Let’s face it, unless you are a serial real estate investor or like to move a lot, you probably won’t sell a home many times in your lifetime. But when you do, you don’t get many chances to do it over, so you might as well do it right the first time. In the words of John Wooden, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over.” I recently watched a home that was in desperate need of a fresh paint job, decluttering of personal items, and some staging advice, lose over $150k from the original asking price in a hot market. Why? Some simple things could have been done to present the house better, and in a competitive market, buyers found better houses for their needs. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so when it comes time to sell your home, make sure it counts.
On that note, here are 6 Simple Things you should do before putting your home on the market.
Clear the Clutter – Moving can be a cathartic experience. This is a great time to start clearing out the things you haven’t used in years. Donate serviceable items to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity for charitable donations. This is also a good time to store those family pictures; go for neutral decor instead. A clean house helps potential buyers see themselves in their new home. Don’t wait until you have an accepted offer to start packing, you’ll add more stress to your life and likely leave money on the table with a lower sales price.
Clean, Clean, Clean – This goes without saying, but preparing your house for sale is going to take a lot of cleaning. Do a deep cleaning prior to first showings, but don’t forget to keep the house ready for private showings and open houses. Power wash the exterior and walk ways and wash the windows. You may like making that great garlic dish grandma always loved, but prospective buyers will remember that scent and may be distracted from the great things your house has to offer. Many of these things are do-it yourself items, but your Realtor should have a few good referrals if you want to farm out the duties.
Update the Finishes – I see it time and time again, especially on inherited houses. A seller doesn’t see the house the way a buyer does. The sentimental attachment to Dad’s custom built in TV wall and that pink tile in the bathroom doesn’t sell a house. Instead, buyers are looking for at a minimum a clean slate. Start with paint and if your budget allows, consider upgrading light fixtures and bathroom fixtures. A complete kitchen and bath remodel may be too much hassle and expense, but freshly painted cabinets with new pulls can go a long way, especially in a market with young families that don’t want to buy a major project.
Spruce up the Yard – Many neighborhoods are going through generational shifts. Old families are moving out and young families are moving in, especially in neighborhoods with good schools and homes with yards. If you get started early enough, reseed the lawn, put fresh flowers in the flower beds, and trim trees and shrubs that hide nice features of the house. Don’t forget to mulch areas with bare dirt, especially near entries. The bang for your buck can be huge with the yard, so don’t be afraid to put in the time and effort if you can.
Hire a Professional Stager – Home stagers offer many services, including performing a 2 hour walk-through consultation to give you pointers on how to present your home in the best light given what you have on hand, to full house staging with on-trend furniture in every room. Regardless of your choice, staged homes typically sell faster and closer to the asking price than unstaged homes, especially in competitive markets. Staging costs can vary from $175 for a 2 hour consultation to roughly 1% of the list price for full staging services including furniture rental and accessories.
Detach – Okay, this one is easier said than done for a home you’ve lived in for years. But selling your home is a big financial move, and you’ll be able to negotiate from a stronger position if you can keep some of the emotions in check when it comes time to sell.
As mentioned earlier, most people don’t sell a home very often, so what may seem like obvious advice isn’t always on the top of your mind. Meet with a realtor that is willing to tell you the truth about your home and give you suggestions for improvements to maximize your selling price. A few weeks of preparation can often lead to tens of thousands of dollars in sales price – I’d say that’s a pretty solid return on your investment.
If you are considering selling your home, please contact Kyle Daniels Real Estate for a complimentary home evaluation. We are happy to take the time to discuss your needs and goals and develop a customized plan to make your house stand out from the competition.