It’s possible to earn tens of thousands of dollars more by putting in some time, money, and/or effort preparing your home for the market. Your home needs to be compelling to sell quickly for the most money.
This is part or our unique approach to selling your home for the most money and in the least amount of time possible, no matter what’s happening in the housing market.
If you don’t have the ability to complete any of these steps with quality work, or just don’t have the time, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. You can, of course, save money by doing it yourself, but the quality of the work is important, so make sure you have the time and skill.
1. Freshen Up the Walls
Years of abuse can do a number on interior walls. Use joint compound to fill in any imperfections in the wall. Make sure to wipe or scrape away any thick gunk and then paint using a neutral color in a flat finish. If you’re painting yourself, make sure you do a good job on the edges. Don’t allow yourself to leave paint blotches on the ceiling or baseboards.
Clean, fresh, neutral walls are essential to selling your home quickly and for the most money.
2. Replace Light Bulbs
Make sure that every light bulb inside and outside of the house is working. Replace any bulbs that need it. Lights that are burned out send a signal to potential buyers that the home isn’t taken care of. You also want your home to show in as bright a light as possible.
The outside of your home is the first thing that a potential buyer will see, so it needs to look inviting, clean, and manicured.
Make sure the grass is neatly cut and edged. If your grass isn’t in great shape, have a professional come out and give you ideas for making it look presentable. In extreme situations, it may make sense to have new sod laid down.
Depending on the time of year, think about planting a few flowers or bushes.
It is extremely important that your home’s exterior is clean and inviting.
Home staging is vital. Once you’ve gotten a buyer from the outside to the inside, the pleasant experience should continue. The hurdle that many sellers are unable to overcome is furniture choice and arrangement.
If you have eclectic taste and your furniture is yellow – or super modernist interpretative abstract – or just plain beat up and ugly – swap it out.
If you have kept every knick-knack, lamp, and furniture piece you’ve ever owned – move it out.
This may seem like a pain, but it will substantially affect your ability to sell and how much you’ll be able to sell for. Put your furniture in storage and rent some nice, neutral furniture to put in your home while it shows.
We recommend hiring a professional staging specialist. They have an eye to tastefully decorate each space, in a popular style, for its highest and best use.
You’ve probably heard that you need to remove anything personalized from your home. This is actually very important.
What we’ve found, as buyers and as agents representing buyers, is that anything that ties the current owner to the house can feel uncomfortable.
When a buyer walks through a home they are consciously and subconsciously trying to imagine themselves living there. If they see evidence of the actual owners at every turn, it makes it hard. They remember that they’re in someone else’s home when that person isn’t there.
So, put all the family photos in storage and hide all the toys. Remove anything that isn’t neutral. It may be difficult to remove all traces, but the more you can do, the better.
6. Organize Closets and Cabinets
When a buyer walks through your house they will almost certainly open cabinets and closets. If you want to show the storage space available in the home, you’ll want to clean out and organize all these spaces.
Buyers love ample storage space. If they open up a closet door and it’s crammed full of “stuff”, that’s a turn-off and it appears too small.
7. Make Repairs
You know all those repairs you’ve been meaning to do over the last couple of years? Time to do them.
This is an area where you can go too far. If you’ve been wanting to spend the $50,000 it takes to remodel your kitchen – don’t. Unless your kitchen is currently torn apart or exceedingly disgusting, you will lose money. Each situation has many variables, so talk to your team and decide what is needed to sell quickly and get the most money.
The no-brainer repairs are things that will stand out to a buyer and aren’t too expensive. Maybe the dog constantly scraped the trim on the back door or a wayward baseball cracked a window.
The goal is for your home to feel well-kept and structurally sound. Everything a buyer sees as they walk through is subtracting money from their offer and making them feel uneasy about what else could be wrong.
8. Deep Clean
Once all repairs are done and personal belongings are removed, give the home a thorough deep-clean. This is something that can be affordable if you want to bring in a cleaning service.
Buyers aren’t going to white-glove your home, but there’s a special feeling that comes with a truly clean home. You don’t want stains in the carpet or baseboards covered in hair and gunk.
9. Make it Smell Great
For us, smell is absolutely the first thing that needs to be addressed. Don’t show your home until you get rid of bad smells.
We’ve walked through homes that were perfect in every way – except for a faint foul smell – and that was enough to reject the home. We couldn’t get past the smell! There’s something about a bad smell that hints at hidden surprises…
This is vital. Completing step 8 and deep-cleaning your home will get you most of the way there and is required to make this work. You don’t want to try and cover up a dirty house with perfume-y or cheap smells.
Smell is a funny thing. Too much of a good thing is almost as bad as a bad smell. Keep it subtle and neutral (there’s that word again). Don’t use potpourri or cheap sprays. Avoid heavy cleaning smells like ammonia or bleach.
10. Pet Planning
We love animals – but one thing we see constantly when showing homes is lack of “pet planning”. You do not want your dog yapping incessantly while a buyer is trying to view your home.
We’ve seen owners put pets in the garage, in a crate in the closet, and even let the pet roam loose in the house. None of these are ideal.
We understand that not everyone can take their pet when they leave during a showing or send them to stay with a friend or family member until the home is under contract. But, understand that you are severely limiting your ability to sell your home when you leave your pet at home.
It does help if they are quiet, but we can always smell the pet or see hair or other traces of their presence. For a person that doesn’t have pets – and even some that do – seeing traces of dog or cat hair, and smelling pet odor, is an immediate “NO”.
Showcase your home
There aren’t many people that can look past what is in front of them – the ones that can are called investors – and they like heavy discounts. Most buyers want a home to be move-in ready and require little to no work.
This should be your constant thought as you prepare your home. Leave nothing to the imagination except for the buyer imagining their life there. Show the home in its best light so they don’t have to try and imagine what it would look like without pink walls.
Your home is ready, are you?
Now that you’ve done everything you can to get your home prepared for a sale, it’s time to put it on the market. You’ll have to answer questions like, “Should I sell it myself?” or do I need an agent?“.
A real estate agent will walk you through the steps above and protect you from the mistakes commonly made during the sale of a home – such as:
- Overdoing repairs
- Trying to “Time the market“
- Pricing too high or too low
- Improper staging
- Properly writing contracts
- Take calls from, and work with, prospective buyers
- Strategic marketing
- many more..
Selling a home is a big undertaking, but taking the time to address each of these steps, and prepare your home for sale to its full potential, will get you the most money in the shortest time.