All home sellers want two things: for their homes to sell quickly and at or above the list price. But your home isn’t going to sell itself, and even with an excellent real estate agent, you’ll need to put in some work to give your sale a shot at success.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most important factors that will help you prepare your house for sale:
1. Depersonalize Your Decor
Once you’ve made the decision to sell, it helps to stop thinking of your home as “home”. The family photos on the walls, the construction paper artwork on the fridge, and even the kids’ heights marked on the door frame are obstacles for some buyers. They can’t see themselves in your home so long as they see so much of you in it.
For as long as you’ll be showing your home to prospective buyers, you need to keep these things out of sight.
2. Minimalize Your Home
Buyers like to see sparse, open spaces. It makes rooms appear larger and helps them envision their own things in another space. Clutter certainly must go, but you should ideally take things a bit further and pare your home down to the basics.
Temporarily renting a storage unit can be the key to managing all those things that you love but can live without for a few weeks. And it also presents an opportunity to have most of your things packed up neatly and ready to move when your house eventually sells.
3. Neutralize the Paint and Decorations
If you’re a fan of bright, bold colors, prepare for lots of painting. Flashy color schemes can be a major turnoff for buyers, so it’s recommended that you repaint your interiors in soft, neutral colors. Avoid stark white, though, as it too can come off as too harsh.
The same neutral color scheme should also be extended to window treatments, rugs and other large elements of your interior decor. When you reach the staging phase, you can liven things up just enough by using throw pillows and a few small accessories to add pops of color.
Even if you already have neutral colors throughout your home, adding an extra coat of paint can make a big difference in giving your walls a fresh, clean appearance.
CLEAN. Clean like you’ve never cleaned before, inside and out. Getting your whole home spick-and-span is important for two reasons: it sends the message to buyers that your home has always been impeccably kept (even if that’s not entirely true) and, like much of our advice, it’s another important element of sweeping buyers off their feet.
Unless you’re a natural neat freak, you’re going to want to go beyond your normal definition of “clean”. And for that reason, you might want to consider hiring professional house cleaners to make sure that you achieve perfection. Odors must be gone, windows must be spotless, carpets must be shampooed — the works.
If you’re still living in your home while you’re showing it, it’s also important to clean as you go in all your daily household activities. This is a big challenge that adds time to everything you do, but if you do it well, hopefully your home will sell quickly and you can get back to being as messy as you prefer to be.
5. Stage Your Home
When it comes to putting an image of “home” in the mind of a buyer, staging is the step that ties all of your preparations together. For the unfamiliar, home staging is the process of choosing and placing furniture and decor in a deliberate plan to make a home sell. And according to a study by the National Association of REALTORS, it makes a big difference — 29 percent of sellers reported an increase of one to five percent in offer value after staging, compared to similar unstaged homes. 21 percent reported an increase of six to ten percent in offer value.
Home staging is part art, part science — and learning how to stage a home effectively is harder than it looks. That’s why many sellers turn to professional home staging companies for assistance. How much does home staging cost? These services tend to hover around $500 to $600 per room, per month, according to Realtor.com. But when staging makes your home sell faster and for more money, it’s well worth it.
6. Get Protection for Your Appliances and Home Systems
Home buyers often have a keen eye for a leaky pipe or electrical issues. Protect your appliances and home systems while you sell with a home warranty from a company like Home Warranty of America. Home warranties are different from homeowners insurance because they protect against damage and breakdowns from normal wear and tear, and they cover things like plumbing, electrical work and major appliances. Ask your real estate agent about sellers coverage.
Home warranties send the message that a home has been well maintained, and because they’re transferable to new owners, they make a great bargaining chip to help close a sale.
7. Make Repairs
If it’s broke, fix it. Prospective buyers will notice all kinds of things, whether it’s a light fixture that doesn’t work or a tiny tear in the wallpaper. Go over your home with a fine toothed comb, making a list of everything that needs fixing and get those jobs done before you start welcoming walk-throughs. For major repairs, hire a pro. Anything you leave as-is will give leverage to buyers looking to give you a lower offer.
8. Remove and Replace Appliances and Fixtures
When you move out, you’ll take most things that aren’t nailed down — and maybe a few things that are. If there’s a part of your home that you don’t plan to part with, whether it’s a major appliance (which usually sells with the home) or a favorite fixture, remove it and replace it before you begin showing the house to buyers. If you wait until after you have an offer to claim it, the buyer may ask for a price reduction.
9. Review Your Home Like a Potential Buyer
When you think you’re done, take one final walkthrough, ideally with your real estate agent. Put yourself in the mindset of a buyer and look critically for problems — an untrimmed hedge, a smudge on the wall, whatever — and make a list of final corrections. You want buyers to see your home as perfect, and a meticulous final review is the cherry on top.
Preparing your home for sale is an enormous job, but it’s one that pays big dividends. Enjoy the cleaning, painting and staging while it lasts, then get ready to settle in to your new home!