Even with a hot market like today, there are still necessary things a home seller must do in order to get their home ready for sale.  Why?  Because buyers are looking for move in ready homes.  If a home seller wants top dollar, it’s imperative to follow this simple advice.

  1.  Fresh, Neutral Paint.  This is probably the number one thing a homeowner can do to help prepare their home for market.  A change of paint colors to a neutral gray or beige color can have a huge impact on the sale of your home.  It’s probably the simplest thing to do as well but a lot of homeowners don’t want to take the time or spend the money.  To their surprise, something as seemingly insignificant as a red dining room or pink kid’s room can easily turn a buyer off.  A fresh, neutral palette also allows a home buyer to focus on the features of the home without being distracted.
  2. New Carpet.  It seems so simple, right?  Yet, surprisingly we find that old, worn out carpet can turn a buyer off just as quickly as loud paint colors.  Combine the two and you’re almost certainly not going to find your home buyer.  We recommend replacing carpet that is older than 5 years and in certain cases, carpet that is less than 5 years if there has been heavy wear and tear on it, like from kids or pets, or if it is any color other than neutral (I’ve often wondered why they even offer carpet in green?).  We’ve all seen 10-year-old carpet that looks great, but the one place that always reveals its age and that no one can clean, are the edges where it meets the baseboards.  Even well cared for carpet will be dark at the edges and no home buyer wants to inherit that with their new home.
  3. Clean.  You’re probably asking yourself, who doesn’t clean their home before putting it on the market?  You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen.  It goes beyond the basics of vacuuming and dusting.  We’re talking about deep cleaning.  Clean the carpets, the baseboards, the cobwebs from the corners, the dust collected on top of the ceiling fans and everywhere in between.  You want it to be spotless.  Trust us when we say, it can never be too clean.
  4. Refresh Your Landscape.  Let’s face it, a buyer can make up their mind about your home before they’ve even set foot inside. Don’t let your lack of curb appeal turn them off.  Fresh mulch, a manicured lawn, pressure washed driveway and exterior, cleaned windows, freshly painted shutters and a new front door are just some of the things to consider when preparing your home for sale.  Adding pops of color with some flowers around the mailbox and front door can go a long way as well.
  5. Make Obvious Repairs. We suggest that you walk around your home and take a close look at the siding and trim to look for any soft wood that needs to be replaced.  If you can see it, so can a potential buyer.  There are always some repairs that a homeowner knows about, but doesn’t get around to repairing for one reason or another.  Now is the time.  Repair anything you know is broken or not working like it should be.  Home inspections are the number one reason contracts fall apart.  The more you can do to prevent it, the better off you are as typically the next offer is lower than your first. Hire a professional to inspect your crawl space and roof specifically, since those are two places most homeowners do not venture into on a regular basis.
  6.  Declutter.  In order for a buyer to see the true beauty and value of your home, they cannot be distracted by your “stuff”.  Rent a storage pod if needed, but get it out of there!  Make sure you can see plenty of wall space in every room and nothing is in front of a doorway when you enter the room.  Clear off countertops (kitchens and baths) and the tops of your furniture pieces so that there are only a few items on them and no more.  Put away personal photos and any special collections you have (shot glasses, nutcrackers, postage stamps, rock posters, etc).  Clear off the top of your refrigerator and take down anything on the front of it or the sides.  Empty bookshelves completely except for a few books and a few decorative items. Invest in baskets to hide clutter in closets.  Better yet, just start packing things away.  You’re planning to move anyway, right?
  7. Hire a Realtor.  You may be asking, what does this have to do with prepping my home for sale?  If you hire the right Realtor, it will have everything to do with prepping your home for sale because a Realtor can advise you in more detail on any changes, improvements or repairs that you may need to do before putting your home on the market.  We see a ton of homes and therefore know what a buyer is looking for and what your home will be compared to.  Even if you’ve sold more than 5 homes in your life, we promise the right professional has sold and seen more and will always be able to add value here.  We’ll help you know what to do and what not to do before your home goes on the market.

It’s always imperative to get your home 100% ready for the market rather than putting it on the market and then later trying to do improvements.  The first two weeks of being on the market are the most critical.  If you rush and put your home on the market before prepping it the way you should, you’ll end up regretting it and most likely end up taking a lower price than you had hoped for.  Do the work first and you’ll reap the rewards with a quicker sale and higher sales price.

Want to know what your home is worth?  Get your free estimate here.

-by Samara Presley, licensed Realtor at Smart Choice Realty