, no stuff (incl. coffee pot unless its high end, utensils, crusty pans even if clean, small appliances) on the counter before a showing or open house. Put your things in a box in a pantry or under the sink. A lovely bowl of apples or lemons and a fancy cookbook should be about it.

Paint neutral colors, it doesn't have to be beige but tan/cafe au lait is good. Art is OK but not too much and not art that's too 'interesting'. Remove books and 'stored items' from your bookshelves and clean out closets to make them look spacious. You don't want people judging your summer trashy paperback collection or your Star Wars figurines.

Don't cram all the things you clear into your closet. People want lots of closet space so make sure yours looks spacious. Put things that are out of season in a storage unit. You may need to remove furniture, like your dining table leaf and the extra chairs or a filing cabinet.

Update faucets and cabinet pulls in kitchen and bath. It's an inexpensive thing that makes an impact. Make obvious repairs - door knobs, rubber strips around doors, torn screens, jiggly/wiggly stuff should be tightened or replaced. We all live with some broken and tatty stuff that we get used to and no longer see. Ask a brutally honest but thoughtful friend to walk through the house with you and give feedback.

Have show towels showings. You can put the ones you used for your morning shower in the washing machine during the showing.

Clean, clean, clean. Bleach what can be bleached. Remove all stains. Spider webs in the ceiling corners or dust on ceiling fan blades, dust on intake vents.
posted by shoesietart at 4:11 PM on September 25, 2012

« Older What did 0 say to 8? Nice belt!   |   CompSci/Programming Social Network? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.