Guide to Set up Your Home for Sale
As with any project, selling a home is easier if you’ve got a solid plan and a bit of professional help. To make the process as smooth as possible, you’ll want to start by making a list of needed projects and involving a real estate agent.
Your first step in preparing your home for sale is to create an overall list of things to do. This consumer guide can help, but you would also do well to consult with an experienced real estate agent who regularly handles properties in your neighborhood. If you are still trying to decide which real estate agent to list your home with, creating a things-to-do list is a good get-to-know-you exercise that will tell you a great deal about a real estate agent’s experience and how comfortable you are working with him or her. Preparing a list will also help should you decide to sell your home on your own, since you will still need to fix up prior to putting it on the market.
Though it’s certainly possible to prepare your home for sale on your own, involving a real estate agent as you make your list can be more helpful than you might think. First, an agent experienced in working with homes in your neighborhood is the most qualified person to tell you how your home will be perceived by potential buyers who shop in your market. For instance, an experienced real estate agent can tell you whether the kitchen needs painting or needs a new floor or new countertrops. Second, a real estate agent is objective and will see your home through the eyes of an outsider, just as potential buyers will. Home sale preparation is a bit tricky for those who’ve been living in the house. Things that look perfectly fine to you because you’ve been looking at them for years and years may stand out as needing attention in the eyes of an objective observer.
Taking Objective Advice When Selling a Home
While real estate agents can be great resources, they are nearly useless if you make it clear that you don’t want any bad news. We all become quite emotionally attached to our homes. In many ways, our home is an extension of ourselves, and it is difficult to have someone tell us that the shade of paint we picked out for the den is a liability in selling the house. We are bound to be a little hurt and will often respond by, in effect, shooting the messenger.
Instead, we should make a decision up front: Do we want good advice or do we want to hear only what makes us feel good? Just hearing what makes us feel good can be expensive when the final sale price for your home is determined. Selling a house that doesn’t show well can be a real nightmare, but since a realtor does not want to lose a listing, if we make it clear that we don’t want to hear anything critical about our home, he or she won’t offer such information.
Making Your Home Sale Preparation List
You’ve found an experienced local real estate agent, and you’ve made it clear in voice and action that you want a clear analysis of what needs to be done to prepare your home for sale. Together you can systematically develop a list of what will need to be done and why. Your real estate agent can help with the details and give you sound advice on how far to go with each project without spending money that you won’t get back.
Stand outside your home and compare it to your neighbours’ properties. If you do this and it makes you feel slightly mortified, it’s likely that you’ve already failed to impress your potential buyers.
Ask yourself :
- When was the last time I mowed the lawn?
- Have I ever cleaned those gutters out?
- Could those window frames use some fresh paint?
- Were those paving slabs always that uneven?
- Don’t those children’s toys have somewhere to be?
Those gorgeous photographs of your daughter, husband, wife, nephew, best friend, cat and so forth that line the hallway and stairwell? Take them down. All of them. The ones in the bedroom too, and the living room, and everywhere else in the house. Don’t forget the cute finger painting your three year old made you for your birthday last year that’s still stuck on the fridge.
Your buyers don’t want to see the lovely life you’ve made for yourself in your beautiful home. They want to imagine the lovely life they could make for themselves in their beautiful potential new home. Don’t allow anything to clutter that vision.
Clean! Clean as though your life depended on it. We’re not talking about a quick once-over. Serious attention to detail is necessary here.
- Dust the skirting boards (if you don’t know what a skirting board is, yours probably really need dusting)
- Clean the windows (inside and out) and then polish them for extra shine
- Dust light fixtures and furniture
- Vacuum like there’s no tomorrow
- Polish taps and mirrors
- Clean out the refrigerator and (deodorise it by a placing an open box of baking soda inside it to soak up dours and wiping down the inside surfaces with vanilla extract)
Repair, restore, revamp
The devil is in the details, and the sale of your home could be hampered by simple little things that you’ve stopped paying attention to. Try to look at your home from the perspective of your buyer, and think about the details that would impress or dismay you if you were in their position. Then take care of those details immediately.
- Replace broken light bulbs
- Fix leaky taps
- Fix doors and drawers that don’t open or close properly
- Repair cracks in the walls
- Touch up paint and repaint altogether where necessary (in a neutral color)
- Replace cushion covers, bedspreads and curtains that are worn or have garish colours and patterns
Let there be light
Lots of natural light usually tops the list of things people are looking for in a home. This is great news if you own a home on a barren cliff top with ceiling-to-floor glass facing the afternoon sun, but that’s not always on the cards, is it?
Fortunately, there are other ways to maximize the light in your house – natural or otherwise – and give the impression of having plenty of bright, airy space.
- Replace dim light bulbs with higher wattage
- Don’t just pull open those heavy, dark curtains – pull them down altogether
- In areas of your house that are particularly dark, install some extra light fixtures
- Prune any trees or vines that are casting shadows inside the house
Speaking of clutter
Get rid of it. If you’ve accumulated a lot of bits and pieces over the years (and you definitely have), now’s the time to either a) throw them out, b) give them to charity or c) find proper, neat places for them in a closet or cupboard. You might even consider having a garage sale to purge your house of all that unnecessary ‘stuff’. Do whatever you need to so that your buyers never have to lock eyes on it.
Pay specific attention to :
- Books, CDs and DVDs
- Ornaments and knick-knacks
- Kitchen tools and appliances that currently live on the counters
- Potted plants
- Posters on your children’s bedroom walls
Another idea many sellers have embraced is renting storage space to temporarily keep any extra furniture that could be making their house feel crowded. Be radical – remove half the furniture in your living room and see how spacious, sleek and light it looks and feels without it. As a general guide, there should be enough space for people to move around the room unhindered, and enough furniture to convey the room’s purpose.
Presumably your estate agent knows what she’s doing and has sold some houses before. Why not leave her to get on with it?
No offence, but prospective buyers don’t really want you hovering over them while they’re trying to nose around in your wardrobe and pass judgment on your crockery. It’s a bit off-putting. If they feel awkward, they’re much less likely to linger in your home and get the full impact of how great it is and how they’d very much like to buy it.
Control your pets
No buyer wants to be greeted at the door by your charming King Charles Spaniel. Or any other breed of dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig and so on. If possible, remove pets altogether when you’re showing your property. Ask a friend or family member to take them off your hands for awhile. This brings us to our next point.