If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market this spring, you’re going to want to start getting ready now. By doing so, you will save money. Better than that, the following basic tips will help you walk away with higher net proceeds than by doing nothing at all.
Without a doubt, it’s a tight housing inventory right now. That means it’s a seller’s market in many neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean sellers can command any price or that they don’t need to take steps to prepare their home for sale. Not, at least, if they want to sell quickly and for the best possible price. Today’s buyers have high expectations.
The Simple Stuff
The reality is that it’s likely too late to do major renovations, but it is not too late to roll up your sleeves and get busy removing all the “red-flag” distractions that stand out like a blinking light that scare away a prospective buyer. I’d love to offer you professional advice about how to prepare your home for sale without overspending or fretting much at all. As the seller, you control the condition of the property, my team controls the marketing, and together we partner to sell the listing. Here are my recommendations:
Think Like a Buyer. First and foremost, you need to shed your stubborn proprietary connection to your home of X years. It needs to happen, as soon as possible. Sure, you are emotionally connected to your house and it holds many memories. Selling your home requires a shift in your mind-set from homeowner to seller. It’s also a good time to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Think about what attracted you to your home in the beginning as well as what you love about it or your neighborhood now. The things you know about your property can be helpful for marketing.
>Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff. An important addendum to the previous tip is to be thorough and diligent. Don’t skip the obvious. In fact, get the advice of an real estate professional. Get the opinion of a unbiased neighbor or friend. Solicit honest evaluations of the general condition of your home.
>Visit Open Houses & Parade of Homes. Continuing the effort to transform your thinking from homeowner to seller, scout-out nearby homes on the market to assess your competition and get inspiration for small improvements you can make to boost your home’s appeal for buyers. Visit the line-up of Parade of Homes. Check out paint colors, layout of furniture, fixtures, etc.
>Hire a Home Inspector. If you have time, you may also want to consider hiring a home inspector for a pre-listing inspection, particularly if you have an older home. If the inspector finds something that needs work, it’s better to repair it and provide receipts for the buyers than turn the issue into a negotiating point. It’s never too early to prepare for the spring housing market. The sooner you define your priorities, enlist experts and begin making necessary repairs or updates, the closer you are to a successful sale.
>Spruce Up the Exterior. We’re talking about curb-appeal. Let’s face it, the exterior of the property is the first thing a buyer will see whether online or driving by. Now is the time to make sure it looks its best. Walk around the entire exterior of the home, and conduct an assessment. Consider pressure washing, painting, having the windows cleaned, cleaning out gutters, trimming back any overgrown or dead landscaping, cleaning the front door and changing out any worn door hardware that may look old and corroded. And, make sure the front doorbell actually works!
>Service The Heating/Cooling System. A home inspector is going to check this anyway, so beat ’em to the punch by having the system serviced and cleaned. When was the last time it was serviced anyway? The lifespan of a furnace is 15-25 years. If you haven’t had your system looked at since it was new you’re facing a red flag by a potential buyer. It’s better to take care of any repairs that may need addressing now versus waiting until a buyer decides to make an offer.
>Do a Light Bulb Check. Easy-peasy. Make sure all of the lightbulbs are working and free of dirt and debris. Yes, these need cleaning too — just make sure they are off. Don’t forget to check the outdoor lights as well.
>Check the Smoke & CO² Detectors. Even if your dectoros are hard-wired, now is the time to make sure that all detectors have new batteries are in good working order. Replace any old ones as an inspector is likely to flag those during a home inspection and recommend that they be replaced.
>Blue Tape It. If you were building a new house your builder would ask you to do this before final inspection. Conduct a thorough walk through of the interior of the home. If there are any nicks, dents or scratches on the walls and moldings, blue tape them so you are reminded to have each area repaired. The more wear and tear a home appears to have, the more the buyer is going to chip away at the asking price.
>Deep Clean & Declutter. This costs you next to nothing and will have the biggest pay-back for your time investment. You need to look through the lens of a stranger who has never been to your home. THEY WILL SEE EVERYTHING. Now is the time to give the home that deep clean it needs. If needed, consider hiring a cleaning crew to tackle this; the more hands, the better. Perhaps, host a family cleaning party! Invite your family and extended family to volunteer for a day to help out. (Be sure to provide pizza and beverages. It will be money well-spent!)
Deep cleaning means wiping down all of the baseboards and moldings and cleaning cabinets, appliances (including the oven) and every corner from top to bottom including light fixtures and ceiling fans. It’s also a good time to gather all those unwanted closet items together to donate as well as any unused furniture and decor. The less stuff in the house, the less there is to organize and keep clean. White-space is the name of the game here.
>Clear Out the Garage. This space is often overlooked when preparing a home for sale. Don’t forget this space. Make sure the garage is clean, in good repair, organized and that you can actually walk through it. Do you really need all those tools? Again, create open, white space. Consider painting the floor or having an epoxy finish put down. And that ceiling? Buyers also look up when touring this space, so make sure any drywall cracks or loose seams are repaired.
Buyers recognize and appreciate homes that have been taken care of. Removing the red-flags should be job #1 when preparing your home to be sold. Taking some time to invest in home maintenance before selling will likely yield a big payoff when it becomes offer time.