What To Do Before Selling a House
Now that you have made the decision to sell your house, the hard work begins. No matter how much deliberation went into the decision, the effort is nothing compared to prepping your house for the actual sale. What you do before the for sale sign goes on your front lawn is as important as when it finally arrives.
This is why it is so important to make a list of things to do before selling a home and start as soon as possible. It will take some time to get your home ready for the market and the buyers that will hopefully come pouring through your door. Fortunately, if you do everything right, you should have a leg up on the competition.
Over the years numerous clients have asked me what things to tackle before selling their house. Here are my best tips for getting your home ready.
Ten things to do to help your home sell
Before putting your home up for sale get yourself organized and pay attention to what is important. Taking the time to prepare for a home sale is critical. For most people selling a home is one of their largest assets. When you take the necessary time to get it spruced up you will increase the odds that you will realize the maximum return possible.
1. Get your paperwork together
This may seem like a tedious first step, but it is surprisingly relevant. Whoever buys your house is going to be coming into a complex system designed for comfortable living. There is a lot that goes into a modern home, from HVAC systems, utility bills, plumbing systems, electrical systems and numerous appliances. Keeping it all up and running well is usually not too difficult if you know what has been done before and how it was done. If you don’t, though, it can be a real headache.
Buyers want to know about maintenance schedules, who you used to do the maintenance, what your utility bills have been throughout the year and anything else that pertains to the home. Not only does it show how the house functions, but it also makes it easier for the new owners to take over the reins. One helpful thing either you or the Realtor you hire could do is put together a real estate marketing booklet that not only shows off how you have maintained your home but also provides the buyer will other helpful info both on your home and the community.
2. Check on the little things
The longer you live in your home, the easier it is to get used to things as they are, even if the way they are is unappealing. Even if you are on an extremely tight budget, you should take a day and look around your home for the little things that are out of whack and easily fixed. Does your mailbox look beaten up and rusted out? Install a new one. Are your kitchen light fixtures from 1973? Consider changing them out for inexpensive modern versions. Try to see things as a buyer would and fix the things you can fix.
Even things like touch up painting can go a long way in making the buyer feel like they have less to do to get the property feeling like their home. I have compiled a list of things to do before putting a home up for sale that should be quite helpful in making the process go smoothly. These are simple home staging and preparation tips that will go a long way in making your home look fresh. Take a look!
3. Erase evidence of pets
Most real estate agents will tell you how it’s necessary to erase evidence of pets in the house. Preparation for selling a home with a pet is vital! You need to make it look like you never had a pet if at all possible. As pet owners, we all become accustomed to the smell and mess that our dogs or cats create.
New buyers will not have this immunity, though. They will smell the smells and notice the fur, stains, and wreckage left behind by your animal. Do whatever it takes to eliminate these signs, including shampooing or replacing carpet, repairing sod and fences and keeping the dog at a friend’s house during showings.
4. Clean up the landscaping
You do not have to be a professional landscaper to clean up your yard. Trim out dead branches and plants, cut the grass and pull weeds from where they do not belong. You can also plant some flowers and lay down some mulch if you want to go the extra mile. This is the first thing buyers see, so it’s worth fixing up.
Another nice touch is to have some potted flowers at your front entry. If you have a sprinkler system and are out of the cold weather season, get it up and operational. Not only do you want your grass looking healthy and green but it is a great feature to show off to a buyer seeking to purchase.
5. Make things less personal
It may seem weird at first to erase your personality from your home. Think about how customers will feel when looking at the property, though. Will they be able to see themselves living there, or is the “feel” of the place overwhelmed by your love of model cars, personal pictures, figurines or whatever else you love? Give them a clean slate to work with and they will be more likely to buy.
If you are the type of person that has a thousand family photos scattered throughout the house you need to cut back and make the rooms slightly less personalized. You need to go overboard, however, and remove all existence that you are part of a family like some home stagers will tell you to do. People don’t expect sterile anymore than they want to look at a ton of photos of your kids. It is, after all, a home not a house!
6. Gather estimates on repairs and replacements
Unless everything in your house is brand new, you can expect a bit of bargaining from buyers and their agents over the replacement of necessary components of your home. Anything that is aging or in need of repair will be on the table, including your HVAC system, appliances and any rooms that need serious renovating – such as the bathroom or kitchen. Getting your estimates on these costs will allow you to bargain more efficiently.
One of the most common home inspection items that can become a bone of contention is your roof. The roof is an area you will want to pay closer attention to. If your roof is getting up there in age, it may make sense to have your roof evaluated by a qualified roofer to see how much life you have left. It there is not much getting an estimate will be important, so you know what you are dealing with financially.
7. Remove the clutter
For most people, space invites clutter. Your garage, basement and perhaps even your bedrooms or living room all may be filled with clutter. One of the things almost any Realtor or home stager will tell you is to get rid of your clutter. Now is the time to go through it all and donate, sell or throw away. Anything left over should probably be taken to storage if possible. Keeping the home filled only with the essentials will make it seem bigger and provide visual room for buyers to fill with their things.
There are a couple of ways you can approach getting rid of your clutter. Some people like to do it themselves and just rent a large dumpster that they can toss it all into, and others would rather pay someone else to do it. If you don’t mind spending the dough, a company like 1-800-got-junk, will come over with one of their trucks and take it all away for you. A nationally recognized company like 1-800-got-junk is often more expensive that some of the lesser know local businesses. You might want to call around to shop price a bit.
There is no way around this one. No one intends to buy a dirty house. Whether you do the cleaning yourself or hire someone to do it – it needs to be done. Before listing your home for sale is the time for deep cleaning. The carpets, windows, floors, garage, basement, bathrooms, kitchen, yard and any other space or surface in your home, it all needs to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible.
If cleaning a home is not your thing then be sure to hire a professional. If you are looking for one of the bigger name companies Merry Maids is very well known. Again you might be able to save yourself a few bucks by hiring a local cleaner. A local real estate agent is always an excellent resource for both people to recommend for cleaning and junk removal. These are everyday things that most people do before selling a home, so Realtors are asked for help in this regard all the time.
9. Hide the kids
Children can do a substantial amount of damage to a home – something the buyer will probably be aware of. It is important to repair all the kid damage just like you do the pet damage. It is also a good idea to take the kids out of the house when you are showing it if you can. Even teenage children can be a distraction to a buyer if they are hanging around playing video games or even loud music. It sounds like common sense to make sure they are not around but believe it or not Realtors experience many sellers who do not think about these type of things.
While having kids around isn’t as bad as a seller who feels the need to follow a buyer around their property pointing out everything the customer could see with their own eyes, it is a close second.
10. Take pictures
When you have everything cleaned up and looking nice, break out the camera and take some photos for marketing purposes. Better yet, hire a Realtor that knows how to photograph homes. The better your pictures look, the more people will want to come and see the house in person. Pictures are fantastic tools to bring in buyers, but they need to be done well to work.
Even if you have gone to the trouble of doing all of these things before selling a home and for some reason you don’t end up listing at least you will have some good photos to provide your Realtor. One of the things that can be helpful for example is when you are selling a home in the Winter and provide a buyer with what the yard looks like in Spring and Summer when everything is in full bloom!
Outstanding photography makes the presentation of your home that much better. Quality photos also help the Realtor get their job of selling done easier.
More Home Selling Resources
- Tips to sell a home in any real estate market.
- Six great tips for selling your home fast and for top dollar via Forbes.
Use this advice before the sale of a home to increase the chances that you come out on top both financially and emotionally.
The above Real Estate information on ten things to do before selling a home was provided by Bill Gassett; a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.