Getting ready to sell your house? Then it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Selling a home, after all, entails a whole lot more than just planting a "For Sale" sign on your front lawn or uploading a few random photos of your place—especially if you’re angling for the most cash. (And, honestly, who isn’t?)
So before you put your house on the market, peruse this checklist of things you must do in preparation. Some of these tips are surprisingly easy, while others might require a bit more elbow grease. But they're bound to pay off once buyers start oohing and ahhing over your place—and hopefully ponying up a great offer.
Think you can sell your home yourself, and pocket the cash you would otherwise pay a real estate agent? It can be tempting, especially in a hot market, but resist the urge. Many have found that a "for sale by owner" transaction is almost always a disaster, leading you to sacrifice both money and time. Your real estate agent should be someone you feel comfortable working with, whom you trust to sell your house for top dollar. Don't be afraid to talk to a few real estate agents before picking one.
Yes, for better or worse, buyers do tend to judge a book by its cover. You want to make sure potential buyers' first impression of your home is a good one—and inspires them to stop by the open house or schedule a tour—so they can see more. By investing some effort in relatively easy fixes, like planting colorful flowers and repainting your front door, the outside of your house can beckon prospective buyers to come on in. If you're not sure how to improve your home's curb appeal, ask your real estate agent for advice on how others in your area have improved the exterior before selling their houses.
Less is definitely more when it comes to getting your house ready to show, notes Boris Sharapan Fabrikant, a real estate broker with Triplemint. Do a clean sweep of counters, windowsills, tables, and all other visible areas, and then tackle behind closed doors: closets, drawers, and cupboards—since virtually nothing is off-limits for curious buyers. If the house is overflowing with stuff, buyers might worry that the house won’t have ample space for their own belongings. They won't sign up to pay a mortgage if they think they'll also have to rent a storage space. Take your excess stuff and donate it, or pack it up to be stored off-site. Not only will clearing clutter help your house look more appealing to buyers, it will also help you once you've accepted an offer and it's time to move into a new home. Moving out will be easier if some of your stuff is already be packed.
The next step on your declutter list? Sellers should remove any distractions so the buyers can visualize themselves and their family living in the property. Sellers should remove personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make the home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which buyers can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.
You might love that orange accent wall, but if it’s your potential buyer’s least favorite color, that could be a turnoff. It's the seller's job to help buyers picture themselves in the house. If they don't feel at home, they'll probably look at other real estate options.
Even if you’re not doing a full-on repainting project, pay special attention to scrubbing and then touching up baseboards, walls, and doors to make the house sparkle and look cared-for. Selling almost any home can be tricky, but selling a home with lots of little problems and small repair needs can be downright difficult. When buyers walk into an open house, or go on a home tour, they want to fall in love with the house, not add a bunch of small repairs to their to-do list. In order to impress buyers (and sell your house quickly), fix up your house before putting it on the market. With a home that is fixed up and move-in ready, you will probably see more interest, and may even see multiple offers.
It's a small thing, sure, but you’d be surprised by the negative effect a loose handle or missing lightbulb can have on a buyer. It can make them stop and think ‘What else is broken here?’ For a buyer, submitting an offer, and later committing to a mortgage, is a big deal. When you're selling your home, you don't want to give any buyers doubt that your house will make a great home.
When staging your house, remember that green is good: Plants create a bright and more welcoming environment. You might also want to consider a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining table. Some plants and natural elements will impress buyers by bringing some extra color and life to your decor.
Getting ready to sell your house? Then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! Selling a home, after all, entails a whole lot more than just planting a “For Sale” sign on your front lawn or uploading a few random photos of your place—especially if you’re angling for the most cash. (And, honestly, who isn’t?)