Preparing Your Home
Prior to listing your home there's some preparation you need to complete so it's ready for the market. Even though deferred maintenance and needed repairs may not prevent a buyer from making an offer they'll usually produce lower offers. Addressing any potential issues now and completing some spring cleaning prior to hitting the market will likely generate offers closer, if not above, the list price.
Curb appeal is critical! When agents and potential home buyers pull up to your home for a showing, if your home isn't looking its best it very possible they could keep on driving. Buyers equate exterior curb appeal with maintained homes and if your home is lacking curb appeal and ongoing maintenance they'll assume the same for things they can't see. Take a weekend and clear and sweep all pathways, entryways, and porches. Weed the flower beds and add fresh mulch if possible. Mow the lawn and keep it mowed, make sure you rake the clippings. Trim all bushes and trees especially any that are touching the home, some loans require that no vegetation is touching the house. If you have areas of flaking and peeling paint fix it, again there are some loans that require that any flaking and peeling paint be repaired prior to closing. Finally, make sure all the exterior lighting is working including street lights.
Not every buyer can view your home during the daylight, especially during the winter months when there's minimal sunlight. Make sure all your interior and exterior lights work and if any of the bulbs are burnt, replace them. Try and keep your lighting uniform, don't have bright white and soft white bulbs in the same room. If you have a street light with a burnt out bulb contact the city and ask them to fix it.
Now is a great time to start packing. Put away items you don't need, remove extra furnishings that might give a buyer the impression that a room is smaller than it really is, pack away personal belongings, and remove extra items from countertops. Don't take it personally, buyers want to imagine themselves, and their belongings, in your space and when the space is "busy" it's hard for some to overlook the clutter.
Neutralizing your home is just as important as decluttering. Neutralizing simply means removing or changing loud colors, possibly offensive belongings, and removing personal belongings such as photos. While you may love you purple room it may take a specific buyer that will appreciate your purple room as much as you do. Buyers have a difficult time overlooking design choices that they'll have to make their own later, they see it as more work on top of moving. When possible it's best to neutralize the space so a buyer has a clean palet when they move in.
Make sure it works
Small maintenance items add up, it's just more work that the buyer will either have to fix when they move in or it might even give them a reason to negotiate a lower price during the home inspection period. Now is the time to fix that squeaky door, put the closet doors back on the hinge, repair any holes in the wall, repair or replace broken appliances, repair any water leaks, repair any known electrical issues, check the filters in your HVAC system, touch up any chipped paint, repair or replace any broken fixtures, and any other known repair issues you're aware of. A buyer will hire a licensed home inspector to conduct a full home inspection. If any issues arise during the home inspection the buyer can either withdraw their offer, ask for repairs, and/or ask for a reduction in the price - don't give a reason to have to renegotiate later, fix it before it's an issue.
Make it sparkle
A clean home is an inviting home and it shows a potential buyer that if you take the time to have a clean home you're less likely to overlook ongoing maintenance. Remember, a buyer is looking at living in your home soon. They'll open cupboards, closets, look under the sink, and look at the crawl space or attic. Make sure these spaces are clean and decluttered for easy viewing. Clean your home from top to bottom, if possible, have your home professionally cleaned so it's easier to maintain while it's being shown. Don't overlook ceiling fans, windows, toilets, junk drawers, laundry rooms, cupboards, etc. Make your home welcoming, make the buyer feel at home so they want to stay and visualize themselves living in your home.
What's that smell
Unpleasant odors won't win over buyers, they'll likely move on to the next home since they can't stand the foul smell. Unfortunately, some sellers get used to the smell and don't notice it. Ask a friend or family member for an honest opinion, let them know you're about to list your home and you want to know how it smells. If you have an unpleasant odor make sure you don't mask the smell. Masking or hiding the smell from a potential buyer could result in liability later. If you mask a smell from a buyer and after the property closes the buyer discovers the issue, let's say pet urine, then the seller could be held liable. If you can't afford to replace the carpet, pad, and potentially the subfloor in severe cases then disclose it - don't hide it.
Spend money to make money
While we realize that some of the items we've mentioned cost money it's important to address them now, if possible, to avoid the buyer from renegotiating the terms of the contract later. In the event, there are items you can't repair or replace for whatever reason, disclose it. Some sellers are under the impression that once a property closes they have no further liability and that's simply not true. Any material defects that were known to the seller must be disclosed to a potential buyer. If a buyer can show that the seller did have knowledge of a material defect after closing they can be held liable.
These recommendations are here to help you with the home selling process. While you might not be able to do everything, the more you can do the better. Your home is likely the biggest investment you'll make in your lifetime, with any investment you want to maximize your return. These recommendations will help you get top market value for your home, provide for a smooth closing process, and make for a satisfied buyer. A win-win for all parties involved. If you have any questions please reach out to one of our Real Estate Brokers or complete the form below.