Ready to Sell? 8 Tips to Getting Your Home Ready for Market
You’ve waited on the sidelines long enough. You’re ready or are at least seriously considering putting your house on the market. But it’s been a while since you’ve last bought or sold, or maybe it’s your first time moving altogether. In either case, you know you’ll have to assemble a to-do list before officially putting that sign in the yard. And to help you with that list here’s a complete guide to help you get your home ready for market.
1. Get Busy Cleaning
Even if you’re eager to put your house on the market tomorrow, it’s important to remember real estate transactions are going to take time. There are tedious steps and processes for securing a loan, scheduling appraisers and negotiating offers. It’s a long-game journey for which you can prepare for some downtime. And with that downtime between waiting for mortgage pre-approvals, real estate agents to call you back, or responses to offers, you can be doing some serious cleaning. This is probably the most critical first step for anyone who’s ready to sell their home, officially or unofficially.
When you approach your cleaning to-do list, remember the key advantage of having a tidy home is to attract potential buyers. This means tackling some deep-cleaning projects that you might only reserve for seasonal changes. And you might decide it’s best to bring in professional cleaning services to help with some of these more in-depth cleaning efforts.
- Wash the windows inside and out
- Shampooing carpets or steam cleaning hardwood surfaces
- Deep clean the kitchen, including appliances and fixtures
- Deep clean bathrooms, including fixtures
- Dust and wipe down ceiling fan blades and light fixtures
2. Declutter Wherever You Find Clutter
You want potential buyers to view each space in your home for sale and see “more,” “bigger,” and “more spacious.” If you have certain rooms or areas in your home that are cluttered or feel "busy," even if it’s organized clutter, those areas won’t inspire those desired first impressions. Think of it this way. You’re planning to move, which requires packing anyway. You might as well start packing now, starting with the most cluttered rooms, closets, or corners of your home. Anything that isn’t serving a daily lifestyle purpose can be packed and boxed. Knick-knacks you love aren’t going to help sell your house. Pack them up and let potential buyers envision their own items in the space. Make closets look bigger to demonstrate potential storage areas. And don’t forget to address outdoor clutter, either, including anything in the garage that is occupying space unnecessarily.
3. Buy More Light Bulbs
It’s generally a solid idea to go ahead and stock up on light bulbs. You’ll want to walk through your home entirely and replace bulbs for proper lighting. When potential buyers come through, even during the day, the lights will all need to be on for increased visibility. You can use energy-efficient bulbs as an added perk to buyers, too. Investing in light bulbs won’t be a wasted purchase, either. Any new bulbs you don’t use in your current home can be saved for use in your new home.
4. To Update or Not to Update
Let’s talk about your kitchen and bathroom. One of the most common considerations homeowners deliberate about is renovation. Should you redo your bathroom altogether to help sell the home quicker? Should you go ahead and upgrade appliances in the kitchen to make it more appealing to buyers? Some renovations will add significant value, allowing you to ask more for your listing. Others won’t necessarily reap the immediate value rewards.
Essentially, it boils down to your timeline and preferences. If you’re in a hurry to move, for a job or other reason, it might be more valuable to you to sell quickly and for less. However, if you have the time to explore renovations, you could get more bang for your investment buck. And if you decide a $20,000 kitchen remodel isn’t in the budget, you can still spruce up the kitchen with new cabinet hardware, a replacement stove, or a simple, new backsplash. The same logic applies to the bathroom. If you’re unable to accommodate a complete remodel, new lighting, faucets, or fresh paint can be all the difference you need to improve the space.
5. The Pre-Listing Home Inspection
When buyers decide they’re interested in your property, they’ll likely schedule a home inspection to have a professional review of the primary components, including HVAC, roofing, foundation, plumbing, and electrical systems. Instead of waiting for the buyers to take this step, consider scheduling the pre-listing inspection yourself. For a few hundred dollars upfront, you could get an itemized list from a neutral party professional about what might need to be fixed or replaced.
These pre-listing inspection reports are great selling tools, too, since you’ll be able to demonstrate to the buyers that you’ve already taken steps to ensure the overall soundness of the home. And with an itemized list of things that need fixing, like a loose railing, clogged gutters, or an aging smoke detector, you can be sure to only focus on those things that are important to the potential sale of the home.
6. Get the Handyperson on the Calendar
With or without a pre-listing home inspection, you should schedule a visit with a general handyperson or contractors. Replacing loose door handles, hanging new ceiling fans, or replacing damaged trim throughout the home are small fixes that can be efficiently outsourced. Make a list of to-dos before you call someone, so you can make sure you’re bringing in the right professional to handle all the jobs. But mounting the new mailbox, replacing rotten steps to a deck, or installing a new dishwasher are all efforts that increase the marketability to potential buyers.
7. Removing Odors & Stains
This step might fall onto your cleaning to-do list, but it’s worth mentioning independently. If there are visible stains or odors, potential buyers walking through your home will notice. So, it’s usually a good idea to address any noticeable issues directly. Consider hiring a professional to tackle the tough carpet stains. And if the carpeting is beyond saving, it might be worth pricing out some replacement carpeting.
Stains might be visible on ceiling tiles or the ceiling itself. Even if there isn’t an active leak to address, you’ll want to replace those stained tiles or touch up past water damage stains, if possible.
Odors can be particularly tricky, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to natural smells in your home. Invite a friend over to see if there are any kind of odors to address, whether it’s pet-related or just a stale odor. To combat intrusive odors, consider washing or having all drapery professionally cleaned. It might be your furniture that needs shampooing or an area rug that's retaining an obnoxious odor, too. You can always use air fresheners or wax burners with pleasant scents. But those tactics will only mask smells and are temporary fixes to major contributing factors to any unpleasant smells in your home.
8. Finding the Best Listing Agent
When you decide you’re ready to put your house on the market, another first step you need to consider is finding the right listing agent. Real estate agents come in all experience levels, so do your homework to make sure you find the best candidate with the most experience, who can help you sell quickly and for the most money. Having an agent partner in your corner means you’ll get all the actionable advice you need about preparing your house for the market. But you’ll also get top-notch property marketing, expert negotiation skills, and diligent communication about every step of the home selling process.
Consider all these tasks as your next steps for putting your home on the market. And let Alex Lopez Team your efforts as your listing partner to prepare to sell the right way and with the most value in mind so you can have the best listing experience.
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