How to Prepare Your Home to Sell

Apr 2, 2021

If you have been thinking of selling your home for some time now and are finally ready to take the steps to prepare your home to sell, then here are 8 tips you need to know that will give you a better chance of having a smoother, more successful process. Most sellers fall into one of two extremes: Either they don’t put enough effort into getting their home ready to sell or they do too much. The tips discussed in this blog will serve as a good guideline to keeping you balanced in your efforts and still reap the reward of your investment.

You need to hire a real estate agent. Like, yesterday.

Involving a real estate agent as early on in your process as possible will not only allow you access to their valuable input, but it will also allow them to get to know you and better familiarize themselves with your property, so that they can create the best marketing strategy for your home. Also, and this cannot be stressed enough, remember that you hired them for a reason. They are professionals and are experts in their field of knowledge. They literally do this for a living. So, put down your Google and trust that your agent knows what they are doing and let them do their job. A trustworthy agent is motivated by your best interests and they will fight to get you the best deal possible. One of the best things you can do to prepare your home to sell is to hire a trained agent that will help you do just that.

Walk a mile in your buyer’s shoes.

Many sellers would have lived in their homes for years, generations even. This causes them to look at their home through an everyday, routine lens instead of with eager, excited “buyer eyes”. Things that buyers will quickly take note of, sellers have grown used to and fail to see it. One simple way to handle this issue when trying to prepare your home to sell would be to do the obvious, try to look at your home with a buyer’s perspective. Pick a day and leave your house. Go on a long drive, visit a friend, run some errands – whatever it is you need to do to clear your mind before returning back home. Then, as you come back, pretend you aren’t going home but to house you were interested in seeing. As you approach your driveway, think of yourself as a new buyer excitedly pulling up to their potential forever home. Take in the landscape, pay attention to the entrance of the house, glance around at the neighborhood. As you enter, do not simply go in as you normally would, but instead go through the house as someone who has never been there might. Which room would you go to first? Which details of the house do you find most striking? Which do you find least attractive? Make mental notes. Make real notes if it helps. Walk through every room and bathroom, open the closets, notice the counters, floors, and even appliances. Consider every element that you would have looked for when you were a buyer. Take a walk through the backyard. Then, after you finish the tour of your home with fresh eyes, honestly ask yourself if this is a home you would buy. If yes, fantastic, let’s move toward getting it market ready. If not, ask yourself why not and then proceed to improving those things which might need a little TLC. 

If you want a buyer to move in, you have to move yourself out.

No, this doesn’t mean you need to rent a room at your nearest Quality Inn till your home sells. It just means that as you prepare your home to sell, it is crucial that you take yourself out of the picture, so, that the buyer has space to envision themselves and their family living in your home. You have to allow them a chance to mentally move in. This requires three simple but highly effective strategies: Declutter, depersonalize, and de-smell. Yes, we know de-smell is not a word, but essentially the idea is that you need to get rid of anything in your home that causes pungent or strong odors that would possibly deter a buyer from wanting to even complete their showing let alone move in. We are all used to the way our house smells and it’s kind of hard to smell with “fresh nostrils”, so, here is another area where having a realtor pays off. You need someone who can be honest and objective, but also hasn’t spent a lot of time in your home to do a good old walk-through sniff test. After identifying what these odors might be, move to expelling them. This could mean moving out your pets for a time (totally tragic, but it’s for the greater good), hiring a good cleaning crew to deep clean your entire home, refrain from cooking with anything that could contribute to specific smells in your home, and so on. Depersonalize. This one is pretty straightforward. You need to get rid of your personal flair. If you have every room painted a different color, loud furniture, heads of animals you’ve hunted hanging on your walls, family photos everywhere, then you have to understand that you are preventing a buyer from successfully seeing their life being lived out in your home, and that can seriously damage your chances of getting good, or any, offers. Here is what you can do to depersonalize: stick to neutral colors, get rid of all family pictures and things hanging on the refrigerator, and change or remove all visually overpowering décor and furniture. As for clutter, we all have a fair amount of it in our homes. As a seller, you cannot keep your clutter and have a good showing, too. Go through your house and get rid of anything that you don’t need, don’t use, or don’t want. Start with obvious places like counter clutter or living room clutter, then move on to places you hide clutter when guests come over. Ahem, the closets. Buyers always look in closets, so, make sure these areas are as neat and clean as possible. Once you’ve effectively cleared yourself out, watch how easily buyers can imagine themselves building a life in your home .  

Let there be light. 

It is amazing how many times sellers fail to do this one small task which has a huge impact on the overall showing. Changing out the lightbulbs! It might seem like an obvious thing to do, but quite often buyers find themselves going through homes with rooms that have either poor lighting, or worse, no lighting. As you prepare your home to sell, it is important to do a quick run through of your home and change out all the bulbs for fresh ones. Additionally, it would be even better to ask your realtor’s opinion on which type of lighting would be most appropriate for certain rooms. For example, a kitchen looks best under bright, crisp lights and a den looks good under softer lighting. However, at the very least, make sure all the bulbs are replaced with working bulbs. Remember, sometimes the smallest things have the biggest influence.  

To fix or not to fix, that is the question.

While it is important to fix those minor issues in your house that you and your family may have grown accustomed to, like the kitchen faucet that drips when you turn it off, or the loose cabinet door, or the paint chipping off the ceiling, it is not always entirely necessary to fix everything. Instead of scrambling to fix all the things you see wrong or becoming overwhelmed and choosing to fix nothing, make a list of all the issues, big or small, that you think needs repairing and ask your trusty real estate agent for their advice. Your agent will point out which of the more obvious things should be taken care that would go a long way in appealing to a buyer and which issues could be left for the inspection period. Additionally, it is an added benefit but not required, to have a pre-listing home inspection done so that you are prepared for anything your buyer’s inspector may find. Think twice about making any major home renovations just for the purpose that it may increase your home value. While that may be true, it may not increase it enough for you to get a good return on your investment. 

Make a good first impression. 

Much like the interior renovations, there is no need to go overboard with the exterior either. Once again, as you prepare your home to sell, make a list of what you think needs work and ask your agent to guide you in deciding which of those items should definitely be done. Keep in mind, good curb appeal goes beyond just the house itself but it involves everything leading up to the house. This is the first thing buyers see and it can either attract them or deter them. So, if you need to trim some bushes, power wash the driveway – even offer to mow your neighbor’s yard – do it. It will be worth the effort in the end.

Plan ahead.

As a seller, one thing you need to have is a plan of action for where you will live after your house is sold. If you are purchasing a new home once your home sells, and you plan on getting a loan, make sure you are already preapproved by a lender prior to putting your house on the market. Do not wait till it’s active on the market or under contract to think about getting preapproved. This could have disastrous consequences and unfortunate setbacks. If you are planning to buy with cash, then the main thing to secure is a place to live. This is another excellent reason to hire an agent; They can sell your house while simultaneously helping you find your next dream home as well.

Please, please, don’t overprice your house.

Let’s face it, we all have higher opinions of our home in our heads than what it is worth in reality. One of the biggest mistakes a seller can make is choosing to list their home at a higher price than what it is really worth. Against their real estate agent’s advice, mind you. Remember, your buyer also has an agent who, if they are good at their job, will due their due diligence and find out what your house is worth and advise their client on what they should offer. You will feel as though you’re getting lowball offers where, in reality, you’re getting offers in the ballpark of what your house really should have been priced at in the first place. This leads to sellers frustration, rejection of several good offers, and keeps the house on the market for a very, very long time. If you’re in the position of needing to sell your home in a certain time period in order to obtain the funds you need to purchase your next home, then you cannot afford to make the mistake of overpricing your home. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family, is to first let go of the value you think your home is worth, and let a professional real estate agent do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for you and allow them to help you price it correctly. Trust their expertise and their judgment – it’s what you hired them for. If this is an area you are unwilling to budge on, then you might as well flush all the efforts you have put into getting your home market ready down the drain. 

Consider these 8 tips as mere stepping stones to success as prepare your home to sell. The only way to get the full knowledge you need, along with protecting yourself from unnecessary expenses or wasted efforts, is to hire a real estate agent that you will trust. Your agent takes on the stress and heat so that you can simply enjoy your journey to becoming a homeowner.  

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