How to Prep Your Home for Sale
The decision to sell your home is a big one, and not one to be taken lightly. Once that decision is made, the real work begins. Getting your home prepped for sale takes a bit of planning, a lot of organization and some elbow grease, but approaching it strategically can affect the bottom line when it comes to the number of offers you receive and the final sales price.
As exciting as it is to move into a new home, your “old” home needs a little TLC before switching hands. Not only will this help you get top dollar, it will also help streamline the process come inspection time. Following are some of the best ways to prepare your home for sale. You can learn more in our guide, the Home Selling Process — Step One.
Declutter Each Room
The first step in prepping your home for sale is decluttering. We get it — mail tends to pile up on tabletops, clothes get heaped on the edge of the bed, and toys have trouble making it back to their proper storage spots. But when selling your home, it’s essential you tackle the clutter once and for all. Go room-by-room and organize belongings into piles: one to keep, one to donate and one to toss. And remember, when it comes to prepping your home for sale, less is more. Only the absolute essentials should be left out. Even small amounts of clutter can be a turnoff to buyers.
Deep Clean Your Home
While it’s certainly not a necessity to keep a tidy home, it’s one of the easiest ways to make a good impression. In a perfect world, buyers and their agents would look beyond the dust to ascertain a home’s potential, but it doesn’t always happen. Sellers should give their home a thorough deep clean, getting into every nook and cranny to make your space sparkle (or hire a cleaning crew to do it for you). Floors should be mopped and waxed and baseboards should be scrubbed. Walls should be wiped down, if not completely repainted. Windows should be washed, inside and out.
Drapes, window coverings, heating vents, and registers should be vacuumed and cleaned. Furniture should be dusted and polished if possible. Mildew is particularly stealthy and often overlooked, but will stick out like a sore thumb to potential buyers. Every inch of the bathroom and kitchen should shine. Sinks, faucets, stoves, and range hoods are common culprits for hidden grime.
While cleaning your home typically refers to the inside of your home, don’t ignore the outside. Brush away the spiderwebs, sweep the porch, and consider power washing the roof, patios and siding.
Once the deep cleaning is finished, keep your home seller-ready by cleaning counters, sweeping and dusting daily, along with frequently wiping down doorknobs and light-switch plates. Bathrooms accumulate grime quickly, and can be the ultimate turnoff in a showing, so clean and wipe down after every use.
Make Minor Repairs
A home doesn’t have to be perfect to sell, but it does make financial sense to tackle simple repairs. Squeaky cabinet doors and burned-out light bulbs aren’t usually deal breakers, but those little things can add up. No home buyer wants to move into a place with a giant to-do list, so taking care of the small things now can have a big impact later. Talk to your real estate agent to determine which repairs will pay off and which you can skip for now.
Get a Home Inspection
Typically, a home inspection takes place after a buyer makes an offer but before the sale closes. But many realtors now recommend sellers get a home inspection up front, to avoid any surprises later on. Some of the most common things pointed out in home inspections are missing or inoperable smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, improperly strapped water heaters, poorly vented bathroom exhausts and broken or missing handrails — all of which can be addressed ahead of time.
The oversized oak light switch plates installed in the 1980s may not seem like a big deal to you, but to a potential buyer, outdated details are a big turnoff. The same goes for shag carpet, wallpaper borders, track lighting and shiny brass faucets. You don’t have to spend a fortune to bring your house into the new millennium nor hire a professional, just choose modern fixtures and make an easy DIY swap.
The impact of new interior paint cannot be overstated. No matter how on-trend you think your bold or bright paint color is, it won’t appeal to everyone. Covering it in a soothing neutral makes it easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves in the space and creates a blank canvas for them to make it their own. If your exterior paint is in less-than-great shape or a non-neutral color, it may make sense to update that as well.
Consider Curb Appeal
It’s been said you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and nowhere is this more true than in selling a home. Your front space is the first thing a potential buyer sees, so ensuring that space is appealing is key. Keep the lawn mowed, the leaves raked, and the weeds pulled, and consider planting colorful flowers. A fresh welcome mat, a new porch light and new house numbers can also signal to buyers that you have a well-kept home, as can fresh mulch around flower beds.
We understand the sentimentality behind keeping your kid’s drawings on the refrigerator and your great-great-great aunt’s handmade afghan on the couch. But to buyers, this is a no-no. They need to be able to imagine their kid’s drawings on the fridge and their aunt’s handmade gifts, so it’s important to give them a blank canvas to do just that. So, remove family photos, kid’s toys, pet toys — and your pets themselves, during open houses and showings.
When prepping your home for sale, it’s often a good idea to downsize your belongings. The less stuff you have, the bigger your home appears to buyers. To ensure your home looks as spacious as possible, pack up all but the most important items and store them offsite. This is especially important for items like clothing, linens, and kitchen items, as it will give the appearance of having more storage space and bigger closets. Ditching little-used furniture such as side tables and accent chairs can also make your space look larger.
Some home sellers hire professional stagers to make their home look its best. But it’s also possible to follow some basic staging tips to get the same effect. In addition to cleaning, updating and de-personalizing, some ideas to consider are adding fresh greenery, rearranging furniture and adding toss pillows and throw blankets to beds and sofas for a pop of color. It’s also important to eliminate off-putting smells, like pet smells or last night’s dinner by running air purifiers, installing air fresheners, or burning scented candles. Talk to your agent about whether professional home staging is right for you.