Sometimes, life just hands us the inevitable: you have to sell your home. No matter what your reasons are for selling, remember that the process of preparing a home for sale can take a month or more. So, here’s how to get started:
1. Take a Fresh Look at Your Home
Your home looks great to you, but take a fresh look at your dwelling. Try to see it as a home-buyer. Take a drive around your neighborhood and then scrutinize your home as a prospective buyer will see it for the first time. First, consider what’s called “curb appeal;” does it need washing or painting? Does the driveway need repair work? Is the landscaping in good shape? Remember, be very critical; your buyer will be. Is the yard neat and trimmed? What about the view from the front yard? Walk inside and size up the interior as though seeing it for the first time. Take a tour and imagine what your real estate agent might say about each room, look into cabinets, open doors, check out the bathroom. Make notes of the things that might put off potential buyers, along with another list of the things that first attracted you to the home. Remember, a buyer will see things that you don’t.
2. Clean Out the Clutter
Before putting your home on the market, get rid of clutter in every area — closets, attic storage, kitchen cabinets, drawers, bath vanities, and shelves — everywhere. Remember, this is no time to be sentimental: if you don’t use it, lose it. Potential buyers are seriously put off by clutter, and most of us drag a lot more things through life than we really need. Also, don’t forget the furniture and fixtures when getting rid of clutter — most of us put too much in too little space, which makes a buying prospect, think your home is too small. This would be a perfect time to have a garage sale and use the proceeds for paint or whatever other materials you need for repair projects. If you just can’t bear to part with some possessions, store them in the attic or some other place that’s out of sight to a potential buyer. Renting a pod to store extra belongings in is one of my favorite tools.
After you’ve cleared out the clutter, it’s time to really clean. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, strip and polish the floors, scour the bathrooms, go over the laundry room, polish the furniture, scour out the cabinets, wash the windows and window coverings, and spiff up the ceiling fans and kitchen appliances. In short, clean everything. Don’t forget the exterior; paint or power-wash everything . Remember, this is a ceiling-to-floor, roof-to-foundation clean-up project.
4. Get More for Your Home: Repairs Pay Off
Make all the repairs necessary to attract a buyer. Inside, fix the grout in the bathrooms and on tile floors, adjust any doors that need it, fix any scratches on the walls, cover any stains, and be sure to fix any plumbing problems. Remember, do what your home needs before the first buyer appears at your door. Touch up all the paint, repair screens, spruce up the porch and make your entry area shine. Don’t forget to water the lawn and landscape beds, and take the time to trim, mow, edge and get rid of sick or dying plants. If you have friends willing to be brutally honest about what your home needs to sell invite them to express their thoughts. A great agent will coach you on what your home needs to be competitive in the current market. Listen to your agents advice.
An alternative to the sweat equity that you get from a total fix-up is an “as-is” sale. This method carries a cost – a buyer will assess about twice the price you would have paid for the repairs and then deduct that amount from your asking price before making an offer.
5. Putting Your Home on the Market: Show It to Sell It
After you have cleaned, shined, mowed, and generally whipped your property into shape, it’s time to attract a buyer. To present your home well, open the blinds and turn on the lights even on a sunny day. Open all the interior doors to make the home appear roomier and remove pets — they’re cute, but a prospect wants to see your home. Remember, you need to make sure your home is available to be seen by a prospective buyer with as little notice as possible. That means less than an hour, or even five minutes, if possible.
6. Get a Sense of the Market
Before you put your home on the market, take a weekend day to check out the competition – homes for sale in similar neighborhoods. Remember, you don’t have to go out and buy new furniture just to look like that beautiful new model in the new development, you want a clean, fresh and appealing home. Remember, after location, the most important item to a buyer is a well maintained home. Many other flaws can be overlooked if the buyer knows he can move in without a lot of trouble and expense