Have you been thinking about selling your lake home or cabin? Perhaps you’ve wondered how the market is or what steps you can take to maximize your sell price. We’ll spend a little time reviewing some things you as a seller can do to set your property apart from others on the market.

Selling your lake home or cabin today can be challenging due to a smaller group of available buyers. This is in part due to a slowed economy and tougher lending practices. However, interest rates for qualified buyers remain low, and an emerging local trend shows single family homes that are well prepared for sale are experiencing less time on the market prior to selling. Expect this trend to carry over to the lake home/cabin market.

Many of the things you can do to enhance your property take more time and effort than money. Let’s examine some key areas that deserve your attention before listing your lake property with a Realtor.

Let’s start from the inside and work our way out as we wait for the snow to melt:

  1. Home Interior: Clean like you’ve never cleaned before. De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Remove all personal items and photos. Scale back the content in your closets and other storage areas. Buyers will snoop and you want them to see that even the areas behind closed doors are clean and orderly. Touch up nicked paint and woodwork. Replace cracked tiles and torn screens. Clean and polish all windows. Keep all lake views clear of obstructions. Replace worn towels and rugs. Get rid of cooking, pet and smoke odors. Talk to your Realtor about staging your home.
  2. Kitchen: Buyers consider this the most important room. Clean appliances inside and out. Replace or repair anything that squeaks, sticks or drips. Use the rule of three with countertops…no more than three things on display. Keep the inside of cabinets clean and orderly.
  3. Bathrooms: Fix leaky faucets, repair caulking, clean rust stains and bleach dirty grout. Keep the shower door/curtain spotless.
  4. Bedrooms: Buyers consider the master bedroom to be the second most important room. Have clearly defined sitting, dressing and sleeping areas. Keep other bedrooms simple with a bed(s), dresser and nightstand.
  5. Fireplaces/Wood Stoves/Fire Rings: Clean up any ashes in the firebox or hearth. Display freshly cut logs and polish the glass doors and trim.
  6. Docks, Decking and Sidewalks: Use a power washer to clean all walking surfaces. A power washer is far superior to a garden hose, and can be rented at your local rental center or hardware store. Replace worn or rotting deck boards and re-stain faded decking. Keep everything free of undergrowth and swept clean of leaves and pine needles.
  7. Boathouses: Clean them inside and out. Remove spider webs, bird nests, wasp nests and clutter. A power washer does the trick here as well. Consider removing large boats in order to accentuate interior space. Showcase areas that offer additional storage. Make sure the space is well lit, and add additional light fixtures if necessary. Touch up exterior paint/stain where necessary.
  8. Waterfront: Place lawn furniture in social gathering clusters. Stage a BBQ eating and gathering area. Decorate with potted flowers. Keep the shoreline free of debris and dead fish!
  9. Trees, Landscaping and Lawns: Trim overgrown trees and shrubs. Eliminate weeds and freshen mulch. Having the grass mowed and the edges trimmed is also important. Keep the lawn uncluttered by picking up hoses, toys, branches and other debris. If you own a dog, conduct regular lawn patrols to clear the area of their deposits.
  10. Home Exterior: Like the boathouse, use a power washer to remove spider-webs and other debris. Wash the windows and touch up paint/stain where necessary. Attend to any loose or rotted trim boards. Repair doors and windows that don’t close or seal properly. The main entry door should be in pristine condition.

Buyers will recognize properties that have been well maintained, and they will respond favorably. If possible, get started now on the interior while winter still has its grip. Once the snow leaves us, you can turn your attention to the exterior and surrounding grounds. This will set you up nicely to take advantage of the prime selling season. There are qualified buyers out there, let’s get their attention!