Preparing Your Home for Sale

Get the House Ready

All else being equal, a house that "sparkles" on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor.

From experience, your Del-co Realty Agent also knows that a "well-polished" house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is maintained, what they can't see has probably also been maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:

  • how much should you spend
  • exterior and curb appeal
  • preparing the interior

Consider a Pre-Listing Home Inspection

If you are selling a home, you'll get the highest price in the shortest time, if your home is in top condition. And you want to find out about any hidden problems before your house goes on the market.

Almost all real estate sales contracts include the condition that the contract is contingent upon completion of a satisfactory inspection. This is known as the inspection contingency. Buyers will insist on a professional home inspection performed by an inspector they will hire. If the buyer's home inspector finds a problem, it can cause the buyer to get cold feet and the deal can often fall through. At best, surprise problems uncovered by the buyer's inspector will cause delays in closing, and usually you will have to pay for repairs at the last minute, or take a lower price on your home.

It's better to pay for your own inspection before putting your home on the market. Having a pre-listing inspection will make the whole sale process easier. Find out about any hidden problems and get them corrected in advance, on your own terms. Or present the items as is and reflected in the purchase price. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer's inspector finding them, at the worst possible time, causing delays, and costing you more money.  Ask your Del-co Realty Agent.  They can quickly evaluate your home and tell you if a pre-listing inspection is recommended.

How much should you spend

In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren't likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive "polishes" and "touch-ups" to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen. Your Del-co Realty Agent, who is familiar with buyers' expectations in your neighborhood, can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made. Don't hesitate to ask for advice.

Maximizing exterior and curb appeal
Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal. Tips to enhance your home's exterior and curb appeal:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.
  • Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly.
  • Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling.
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • In Northern winters, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • Re-seal an asphalt driveway.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Store RVs or old and beaten up cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.

Maximizing interior appeal
Enhance your home's interior by:

  • Giving every room in the house a thorough cleaning, as well as removing all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms have actually rented storage garages and moved half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
  • Hiring a professional cleaning service, once every few weeks while the house is on the market. This may be a good investment for owners who are busy elsewhere.
  • Removing the less frequently used, even daily used items from kitchen counters, closets, and attics, making these areas much more inviting. Since you're anticipating a move anyhow, holding a garage sale at this point is a great idea.
  • If necessary, repainting dingy, soiled or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
  • Checking for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement.
  • Repairing cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.
  • Replacing broken or cracked window panes, moldings, and other woodwork. Inspecting and repairing the plumbing, heating, cooling, and alarm systems.
  • Repairing dripping faucets and showerheads.
  • Buying showy new towels for the bathroom, to be brought out only when prospective buyers are on the way.
  • Sprucing up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by investing in new cabinet knobs, new curtains, or a coat of neutral paint.

Tips for Making Your Home More Saleable

Before you put your home on the market, there are some things you can do to differentiate your house among the competitors.

Curb Appeal

When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home's exterior. If the outside, or "curb appeal" looks good, people will more than likely want to see what's on the inside. Keep the lawn and landscape nicely manicured. Trim the bushes and season permitting, plant some flowers. Be sure your front door area has a "Welcome" feeling. A fresh coat of paint on the front door looks great.

It's All About the Kitchen and Bathrooms

Of all the rooms inside your home, pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. They should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free. A fresh coat of paint just may do the trick. Have any leaky faucets taken care of. A call to a plumber is a wise investment.

Less is More

Since you want your home to look as spacious as possible, remove any excess or very large furniture. Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter. Don't use your garage, attic, or basement to store these extra things. These areas also need to have the impression of space. Instead, put them into storage. Make sure walls and doors are free of smudges and look for anything that might indicate a maintenance problem, such as cracked windows, holes in the wall or stained ceilings.

Quick tips for showings:

  • Keep counter tops cleared
  • Replace all burned out lightbulbs
  • Open all drapes and window blinds
  • Put pets in cages or take them to a neighbor
  • No dirty dishes in the sink
  • No laundry in the washer/dryer
  • Clean or replace dirty or worn carpets
  • Put on soft music
  • Burn wood in the fireplace on cold days, otherwise, the fireplace should be clean

Always look at your home from the buyer's point of view. Be objective and be honest.

 

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