Selling a home is an event in your life that you can never be too prepared for. It’s not as easy as putting up a “For Sale” sign, uploading a few self-shot photos online, and waiting for the offers to roll in.
Doing the bare minimum in preparation will also bring in the bare minimum when it comes to offers from buyers. If you want to maximize your selling price–and who doesn’t–then you have to maximize your efforts.
You may think you know what your house is worth. You may have even had an expert evaluation of what your house is worth. Now it’s your job to communicate what your house is worth to others. That will help ensure you get what you’re asking–at best you may even create a bidding war.
Now before you make the mistake of putting up an underwhelming home listing and undercutting your asking price, go through this checklist which contains proven steps for getting the best possible offers.
1. Determine the Best Time to Sell
Your first step should be figuring out whether or not it’s a good time to sell. The real estate market fluctuates throughout the year, and homes most faster in certain seasons compared to others.
Winter believe it or not can be an ideal time to put your house up for sale. There maybe fewer people that are searching for homes but typically the buyers that are searching are very serious as they maybe relocating for work or have to buy for some other underlying issue. Another reason winter is good is that there is a lot fewer homes on the marketing that you will be competing with, this translates into potentially more money for your home.
Determine if it’s a good time to sell by contacting a professional Realtor like our team. We will look at homes that are comparable to yours and what they’ve sold for. We will compare the selling prices and you’ll get an idea of the market conditions.. An agent will give you an honest opinion if they believe you should sell now or wait.
2. Update, Clean, and Declutter
Improve the value of your home by making necessary updates and repairs. While you’re at it, you can attract better offers from buyers by cleaning and decluttering. This may be one of the most labor-intensive steps of the pre-listing process. So here’s a list of to-do items to make sure you don’t miss anything:
- Repair: Fix any signs of neglect, or anything that obviously needs to be repaired. This could include leaky pipes, cracked windows, loose door handles, missing tiles, scratched floors, and so on.
- Declutter: A home needs to look livable, and rooms look larger with less stuff in them. Don’t go as far as emptying the rooms completely, just minimize the clutter.
- Depersonalize: Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in the home, which is hard to do with an abundance of personal items on display. Consider putting personal items in storage until you’re ready to move into your next home.
- Paint the walls: Presenting warm, neutral tones is most appealing to buyers. It will also make your home look bigger, brighter, and more welcoming. Anything too “loud” may be off-putting.
- Clean: Cleanliness communicates to buyers that a home is well taken care of, so create a good first impression by making it sparkle. Cleaning the house from top to bottom is important, but keep in mind that buyers particularly scrutinize the kitchen and bathrooms. Little touches like clean windows and re-caulking can go a long way.
- Update: Regardless of how old the home is, it can appear modern with a few updates. This can include replacing light fixtures, framing windows, adding new faucets, and installing new tech such as smart thermostats.
3. Create Curb Appeal
Buyers start judging a home before setting foot inside the front door, which is why it’s necessary to make the outside look just as appealing as the inside. Creating curb appeal can be very labor-intensive as well, so here’s another list to keep yourself on track:
- Lawn maintenance: Cut the grass, trim the edges along sidewalks and pathways, keep flowers and shrubs looking healthy, and tidy up the yard.
- Wash down the house: Freshen up the exterior of the home with a wash down, especially if you have siding on the house. This could be as simple as spraying it with a pressure washer.
- Consider painting: Depending on how worn the house looks from the outside, repainting might be a good idea. If that’s outside of your budget then consider repainting just the trim.
- Fix the fence: A fence adds value to a property, so if it’s in need of repair it’s best to get that taken care of before listing the house for sale.
- Repair the roof: A leaky roof will turn buyers away in a hurry. A roof in need of serious repair will also give the buyer leverage to negotiate a lower price. With that said, if at all possible, get the roof repaired before listing the home.
- Mend the cracks: Fixing any unsightly cracking in the driveway, walkway, or patio is a sure way to increase your home’s curb appeal.
4. Home Inspection
Getting a home inspection before listing the property is a good idea as it will help you avoid costly surprises later on.
Buyers will inevitably get their own home inspection, and if they uncover any significant problems they will have the opportunity to negotiate a lower price. That’s if they don’t change their mind about buying the home altogether.
Fixing any problems uncovered by a home inspection ahead of time will increase the likelihood of getting your asking price.
5. Hire a Photographer
Pay attention to this point because it’s one of the most important and, unfortunately, often overlooked steps of the pre-listing process. After putting in so much work to improve your home by following the steps above, you’ll need a photographer to capture the finer details that buyers are looking for.
A trained eye will be able to present your home in the most appealing way possible. Moreover, buyers will notice the difference. If you’re competing against similar listings with professionally shot photos, and your listing is full of photos taken with your phone, guess which one they’re going to pay more attention to? They’ll also wonder what else you may have skimped on if you chose to skimp on the listing photos.
No matter how stunning your home looks in person, the first time most people will see it is in an online listing. There are so many listings of homes for sale with poorly shot photos. Professional listing photos will set your listing apart and generate more interest.
See the difference yourself in the examples of our homes that we’ve sold below. Here’s a comparison of self-shot photos versus our professional photos.
6. Do a Smell Test
A home should be appealing to all senses, and one must never underestimate the sense of smell when it comes to creating a lasting impression. Ensure that impression is a good one by neutralizing any lingering odors in the home before putting it on the market.
This step is especially important if you have pets. Even if you keep a clean home, pets can leave a unique scent that you may not notice when living with them from day-to-day. The best thing to do in this situation is get an unbiased opinion from someone who doesn’t live in the home with you.
Focus on eliminating odors, not masking them. Artificial scents from candles and air fresheners can be off-putting to some buyers even if you find they smell nice. A neutral, scent-free, home is likely to create the most positive impression.
7. Stage the Home
You’re almost ready to list the home and invite buyers in for viewings. One of the final steps is to stage the home. At this point, after following the steps above, you should nearly be there. This step just requires some finishing touches.
Right now, for example, your furniture is arranged the way it best suits you and your family. When marketing your home to potential buyers it’s best to stage your furniture like a model home. If everything is lined up against the walls, pull the furniture closer toward the middle of the room to create a conversation area.
Staging a home creates a more inviting living space, but it has a practical purpose as well. Think about how people will walk around the rooms when viewing the home. If furniture is likely to get in the way then it will need to be rearranged or perhaps even removed.
8. Prepare the Paperwork
Prepare for a smooth home sale by having all of your paperwork in order. Lack of paperwork can really hold up the closing process. Having it organized and ready to go will make it that much easier to hand it over to the buyer when they’re ready to sign the contract.
Some of the paperwork you will need includes:
- Homeowners insurance information
- MPAC Assessment
- Property tax statements
- Appliance warranties
- And any other information about the property
9. Arrange the Next Steps With Your Real Estate Agent
Let your real estate agent know when you’re ready to list your home and let people in to see it. Then arrange the next steps together, such as scheduling tours and open houses. Your agent will help you set a fair and competitive asking price. They’ll put your home on the multiple listing service in your area, as well as market it via online advertising and other means.
Further, your agent will interact directly with buyers and take the pressure off of you during the negotiation process. An agent’s experience is also invaluable when it comes to dealing with paperwork and solving any problems that come up along the way.
Of course, this is assuming you’ve done your research and hired a good agent. Resist the urge to blindly hire an agent based on the first ad you see, or the first recommendation from a friend or family member. Research a selection of agents and interview them to make sure they’re a good fit.
Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you’ve found a qualified agent:
- How many homes do they sell per year?
- How do they plan to market your home to buyers?
- Do they have existing connections with potential buyers?
- What’s their experience with social media and online advertising?
- How familiar are they with your specific neighborhood?
- Do they work with a team?
- Can they connect you with other professional services such as roofers, home inspectors, etc?
10. Prepare Yourself for the Sale
Many sellers spend so much time preparing their home to be sold that they neglect to prepare themselves. Selling a home can be an emotional experience. You’ve created memories there, and you may have even raised a family there, but now it’s time to let it go.
Make peace with the fact that the ownership of your home is changing hands, as that will prevent you from becoming emotionally involved during the sale. You’re not selling your memories, you’ll have those forever. You’re selling a property and it’s just a business transaction.
11. Look For Your Next Home
Now it’s time to look for your next home, if you haven’t already. Don’t assume you’ll have time to look while your current home is on the market. There’s always a chance it will get sold quickly, so it’s best to have your next home lined up as soon as possible.
Here is a must read article if you’re planning on purchasing a home