When I meet with most homeowners who are considering selling their home, we always take some time to discuss the important steps that are needed to prepare the home for sale. Just like you wouldn’t leave your home for work without a shower, preparing the home is absolutely critical to ensuring the home sells quickly and for the highest return. Best of all, most of the project are extremely easy and can be accomplished in a weekend. Here are the areas in which to focus:
Curb Appeal is everything. It’s your home’s first impression to a prospective buyer the front of your home will normally serve as a hero photo for your listing. First, stand in the front yard of your home and carefully examine your home with a critical eye from top to bottom. Examine the soffits, garage doors, front door and columns for signs of wood rot or water damage. This would be the best time to address these items. If your gutters are full to overflowing from last fall’s leaves, get them cleaned out. I like adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door and around the entry way since buyer’s will spend some time here while their agent is fiddling with the lockbox attempting to enter your home. Also, if door hardware is losing its finish, it’s time to replace them. The same would go for your house numbers. If they’re looking rough, it may be worth investing in a new set or spray painting and reinstalling the ones you have (same goes for the mailbox).
Also, cleaning the windows inside and out (especially around the window frames) can have a big impact on curb appeal. We ask homeowners to leave the window screens off after cleaning for our photos because window screens tend the make the windows appear dark and uninviting.
How is the driveway looking? It may be worth investing some time or money in having someone come and pressure wash the driveway – especially if it’s discolored or stained. The lawn shouldn’t be overlooked here. This time of year, when the grass is coming out of it’s winter dormancy, adding fertilizer, lime, and water to the lawn will perk it right up. However, if your green thumb is brown, consider hiring a service to do this for you. Also, consider adding some color to your landscape with perennials along with fresh mulch and pine straw. It will take some a few weeks for the lime and fertilizer to have it’s full impact (this can be aided by aerating the lawn before applying) however the results will be significant and will pay dividends.
Pre-packing is the easiest weekend activity you can undertake. This doesn’t have to be a large scale endeavor, rather a mere thinning of items that are not used regularly. Examples of this would include out-of-season clothing, books, that George Foreman Grill that you purchased at 2am and have yet to use, extra linens, etc. If you have closets that attack you upon opening, those should be thinned and pre-packed. Items can be stored in a garage or a spare bedroom, labeled and ready for your move once your home sells.
If it’s Broke, Fix it
It should go without saying to repair the broken items that you’ve been living with in your house before you put it up for sale. An example would be the faucet that you turn on and off with locking pliers instead of the missing knob or the burned out florescent bulb in your walk-in closet. If the buyer doesn’t uncover the issue, their inspector will and it could become a big deal. I always recommend that Seller’s consider hiring a home inspector to perform a buyer’s inspection so that they can see what a buyer would see. Then, it’s just a matter of addressing the items listed in order of importance on your schedule and budget instead of a tight timeline before closing. Often, items like foggy windows can be replaced inexpensively under warranty provided you have the time to wait for the parts to arrive.
Additionally, having an inspection, with a list of the completed repairs can become a marketing piece for your property.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
Kitchen and Baths are the most important rooms in the house as far as return on your investment. If your home is newer (within the last 10 years), there’s little that may need to be done aside from cleaning. You can breathe new life into older kitchens and baths by adding a fresh coat of paint to the cabinetry. This trend started about 5 years back and it’s a smart way to update any space without replacing cabinetry. Not every home needs painted kitchen cabinets so take a walk on your favorite real estate website through nearby listings to see how your kitchen compares to what’s under contract or sold recently. Preparation and the right materials are everything so take your time, sand, and use enamel paint with a quality brush. White and Dove Gray are two very popular colors however there are new color trends emerging almost daily. My rule of thumb is, if the kitchen is smaller, the lighter the better.
Also, if you have dated or broken appliances, it would be worth ordering a new set and having them installed. Set is the keyword. If your kitchen has black appliances, go all black. White – all white (and higher end white appliances are back on trend) and so on. Solid surface counters like granite seem to be universal at just about every price point and it can be a sticking point for a buyer, as many do not know how to have granite installed or the cost. It’s truly one where the perceived benefit is higher than the actual cost.
Clean the Carpets & Touch Up the Paint
Carpet has a limited lifespan, which is lessened further with a poor quality pad or poor maintenance. I have two dogs plus a child so my carpets and area rugs take a beating – especially on rainy days. Since we’re going for your home to look it’s very best, consider cleaning your carpets prior to the home being photographed and listed for sale. A decade or so back, I would tell owners that carpet that it’s okay to simply vacuous before photos as the camera wouldn’t pick up stains etc. Not so any longer. Today’s high res photos can capture every imperfection, which can be disconcerting. Therefore, have the carpets steam cleaned so that they look fresh and run a vacuum over the carpet just before the photos are taken.
Also, don’t forget to wipe off baseboards which can become dirty overtime and touch-up the paint were needed. Again, back with the kid and dogs, the areas that I find that are the dirtiest are around entry doors and the bathroom. Pay attention to clean these areas to remove additional grime build-up and paint if necessary.
Update Dated Fixtures
Yes, brass is back but your builder-grade brass and glass light fixtures are still not on trend. Upgrading the lighting in your home is one of the easiest improvements for someone slightly handy. You really can’t go wrong selecting light fixtures however stay away from the half-round light fixtures that are usually sold in a multi-pack. They’re better than keeping the dated builder-grade fixtures but there are so many better options available.