6 Tips for Preparing a Home For Sale

This weekend, winter weather will force most people to stay indoors. So, if you are thinking of selling your home this spring, it could be a perfect weekend to start preparing your house for sale. I am a real estate agent that helps sellers with homes on acreage that is located between the Colorado Springs and Denver metro areas. Even though it is a sellers market overall, the homes that show well sell the fastest and for the highest price. Homes that are over priced for its condition, the way they show and the neighborhood tend to linger on the market for months. The following 6 tips can be used to start preparing your home for sale.

Below are 6 tips for preparing a home for sale: 

1. Work to Improve the Street Appeal

2. Ensure each room or space reflects its commonly used purpose.

3.  Remove clutter, valuables and depersonalize your home.

4.  Address the repairs and other items that have been on the to-do list.

5.  Start cleaning

6.  Consider meeting with a real estate agent that can give you some specific recommendations and an idea of what price your home can be listed at if everything is cleaned up and it shows well.   The real estate agent can also recommend whether your home is a good candidate for staging.  Many home owners do not need the services of a home stager.  Yet for others, a home stager can assist the home owner and significantly increase the home’s value by making it show better.

Details:

1. Street Appeal

You might want to save this step for a day with good weather.

First impressions count. It is EXTREMELY important to make sure that you house looks the best it can from the front. If The street view is normally the first picture that a buyer prospect will see when they are looking at homes online. The street view is the what buyers seen when they drive by a property. If they do not like what they see from the outside, they may not even request an appointment to see the inside.

If the yard and the front of the home appear to be well cared for, buyers and its real estate agents will be inclined to think that the rest of the home has been well maintained unless they find something that indicates otherwise. If not front of the home and the front porch and door look dirty or neglected, buyer prospects may be concerned that the home has not been taken care of. The home may end up with one strike against it before the potential buyers have even stepped into the house.

Stand in front of your house and consider whether its is anything that you should do to improve the street appeal. When you are a homeowner, it is easy to overlook things that you simply haven’t had time to worry about. So, when you are standing in front of your house, try to think like a buyer.

 

Street View of Home with Horse Grazing

 

  • Are its holiday decorations that still need to come down?
  • Are water hoses lying around?
  • Should the trash cans  maybe be stored in the garage or to the side of the house?
  • Are bicycles, toys, or unused vehicles that could be sold or stored elsewhere?
  • Does your yard need to be edged?
  • Are  dead limbs or sticks that need to be removed?
  • Are any bare patches of grass that might need to be replaced or holes filled in?
  • Do any of the shrubs need to be trimmed or removed?
  • Does the front door and/or front porch need to be cleaned? Painted?
  • When the weather warms up, would some colorful flowers or greenery make your front yard more attractive?
  • If you live on acreage, what condition is your gate and fences in?

Remember, the street appeal is very important.  The street view what buyers will see as soon as they drive up. You want buyer’s first impression of your home to be a good one.

2. Each room or space should reflect its commonly used purpose

I live on a small ranch. When I bought the home, I was able to get a great deal because my home was dated and because it didn’t show well. The weirdest thing about the home was the front yard was fenced off with privacy fencing, so that it felt more like a backyard.

One of the first things we did was remove the privacy fence. That helped. Yet, my friends and family were still a bit disoriented until I installed a driveway that allowed visitors to be able to figure out where the front door was.

So, should be evident which side of the house is the front of the house. (Granted, I doubt that people with homes in town will ever have this issue.

Master Bedroom – This room should be a sleeping space. Unless you have a large master suite with “rooms within the room,” remove the exercise equipment. Exercise bicycles and/or other equipment in a master bedroom makes the room feel small and cluttered. Large dog beds can also make a master bedroom feel very small. Consider sliding the dog bed under your bed or removed the dog beds during showings.

Again, remember – master bedroom should be a sleeping space. You want the master bedroom to feel large, comfortable and spacious.

Formal Dining Room/Study – If your home has a room to at the front of the house, near the front door – that space should be either a study, a formal living room, or a formal dining room if it is attached to the kitchen. I’ve seen several occasions that that space was left as a children’s play area.

Yes, I understand that can be a very practical use of the space. However, consider that is the first room the buyer prospects will see when they walk into the home. Children’s play areas can look cluttered especially to someone that doesn’t have children. Buyers might also feel like the house is too small since its must not be room for the kids toy’s to be stored somewhere else.

Kitchen – The kitchen should be a cooking and eating space. Resist the temptation to show the house with the kitchen counters or kitchen table being used as a home office or homework space. Again – I understand this may be inconvenient. However, the faster the home sells, the faster you can live in your house the way you want to live in your house.

Bedrooms – Each of the additional bedrooms should appear to have ONE purpose or one focal point. Kids bedrooms should look like a kid’s bedrooms. You want a guest bedroom to look like the guest bedroom – not a combination guest bedroom, ironing room and walk in storage room. That gives a very cluttered look that also makes the house feel small.

Finished Basements – similar to the guest bedroom example, each area of the basement should have a single purpose or focal point. That said, if you have a large open basement, it is fine to have separate spaces within the basement. For example, the media /TV area may be at one end, a home gym and work out area could be at the other end.

Flex spaces – If you have empty rooms or spaces, consider find a way to use the room rather than having it sit empty. Ideally, we don’t want a home to feel too small. Yet at the same time, we don’t want buyers to feel like it would be too large either especially if the home is in its price range. Maybe an empty room could be a yoga space? Or a study or craft area? A storage room? A play room?

 

Garage– If at all possible, let your garage be a garage. As a listing agent, I would rather extra boxes of stuff be stored in the garage rather than taking up space in the house. Yet, the idea situation is to move the boxes to temporary storage or to get rid of the items. There are numerous people that want to be able to park in a garage and/or have a workshop in the garage. If the garage is full of boxes of stuff – the garage can not be fully appreciated.

3. Remove Clutter, Remove Valuables & Depersonalize

Again, when we are trying to sell a home, we want buyer prospects to be able to envision themselves living in your home. In order to do so, you will want “sterilize” your home by removing things that reflect your personal life and your personality. In other words, you want to make your home feel almost like a nice hotel suite. You want it to be attractive and decorated to reflect the area. Yet you do not want to leave lots of family photos or items that reflect “unique” hobbies on display. By “unique” hobbies, I”m thinking of things collections of renaissance swords and weapons or large doll collections. Actually, large collections of any sort can distract buyers.

At the same time, you want to leave some things that remind potential buyers of the lifestyle they could enjoy if they lived in your home. For example, if your home is in Colorado – a few items related to hiking, snow skiing, horses. the Denver Broncos, or the military reflect the area’s lifestyle.

Valuables – As a real estate agent, I do my best to keep up with what my buyer prospects and its children are doing in a home at all times. Yet, its is always the chance that one of these  days that  I, or some other agent, might be showing a home to someone that is an unethical dirt bag or a thief. So, please. When you put your home on the market, its will be strangers coming through your home. It is very possible that its will be different buyer prospects touring your home one after another. Please, please have a plan where your money, credit cards, items with your personal identification & social security numbers, medicine, jewelry etc. are locked up somewhere safe or with you.

Remember, if a buyer prospect likes a home it is very common for that person to open drawers, cabinets and closets. In fact, I consider that one of the common “buying signs.” As result, those places are not safe places to store medicines, valuables or sensitive items unless the drawer can be locked.

Clutter — Once again, we want a home to feel spacious and roomy no matter how small and cozy the home is. Go ahead and start packing knick-knacks. Clean off the vanities in your bathroom. When a home is being shown, it is better not to have a collection of a hundred shampoo, soap, perfume, makeup and vitamin bottles covering the counter space. Even a dozen things on a bathroom counter top looks messy. Imagine your bathroom or kitchen counter tops gracing the cover of a magazine……. Well, it may or may not be in a magazine but photos of your home will be blasted all over the internet for potential buyer to see.

Preparing your home for sale - remove clutter in the bathroom

That reminds me – plan to place your bra’s and other lingerie in the closet, a drawer or maybe even temporarily in the drier during showings. Even though I’m a female, it is weird to walk into someone’s laundry room or bathroom and see what color and size of bra’s the lady of the house wears. Even as I write this, when I see someone’s undergarments, I am not thinking about how buyer prospects might like the home. I’m thinking about the homes owner.

As I tell you about this, I’m also thinking about a story that I read a while back where the homeowner got mad that the photographer took pictures that had her lingerie in them. The pictures were posted on the internet. I don’t recall if the photographer was a perv or made a simple mistake.

Back to the issue of clutter – you plan to move. Start cleaning out your closets and cabinets. You want the home to appear spacious. If you choose a real estate agent, a home stager or a photographer that provides staging services – you will have less to do and will be able to get your home on the market faster if you’ve already taken care of most of the clutter.

4. Fix or resolve the items that have been on your To-Do list.

Some people have the amazing ability to change ever light bulb as it burns out and to fix every little issue that they notice. However, many of us plan to do it later. Well, when we are putting our house on the market – later has arrived.

These little things that we have overlooked for days, weeks, months or years can distract potential buyers best case. In worse case scenario they might not purchase your home for fear that the bigger maintenance issues haven’t been addressed either.

The “little things” include replacing burnt out light bulbs, fixing dripping facets, replacing broken switches, adjusting door knobs so that they open and close properly.

If you know that heater needs to be serviced, water filters replaced, fireplace cleaned or a hail damaged roof needs to be replaced, it is best to do it before you put your house on the market. Trust me, you really do not want a buyer getting involved with replacing a new roof prior to the closing. Life is simplest for everyone if that has already been done.

5. Start Cleaning

The cleaner your house is, the better it will show. The better it will smell.

 

When you are cleaning, you will also get the chance to decide whether it would be best to paint some or all of the walls, doors or trim. This may sound weird but its is something clean smelling about fresh paint. You will also need to whether the carpets can be cleaned adequately or should they be replaced.

Regardless, it is important to have your home as clean as possible.

6.  Consider meeting with a real estate agent

 

It never hurts to meet with a real estate agent to get that persons input about how your home shows.   For example, if you can not afford to replace old, stained carpets or paint dirty walls, you will not be able to get as much for the house as you would otherwise.  This is the type of issue that you can discuss with the real estate agent.   That person can give you an idea of the impact it might have on the value of the home, whether you might want to offer a carpet allowance, or how to strategically price the home as is.

 

In Summary

Selling your home can be very exciting. Yet having strangers, buyer prospects, walking through your home can also be very frustrating and an inconvenience.  So ideally, you want to do everything possible to prepare your home for a sale. The time you put in preparing your home for the sale will pay off terms of a faster sale at the best possible price.

If you have any questions about how to prepare your home for sale, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

If your home is in the Colorado Springs or Denver metro areas, I could come look at your home if that would help. Granted, I primarily work with homes on acreage and large lots. But, if I can’t help you, I can refer you to someone that can.

Sincerely,

Sondra Meyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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