What They Don’t Tell You About Preparing Your House for Sale
If you’re thinking of selling your house, before you list, walk through it with a fresh set of eyes. Pretend you’re the buyer and that you’re seeing it for the first time. What stands out about it? Did you come away with a good feeling? A first impression can never be taken back, so preparing before you put it on the market is crucial for a successful sale. When you look at your living space objectively, you’d be surprised at how many things you may have missed over the years and what needs to be addressed.
We all know the basic things required to get a house ready for the market. In addition to decluttering, depersonalizing, and washing windows, there are other items that you may not have considered but they will make the sales process smoother and typically help you achieve a higher sales price.
The largest segment of buyers today are millennials. They want homes that are in move-in condition and are either new or feel like new. They don’t want to do repairs. They prefer neutral minimalism. So, if you’re a serious seller, get ready to be ready!
Here are some recommendations they don’t always tell you about preparing your house for sale. Some of these are best done by professionals but others can be DIY
- Paint the exterior of the house or power wash it
- Pump out the septic system (at least annually depending on home usage)
- Clean chimneys
- Clear gutters
- Remove dead branches and debris
- Seal or refinish driveway
- Keep cars inside the garage and trash cans out of sight
- Regrout tiles where necessary, especially in baths where mildew accumulates
- Change Air Conditioning filters & have A/C serviced
- Clear away old unused wires such as cable or phone lines
- Get rid of old wallpaper
- Clean or refinish floors
- Paint or touch up walls in neutral colors
- Discard old, worn, and heavy draperies and window dressings
- Touch up or paint dark colored cabinetry in lighter colors
- Clear food pantry of old items and reorganize to make more space
- Free up space in closets
- Pick up items or toys from floors and surfaces
- Wipe down surfaces for smudges and germs
- Clean kitchen and bathrooms so they sparkle
- Ensure all outlets and GFI’s are working
- Replace burned-out bulbs
- Remove too many wall hangings and objets d’art
- Depersonalize — buyers should focus on rooms sizes/layouts, not on personal items
- Donate or discard oversized furnishings that may dwarf the size of the room
- Stage a room (s) if necessary
- Secure an assumable Home Warranty. It’s an attractive incentive to the buyer.
- Update your survey. If you’ve been in the home for many years, you may want to ensure that the property boundaries have not changed. We learned that our neighbor’s new fence was encroaching about 2 feet into our property. This may be insignificant in a large property, but when you live in town, every inch counts.
- Check for liens on the property. Don’t assume your agent, lawyer or title searcher will do this. Years ago I was about to list a house and learned that it had a lien for $27 for a hospital bill! Not a big deal but that lien could have been for $100,000 and could have delayed or prevented a closing. Contractors are renowned for placing liens on homes if there is a dispute on payment.
- Clear Title. My sister went to close on a property only to learn that the Title company, as well as the agent, did not do a proper title search. The property was not in the same name as the listing. Her closing was held up over one year.
- Check to see if your flood or home insurance is assumable. This may help if you live in a flood zone as the rate may remain the same if a buyer can take over the policy.
- Know and be able to talk about how much you love your neighbors and neighborhood to your agent. After all, the first point of sale is the person who will represent you in the sale of your property.
- Have fresh flowers, soft music, and deodorize the house before meeting with agents and before showings.
While not every recommendation may apply to your circumstances, from experience, the more of these you do the better your chances of selling at a higher price, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least inconvenience to you and your family.
You’re going to have to address some of these issues anyway when they’re revealed at the inspection, so you might as well do them at your pace and on your terms without a buyer putting pressure on who to use and how much to spend.
Take charge, be in control and eliminate anything before it becomes an overwhelming task or insurmountable problem.
In addition to 24 years of experience as a broker dealing with clients on these issues, I bought, lived in, and sold seven homes, not including investment properties. Needless to say, I know how to prepare a house for sale.
Reach out if I can help you prepare or if I can answer any questions about the buying or selling process.