So you've decided to sell your home, and like most people, you'd like to get the best price with the least amount of hassle. With thousands of people listing their homes daily, how do you stand out from the crowd? Here is a simple to follow list for prepping your home for sale that will surely set you apart from the crowd!
Step 1. Decide if selling your home is something you really want to do
When: 1 year before listing.
Before you begin searching for a real estate agent or picking out the color scheme for your new living room, you need to do some serious thinking. Make a list of all the reasons you have for selling your home, including any reasons your spouse or partner may have. Look at each reason on your list and rate how important it is to you.
Ask yourself some serious questions.
Why are you moving?
Was this your idea, or someone else's?
What will happen if you don't move?
What will happen if you do?
Do you have any major life events occurring in the next year? A wedding? Kids? Divorce? Surgery?
Perhaps you've been considering a career change?
These are all very serious matters that you will not want to pile on top of the stress that can come with selling your home. Dig deep for answers and take all the time you need, don't rush this step!
Step 2. Let go.
When: 1 year to 6 months before listing.
If you come to the conclusion that you are definitely ready to sell, you can begin "letting go" of your home. This simply means you should start viewing your home as just a house, a house that will belong to someone else, a house that will no longer be your home. This is the most important and most difficult task when it comes to prepping your home.
Walk through each room in your house and when you begin to feel those nostalgic feelings rise up, remind yourself those good memories were created by you and the people around you, not the house.
Everyone has fond memories that take place in certain homes they've lived in, but when they move the memories don't stop forming. Remind yourself that you will soon be making new memories in a new home.
Skipping this step can lead to problems when it comes time to show your house and eventually accepting an offer. Imagine someone walking into your home right this second and claiming it as theirs. Pretty uncomfortable right? This is not the feeling you want to have when it comes time to sell, so start letting go!
Step 3. Repairs.
When: 6 months before listing.
In order to get top price for your property all the appliances must be in good working order. If you know the furnace makes a horrible clunking noise in the winter, and the fridge isn't quite as cold as it should be, it's time to call a repair man. If it's an older house considering having the roof inspected. This is something any potential buyer is going to do anyways, and if the roof needs to be replaced they will most likely ask you to provide a new one. Since there really isn't a way around this, it's best to deal with it BEFORE you try to sell your house.
Step 4. Find an Agent.
When: 3 months before listing.
If you don't have a reliable agent already, start asking around with friends and family to see if they know someone.
Call 3 or 4 agents and make pre-listing appointments with them. A pre-listing appointment is a meeting that allows each agent to explain the services they offer, and also gives you a chance to interview them with any questions you may have.
Some home sellers prefer to speed this process up by holding group interviews with all the agents at once. I never recommend this method, as soft spoken agents may be over shadowed by agents with more boisterous personalities, and this could result in you choosing an agent that isn't the match you were looking for. Give each agent some one on one time so you can be sure to choose the one who will work best with you.
Step 5. Renovations.
When: 2 months before listing.
When you're sprucing up your house for sale it's important to ensure you will get a return on your investments. In other words, you want to ensure any renovations don't cost more than the value they add to your house.
For example, a $20,000 kitchen renovation may only add $5000 to the price of your home, leaving you with -$15,000.
Always consult with your agent before doing major renovations, but there are a few simple things you should always do before selling.
Paint each room in a fresh, neutral color. Bright, colorful rooms rarely help sell a house, and can actually be the sole reason a house sits on the market without any offers.
If you plan on taking things with you, such as drapes, light fixtures, wall socket plate covers, etc., take them down now and replace them with something cost effective. Doing this will prevent a possible buyer from "falling in love" with something you plan on taking with you.
Do some gardening! Curb appeal is very important, so stand in front of your house and consider what a stranger may think of it at first glance. Be sure the lawn is always mowed and clear of clutter, such as toys or an unraveled hose. Remove any unhealthy plants and trim bushes that are growing over the walkway to ensure a clear path. Flowers and mulch are inexpensive ways to add to the curb appeal of any house.
Remember, you're competing with other homes on the market, so make sure everything is tip-top!
Step 6. Declutter.
When: 1 month before listing.
Moving is a great time for getting rid of those things we have acquired over the years, but never found a use for.
Start in one room, any room, and begin making two piles. One will be for items you want to get rid of, the other for items you want to keep but don't use on a daily basis (books, for example).
Once you're done making your piles, pack up the stuff you plan on keeping and put the boxes in an out of the way place. The pile you plan on getting rid of can be given away, donated, or you can hold a great yard sale!
Do this in each room of your house until you're only left with the things you use on a daily basis.
Decluttering serves two purposes; First, it makes packing to move a lot easier, because you'll be getting most of it done early. Second, it will help prepare the home for future open houses your agent will be holding for you.
Step 7. Make it sparkle!
When: 1 week before listing.
It's time to clean! You want the house to be spick and span from floor to ceiling, and you want to keep it that way!
Remember, after listing your house your agent (and other agents) may call you at any time with a client who would like to see the house, and the last thing you want them to see is your dirty laundry strewn about.
Walk through the home like a potential buyer would, open cupboards and cabinets, poke around nooks and crannies, and seek out any hidden dirt and grime.
Be sure any outside areas, such as decks and patios, have been swept, hosed off, and cleared of old leaves and spider webs.
Step 8. Remove personal items.
When: Once the house has been listed.
The final step to prepping your home is to remove all personal objects, such as photos, drawings from children, and anything else that says "I live here".
When potential buyers tour your house they want to imagine themselves living there. Seeing photos of your friends and family, as lovely as they are, makes buyers feel as though they're in someone else's home, which makes it difficult to see the space as their home.
If you're still living in the house while it's being shown, NEVER leave out prescription medication, or any bills or paperwork with personal information on them. This is extremely important to remember, as many strangers will be walking around your house. Keep an overnight bag handy, and when an agent calls to do a showing put all your personal belongings in the bag and take it with you when you leave.
Your agent, and other showing agents, will do their very best to keep an eye on everyone who comes through your house, but they cannot guarantee your belongings will always be safe.
Well there you have it! Follow these 8 simple steps and your home will be prepped and ready to sell at top price!
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