Choosing to put your house on the market is rarely easy, but if you must sell to move onto the next phase of your life, then you want to make sure your house is purchase-ready to get the most out of your investment. If you aren’t sure if you are ready to sell, you can always consider becoming a landlord or finding a property manager to handle tenants. But if you have decided to put your house on the market, it is time to let go of sentimentality and start thinking of it as a house again–not your home. Here are some tips for getting your house ready to sell and placing it on the market:
Do an audit: Go through the house, making notes of any projects that need to be completed, and anything that needs to be replaced, repainted or repaired. Here is a good checklist to get you started. If you are unsure about any major problems, you may want to hire an inspector to look at your home prior to putting it on the market so you can fix all issues and avoid getting stuck in heavy negotiations.
Start with a blank canvas: Look at your home from the perspective of a potential buyer. You will want to neutralize your space so anyone interested in the house can see its full potential. Keep in mind that you may love your red wall, wall-to-wall carpet or lavish art, but others may find it hard to see beyond the decorations to imagine their own taste in the house. Neutralizing the space can be as easy as painting the walls a soft white, paring down possessions or scaling back on updates. Once your home is turn-key with the basics, start to think about the updates that will make the most difference in your return on investment.
Get the most bang for your buck: If you are considering upgrades to increase the value of your home, stick to projects that will make the most sense, such as increasing the curb appeal by re-painting or replacing an outdated front door and upgrading the landscaping with easy-to-maintain plants and pathways. The first impression your home makes on a buyer is key to selling your home quickly. If your appliances are out-of-date, you may want to consider upgrading to energy-efficient models, which will appeal to a wider set of buyers. Avoid laying down new carpet; if the carpet needs replacing, consider wood flooring, as more people are replacing carpets with hardwood these days. Also keep in mind that your aesthetic will likely be different than those looking at your home, so avoid updates to the kitchen and bathroom that may offend the next homeowner. They will consider the need to replace these as a part of their offer. For more ideas on projects that bring a return, go here.
Find a listing agent: Once you are ready to put your home on the market, find a listing agent you trust will promote your home and bring the most return. Interview a number of agents to learn about their methods of marketing your home to other agents and potential buyers. They should be knowledgeable about the area, the market, comparable listings, staging and marketing techniques that will work best for you. Look at potential agents’ past listings to see the techniques they employ, the photographs and language they use to market the homes, how long homes have been on market and what their listings look like.
Price your home to sell: Pricing your house right the first time will help it sell faster. The great news is there are plenty of buyers looking to purchase homes right now, and this trend should continue. The concern for many homeowners ready to sell is that their expectations for the selling price of the home will not necessarily be met. Increase your chances of getting your home off the market fast by working with your listing agent to price your home right. Your listing agent will factor in a number of considerations when helping you determine the best price for your home, including comparable homes that have sold in the area or similar locations, the type of home, neighborhood, condition, etc.
Staging: Now that you have gotten through most of the process for putting your home on the market, look at your home through fresh eyes. Staging your home is a fine balance between making your home inviting and setting a canvas for the next homeowner to envision the space with their stuff and to fit their life. Your home should look inhabited but clean, uncluttered but not sterile. Whether you work with a stager or do most of the set up yourself, you will have to get rid of the clutter and pare down all your belongings to the essential.
- Thin out your closets; full closets look small.
- Remove all personal items, photographs, trophies and excessive collections so prospective buyers can envision the home as theirs.
- Pare down all your belongings to keep your home efficient and cleaning easy.
- Pay attention to the details; you want your home to be welcoming in every way.
Putting your home on the market can be stressful, but you can minimize stress by following these tips and other ideas for getting your home ready to sell. The better prepared you are prior to listing your home, the easier it will be to sell to prospective buyers. In the end, realistic expectations about how long it will take to prepare your home to go to market, what renovations will get you the best return, and what is the right price to motivate buyers will help your home sell quickly, saving you money in the long run.