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Preparing to Sell

Getting your House Ready... Preparing to Sell

Part of your decision to sell your home should include questions on how to prepare your home to sell. How much money should you invest in preparing the home to sell? What items should be addressed in order for the home to “sparkle” and attract a buyer?

Before you go off and spend tons of money renovating the home, there are a few low cost items that can be addressed. Have you ever noticed that when conversing with real estate agents, they will refer to home purchase as a "home?" Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a "house." There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove emotion from the equation.
You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity; simply put as property or real estate. The home seller’s goal is to get potential buyers to see the property as their potential home, not yours. Although this is the hardest step emotionally, the first step in getting your home ready to sell is to "de-personalize" it.
De-personalize the House
It will be difficult for a homebuyer to view the home as their potential new home if the walls are covered with family photos. Putting away knick-knacks, family photos and souvenirs can help clear the buyers mind allowing them to envision their own family photos on the wall. A good suggestion is to wrap them and put them in a box, just think about it you will be packing up the whole house once it sells anyway so why not get a head start. Renting a storage unit or finding space in a family member’s basement to store the box will help keep the home clear of clutter.
Clean and Remove Clutter, Room by Room

Again, this can be difficult since many people are very attached to their stuff. After many years of living in a house, clutter can collect where the home owner may not even notice it. The less stuff you have the bigger and brighter a room will appear. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but no matter how neat the stacks of mail are, they are still clutter. Kitchen countertops should be cleared off, closets and garages should be organized. This is also a great time to get rid of, or pack away excess furniture. Go room by room, take a step back and pretend you a homebuyer. Make sure to clean each room as you de-clutter. Now that the shelves are empty you will be able to see more duct than before so don’t forget to clean those areas. It may be helpful to hire a professional cleaner to come in prior to and periodically during the home selling process.


Preparing to Sell - Fixing Up the House Interior

Take the time to walk through your home and make note of any areas that may need repair, or may have simply caught your eye for one reason or another. Your goal is simply to have as few negative impressions upon those who may want to purchase your property. When a homebuyer is interested in a home they will probably come back and view the home a few times so even though something may have been missed the first viewing it may not be missed the second time around.
Plumbing and Fixtures
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If this cannot be accomplished by cleaning, buy new ones where needed. Make sure all the water knobs are easy to turn and that the faucets do not leak. Replacing a faucet can be fairly inexpensive and in some cases a leak may be able to be fixed by simply changing a washer in the faucet. Repair any toilets that run when flushed. Believe it or not homebuyers tend to “test out the plumbing” by flushing the toilet.
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
Painting can be your best investment when selling your home. It is not a very expensive operation and often you can do it yourself.  If necessary, repaint dingy or faded walls. Consider painting bold colored walls with a more subtle color. Off-whites tend to help the room appear bright and spacious. Check ceilings and walls for cracks, repair where needed. Wax any natural wood work. Check all the ceilings for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. Of course, if you do have a leak, you will have to get it repaired, whether it is a plumbing problem or the roof leaks as this is something that may need to be disclosed to the buyer.
Carpet and Flooring
Having your carpets professionally cleaned may do the trick, if your carpet is still in good condition or is not outdated. Should you choose to replace the carpet do so with something fairly inexpensive in a neutral color. Remember, you are not fixing up the place for yourself. You want to move.
Windows and Doors
Check all of your windows and doors  to make sure they open and close easily. If not, a spray of WD40 often helps. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
Odor Control
Homeowners may not be able to smell their own home; however the odor in the home may be very noticeable to someone new who enters. Trying to eliminate the source of any potential odor is a good place to start. For those who smoke, you might want to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home as odors tend to linger. If you have pets, wash all their bedding and toys. Empty kitty litter boxes daily. Keep dogs outside as much as possible. You could also purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odors without creating a masking odor.

Preparing to Sell - Fixing Up Outside the House

The outside of the home will help create the right mindset for a homebuyer. A buyer already has already assumed the condition of your home prior to opening the door. So take a walk across the street and take a good look at your house. Look at nearby houses, too, and see how yours compares.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, well watered, and free of brown spots. Trim hedges. Weed flower beds and prune trees. If you landscaping is lacking buy a few bushes or flowers and plant them. Purchase something that is already grown as seed or bulbs will not mature fast enough. Always rake up loose leaves and grass cuttings.
House Exterior
Inspect the home and windows for any peeling paint. Peeling paint on the exterior of a home may prevent a buyer from obtaining a certain type of financing to buy the home. If possible, scrap and re-paint any areas that are peeling.
As for the roof, if you are aware that your house has an old leaky roof, you will need to disclose this to the homebuyer. We don’t necessarily suggest for you to replace the roof so this is a decision that homeowner must make. Gutters and fascia boards should be cleaned or repaired as needed.
The Back Yard
The back yard should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, keep it freshly maintained and constantly cleaned. For those that have dogs, be sure to constantly keep the area clear of "debris." Elaborate swing sets may be ok to leave out; however put away any toys, bikes or playhouses.
The Front Door & Entryway

While our personal preference is to have the front door red, regardless the front door should be especially sharp. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get that done. Polish any fixtures. Make sure the lock works easily and the key fits properly. When a homebuyer comes to visit your home, the agent uses the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock while everyone else stands around twiddling their thumbs, this sends a negative first impression to prospective homebuyers. 

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