Before Listing Your House For Sale

Better Homes For SaleThinking of listing your house but wondering where to start? When you decide to embark on this journey, the best way to get started is to partner with a professional Realtor with a recognizable brand.  Better Homes and Gardens has been a trusted household name since 1924 and is synonymous with “excellence”.

If you’ve never sold a home before, you may be surprised at how complex it can be. From determining the correct listing price, to producing effective targeted marketing, to navigating contractual agreements; it can be an exhausting process. But if you choose a professional Realtor who you trust and enjoy working with you’ll find yourself sailing smoothly from “For Sale” sign to “Sold”. A well-seasoned Realtor will guide you through each step of the process and leverage their experience. At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, we are equipped with professional experience and outstanding marketing to give you the very best positioning when your home hits the market.  Take a quick peek at this brief video illustrating the highlights of what we have to offer.

Of course, it’s not all up to us.  We’ll need your partnership in preparing your home to welcome potential buyers.  Here is a list of things we’ll recommend you do to make your home stand out above the others.

Remove Personal Decorations

Clown House 1Just clowning around?  Well, let’s not.  I think you can clearly see the impact here of displaying your personal tastes and collections.

The key is to remember the phrase “different strokes for different folks”. There will be many different types of people looking at your home when it is listed for sale. To encourage the most positive feedback, it’s best to create a neutral environment. The best way to do this is to remove any objects that reflect your personal choices and lifestyle. If a buyer can walk through your house and determine your religious preference, family size, profession, biggest obsession, and/or favorite alcoholic beverage, you may have a problem. Some buyers have a hard time emotionally attaching to a home when a sellers lifestyle choices are front and center, especially if theirs differ from yours.

Hire a home Inspector

Once you have an executed a sales contract with a buyer, the first thing the buyer is going to do is hire a home inspector to inspect your house. Why not beat them to it? An inspection usually costs around between $350 and $500. That’s pennies in the grand scheme of things. Tackle all of the repairs upfront and you let your buyers be elated over the top-notch condition of your home.  Results of buyer home inspections are one of the big hurdles to overcome, and can be a deal killer. You can eliminate any anxiety up front by taking care of a home inspection before a buyer even steps foot into your home. Often times, when buyers know that there has been a previous home inspection, they are more willing to pay top dollar.

Clean Everything Thoroughly

Everyone has a different definition of “clean”. When you’re listing your house for sale, you need to get Martha Stewart clean! Pretend that you’re selling your house to a germaphobe. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning crew to spend a whole day doing a deep clean. It’s well worth the money! When a house is unkempt, it can be hard for buyers to emotionally attach to it, even if they are not clean people themselves. Oddly, many home buyers expect the house they buy to be cleaner than the one they currently live in!

Fido is not the only one with a keen sense of smell

So sometimes we must give “stinky” advice. To sell your home quickly and for the most money, you want to appeal to every possible buyer. Sad as it seems, not everyone is a fan of pets (the horror!). Your house may be the perfect layout, price, and design but if it smells like animals you may have just lost your buyer. Kitty litter boxes and indoor “accidents” need to be thoroughly addressed before the doorbell rings. If your puppy was hard to house train and the carpets suffered for it, there’s work to be done there. Living in your home daily you don’t experience your home as a buyer would, because you live there and are used to it’s unique smell.

Replace Outdated Fixtures

This is an easy fix that can have a huge impact. If you have brass door handles and brass chandeliers, you should replace them. It makes your home look dated. You can buy a contractor pack of brushed nickel door handles at home improvement stores. If you are appealing to higher end buyers, spend some money for designer door handles. If you have old outdated light switch covers, replace them all. You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it will make. Walk through your house and try to identify every fixture that reveals the date of the home. Replace as many of them as possible.

Shampoo or Replace Carpets

Carpets show more damage than almost any part of your home. If you have carpet in your house, it’s probably going to be a problem. If the carpets are not stained and are newer, you can get away with simply getting a deep clean from a professional carpet cleaning company. If cleaning will not restore them, you’ll need to replace them.

A home with worn out dirty carpets is hard to sell. If you want to compete for top dollar, you’ll need to tackle this objection right away. Carpets hold a lot of dirt and odor. It’s important that they look and smell clean for your showings. If possible, consider replacing the carpets with a nice wood, tile or stone flooring.

Touch Up and Tone Down Your Paint

Neutral InteriorIf it’s been more than a year since the interior of your house has been painted, then it’s time for some touching up. If you have paint left over from the last time you painted, use this to touch up areas when there are nail holes, scrapes, hand prints, etc. Touching up existing paint is very easy and makes your home look new again. If you do not have any touch up paint, you can try to peel off existing paint, or cut a small section of sheetrock (which you can repair later). Just do in an area where it’s not very noticeable, like in a closet or behind a door. Take the sample to a local paint store and have them color match it. You may need to do this 2 or 3 times to get the color right. Once you have a close match, use it to make your walls look new again.

Purple, burgundy, and lime green may not be everyone’s first choice for a relaxing home environment. Neutral colors are the best way to appeal to the largest pool of buyers.

If you have exterior paint that needs restoration, take the time to work on it as well. This includes mailbox posts, fences, storage sheds, house siding, and trim work. The exterior of your home needs to look well maintained. Curb appeal is what attracts many buyers to a home in the first place.

So, you have stuff!

If you actually live in your house like most people do, then your closets are full and your garage is packed from floor to ceiling. This is normal. The problem is that some of the homes you will be competing with are either vacant, or almost vacant. These homes show much better and buyers can visualize themselves moving in much easier.

To stay competitive, you’ll want to rent a storage unit and start loading it with everything that you are not going to need while your house is on the market. Start with all of your memorabilia and pack the unit with the items that you are least likely to need in the back. The more you put in storage, the better. If you have to question, “Should I store this?”, the answer is: “Yes!”. Just remember that when a buyer walks through your front door, less is more when it comes to your “stuff”!

Freshen Up Landscaping

Quite honestly, landscaping can be the biggest bang for your buck when listing your house for sale. We’ve all heard about the importance of “curb appeal”, and know that first impressions are HUGE in real estate. The fastest way to freshen up your landscaping is new mulch. Spread a layer of it all throughout your landscaped areas. This is inexpensive and requires very little time commitment.

Annuals in landscapeIf you’d like to make an even better first impression, plant some colorful flowers in an interesting planter! Trim any over grown plants and bushes and clean up your outdoor spaces to look new again. In a city with weather as beautiful as ours we spend a lot of time outside, so it’s likely to have a big impact on your buyers decision to purchase your home.

To learn more about listing your home, visit the sellers page of my website!

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