What do I need to do when preparing to sell my home?

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Are you considering selling your home this year?  When starting to think through the listing process, all the unknowns and questions can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a first time seller, and you think to yourself “Where should I start?”  In this low inventory environment what repairs or updates are really needed?  What are some of the preparatory items that are universally required no matter what?  Here we are going to cover what steps you might want to take in order to make your listing look its absolute best!


What buyers see


Some quick background: When prospective buyers are looking at properties, it can be incredibly difficult for them to envision their “stuff” in your home… “what you see is what you get.”  The way you live and utilize your home will be different from how your REALTOR® will market your home in order to optimize your listing and achieve its sale.  The simple reason for this is that the buying public is shopping for homes online via pictures and virtual tours (this is why having a professional stager over for a consultation can be very beneficial as outlined in our previous blog post).  The psychology of home buying is interesting as well; it’s wise to limit the number of items in need of repair or updating to less than a buyer can count on one hand.  We’ve seen this phenomenon play out, as buyers can mentally walk away from an otherwise promising home tour when confronted with too many items needing attention.  


Tips for inside the home


In no particular order, here are some suggestions we frequently give sellers.

Deep clean everything!  Focus especially on bathrooms and kitchens, in particular the appliances (definitely the refrigerator), windows and doors, baseboards, and closets (because you know buyers will be opening them to check out storage space).  All flat surfaces should be clear, with only 2 or 3 items on them for the sake of decoration or function (tables, countertops, dressers, desks).  Make sure all lightbulbs work and are matching.  Wipe down and dust in the mechanical room (water heater, furnace, washer and dryer).  If the kid’s rooms, guest rooms or hobby spaces (sewing rooms, man caves, etc) have bright walls, consider toning them down with neutral paint.  Take care of any safety items such as smoke and CO2 detectors and plumbing leaks.  Finally, do a walkthrough and stand in the doorway to view each room…be honest with yourself and view the space with the perspective of a buyer, paying attention to furniture placement and where art or mirrors might look best.  Nothing should jump out at you as being out of place.


Tips for outside the home


For starters, utilize your garage for storage, as typically it will not be photographed.  Clean up your yard and be sure to trim shrubs, weed flower beds, remove debris and maybe even consider laying down some fresh mulch.  Depending on the season, keep the lawn freshly mowed or the driveway and sidewalks to the entrances clear of snow and ice.  Make sure the front door, porch, and garage door are looking good for the sake of curb appeal and first impressions.  In older homes you may want to replace the CSST yellow gas line, as they are no longer to code, inexpensive to fix, and almost always come up at inspection.  Lastly, when it is time to do the photography, make sure to hide trash and recycling containers in the garage and park your vehicles on the street so they are not included.


The bottom line

Are you detecting a theme of making everything look clean, organized and like you would want to buy your own listing?  Many of these suggestions are common sense, and reasonable preparations to make.  The takeaway is that you as a seller want to present your listing as being clean, depersonalized, decluttered, and well-maintained.  It will reflect positively on the overall condition of some of the big ticket items that buyers often worry about being neglected.  Ideally, your goal is to get your home looking similar to a staged new construction home.  If you are a long term owner (15-20 years), it may be advisable to have your home pre-inspected.  This also gives buyers assurance, and allows you to remedy defects at your own pace, because when it comes to selling, no one likes surprises.  Talk to your REALTOR® about all these nuances well ahead of when you think you might like to put your home on the market; we can go over potential repairs and ROI calculations to ensure you get top dollar.  If you take everything mentioned here into consideration, you’re on your way to a positive, low stress selling experience!