Selling your house isn’t a decision you make overnight. So it stands to reason that getting it ready to sell shouldn’t be left until the last minute either. After all, houses that show well will sell more quickly and at a higher price than those that aren’t maintained. Here are some tips for getting your house ready for the market this spring.
Make a Budget – There is always something to repair or fix in a home. And over the years, the rooms become outdated as decorating trends and tastes change. But before you begin to replace the roof or remodel the bathroom, take a look at your budget. What can you afford to do that will give you a decent return on investment? Spending $20,000 on a kitchen remodel won’t net you the same on the sale. But a simple coat of paint can add thousands to the sale price.
Hire a Home Inspector – Yes, this is what your buyer will do, but what better way to avoid surprises than to hire an inspector yourself? You are not an expert in foundations, wiring or air circulation. And while some problems, like a sunken driveway, are obvious, an inspector is trained to see all the defects you’ve lived with. Yes, it’s annoying that the light switch for the porch no longer operates correctly, but it may be a symptom of a more serious problem, like faulty wiring. This isn’t an issue you want to arise after the contract has been signed.
Pare Down, Pack Up – Buyers want square footage, not the doll collection in your spare bedroom. De-cluttering doesn’t cost any money, and gives you a large return from a minimal investment. So pare down (do you really want to pay the movers to take all this clutter to your new home?), and begin packing. Your closets will look bigger, as will the rooms. This will appeal to potential buyers.
Pay Attention to Curb Appeal – The first image buyers have of your home is the exterior. Some will see it driving by, some in a photo. Either way, they will make a decision within a few seconds of whether or not they want to see the inside also. So spend some time sprucing it up. Paint it, if necessary. Sometimes a splash of color on the front door will make all the difference. Pay close attention to the entryway. Your visitors will be standing on the front porch with their real estate agent while the door is being unlocked. Will they see cobwebs or a new welcome mat?
Make the Interior Inviting – Once inside, buyers will instinctively know if your house is one they want to live in. It should be bright and clean. This means lamps on, draperies open and floors and countertops scrubbed until they sparkle. You may argue that they are buying the house, not the image. However, if they see surfaces covered with dust and piles of boxes in corners, they will wonder what hidden deficiencies lie behind the obstacles. Make it easy for them to make a decision.
Hire a Realtor – Don’t try to go it on your own. Having a professional sell your home will not only get you a fair market value, it will also save you from heartache. A real estate agent has the outlets for marketing your home to buyers and other agents, which will get it sold more quickly. An agent also knows the details of a valid contract. You don’t want to find out at closing that because you neglected to exclude your grandmother’s crystal chandelier in the dining room, it has to stay with the house.
Compare Prices in the Neighborhood – Before you put your house on the market, see what other homes in the area are selling for. Then compare them with yours. Do they have the same number of bedrooms? What is the size of the lot? Is the yard fenced? Do the comps all have hardwood floors while yours is carpeted? A real estate agent can help pull these comps for you and suggest a fair listing price.
What Can You Afford? – It goes without saying that once you sell your house, you will need a new one. Perhaps you decide to rent, but most likely, you will purchase another home. But before you can start looking, you need to know what you can afford. Your real estate agent can tell you what your house can sell for, but you’ll need to talk to a mortgage originator to see what you can afford. You’ll also need to be pre-approved before you can make an offer on a home.
Selling your house can be stressful. No matter how long you’ve lived there, you have an emotional attachment to the home. It’s difficult stepping back and facing the process objectively. But with the right team in place, the move will be a smooth transition to your new dwelling.