Ready to sell your home? Not so fast! If you want to attract buyers and get the most money for your home, there are several important steps to complete to prepare your home for sale. To make your home fetch top-dollar, you're first going to have to do some work. So grab the “For Sale” sign and a paintbrush too! Here are 16 things you must do before listing your home for sale.
Get a Home Inspection
Although home inspections are generally conducted after a sale, scheduling one before listing your home gives you the advantage of knowing what issues might need to be addressed. This eliminates surprises down the road that could slow or even derail the sale of your home. You can either fix any discovered problems yourself or budget those repairs into the asking price.
Enhance Your Entranceway
After addressing any repairs discovered in your inspection, it’s best to start fixing any problem areas outside your home — after all, this is what buyers see first. Your front door is the threshold to your home, so it should say, “Come on in,” and not “Go away!” To this end, give your door a new coat of paint to make it look more inviting or open up your entranceway by removing debris or vegetation. You can also try adding a decorative potted plant to either side of your door for an additional flourish. And if you don't have one, literally roll-out a welcome mat!
Give Your Home a Facelift
If the exterior of your home looks drab and gloomy, then give it a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. A simple paint-job will make your home look years younger by filling in any cracks and crevices that help show its age. A newly painted home exterior is inexpensive and will do wonders to impress prospective buyers.
Get to (Yard)work
A well-maintained lawn gives the impression of pride in your appearance. Do your home a favor and clear away any overgrown vegetation, pull weeds, mulch the flowerbeds and even re-sod, if necessary. Plant some eye-catching flowers and keep all landscaping trimmed and free of debris. Displaying a tidy and attractive exterior will signal the same for your home’s interior.
Paint the Walls
Speaking of your home’s interior, a majority of your preparation for sale will be done inside the home. A good place to start is, again, with a paintbrush. A simple paint job can really freshen up the interior of your house. Stick to neutral colors like beige or taupe for most walls and be sure to paint over any areas with scuff-marks, damage or untraditional colors. Also, be sure to touch-up the trim and molding for an extra polish.
Get to Scrubbing
It should go without saying, but it’s absolutely necessary to deep clean all showers, tubs, toilets and sinks. A dirty bathroom or kitchen could be an immediate turn-off to a potential buyer. If you don’t want to spend hours on your knees scrubbing (or if the thought of pulling hair from the shower drain makes you ill), you can always hire a professional cleaning service to give your bathroom and kitchen a thorough once-over.
Stains happen. If your home is carpeted, then it's probably safe to assume it has accumulated its fair share of stains over the years. No buyer wants to inherit dirty floors, so it’s best to replace your carpet before listing your home. Since your carpets will likely be coming up, this is a good opportunity to consider upgrading to tile or even wood paneling to give your floors a cleaner, more modern look.
Test the Lights
Electric issues should have been checked during your home inspection, but just to be safe, go around the house and double check that everything is working properly before showing your home. Make sure all the lights turn on—both inside and out. Look for any exposed wiring, and repair or replace any broken fixtures, bulbs, light switches and outlet covers. Also, test all your kitchen appliances for any defects or deficiencies.
Do a Royal Flush
One of the first things buyers will do when examining a home is check that the home's plumbing is in working order. Be sure the water flows properly from all sink, shower and tub faucets, and replace any shower heads or fixtures that are old, moldy or clogged. Double-check that all the toilets flush. If they don’t, try replacing the toilet stopper to correct the issue. Replace any stained or rusty drains, re-caulk any grimy areas of the shower, and clean the mirrors.
Repair or replace any broken or outdated hardware or fixtures both in and outside your home. You can easily install new doors, handles, curtain rods or drawers inside. As for the exterior, look out for any window frames, screens or shutters that require attention. Your home inspector will also let you know of any issues regarding leaks or loose shingles or tiles on your roof.
Time to throw stuff away. Don't stuff your closets, attic or garage with junk just to get it out of the way for an open house. You'll need to address your clutter at some point, so it’s best to just deal with it before listing your home. Take this opportunity to reduce your belongings so you don’t have so much to move to your next home. If you can’t part with anything, your only option may be renting a storage unit until your home sells. Potential buyers want to see a clean, clutter-free home, not one occupied by a hoarder.
Move your furniture around to maximize space and give each room a more natural flow. Repositioning a couch or bed (along with some decluttering) can make your home appear bigger. And bigger is better to homebuyers. If you don’t know the first thing about feng shui, you can hire a professional home stager for help. It could cost you a few hundred dollars, but their advice may allow you to sell your home for more money in the long run.
Deck the Halls
Before scheduling an open house, make your home feel cozy and livable. Dust and polish the wooden furniture. Invest in a new tablecloth and placemats, and set the table as if you are expecting guests. Accentuate the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere with a bouquet of fresh flowers in the kitchen or on the dining room table.
Go through your home and conduct a final spot-check before a property showing. Make sure the sink and dishwasher are empty, toys are off the floor and pets are put away. Most important, make sure all toilets are flushed. That’s one surprise you can’t paint away.
Gather Your Paperwork
Collect or download and print all the owner’s manuals and warranty policies for your appliances, as well as information about your home’s paint colors. Interested buyers will appreciate having all the information on what they will be getting in case of an emergency. Also, provide a copy of recent utility bills to give them an idea of average monthly costs.
Research Your Home’s Value
Interested buyers can research their home online before making an inquiry. They can learn details about a home’s ownership, insurance, mortgage and any pulled permits, renovations and repairs. However, if they can look all that up, then so can you. Learn how much your home is worth and if there are any issues with it before listing. That way, you can anticipate and correct any problems that could slow the selling process and sell your home for the highest possible amount.
Bringing It All Together
Congratulations, you now have a clean and clutter-free home! After completing these 16 critical steps, you will be ready to confidently list your home for sale with the knowledge that you did everything in your power to prepare and improve your home for its next owners — and make yourself a nice profit in the process.