Many potential home sellers contact me with one question in mind – “Can you give me recommendations for things I should do before listing my home for sale?”, so if you think you might want to sell in the foreseeable future, here are my suggestions in order of importance:
- Fix anything major or safety related. Exposed wiring, plumbing leaks, missing roof tiles or a roof that needs replacing should all be taken care of or buyers will allow more to fix things than they really cost and your home will take longer to sell. One reason I have home and termite inspections on the homes I list for sale is so that this kind of thing can be taken care in your own time.
- Deep cleaning. Including the windows. Nothing puts people off more than a dirty home. This means having it cleaned professionally before it goes on the market and making sure every room smells fresh and inviting.
- De-cluttering and de-personalizing. Buyers need to envisage themselves living there, so hide those personal photos away and make the rooms look nice and big by removing unnecessary furniture etc.
- Make sure the interior and exterior paint is in good condition and has current appeal color-wise. Same with carpets and flooring. Paint and carpet give the best return on investment.
- Don’t forget the exterior. You need to maximize curb appeal or buyers will decide they don’t like your home before they get inside. An attractive front door helps, perhaps freshly painted. Make sure any grass is trimmed, fresh black bark in flowerbeds and some colorful plants to brighten everything up.
- Evaluate the lighting. Where possible, switch out older style lighting for LED and/or get some inset lighting installed. Light, bright rooms appear larger and this is a major selling point.
- Make the kitchen and bathrooms as appealing and up-to-date in appearance as you can. Yellow Formica or tile counters really do have to go, and even if your oven works reasonably well, if it was designed by whoever designed the Edsel, it’s probably a good idea to replace it. A tired vanity can easily and cheaply be replaced and that can give a major boost in appeal to the whole bathroom. Most people don’t realize how cheaply an outdated kitchen or bathroom can be updated and sometimes all it takes is paint, new grout and cabinet hardware.
After all that, professional staging is essential if you want to get the very best return when you sell. All my listings are staged, and for good reason. Be prepared for the possibility that you may not like the end result though. Staging is designed solely to make your home appeal to potential buyers. Just think of it as an interim stage as you will soon be moving on to your next home.