Preparing to Sell

Preparing Your Home to Sell and Stand Out Above the Rest

By REsides, Inc.

Preparing to sell your home is a huge undertaking, and the little things can make a big difference. Careful planning and knowing how to professionally prepare your home is imperative to ensure your house stands out and attracts as many buyers as possible. With so many changes over the past year, home features that were once just "nice-to-haves" may now be "must-haves" for buyers. You’ll need to consider what homebuyers are looking for in 2021 to make your home the most attractive house on the market. Features like home offices, updated kitchens, and move-in ready homes can’t be overlooked, and you will need to go above and beyond to prep your house for sale. Start by walking through your home as if it is the first time and take notes on what you, as a potential homebuyer, would notice, and then resolve those issues.

The Exterior

Exterior front of home with nice curb appeal

Making a great first impression begins with the home’s exterior, and beautiful curb appeal is key. As you walk to the front door, looking at everything in sight, would it appeal to you? Ensure that the exterior is visually pleasing and welcoming, as potential buyers will notice every minor imperfection.

  • Driveway/Walkway/Steps: Uneven, cracked, and jagged walkways are not only an eyesore, but a safety risk as well. Consider hiring a contractor to fix these issues, and spray clean of any dirt and debris.
  • Lawn/Shrubs/Trees: A well-manicured lawn, trimmed trees and shrubs, and freshly-planted flowers can make all the difference. This will catch a buyer’s eye and leave a lasting impression. In addition, remove any personal items from the exterior of the house (i.e., rakes, flags, and garden gnomes).
  • Front of Home: Dust and clean cobwebs from corners of porch, banisters, and light fixtures. If there is space for a sitting area, add small patio furniture with colorful throw pillows.
  • Front Door: Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door, and add a nice eye-catching, but simple wreath. Shine up the door’s hardware, or replace if necessary.
  • Doormat: Replace old doormats with a simple design that complements your front door. Avoid phrases like "Welcome to Our Home" that make buyers feel like guests.
  • Roof: Pressure wash your roof to remove unsightly mold and dirt. Not doing so may age your roof and turn off buyers.

The Interior

Clean kitchen counter top

Back inside your home, linger in the doorway of each room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer. Less is definitely more when it comes to getting your house ready to show.

  • Depersonalize and Declutter: As difficult as it can be, it is necessary to depersonalize and declutter your home to create a blank canvas for which buyers can envision themselves. Begin by packing up your personal items and any clutter that may distract potential buyers. Remove books from bookcases and other knickknacks, and clean everything off your kitchen counters, including excess accessories to enlarge the space. Examine how the furniture is arranged and rearrange pieces until the room achieves visual appeal, getting rid of any extra or oversized items that could make your space look smaller than it really is. Buyers will be curious about storage space and will check closets, cabinets, and drawers, so it is important to keep them clean and organized.
  • Remove or Replace Favorite Items: If you plan on taking certain window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove and replace them prior to showing the house. Make it clear what stays and what goes. Telling a buyer that they can't have an item that appears with the house and enhances its appeal can hurt the sale. If there are appliances that will come with the home, make sure to have the warranty information ready to hand off to the buyers.
Clean white living room with tan couch
  • Repaint Walls to Neutral Tones: It's the seller's job to help buyers picture themselves in the house. Bold or outdated wall colors can be off-putting to potential buyers. Play it safe by sticking to a neutral color palette when freshening up your paint.
  • Repair Minor Issues: Selling a home can be tricky, but selling a home with lots of little problems and small repair needs can be downright difficult. Buyers will notice them, and they’ll detract from the value of your home. So take the time to replace cracked floor or counter tiles, patch holes in the walls, fix leaky faucets, tighten loose doorknobs, replace burned-out light bulbs, and re-caulk tubs, showers, and sinks.
  • Clean the House: Cleaning and keeping a clean home is a must. This includes washing the windows inside and out, removing dust from under the furniture, in the cabinets and closets, on top of the fireplace mantle and fan blades, and polishing your appliances and faucets. Try to maintain this cleanliness by vacuuming daily, waxing floors, dusting, and keeping the kitchen and bathrooms spotless. Hang up fresh guest towels, and keep the toilet lid closed when it's not in use.
  • Make Bright and Cheery: A bright house feels bigger, cleaner, and happier than a dark, closed-off house. Open up all the curtains and blinds to let in as much natural light as possible, and add floor or table lamps to areas that are dim.
  • Pay Attention to Smells: Foul odors, even slight ones, can be a deal breaker. Don’t try to mask the scent with candles or room deodorizers, but rather find and remove the problem. Avoid cooking pungent meals, as those smells can linger. Before a showing, lightly spray a lemon-scented air freshener in each room and leave the windows open for fresh air, at least 30-minutes prior.
A staged open concept living room, dining room and kitchen
  • Consider Professional Staging: Once everything is organized, repaired, and clean, you can begin staging your home. A professional home stager will evaluate the current condition and belongings in your house and determine what elements might raise the bar. They know the real estate market, and what sells, so it's important to take their advice and not take offense when they make big changes. Their goal is to build interest from potential buyers using their expertise. Some areas they may focus on include:
  • Giving Each Room a Purpose: Show buyers how they can utilize each space by picking a use (office, guest room, crafts room) and clearly stage the space to showcase that purpose. Many people will continue to work from home in 2021 and beyond, so having a home office is an essential feature for homebuyers today. If your house does not have a designated office space, stage a spare room or empty area as a home office, preferably where natural light is plentiful.
Macro image of spa basket with towels, candles and small plants
  • Creating a Luxurious Oasis: Give the bathroom the feel of a relaxing, luxurious spa by stacking a few pretty washcloths tied with ribbon, adding some scented candles and faux plants, and buying bathmats and towels in coordinating tones such as light green, blue, and white.
  • Turning the Living Room into a Social Hotspot: Help buyers picture themselves relaxing with family and guests by grouping your furniture into arrangements that inspire conversation.
  • Highlighting Focal Points: The goal is to draw buyers’ eyes towards any special features with bright colors or accents. Potted plants or a few pretty buds in a vase can help bring energy into a space, fill in empty corners, and even draw attention to features you want buyers to notice. You may also want to consider a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter.
  • Creating an Outdoor Entertainment Retreat: With all the time spent at home over the last year, it’s no surprise that having an outdoor haven is more desirable than ever. As you’re preparing to sell your home, put in the effort to make your backyard a “usable” space and a place where potential buyers can envision themselves spending time.

Professional Photography

Professional photographer holding camera and looking at LCD of exterior home shot

Making your home the most attractive house on the market goes beyond home improvements. It is imperative that it stands out online. If your listing showcases dark, blurry, or distorted photos, chances are your home won’t attract many potential buyers, even in a seller’s market. Professional real estate photos are essential when preparing to sell your home. They will help your home sell faster and for more profit.

An Amazing Listing Description

Your real estate agent will guide you through the home selling process and be the one responsible for writing your listing description. Your description should accurately reflect your home, while also highlighting its best features, and any new upgrades you’ve made. The goal is to make potential buyers both excited and wanting more. If you pay close attention these small details, your home is sure to shine above the rest.

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