Regardless of the housing market, a homeowner can maximize the value and return on investment when selling their home with the right “pre-listing” strategy. To do so, you’ll want to think like a buyer, looking for ways to make every aspect of the home appear neat, spacious, and well-maintained. Most potential buyers of existing homes don’t expect your home to be perfect, but your objective should be to optimize your home’s “first impression” and address issues that are seen as compromising the safety, maintenance, and value of the property.
Freshen up the exterior grounds, landscaping, and main entry
The most significant “first impression” a potential buyer gets is when they drive up, park, and approach the front of the home. Do it yourself and take note of what details could easily improve it.
- Make sure the lawn is neatly mowed, raked, and edged.
- Prune and shape shrubbery and trees to complement your home.
- Remove weeds and other overgrown from planting areas.
- Plant seasonal flowers along the walks and in the planting areas.
- Add an inch or two of bark mulch around your shrubs and trees.
- Clean, patch, seal and edge your driveway and sidewalks.
- Clean and organize your front porch.
- Clean or put a fresh coat of paint you’re your front door.
- Make sure your doorbell works.
- Clean light fixtures and replace bulbs to maximize brightness and appeal.
- Clean your gutters and make sure downspouts and diverters are in place and working (it may be raining when the prospect visits!)
Get rid of everything that you can temporarily live without
Removing excessive belongings and clutter from your home before putting it on the market makes your home look bigger. It will also help to “neutralize” the personality of your home and allows prospective buyers to imagine their items more easily in your home. Put it into temporary storage, donate it to charity, sell it, give it away, or trash it. Some other benefits of a “purging” include:
- Removing personal fixtures or items that you don’t plan to include with the sale, such as grandma’s chandeliers, avoids having to bargain over them later.
- Reduces what needs to be moved, lowering the cost of packing and shipping.
- Prepares your home for cleaning, painting, etc.
- It creates a possible tax deduction if you donate items to charity.
- Empty and organize your closets and cabinets to make them appear larger.
- Gives your inspector greater access during your pre-listing inspection.
Clean, refresh and organize everything
Few things increase the marketability of a home as much as cleaning. In addition to improving its appearance, a thorough cleaning will reduce latent odors. Most importantly, once you’ve cleaned it, you’ll want to KEEP IT CLEAN during the listing and selling process to ensure your home is always looking its best! The following deserve consideration:
- Steam clean carpeting.
- Clean windows and screens inside and out.
- Scrub bathrooms and keep them spotless.
- Degrease the oven.
- Clean the exterior of your water heater and other appliances will make them look newer and better maintained.
- Power-wash your siding and deck.
- The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s also the room that prospects will likely stop and talk in during a home tour. Clear all clutter from kitchen counters. Remove everything, even small appliances, to improve the appearance and visible counter space.
- Cigarette smoke causes odors and stains. If you’re not able to kick the habit, at least stop smoking indoors.
Simple updates can have a tremendous impact
Unless they don’t work properly or pose an aesthetic issue, replacing major appliances is better left to the new owner who will have their taste and budget to work with.
In most cases, the cost of most remodeling and addition projects won’t be 100% recouped when the home is sold, meaning you’ll lose money. There are exceptions, so your agent will be your best resource for confirming your specific situation.
Some minor maintenance tasks can significantly improve the cosmetic appeal of a home for minimal cost and should be considered.
- Although complete repainting isn’t usually recommended, you should evaluate and paint anything that is in poor condition or is an extreme color (i.e., those hot pink or lime green kids’ rooms). Use neutral colors. Also, rusted metal railings and other fixtures should be touched up. Leave the extra paint for the new owner. Don’t “do it yourself” unless you are good at it. Don’t paint just to cover up other problems.
- Strategically added mirrors can help direct sunlight or make a room appear larger and more open.
- Lighting has a tremendous impact. Replace old or burned-out bulbs with higher wattage, soft-white bulbs so prospects can see how bright your home can be.
- Replace all shower curtains, especially those worn, stained liners. Plain, white, or light-colored curtains will make the bathrooms seem larger.
- Replace worn, stained toilet seats. They are inexpensive, easy to replace, and make the whole toilet appear new. Remove any decorative cloth lid and tank covers.
- Replace badly worn or stained carpeting with inexpensive, neutral-colored carpeting. The worse your existing carpeting is, the better the return you’ll get on this investment. You can also use this opportunity to screw down loose and squeaky sub-flooring.
- Have your HVAC system serviced. Many contractors offer special deals on seasonal “tune-ups” that will include inspecting, changing filters, and providing documentation of the condition of the system.
Get a professional Pre-Listing Inspection
Whether or not a potential buyer desires, or is able to, have a pre-closing inspection, there are numerous advantages for you, the seller, to conduct a pre-listing inspection.
We published a previous blog highlighting the “11 Benefits of a Pre-Listing Home Inspection” which provides more details.
As you plan and formulate a strategy to sell your home, consider how the value of scheduling a Pre-Listing Inspection can significantly offset its cost:
- By identifying issues that you decide to have corrected before you list your home, you’re able to take the time to make repairs and/or get competitive bids from quality contractors that you choose, potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
- An inspection can help you verify the true condition of your home, and its value, so you can confidently set a listing price that you can justify. A comprehensive report can provide marketing value by highlighting the positive attributes of your home.
- By making the report from your third-party Pre-Listing Inspection available to potential buyers, they are more likely to waive an inspection contingency, reduce the time to closing, and free up the equity from the sale for your next home purchase.
The sale of a home can be a stressful experience. However, by intentionally preparing for the process you can reduce the anxiety associated with uncertainty and the unknown factors involved. The above recommendations should be implemented BEFORE you start showing your home. Acuity is available to help bring confidence and peace of mind to your home sale experience.