How to prepare your home to sell
Every seller wants their home to sell quickly and for a large profit but it takes more than luck to make this happen. Ensuring you get top dollar for your home takes careful planning and knowing how to professionally prepare your home in advance to convince buyers to submit offers. Getting ready to sell your home can feel daunting but I’m here to help! Below are the most important items to consider to ensure you get the profit and sale timeline you’re hoping for. Remember, the little things can make a big difference! Things like repairs, staging, and cleaning can help attract better offers, but they can also be time-consuming and expensive so you’ll need to decide which items are most important.
Hire A Trusted Realtor
As always, I recommend step 1 is finding a trusted Realtor. This will make the rest of the preparation much easier and they can guide you on which items are the highest priority and which may not be worth the time & money. Your Realtor will more or less run the show and depending on your situation, you may be able to just sit back and relax, or if you want to save money, get involved in the process yourself instead of hiring help.
Identify repairs and make a plan
The normal wear and tear of living in a home adds up over time, especially if you’ve been there a long time. Squeaky doors, toilets that run until you jiggle the handle, or windows that don’t stay are all minor issues, but buyers may see these surface issues as indicators of deferred maintenance and may use them as bargaining chips to reduce their offer prices or even worse, pass on your home altogether. If there are too many of these little issues, buyers will likely see it as a sign that there are larger, lurking problems somewhere as well.
You don’t need to fix everything, but it is well worth your time to tend to these cheap minor issues. Walk through your home room by room and take inventory of any dents in the wall, cracks in the ceiling drywall, squeaky doors, or other unsightly issues that you may have grown accustomed to over the years.
All of your appliances should be in working order. Check the kitchen cabinets and drawers to ensure they operate properly. Check all the water faucets in the house and make sure they are not dripping. If there is any water damage, it is in your best interest to find the root cause and repair it, as well as touching up the interior damage. Water damage will need to be disclosed to the buyer, even if you fix it, but repairing it in advance will prevent any delays in the closing and show the buyers that you have stayed on top of home maintenance.
Next check the heating, ventilation, and electrical systems. All should be in working order. It is good practice to have your heating system serviced & cleaned prior to listing your home for sale as well.
The exterior of your home is going to be what buyers see first when they come for a showing. Take a look at the front of your home and ensure it has curb appeal. Pressure washing or painting the siding, trimming hedges, repainting the front door are all things that will increase your curb appeal.
Some of these repairs and maintenance may be do-it-yourself items, while others require some serious investment in a professional. Your realtor will help you make a list of priorities and assist you in deciding which items should be fixed, and which items should be left as is but disclosed to the buyer because the investment to repair them will not increase the sale price enough to be worth it.
Moving is a great opportunity to purge your home and get rid of items you don’t need. You may also consider renting a storage unit to put items in while your home is on the market. Big kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms tend to be big focus points when it comes to selling your home so tidying up to make these rooms look as spacious as possible is in your best interest. Professional home stagers generally recommend you remove 50% of your belongings. Try not to hide everything in closets and cupboards as buyers will be opening everything when they show your home. Buy some storage bins that can be tucked under beds or neatly stacked in the basement.
Decluttering also includes furniture and wall hangings. You want to ensure that buyers can freely move around your home without having to squeeze between furniture. Make sure furnishings don’t block any doors or windows. This may make your home less livable for you in the short term, but it is worth it to sell your home at the right price.
You will also want to declutter and organize the outside of your home as well as the garage. Pick up lawn toys, get rid of broken outdoor furniture, and tidy up your garage with bins or other organizers. There are many professional organizer companies out there so if this feels difficult to accomplish, your Realtor can help you find the right company to assist you.
This one is important! Clean your home so it smells nice and is inviting to potential buyers. Hiring a professional to deep clean your home before showings start is well worth the money. They will clean your baseboards, carpets, walls, and everything else you may have missed over the years. You want your home to look and smell clean when buyers walk in for showings.
You want the buyers to fall in love with your home and picture themselves living there. I recommend you neutralize your home and take down family photos, diplomas, or any other personal items. This will likely help you with the decluttering process as well. Pack all personal items away in boxes first as you prepare for your move to your next space. Neutralize the space by removing things such as family photos, wacky art, diplomas, religious symbols, and collections. You don’t want buyers to feel like they’re intruding on your space, or at worse, be offended by your lifestyle.
Paint Priority Spaces
Similar to your repair list, the entire home doesn’t need to be repainted, but it is worth it to touch up your front door, and fix any problem areas. A fresh coat of paint is one of the most inexpensive ways to brighten up your home. Pay special attention to baseboards, crown moldings, and door & window frames. It is best to stick to neutral colors such as beige, gray, or white because these shades go with everything and will provide a modern feel to your home. You don’t need to paint your entire house, but a fresh coat in the kitchen and entryway will make your home pop!
This can be done with your own furniture or you can rent furniture from a staging company to help the home look its best. Your realtor will help you with this decision. The goal is to create a great first impression with potential buyers. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster for 20% more than those that are not staged according to Realtor.com. It doesn’t need to be expensive, renting a few items to spruce up each room will make a world of difference. You also don’t need to stage your entire home. Focus on the pivotal rooms such as the living room, primary bedroom, or dining room. You can also use tricks such as an air mattress with a duvet to stage a bedroom for free!
Here are a few room by room staging ideas:
- Kitchen – Set a bowl of fresh lemons on the countertop, place an apple pie air freshener by the stove.
- Dining Room – Set the table and put candles or a beautiful centerpiece on your dining table.
- Living Room – Toss a decorative blanket on the arm of the sofa, add a vase of flowers to the and tray with a book on the coffee table
- Bathroom – Add some fluffy towels to the towel bar, place a dish of decorative soaps by the sink.
- Bedroom – Add some decorative throw pillows to the bed, fold a blanket and place it overhanging the corner of the bed.
- Exterior – Spread new mulch, add flowers, mow your grass.
Staging will help the buyers identify the purpose of every room and picture themselves in the home. Make sure you keep your staging simple and clutter-free.
Keep it Clean & Stay Consistent
Potentially the hardest part of selling your home comes if you are still living there during the listing and closing process. How do you keep your home looking clean and tidy when you have to exist there with your family every day? My advice is prevention as much as possible. Do your best to use bins and organizational spaces that can easily tuck away messes. Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it. If you live with other people, enlist everyone’s help so the responsibility is shared. If you play your cards right and the market is seller-friendly, you may only have to show your home for a few days, but if the market has shifted to a buyer market, you may find your home on the market for weeks or even months. Make sure to talk to your Realtor so they can help you set your expectations and plan for the closing process to make things as stress-free as possible. Consider inviting friends and family over to give you honest feedback before you list your home for sale to ensure there is nothing you are missing. Taking the time in advance to prepare your home to sell will definitely reduce stress and return a higher sale price. You will impress buyers, who will in return, impress you with good offers!