Prior to listing your home there are things you can do to get it "listing ready" to help it sell faster, and at a higher price. You'll find the list of pre-listing preparations we suggest our clients perform below.
We recommend you begin packing up your home prior to putting it on the market. We're not suggesting you pack up the blender that you use daily, but anything you won't use or need between listing your home and moving should start being boxed up.
Closets that are overflowing with items typically signal "not enough storage" to buyers. The same goes for bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets. Organize the items that are going to remain in the closets. Try to keep your counter tops are as cleared as possible (put the blender into a cabinet when not in use, etc.).
You should also begin getting rid of items that you don't plan to take with you in the move.
We all decorate our homes to our personal tastes, but when you're selling your home, your individual and unique decor personality should not be taking center stage.
Need some examples? "Personalized decor" includes things like collections (think of a kitchen adorned with rooster statues), personal photos, awards, hunting trophies, room themes (think of a room where all of the decor centers around your favorite football team), your child's name displayed on the wall, custom murals, wall quotes, chalkboard walls, "bold statement" paint colors or wallpapers, etc.
If it exemplifies your unique (even if it's awesome) taste, it should be de-personalized. That said, you don't want to sterilize the home; you simply don't want it to scream your name.
Remove and replace any fixtures not included in the sale
Things like curtains and light fixtures come with the home when it's sold unless you specify otherwise when listing it. While you can exclude any "typically included in the sale" items in the listing, we recommend you remove and replace the items with inexpensive substitutes prior to listing your home instead.
This prevents buyers from being disappointed that a fixture they loved in the home isn't included and helps prevent buyers from making mental deductions from the sales price for all of the items they'll have to replace. Replacing the items are also typically cash out of pocket expenses for the buyer (that they may not have) vs. the cost of the items being part and parcel of the mortgage.
Make small (and mainly DIY) improvements
Putting a little bit of sweat equity into your home prior to listing it can pay ample dividends.
Pressure wash patios, driveways, walkways, bricks, and siding. Weed your gardens, remove "taste specific" garden decor, cut back overgrown bushes, and replace thinning mulch.
Patch visible nail holes and drywall holes. Have the carpets cleaned. Replace the inner rails on a kitchen drawer that sticks. Caulk any spots that need it. Make sure all of the light fixtures have working lightbulbs.
Need an example of how big a difference some small improvements can make? Check out the before and after photo below of the back patio of a home we recently purchased as investors. After buying the home, we trimmed the tree and pressure washed the brick and patio. Those two small improvements made it look like a different house.
If it is inexpensive to fix or improve, we recommend that you do so prior to listing the home.
Consider improvements if the home is dated compared to competing homes on the market
When comparing your home to other homes in the neighborhood, you'll want to take note of the features within the houses and not simply the square footage and number of bedrooms. If your home is dated in features when compared to the competition, you'll either need to price your home accordingly or consider making some improvements to the home in an attempt to obtain the same purchase price range of other more updated homes in the neighborhood.
If you're thinking of making improvements to your home before you list it, we can help you navigate which repairs might be worth doing from a return on investment standpoint and which renovations wouldn't stand to bring you much as far as increased value of the home.
If the house is empty consider staging it
When viewing vacant houses it's not uncommon for buyers to have a hard time envisioning how they could use an unusual space or deciding whether or not a bedroom can fit a specific mattress size. Many buyers report that vacant homes feel sterile – which results in them having difficulty in seeing the house as a "home." Additionally, vacant homes can sometimes signal an urgency to sell by the seller (and thus result in lower offers) whether or not that is the case.
Depending on the price point of your home, staging a vacant home could help you get a better and faster offer. If you need advice on staging your home, we can help with that.
Make sure the home is clean for both photos and showings
This is hands down the most important item on this list. You'll want to do a deep clean of your home before photographing it and putting it on the market. Buyers often base their assumption of how the home was cared for by how clean the home is once it's been put on the market.
Dirty air conditioning vents, cobwebs on ceilings, dirty ceiling fan blades, dirty grout, grimy windows, baseboards filled with dust, belongings cast everywhere in disarray - none of these photograph well and all of them can potentially dampen the value of your home in the eyes of a prospective buyer.
Be sure all toilet seats are down when the photos are taken, and that any evidence of a pet living in the home (pet hair, food bowls, crates, etc.) is temporarily removed for the photo shoot.
Make sure your home sparkles when the listing photos are taken and do your best to keep it as clean as possible thereafter for showings.