How to Prepare Your Home for Sale — Home Selling Tips

Preparing Your Home for Sale
Just when everything seems right with your home, something happens and you have to sell and move. No matter what your reasons are for selling, now is not the time to procrastinate, the process of preparing a home for sale can take a month or more.

Here are some tips that will help you get your house ready to sell for top dollar:

Top 10 Mistakes in Preparing Your Home for Sale


Preparing Your Home's Main Selling Rooms

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Preparing Your Home for Sale (continued)

1. Take a Fresh Look at Your Home
Your home may look great to you, but prospective buyers may see things differently, since they and their family may have different needs and wants—so take fresh look at your home. Hop in your car, drive around the block, and then scrutinize your home as a prospective buyer will see it for the first time.

  • First—consider what's called "curb appeal." Does your home need washing or painting? Does the driveway need to be cleaned or repaired? Is the landscaping in good shape? Is the lawn freshly mowed. Are the sidewalks and curb edged and clean? Are there bicycles, toys, and lawn equipment lying around? Remember, be very critical; your buyers will be.
  • Next—the view from the front door. Pull into the driveway and take a good hard look. How does your lawn look from this vantage point? How about the view from the front door? Since the buyers will be at your front door for a few minutes while the agents opens the door, what will they see? Are there spider webs all over. Is the porch clean? How about that door, is it freshly painted? Is the lock easy to open, or does it need to be oiled in the worst way. How about that welcome mat; should you sweep it off, or is it time for a new one?
  • Then—make a mental note of the things that might put off potential buyers, along with another list of the things that you like about the home and community. The things that you like can be used by your agent to help market the home more effectively. Remember, the home has become a great place for you, but a new buyer will see things differently. Let’s be sure to point out all of the hidden gems. Things like the great schools, parks, and other things that make living in your home great need to be pointed out to the prospective buyers.

2. Clean Out the Clutter
Before putting your home on the market, get rid of clutter in every area—closets, attic storage, kitchen cabinets, drawers, bath vanities, shelves, the garage—everywhere. Remember, this is no time to be sentimental: if you don't use it, lose it. Potential buyers are seriously put off by clutter, and most of us drag a lot more things through life than we really need.

Also, don't forget the furniture and fixtures when getting rid of clutter—most of us put too much in too little space, which makes a buying prospect think your home is too small. Then, have a great big moving sale with all the stuff you've collected. You can use the proceeds for paint or whatever other materials you need for repair projects. If you just can't bear to part with some possessions, store them in a rental storage unit, the attic, or some other place that's out of sight of the potential buyer.

3. To Sell, Sell, Sell—Clean, Clean, Clean
After you've cleared out the clutter, it's time to really clean. Have the carpets professionally cleaned, polish the floors, scour the bathrooms, go through the laundry room, polish the furniture, clean and polish the kitchen cabinets and appliances, wash the windows and window coverings, and dust those ceiling fans too. Don't forget the front door, it's one of the first and most important impressions your buyer will receive. In short, clean everything. Don't forget the exterior; paint or power-wash everything that needs the work. Remember, this is a ceiling-to-floor, roof-to-foundation clean-up project.

4. Get More for Your Home—Repairs Pay Off
After you have cleaned the place to within an inch of its life, next is making all the repairs necessary to attract a buyer.
front door pictureSo, fix the leaky roof, touch up all the paint, repair the screens, spruce up the porch, and make your entry area shine. Don't forget to oil that sticky lock on the front door.
staging the front doorOutside—don't forget to water the lawn and landscape beds, and take the time to trim, mow, edge and get rid of sick or dying plants. Painting the front door and a brand new welcome mat can pay off big.

Inside—fix the grout in the bathrooms and on tile floors, adjust doors so that they operate properly, fix scratches on the walls, remove stains were possible, and be sure to fix any plumbing problems. Remember, do what your home needs before the first buyer arrives at your sparkling front door.

It's a good idea to get all this done before meeting with the real estate broker for the listing meeting—a good agent will advise you of any final touches you may want to consider before putting the home on the market. If you have friends willing to be brutally honest about what your home needs to sell, invite them to assess what needs attention.

Price cures all—there is, however, an alternative to the sweat equity you get from a total fix-up—but it carries a price. An "as-is" sale keeps you from doing all this work, but a buyer may assess more than the price you would have paid for the repairs. The buyer may deduct that amount from your asking price before making an offer.

5. Putting Your Home on the Market—Show It to Sell It
Before you show your home, you should always think of safety first. Your broker will go over some safety measures to consider, but your local police department should always be consulted before letting anyone you don’t know into your home. One thing you can do right now—get those valuables secured. Jewelry and other valuables should be put in a secure place before showing your home.

After you have cleaned, shined, mowed, and generally whipped your property into shape, it's time to attract a buyer.

Regardless of who markets your home, you or a broker, there are other, small things you must do to attract buyers. For example, even if it's bright daylight, open the blinds and turn on the lights. Also, open all the interior doors to make the home appear roomier. Be sure to remove all your kids and pets—they're cute, but a prospect wants to see your home, not your pride and joy. In addition, make sure your pet's litter box is clean so the home smells clean and fresh, not like air freshener. Remember, you need to make sure your home is available to be seen by a prospective buyer with as little notice as possible. That means less than an hour, even less, if possible.

6. Pricing Your Home Correctly
Before you put your home on the market, take a weekend day to check out the competition—similar homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood is a great place to start. Your broker will ensure that your home is priced correctly for you.

Remember, you don't have to go out and buy new furniture just to look like that beautiful new model in the new development—what you want is the feel of that new model—clean, uncluttered, and fresh.

Remember, after location, the most important thing to a buyer is a well maintained home. Many flaws can be overlooked if the buyer knows they can move in without a lot of trouble and expense.

7. Plan Your Move
With all that hard work and effort you will surely be on your way to a quick sale. While you're waiting for that first offer, don't forget to plan for your move.