Essential Steps Before Listing
Your Home for Sale
Before you even consider listing your home for sale, one of the most important things that you can do is get your home into shape. If you take these necessary steps as outlined below to get your home looking its best, you will be able to sell your home more quickly and for more money.
Putting your home on the market is definitely stressful and a lot of work, but if you take the time and follow these simple steps to getting it ready, you may get an offer quicker than you thought.
Understanding how real estate is marketed to today’s home buyers is essential. According to realtor.org, 92% of the time a home buyer starts their search online. Home buyers are looking for a well-priced, well-appointed, and cared-for home. It is essential to get it ready for a fickle marketplace.
Here are some tips to get your home in tip-top condition, and feel more welcoming to buyers. I have given these tips to numerous home sellers, realtors, builders, and investors over the years.
Plan Your Selling Strategy
Your Realtor® will evaluate your situation and help you prepare to sell your home, including identifying improvements that will increase your home’s value, getting professional photos taken of your home, and deciding on a listing price. Ultimately, there are several steps in the process of getting your house ready to sell. Smart prep work can make a huge difference in the quality of results and is essential to prepare your home for sale before listing and selling your property.
Make Necessary Repairs
Now’s the time to get all the little cosmetic jobs done that never seemed important enough to finish. Your house will be put under the microscope when buyers come through, so you want them to see your house in the best light possible. Put together a list of repairs and projects, and estimate the cost of hiring contractors and supplies. Discuss simple improvements with your Realtor® that are cost-effective and will increase the value of your home.
To get top dollar, consider remodeling projects and green upgrades that will increase your home’s value. See what projects you can afford, and adjust how much you expect to get for selling your home. Consider replacing outdated lighting fixtures and fixture hardware (e.g. cabinet pulls, door hardware, outlets and window treatments.)
Depersonalize and Declutter
Detach yourself from the property. You don’t have to go overboard with getting rid of every personal picture, but scale down personal photos. Put away your personal belongings.Think of this process as a head start to packing and moving. Declutter and decorate every room and outdoor areas so buyers can imagine themselves living in the home. Clear counter tops and tabletops and keep decorations to a minimum. Prospective buyers will come into your house and look in every closet, even the kitchen cabinets, so you want them as neat as possible.
Let it go
This is a great time to get rid of things that have been collecting dust or cluttering up the closet. You need to do this in every room. Box it up, sell it, rent a storage space, or donate it. But let it go!
Everything needs to be spotlessly cleaned including fans and light fixtures.
Consider getting an estimate for painting or re-finishing cabinets and hardware if they show wear and tear. The fresh scent of citrus candles such as lemon, orange, grapefruit or cinnamon sticks on the stove are the best scents for showings. Take the trash out. It’s simple, but it can make a big difference.
Bathrooms need to be spotless. They should ultimately look like a mini spa with fresh towels, pretty soaps, etc. Put some of your essential items away, such as shampoo, lotions, etc. Have baskets and totes close at hand, so if you get a last-minute call for a showing, you can do what I call “hotel cleaning.”
Make sure your house smells its best. Bake a batch of cookies and brew fresh coffee to create a homey feel. Fresh flowers, scented candles, and/or scented room sprays are a great investment. Employ soothing, spa-like scents like vanilla and lavender that are non-offensive in bathrooms and bedrooms.
Natural Lighting and Proper Light Bulbs
Homes show much better with light. Open all draperies and window treatments. When showing a house, Realtors® don’t usually have time in advance to open everything up and turn on all the lights. Opening up the house and letting the outside natural light in can brighten the space, and make the room feel larger. Brighter bulbs give a better appearance. Most homes are improperly lit, so having the proper bulb with maximum wattage in a fixture is essential. I like to use “Reveal” light bulbs for a more crisp, clean bright look. Turn on all lights if possible for showings.
Walls and Carpeting
Paint interior rooms neutral colors. Call a professional painter or consider hiring a designer for a color consultation for current color ideas. Wall-to-wall carpets need to be professionally cleaned or replaced after painting has been done.
Clean Up the Yard
You should try to do what you can to make your yard look its best. Every landscaping detail proves that you care, and translates to the potential buyer. Trimming all trees and overgrown bushes can make the home appear larger. Planting flowers is always a good idea. You want the outside to look as good as the inside.
Finally, tackle the garage and those garbage smells! You don’t want these to turn off potential buyers.
Make a great first impression. Make improvements to increase your curb appeal (i.e. the home's external attractiveness.) You want the view from the street to entice potential buyers to want to come into the home.
Make it Welcoming
You’ve got the curb appeal, but what about “walking up to the door” appeal? Invest in a new doormat, and take the time to scrub down your front door; it’s probably covered with dust and dirt. Better yet, repaint it and add some new house numbers and a new porch light.
Get Another Opinion
Selling your home can be emotional, so have a friend or neighbor critique your home, and give ideas for what they recommend. What are their first impressions? What type of improvements would they recommend?
I can’t stress enough the importance of having quality real estate photos. This is essential because those pictures will be your first digital impression! The majority of potential buyers will see your home online before they see it in person. A great photo will bring a home buyer through the door. Critique the photos with your agent, and pick the best ones. Post online in the order that you would walk through the home.
One Redfin study found that homes with professional listing photos sell for $3,400 to $11,200 more than their list price.
Stage Your Home
One last thing you should do before the “For Sale” sign goes up in the yard is to hire a professional stager that will design your home to sell. Staging is what you do after you've cleaned, de-cluttered, painted, and made minor repairs. It's all about dressing the house for sale.
Staging your home properly can attract more buyers to your listing, create more foot traffic through your door, and increase the price buyers will be willing to pay when you sell. You want buyers to come into your home and see themselves there, not you. Give each room a clear purpose to show buyers how they can use the space. The Real Estate Staging Association pegs the average time on the market for homes sold after staging is 21 days, an estimated 90 percent less time than unstaged properties.
Know Your Buyers
Are your buyers looking to move into the school district? Have a flyer available describing all the information regarding the local school.
Make a list of all the shopping, restaurants, attractions, and coffee shops within walking distance to the property.
Research the Market
Research market conditions and find a few local comparable homes that have recently sold as a benchmark to get an idea of the market conditions. Determine your home's strengths and unique features, and promote them in all advertising.
Now that you’ve done the work to make your home look its very best, you are ready to show and list your home and get it SOLD!
Pricing it Right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. This takes real courage, and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market. (This is also a good time for your Realtor® to get another broker’s price opinion).
Be sure to share this article with other Realtors® and home sellers if you’ve found it useful!
Diane Neslund is the Founder & CEO of Distinctive Interior Design & Real Estate. She is a professional stager and licensed Arizona Realtor for thirty years. Diane doesn’t hesitate to tell sellers exactly what they need to get the home sold in this competitive market.