22 Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for Sale
Home Selling Tips From A Home Inspector's Point of View:
So you have decided to sell your home; what's next? Home Staging can make a big difference when selling a home, and sometimes it's done with the help or suggestion of a professional. Some staging companies/consultants are very skilled and thorough, which is what's needed; but many times staging is just re-purposing furniture in the home and cleaning; and nobody looks further...until the house sits on the market for 60 days with no offers.
We recommend our clients to take a full, proactive approach in selling their home. If you can't separate yourself from the home (look at it through a buyers point of view), you should consider using a consultant. You want your home to sell faster and obtain the most out of your sale, you need to look at the entire home. That way you also eliminate many of the possible concerns that might slow viewings, purchase offers, or even a closing. We realize that not every homeowner has the ability take these steps; some just don’t want to alter their lifestyle for the sale, and there are circumstances (like foreclosure or illness) that might not permit this approach. But most of the time, almost every home on the market will benefit by using some, or all of the suggestions below.
To begin, we are big proponents of disclosure; so if something is not operating properly, repair it or make it known.
Tip #1: Never attempt to hide an ongoing concern like water damage or leaks: If the buyer or an inspector finds it during an inspection, they might wonder what else is being hidden. Repair the source of the problem first, then make proper repairs to walls/ceilings.
Staging (Hired or DIY):
Clean: A cleaner and more open feel is going to make the space look larger and more appealing to buyers; this includes all closets. Don’t forget to check where the walls meet the ceilings for spider webs and debris. And keep it clean during showings, buyers and agents are looking every hour, and you never know when they will request a showing.
Declutter: Remove many of the nick-knacks, personal items/photos. You want potential buyers to focus on the home. Some items are fine, but try to keep it simple and clean looking.
Remove extra furniture: Make sure rooms are purposeful and neat, and that it's easy to distinguish their intent; i.e. you don't want to have the dining room set up as a playroom for kids. It can give the idea that "there's no place else for the kids to play."
Repair damaged walls/ceilings and paint: Most times neutral/earthy and muted colors are attractive to buyers. Even if there is no damage to repair, if your home has too many rooms needing paint or very bold/unusual colors, it can deter buyers. Some people hate to paint, so they see the need for painting as an "expense". Paint is cheap if you can do it!
Clean the carpets: Especially if you can see wear patterns or have pets. It really doesn’t cost much; it eliminates a lot of odors and may save someone from asking for “new carpet”.
Clean the windows: Inside and outside, and make sure they all can operate - I see so many casement windows that are missing handles, or windows painted shut! If a window does not operate, try to repair, or tag it as such.
Clean the appliances: If any are broken get them repaired, get a new one, or give an allowance for a new appliance of the buyer’s choice.
Change the furnace filter: Dirty filters show lack of service and neglect. If you have an air exchanger clean that too!
Disclose renovations and updates: You will probably need to do some of this for the real estate disclosure, so why not make a list of all relevant updates, disclosing the contractor and dates of work. If something is recent, you might even provide a copy of the receipt.
Finish those half done projects. Don’t leave electrical wiring hanging, or unfinished tiling. Get those projects done.
Now that you've gone this far - Take it to the Next Level!
Clean the garage: Too many times people take all the extra items from the home and place them in the garage. Well, guess what; the buyers want to see the garage too! They want to see “how big” it really is and envision their items in there. Side Tip: If the walls are covered with drywall, take time to paint them. Have you ever noticed how much bigger an empty, bright white garage looks!
Service the heating, cooling and air exchange systems: If the systems are over 10 years old, or if they have not been serviced recently, have them reviewed by a reputable HVAC company. Repair as needed, and ask the company to include a general statement of the condition; then clearly post the receipt/comments near the heating system.
Look into the heat registers: Vacuum the heat and air return registers/grilles (especially in-floor type), and (if needed) have the ducts cleaned by a reputable company.
Check all smoke and CO detectors: Are they up-to-date and operating? If older than 8-10 years they should be replaced. Do you have CO detectors as required? They need to be within 10 feet of any sleeping room (more info is available at DETECTORS LINK).
Make sure all switches and light fixtures are operable: Have the brightest bulb that is allowed installed in the fixture. If you have any switches that control “unseen” items; clearly label them.
Review the Exterior: Make sure it is in reasonably good condition; and if not, make any necessary repairs.
Maintain the Landscaping: Have the trees/shrubs trimmed as needed, and make sure the grass is maintained. Haul away any piles of debris or rotten "firewood". Overgrown trees and shrubs = neglect and unwanted work for the buyer.
Remove any extra vehicles, boats, etc.: Store them off site; more space is a good thing for buyers to see.
Kennel pets: Or plan for a place to send pets when showing the home (or having an inspection): Most people like pets, but they don’t want a cat rubbing on them or a dog barking when visiting your home; and nobody wants to accidentally let a pet out of the home. Remember, if a pet is locked in a room, the buyer cannot view the area.
Keep the yard, kennel, or cages clean and free of animal waste: Remember families will come visit your home, and they will walk through the yard…and things (Eeyew!) can get tracked throughout your home!
Lastly, the “sensitive” and usually unmentioned suggestion: If you smoke; air-out the home. Also, it will be hard for you to judge any odors, so ask a non-smoker to give their opinion. Then make a conscious decision to smoke outside of the home (and that doesn’t mean “smoke in the garage"). Many people are sensitive to smoke and the truth is, they may not consider buying a home that has a strong odor of cigarettes or cigars.