So you've decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Now the question you're probably asking yourself is what exactly do I need to do to get my house ready for the market?
Hi, I'm Marcie Soderquist with Compass. A wise manager of mine once told me you only get one chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, here's a rundown of the things you can do to prepare your home.
First, let's start with Curb Appeal.
Quite often I see homes that have overgrown shrubbery and trees that are actually hiding the house. I literally go stand in the street to see what my photo will look like from the front and then I suggest trimming where needed. Then approach your front door. Is it clean and free of dust and cobwebs? We really don't pay attention to our front doors, but it's important to do so because buyers will be standing there with their realtor waiting for them to open up. If they see dirt, cobwebs and pairs of shoes it will not give a good first impression. I liken this to cleaning your windshield after a period of time. Sometimes you get used to that layer of dust that lands there but once you clean it you realize just how dirty it actually was. Your yard should get something beyond a mow and blow. Any dead branches leaves and plants should be cut back or removed. There are easy and inexpensive ways to make your yard look pretty. Experienced listing realtors who know exactly what to do and have the resources to help you do it. The most daunting step is the pack, purge and donate step. If you plan to stay in your house. While it's on the market you will need to edit anything that is not furniture or a decorative accent. A pile of mail is not a decorative accent. A lineup of hot pots, juicers, waffle irons and mixers is not a decorative accent. Bathrooms covered with lotions, toothpaste and makeup -- not a decorative accent. I tend to be pretty fussy when it comes to my listings because I've seen it pay off. I'll gladly trouble you to put a few more things away if I know what will make you thousands more dollars. Think of model homes in new developments. Your home should look like people don't actually live there.
This is not easy I realize. But this will make you a LOT more money.
I've often said if your home doesn't look noticeably empty, you haven't removed enough. Perhaps there are a few small repairs needed. Take a really close look at each room in your home and make a list of the nagging little things you've lived with but need to correct before the market. Most of us have some things that have lingered for months or years. It's that cabinet hinge that's loose, a drawer missing a knob, an outlet that's missing a cover plate or the light bulb that's out. We all have these things. Go through the house and make a note of each of those things and correct them one by one. If something is more complicated, engage your realtor for advice. We are quite experienced at taking care of these details and know exactly what items are important to address and which ones are perfectly fine to leave as is. I've had some sellers that have wanted to do something for years that would actually make them $0 dollars If they did it. So yes, your Realtor can actually save you some prep money. When you've been showing property for 28 years you know exactly the kind of things that buyers will complain about. This is why it's easy for us to advise you. But also why it's hard for you to do it by yourself. Ideally your home should be vacant and staged. If it's not feasible to move out while you're on the market, the next best thing is heavily decluttered, professionally cleaned and professionally partially staged. A note about staging: an old table and chairs is not staging and old bedspread and pillows is not staging and how about those old towels -- not staging. Cool, trendy new furniture is staging. Remember, the buyer may be of a different generation than you. Older furniture makes your whole house look old. Even if you love your old furniture. Newer, trendy furniture makes your house look newer than it is.
This is a strategy realtors have been using for years. Statistics show that a staged home could sell for up to 10% more than an unstaged home. If you don't appeal to the emotions of the buyer, you'll not trigger the powerful desire needed for them to pay more money for your home. One little bit of good news is you can store your extra things in the garage -- perfectly okay. Keep in mind, time is money and you don't want to take nine months to clear house out and miss the next big window of opportunity. Here's where you really need the advice of an experienced, trustworthy realtor. They will help you understand market timing and if there's a need to move more quickly than your plan, they will tell you. Also colors and styles can change you want to be ahead of the trend and your realtor will help you choose the colors and styles that will offer you the biggest return. You don't want to choose things that will turn buyers off. Your idea of the color of bark or rocks, for example, may not be what buyers like. The last thing you want to do is spend money on improvements only to have it be the wrong thing to do. I once had a seller repaint their a patio, same color as it was for many years. It was the worst possible move they could make. All everyone talked about was why in the world the sellers painted the cement that color. You don't have to do this on your own. Realtors are experts in home presentation. This is a fun and easy part of the job. Within an hour you can know exactly what you need to 'do' or 'not do'. Even as I share these tips with you here, I would highly recommend engaging your realtor to guide you.
The bottom line is: Please choose a realtor as you START this process and follow their guidance on exactly what to do.
I'm Marcie Soderquist with Compass Always Happy to be Real about Real Estate.