Now that the holidays are over and we’re settling into another new year, you might be thinking about selling your home this spring – one of the busiest and best times to be a Seller! But with all that excitement comes a realization: there is a LOT of work that goes into getting your house ready to sell, and you should start now if you want to be ready for those early Buyers.
I’ve put together a Top 10 list of the most important actions to take before you put your home on the market, and to help you make it stand out amongst the other Sellers in your area who, let’s face it, are your competition! Let’s get started:
1. Consult a REALTOR®
This isn’t the #1 piece of advice I’m giving you just because I happen to be a REALTOR®. Most agents will tell you that it’s best to consult with a professional before you’re ready to put your house up for sale. It’s even smarter to have a list of “To Do” items prepared by your agent specifically for you, based on the condition of your home compared to others in the neighborhood.
2. Stop Thinking Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer
Take a look at other homes in your neighborhood that are for sale and try to objectively compare yours to theirs. Good Buyer Agents will be pointing out any pluses or minuses between your house and the competition, and you should know what those are. TIP: ask your Agent to show you these homes in person so you can see things first-hand. That way you’ll really know your competition, and how best to showcase your home against theirs.
3. Embrace the Urge to Purge
Now is the time to sort through the clutter in your house, garage, attic, closets, under the beds – you name it. Take the opportunity now to get rid of things you haven’t seen or used in 6 months or more. We have lots of charities in Houston that would be thrilled to take in your donated items, and they’re usually tax deductible. Win-win!
4. Finish up, Touch up, Brush up
If you’ve got unfinished projects like hanging up a ceiling fan where the old light fixture used to be, or fixing a fence post that was broken after some backyard flag football, go ahead and fix it now.
As for paint, if yours is generally neutral and in good shape (no peeling or cracking), it can be touched up. However, if you’re a colorful person with walls and carpet to match, do what you can to convert that turquoise accent wall to a less impactful color. It won’t make the house more valuable, but it will make the house more sellable. And that’s the goal, right?
5. Update your Light Fixtures
If you have updated fixtures, great – make sure there are fresh light bulbs in each fixture and you’re good to go. But if you haven’t updated them, or if they’re mis-matched (some old, some new, some work, some don’t) go ahead and change out the fixtures to something updated, but suitable to the style of the home. (This doesn’t apply to antique fixtures, of course. You should, however, ensure that all of the antique fixtures are working if they are meant to be working and not just for decoration.)
6. Make the Hardwood Floors Shine
Some hardwood floors may need professional attention, but you should start with a good cleaning/restoring conditioner found at a local hardware store. TIP: if you’re planning to re-stain or refinish your hardwoods, do it after your painting is complete!
7. Bathroom Stuff
Arguably the most used room in the house, and hardest to keep tidy for visitors. Make sure your bathrooms look like mini-spas. Fresh towels, matching shower curtain, clean showers and tubs, shining mirrors – you get the idea. Take a look at the caulking around your tub and sink, too, and apply a fresh seal if needed. Consider new faucets, shower heads, toilet seats and light fixtures if they’re dated or in need of repair.
8. Focus on the Heart of the Home – the Kitchen
Only rarely is a complete remodel the best option. Before you commit to spending big bucks, start with an examination of your existing appliances, clean out the fridge, and eliminate unnecessary items on the counters and in the cabinets. Clean off the stove and range, and make sure there’s no food splashed on the cupboards and floor boards. Scrub the grout, and make sure the stainless steel is spotless. A light, bright, clean kitchen is critical to your home showing well.
9. Check out your Curb Appeal
Generally the first picture a potential Buyer sees is the outside of your home. Make sure the paint is in good condition, and the yard is tidy. You don’t need to go all-out, but the outside of your home is the first indication to a Buyer of whether the home is well-maintained and worth your asking price. Make sure it looks the part from the first impression.
10. Prepare for Photos
Everything on this list so far should help you to prepare your home to be photographed and marketed online. The single most important tip I give Sellers is, “Clear the clutter!” We sometimes think more decoration is better, but that’s not true in most cases. It’s helpful to have furniture staged in the home to help Buyers envision their new home “put together.” It’s not at all helpful to have so much stuff that Buyers can’t envision their own lives fitting into a room filled with furniture, knick-knacks, toys, or sports memorabilia. Clear the clutter so they can “see” their new home.
I know this seems like a lot to do! I understand how daunting it can be to even get started. But, as they say, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Start with the outside, and work your way in. Or, start with just one room and tackle them one after the other. If you keep at it, you can do it. And I’ll be here to help when you’re ready to list. Contact us for a free Comparative Market Analysis of your home.
See you around town!