Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

Jess Garrison BY JESS GARRISON · SELLING YOUR HOME

Selling your home may seem like a ‘no-brainer’ – at first. You decide on your sale price, vacuum, dust, straighten up everything, and either put up a FSBO sign out front if you’re going to try and sell it yourself, or get a real estate agent to show and sell your home for you. Easy-peasy, right? Not exactly.

Although that’s a common mentality, especially among many first-time home sellers, more than likely, it’s going to fail spectacularly, even in a strong real estate market.

When getting ready to sell your home, there are some important steps you can take to ensure your success. The steps I want to talk about here are:

  • Know Your Market
  • Contact a Trusted Realtor
  • Prepping Your Home Inside for the Sale
  • Maximize Curb Appeal
  • Do a Final Walk-through
  • Professional Photography/Videography

Know Your Market

Although it’s common advice, there’s more to ‘knowing your market’ than most people realize. The Internet has created an illusory sense of sophistication with so much information and so many services so readily available.

Zillow is a Zero

Many sellers think they can find a true market value of their home through online websites like Zillow. They think using a service like Zillow will give them an accurate idea of their home’s value, especially when Zillow gives them a ‘zestimate’. (Cue eye roll.)

The hard truth is that Zillow has no clue what your home is worth. Their process grabs the most indiscriminate information available from the Internet and that’s as far as it goes. The problem?

  • Their ‘zestimate’ doesn’t take into account that there are vastly different property values in different parts of the same city or town.
  • Zillow can’t compare the condition of your home to other the condition of other homes.

So, please, STOP with the Zillow ‘zestimates’!

Contact a trusted realtor

The first step in the successful process of selling your home is to contact a trusted, professional Realtor – or several Realtors, in fact. Tell them you’re thinking of listing your home, but you’d like them to do a comparative market analysis (CMA).

Comparative Market Analysis

To start the CMA process, the agent will come to your home and walk through it, usually taking detailed notes. Some of the many things your Realtor will consider are:

  • The overall condition of the home
  • Age of the home
  • Square footage
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of baths, full and partial
  • Layout
  • Lot size and landscaping
  • Age and type of furnace
  • Age and type of water heater

Next, your Realtor will go to work comparing your home to other properties with similar features or ‘specs’ in the area that have sold recently or are currently for sale. These prices will help determine your home’s realistic listing price range and fair market selling price.

The Critical First Two Weeks

Taking the Realtors advice on your selling price is pivotal. Why? Because the first 2 weeks that a home is listed is the most critical time in the selling process. Your best chance of selling your home is during this time. Once a home has been on the market for more than two weeks, it starts to take on a negative feel because buyers have seen your listing – and the unrealistic offering price – repeatedly. List too high and you’ll miss out on the buyers who are currently looking for a home in your area. They’ll simply buy another one that is more reasonably priced.

Prepping Your Home Inside for the Sale

Once you have come up with your selling price, it’s time to get your house ready to sell! Since we know the first 2 weeks is the most critical time in the selling period, you need to put your best foot forward. Your Realtor should tell you that doing small repairs, a thorough cleaning, and decluttering your home are three important steps.

Small Repairs

These could include:

  • Touching up chipped paint
  • Repairing cracked siding
  • Cleaning hand marks and grime from around door handles
  • Fixing leaky faucets
  • Replacing burned out light bulbs – inside and out
  • Putting up that trim you never got around to
  • Making sure the doorbell works

Taking the time to do the small, easy fixes is very important. There is no sense in rushing a house on to the market without at least doing these minor repairs.

Thorough Cleaning

Cleaning is arguably the most important thing you can do. People want to see a home spotless. And no one likes funky smells. I would recommend hiring this out professionally. Once the home is clean, you need to keep it that way. Live like there is a showing every single day.

Declutter Your Living Space

Many of us have a basement or a room full of pictures, knickknacks, things we intended on using and never did. Or our garage is jammed with old bikes, boxes, paint cans, tools, and bins. Basements, spare rooms, or garages bursting with flotsam create a negative impression in prospective buyers’ minds. You need to declutter.

Get a Storage Unit

If you are one of these people, strongly consider renting a storage unit. After you throw out all the flotsam you’ve been meaning to get rid of, move the rest to the storage unit. Also, store as many distinctly personal items from your house as you can. This includes family photos, personalize plaques, and such.

‘Stage’ the Home

The idea is that when a prospective buyer walks into the home, it appears staged, almost as if no one lives there. You want a buyer to be able to see themselves in the home and imagine what it would look like after they move in. Set the table. Nothing is homier than mealtime. Some artwork is okay, but less is often more in this situation. We all have our own style and flair. Selling your home is not the time for expressing your unique style. You want your potential buyer to imagine their style in the home.

Maximize Curb  Appeal

The first thing potential buyers see when they pull up to your home is the exterior – the building and landscape. Prospective buyers begin forming opinions before they ever step foot inside the house. This initial view is called ‘curb appeal’. If your yard is full of leaves, the shingles are in terrible shape, hedges are overgrown, and you have garbage in the yard, a buyer might hate the home before they even step out of the car. Spend the time or money to get the exterior spotless. Things to do:

  • Remove garbage from the lawn or flower beds
  • Rake leaves and trim hedges
  • Get the grass looking healthy, free of weeds
  • Plant fresh flowers or shrubs  
  • Clear the driveway of broken down cars or old, rotting boats
  • Store or remove lawn tractors
  • Throw away any piles of scrap wood, fiberboard, etc.  
  • Add a fresh exterior coat of paint if needed
  • Power wash the siding to remove grime and algae
  • Clean the gutters,
  • Clean the windows inside and out
  • Paint or thoroughly clean the front door, door handle, and hinges  

It’s all about first impressions. People love things like designated outdoor spaces with seating areas and built-in fireplaces. Buyers are looking for a house they’ll love. Have them fall in love with your home before they ever step inside.

Do a Final Walk-through

Before listing your home, have your Realtor do another walk-through. The goal is to make sure that everything is perfect the moment your home hits the market. You want people to see your home on the internet and fall in love with the photos. You want them calling their Realtor and clamoring to get in as soon as they can. Your Realtor can provide a pair of objective eyes that will determine when the house is ready to go on the market with the best chance of selling.

Professional Photography/Videography

Once the home is all prepped and ready to go on the market, it’s time for photos. If your real estate agent shows up with a cell phone to take your photos…. you’ve chosen the wrong agent.

With the first impression being so important, you need professional photos. Most Realtors work with professional photographers and often pay for the photos themselves. This is typically the cost of doing business, regardless of the price of the home. If your home falls into a higher end price range or sits on an amazing piece of property or view, then you might want to have aerial photos, typically done with a drone today, and full interior/exterior video taken. Most Realtors will often pay for this as well.

Summary

This isn’t an exhaustive guide for getting your house ready to sell, but taking these steps will help ensure that your home is not only in very good condition but has the best chance of selling at a price that represents its true market value and that will satisfy you.

If you have any questions or want someone to look at your home and give you a market perspective, or if you think you’re ready to sell, I’d be happy to help you. Feel free to send me an email at [email protected] Or give me a call at 616.502.2665.

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