Getting ready to sell your house? It's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Selling a home entails a whole lot more than just putting a "For Sale" sign on your front lawn or uploading a few random photos of your place- especially if you're angling for more money.
Before you put your property on the market, check out this list of things you must do in preparation. Some of these tips are effortless, and others may require some elbow grease. Either way, they're bound to pay off once prospective buyers start ooohing and ahhhing over your home- and hopefully submitting an offer.
1. Find a great real estate agent
Think you can sell your home yourself, and pocket the cash you would otherwise pay a real estate agent?
It can be tempting, especially in a hot market such as the one we're in now. For Sale By Owner transactions almost always end in a disaster, leading you to sacrifice both money and time. With that being said, don't blindly hire the real estate agent who most recently sent you a postcard or the one your uncle's friend's coworker's cousin used. Do some research to find a real estate agent who is knowledgable about your specific market, and then interview them to make sure they're a good fit.
Your real estate agent should be someone you feel comfortable working with, whom you trust to sell your house for top dollar.
2. Consider your curb appeal
Buyers do tend to judge a book by its cover. You want to make sure potential buyers’ first impression of your home is a good one—and inspires them to stop by the open house or schedule a tour—so they can see more.
By investing some effort in fairly easy fixes, like planting flowers or repainting your front door, the outside of your house can beckon prospective buyers to come on in.
If you’re not sure how to boost your home’s curb appeal, ask your realtor for advice on how others in your area have improved the exterior before selling their houses.
3. Declutter living areas
Less is more when it comes to getting your house ready to show.
Do a clean sweep of counters, windowsills, tables, and all other visible areas, and then tackle behind closed doors: closets, drawers, and cupboards—since essentially nothing is off-limits for curious first-time buyers.
If the house is overflowing with "things", buyers might worry that the house won’t have enough space for their own belongings. They won’t sign up to pay a mortgage if they think they’ll have to rent additional storage space.
Take your excess stuff and donate it, or send it away to be stored off-site. Not only will decluttering help your house look more appealing to buyers, it will also help you once you’ve accepted an offer and it’s time to pack up to move into your new home. Moving out will be easier if some of your belongings are already packed.
4. Depersonalize your space
The next step on your declutter list? Sellers should remove any distractions so the buyers can picture themselves and their family living in the property.
Sellers should remove personal items and family photographs, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make the home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.
5. Repaint walls to neutral tones
You might love that purple accent wall, but if it’s your potential buyer’s least favorite color, that could be a turnoff.
You’re pretty safe with a neutral color because it’s rare that someone hates it, but the other benefit is that a light color allows [buyers] to envision what the walls would look like with the color of their choice.
It’s the seller’s job to help buyers picture themselves in the house. If they don’t feel at home, they’ll probably look at other options.
6. Touch up any scuff marks
Even if you’re not doing a full-on repainting project, pay special attention to scrubbing and then touching up baseboards, walls, and doors to make the house sparkle and look cared-for. There is no bigger turn off than a neglected home.
Selling almost any home can be tricky, but selling a home with lots of little problems and small repair needs can be downright difficult. When buyers walk into an open house, or go on a home tour, they want to fall in love with the house, not add a bunch of small repairs to their to-do list.
In order to impress buyers (and sell your house fast), fix up your house before putting it on the market.
With a home that is fixed up and move-in ready, you will probably see more interest, and may even see multiple offers.
7. Fix any loose handles
It’s a small thing, sure, but you’d be surprised by the negative effect a loose handle or missing lightbulb can have on a buyer.
It can make them wonder "What else might be broken here?"
For a buyer, submitting an offer, and later committing to a mortgage, is a big deal. When you’re selling your home, you don’t want to give any buyers doubt that your house will make a great home.
8. Add some plants
When staging your house, remember that green is good: Plants create a bright and more welcoming environment. You might also want to consider a bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter or dining table.
Some plants and other natural elements will impress buyers by bringing some extra color and life to your decor.
9. Conduct a smell test
Foul odors, even slight ones, can be a deal breaker, and the problem is that you might not even notice them.
If the smells are pervasive, prepare to do some deep cleaning as many buyers are on to seller’s “masking techniques” such as candles or plug-in room deodorizers.
10. Clean, clean, clean
Once you’re done cleaning your house, clean a little more. Even if you’re not worried about what buyers will think of your home’s scent, you want your home to look spotless.
You’ll probably have professional photos taken of your house when it looks its best. You should want your house to always look like it does in those pictures.
When selling your home, it’s important to keep everything tidy for buyers, and you never know when a buyer is going to want to schedule a last-minute tour.
11. Hide valuables
From art to jewelry to prescription medications, make sure your treasures are out of sight, either locked up or stored off-site.
You can’t trust everyone who comes into your house, even when you’re trying to sell it. Take care to hide your valuables or move them to a safe space away from your home.
12. Consider staging
Nothing invigorates a house like some new furnishings or a perfectly chosen mirror. The key is getting your home staged by a professional.
Home stagers will evaluate the current condition and belongings in your house and determine what elements might raise the bar. They might recommend you buy or rent some items, or they might just reorganize your knickknacks and bookshelves in a whole new (better) way.
Stagers know the real estate market, and what sells, so it’s important to take their advice and not take offense when they make big changes. Their job is to help drum up interest from potential buyers, which is always good news to the seller.
For more information on how to prepare your home for sale, please give us a call!