We’re in a historically hot real estate market right now, so it’s a great time to be a seller. Maybe you want to move to a warmer climate, or maybe you want to upgrade your investments — but you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a buyer, even if you’re selling a dilapidated property.
But just because you could sell your home with no effort, doesn’t mean you should sell your home with no effort. A little bit of work getting your home ready for the market can pay off big— literally.
Home prices vary wildly by city, by neighborhood — and even by block. Look up recent sales of similar homes in your immediate area (the previous six months is good) to get a good idea of how you should price your home.
Location isn’t the only factor that should figure into your pricing strategy. When you sell can be just as important as where you’re selling. Selling at a peak time can mean a faster, much more lucrative sale than selling in a slow month. Make sure you speak to your agent about local market dynamics before you hit the market.
Speaking of your agent, make sure you’re working with someone who can help you accomplish your goals.
Look for an agent who specializes in your neighborhood and has recently sold homes that are similar to yours. A good agent will be able to lay out a detailed plan for how they’re going to sell your home. And don’t be shy about asking for references!
“Great light” is near the top of every home buyer’s list of qualities they’re looking for in a new home, so make sure your home is as bright as possible.
That means removing all obstructive window coverings such as heavy drapes or blinds and making sure all burned-out light bulbs have been replaced. You might also want to consider upgrading your bulbs to a higher wattage — most experts recommend using the brightest bulb that’s safe.
One last note — when you’re showing your home, turn on all those bulbs before buyers visit.
A cluttered home looks crowded, small, and claustrophobic, so you’ll want to declutter as much as possible before you show your home. One good general rule is to remove half your furniture; it will make your home seem brighter, larger, and more open. Don’t hesitate to rent a storage unit if you need somewhere to stow all your extra stuff!
Unfortunately for lazy or last-minute declutterers, you won’t be able to just shove all your clutter into your closets and storage spaces. Buyers definitely check those spaces out, and they can be a big factor in how they feel about your home. Seeing crammed closets won’t make them think that you’re a pack rat; it will make them think your home doesn’t have enough storage space.
Experts suggest you make all your closets and storage spaces organized and, more importantly, half-full, so when buyers peek in, they come away with the impression that you have storage space to spare.
Prospective buyers want to be able to project themselves into your home, and any personal touches you leave in place can make it hard for them to do that.
Create a neutral environment by removing personal items such as family photos, kid’s drawings or toys, and distinctive or unique decorations. Just don’t go too overboard; you want the home to feel impersonal but still warm and lived-in.
Do a once-over through your entire home and note every crooked cupboard handle, loose doorknob, stuck window, and broken closet light. Then fix them all — hire a handyman, if necessary.
Buyers are very thorough, so no matter how minor something might seem, odds are they’ll find it. And it won’t make a good impression on them.
There’s no easier (and more cost-efficient) way to boost your home’s value and appeal than a new coat of paint. One study found that using the right color can boost your home’s value by as much as $5,000.
A fresh coat of paint makes your home look newer, cleaner, and will cover small imperfections. Although white seems like the obvious choice, try to avoid plain white paint, as it can look harsh and institutional. For buyers, the most appealing colors are neutrals such as beiges and grays (or “greige”).
Professional home staging can make your home more appealing to buyers — but it’s not cheap. Home staging companies will often extensively rearrange your existing belongings and even bring in new furniture, art, and furnishings. The average home staging costs a few hundred dollars a month (and many companies require a minimum time commitment of a few months), but it can boost your final sale price by quite a bit. Ask your agent if your property needs professional staging!
The most meticulous decluttering and staging won’t matter if your home doesn’t make a great first impression. Research has shown that buyers make a decision on a home within 7 seconds of first setting eyes on it. (This explains why having a nice front door makes such a huge difference.) So make sure you consider how your home looks to a buyer as they get out of their car and head up your front walk.
That could mean a lot of things — paying for professional landscaping, soft washing your home’s siding and sidewalks, putting potted flowers or decorative wreaths on your home, or, yes, getting a new front door.
Most home searches begin online, so just as curb appeal determines your home’s first impression in real life, your listing photos determine your home’s first impression online.
It certainly pays to hire a professional real estate photographer to take your listing photos. They know how to present your home in the most flattering light possible, and they’ll be able to produce them in a format that’ll look good in online listings. Experienced photographers may even be able to advise you on staging and other aspects of your home’s presentation.