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Selling your home can be time-consuming and overwhelming. If you’ve decided to sell but don’t know where to start, follow our five must-do steps to get your home ready for the market.
Estimate Your Home’s Value and Potential Pricing
As you prepare to sell your house, gather a few key pieces of financial information. First, it’s helpful to know your estimated payoff amount on your current mortgage, including your remaining loan balance, interest, and property taxes. This figure can give you a good idea of your potential profit as you set your listing price.
You should also research the local housing market to compare similar properties. Knowing your home’s valuation will help you set an appropriate selling price. Although it’s possible to gather information about comparable properties on your own, many sellers enlist the help of a licensed real estate agent to appraise the house and determine an appropriate list price.
Find a Listing Agent
A listing agent can minimize stress and maximize your profit. They can guide you through the process and manage many of the selling tasks, such as pre-listing, marketing, showing, and negotiating. An agent can also ensure your home doesn’t spend too much time on the market.
Ask the following questions to determine if an agent is the right fit before committing to working with them:
- How much experience do you have?
- What percentage of your listings do you sell?
- What is the average list price to actual sales price ratio for your listings?
- What is your plan to market my home?
You don’t have to work with the first agent you meet. A great agent can make the selling process stress-free and seamless, but a not-so-great agent could hinder the process or lead you to accept a low offer on your house.
A good real estate agent can also counsel you on how to get your home aesthetically ready for the market.
Make Minor Repairs and Declutter Your Home
First impressions are everything. You want your home to be clean, decluttered, and free of overly personal items to help potential buyers imagine themselves living in the space.
Cleaning your house before a showing or open house presents a good first impression to potential buyers.
Give the House a Deep Clean
You don’t want any weird stains or bad smells dissuading potential buyers. Clean your home thoroughly, especially carpeting that holds stains or odors. You can also hire professionals to clean; this may be the easiest route for tasks such as steaming the carpets.
Hire a Handyperson
Fix any small issues in your house, such as leaks, squeaky hinges, or broken blinds. Here are some items to check:
- Are all doors closing properly, including cabinets?
- Are there any cracks or holes in the walls?
- Are any faucets leaking?
- Do any blinds need replacing?
- Are there covers on all the electrical outlets?
Walk through your house with a critical eye and write down a list of quick fixes to make before putting your house on the market.
Get Estimates for Any Major Repairs
You don’t necessarily need to address major repairs before listing your home, but you’ll need to disclose any problems. It’s helpful to have repair estimates ready when a buyer asks questions or attempts to negotiate your listed price.
Declutter Your Home
A clutter-free space can help potential buyers focus on the house rather than excess furniture, decor, toys, and other belongings. If you’re still living in the house while it’s on the market, consider putting as many things as you can in storage. Fewer items in the house will make the space feel bigger to potential buyers.
Paint the Walls
You may love your bright green kitchen and red bathroom, but not everyone will. Repaint with neutral colors such as gray or beige to appeal to the largest group of buyers. These lighter colors can also help make the space look bigger.
Depersonalize the Space
Potential buyers want to envision themselves in the home. Remove family photos and other personalized decor to create a neutral space that enables buyers to easily imagine the house as their own.
Once you’ve decluttered and fixed the small things, you’re ready to stage your house and get professional photos.
Stage the House
A well-staged home may help you sell faster. A home with furniture in it is easier to imagine living in than a blank slate. While you can stage your home yourself, professionals can help. Many professional stagers will use items you already have in your home, but they can also bring in new pieces, especially if you’ve already moved out and have an empty house.
You should also consider your home’s curb appeal. The front of the house and front lawn are the first impression for potential home buyers. Make sure the grass is cut and maintained, and keep clutter to a minimum by picking up toys and packing up garden ornaments. You can also power wash the siding or apply a fresh coat of paint, if needed.
A well-designed and inviting space makes it easier for potential home buyers to imagine themselves living in the house.
Get Your Home Photo-Ready
It’s common for potential buyers to find your house in an online listing, then decide to see it in person. High-quality photos can be key to getting their attention.
If your home was professionally staged, you’re ready for photos. If you’re still living in the house, take a few steps to prepare for the photographer:
- Depersonalize your decor by removing family photos and similar items.
- Clear off kitchen and bathroom counters.
- Put shoes and jackets away in closets.
- Make all the beds.
- Remove any pet items.
- Vacuum any carpets.
- Cut the lawn, weed, and remove any lawn decor.
Though you can photograph your home yourself, hiring a professional is typically a better choice since good equipment and skill will best show off your home.
Consider Home Buyer Incentives
If you want to sell quickly or have been on the market for longer than you’d like, you can offer buyer incentives. Here are a few common ones:
- Offer to cover a portion of the closing costs. Buyers pay a down payment plus inspection and closing costs, which can include the title fee, several months of homeowners insurance, and property taxes for escrow. You can offer to pay some of the closing costs to lower the buyer’s time-of-purchase costs.
- Offer to include a warranty. You can also include a home warranty with the house. Home warranties pay for repair or replacement on covered major appliances and home systems when they break down due to normal wear and tear. This financial peace of mind can be a good incentive for some buyers.
- Offer to include the furniture. A furnished home can be an attractive offer for potential buyers who need to move cross-country. You might also offer to leave appliances that aren’t fixed and therefore wouldn’t normally be included in the house sale. The convenience of a fully or partially furnished home could be the perfect incentive for some buyers.
If you’ve decided to sell your home, start preparing right away. Set up a checklist and timeline, then decide which tasks you’ll complete and which you’ll hire a professional to do.