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How Should I Prepare My House Before Selling It?

First impressions matter in business, but especially in real estate. Anyone walking through a house or touring it virtually will be looking for ways to either reject this home or negotiate down on the price. I am always shocked when people put their home on the market with a rotting deck, stained carpet, scuffed up paint, and no updates. I fear that too many times their real estate agent didn’t advise them of the importance of these things and explain that it could mean tens of thousands of dollars difference in the final sales price of their home.

Having said that, in this super strong seller’s market, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to update your home. Buyers today don’t have as many choices and they realize they’re not going to get a home in perfect condition, but they are still looking for that one home that has been moderately updated and is move-in ready. If you give them that home, they will fight over it and bid $10,000 to $20,000 over your asking price and likely be willing to take the home “as is” without asking for any repairs or compensation. I tell all our sellers, “It’s your choice whether to spend money on this home before going on the market, but the best case scenario is to only be on the market for 48 hours and have people fighting over your home. I can help you do that and it probably won’t cost as much as you think.”

Trust me, my team is not going to come over to your home and ask you to spend $10,000. Our average seller spends closer to $1,000 to $3,000 on repairs and minor updates. We’re not asking you to paint the kitchen cabinets and install granite counters. It’s typically more basic things. I’ve put together a list of the most common things you can do beginning with the least amount of money spent. When I or one of my team members come over to your home, we’ll give you the best case scenario and the worst case, with sales prices that match both, and possibly somewhere in-between if necessary.

Light touch up painting. This may be simply painting one or two rooms or even touching up the hallway where the kids have put their dirty hands. Many times home sellers believe we’re going to ask them to repaint the entire exterior. In this market, that’s probably not necessary. The most important rooms are the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and master bathroom.

Clean up the landscaping. Trim the lower hanging tree limbs, pull out that dead shrub, and throw down fresh mulch are pretty common things we ask many sellers to do. No need to spend time and money doing a lot more than that.

Replacing light fixtures. I’ve had many people replace most of their outdated light fixtures throughout the home for less than $1,000. Lowes and Menards have excellent choices for ceiling fans, entry lights, and dining room lights. I think you would be very surprised at how much brighter and newer a home can look with new light fixtures.

Replacing old or worn out plumbing fixtures. Just like the light fixtures, it doesn’t cost much to replace the kitchen faucet and the bathroom sink faucets. Maybe $400 at the most but it’s typically one of the first things people notice. Spend a little more money on the kitchen faucet to get something more contemporary.

Minor repairs. When buyers walk into a home and see that you’ve let minor things go, they immediately think to themselves, “What major things have they not taken care of?” I’m talking very simple things like replacing rotten boards on the deck, repairing torn screens, patching that hole in the wall behind your son’s door, etc.

Replace carpet and refinish the hardwood floors. Now we get to the items that cost a little more money, but are still critical. Sellers always say, “Well I don’t know what the buyer might want.” I or one of my experienced vendors can help you with these choices because we know exactly what the buyers want. I can tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want to see your 15 year old, heavily stained carpet and your scratched up hardwood floors that lost their luster about 8 years ago. Buyers today have absolutely no imagination whatsoever. They can’t imagine what brand new carpet would look like; they need to see it.

If you simply take care of the items on this short list, that’s about 95% of what’s important to get you the most amount of money in today’s market. Beyond this, it’s simply a matter of getting the home staged for showings and we will even help you with that too. If you have any questions or would like one of our team members to come take a look at your home, please do not hesitate to call us. That’s a big part of how we help you make the most amount of money in the sale of your home.

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