If you are planning on selling your home or investment property in the next few months, you may have already started brainstorming how to prepare your home for sale. The condition of your house, especially if it requires major upgrades, greatly affects your ability to attract a desirable sales price, so properly preparing your home before listing is a critical step in the selling process.
Making repairs, cleaning, and home staging can help get you more attractive offers, but the process can also be overwhelming and expensive.
This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to prepare your home for sale so you can get the maximum value for your efforts – while also saving time and money.
How to Prepare Your House to Sell
- Identify and make repairs
- Declutter and deep clean
- Depersonalize your home
- Repaint the walls in neutral colors
- Upgrade your curb appeal
- Stage your home for prospective buyers
1. Identify and Make Repairs
Making needed repairs and improvements to your home prior to putting it on the market is one way of increasing its appeal and salability. But what repairs are the right repairs? What will add value instead of just costing you money? A good agent can help answer these questions during an initial in-home consultation, which generally involves a complete walkthrough of your home. Your agent should also be able to show you your home’s current value and an estimated future value if you were to make certain repairs.
After you meet with an agent, it may be wise to go home room by room on your own and note any additional repairs that need to be made. These might include less noticeable issues like dents in walls, or cracks and chips in flooring.
In the kitchen, appliances should be in working order. Examine cabinets and drawers to ensure that they function correctly. Kitchen and bathroom faucets, fixtures, and drains should be leak-free and operational. Bathroom tubs and showers should have no broken tiles. Also, look for signs of water damage.
Your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system should work and be leak free. So should your water heater, smoke detectors, electrical panel, and circuit breakers.
Outside, examine exterior surfaces, weather stripping, eaves, and windows. Look for damage such as peeling and cracking. Decks and patios should be in good condition. Fencing should also be free from damage, like rot or rust. Landscaping should be trimmed back from your home, eliminating the potential for causing damage.
If you find that your home does require larger repairs, but you don’t have the funds to complete them, the REX Home Prep Program is a great option. With this program, REX will pay the up-front costs for repairs (up to 1% of your home’s value, capped at $5,000). We’ll then recoup the money at the close of sale, with no additional interest or fees tacked on to what you borrow. Instead of having to pay out of pocket for repair expenses, you can use part of the equity from your home to attract a higher offer and repay the initial expense at closing.
2. Declutter and Deep Clean
Declutter and organize all the different spaces in your home. Don’t just hide everything in closets, cabinets, attics, and basements, as buyers will be curious about storage space and will want to check every nook and cranny. It’s important to ensure these areas are organized, as it sends a negative message if your storage spaces are cluttered with items falling out. Use storage bins or baskets that can be tucked under beds or neatly put away in a cabinet or closet.
Decluttering also includes furniture. The scale of your pieces should match the size of the room, and buyers should be able to easily walk around spaces without bumping into furniture. Make sure furnishings don’t block doors, windows, or architectural features. In a small living room, for example, consider removing end tables or accent chairs. Such moves aren’t convenient, but remember, they’re temporary.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you may consider hiring a professional organizer to help you declutter. REX partner, TaskRabbit, connects you with thousands of trusted taskers that can help you identify items to discard, store, or donate. This process also makes moving easier since you’ll have fewer items, and others already boxed.
Once all of the heavy lifting is done inside, it’s time to deep clean the space. If you can swing it, hiring a professional cleaning service is the way to go, as they’ll make sure to cover every inch of your home – from scrubbing the grout to hand-wiping the baseboards. The average cleaning service charges $167, according to HomeAdvisor.com. If you do choose to do it yourself, just make sure to be as thorough as possible. Don’t forget to clean the appliances (inside and out), as well as inside the cabinets, drawers, and closets. They might not be on full display at all times, but buyers will definitely take a peek in these areas while touring the property.
3. Depersonalize Your Home
The goal when selling is to have a buyer fall in love with your house. Prospective buyers want to be able to envision themselves living there. This can be difficult if your home has your personal touch stamped all over it. You’ll want to neutralize the space by removing personal photographs, family heirlooms, and other objects and clutter that might distract buyers and hurt a potential sale. You want to present buyers with an impersonal, clean environment so they can imagine the home decorated with their own photographs, furniture, and art pieces.
Regarding furniture, only leave understated pieces that are not a distraction and don’t create an unintended impression. For example, you may love your oversized chair or antique sofa, but you want to showcase pieces that will appeal to the largest group of people and showcase your space in the best light possible.
4. Repaint the Walls in Neutral Colors
A fresh coat of paint can make a home feel new. In fact, painting is one of the most common recommendations real estate agents make to sellers before they list. Paint can help small rooms appear larger and highlight architectural details, such as crown molding and trim.
You should also touch up any areas that are smudged or dirty, including doors, baseboards, door frames, or window sills. Be mindful of your color choice, however. As much as you love your dramatic purple dining room, it could turn off a good portion of your buyers. So, repaint your rooms in neutral tones like tans, greys, and whites that allow buyers to focus on the spaces themselves, not the color of the walls.
5. Upgrade Your Curb Appeal
The first thing buyers will see when they walk up to your house is the entryway – so you need to make sure it gives off a positive first impression. Especially for private showings, your front door area needs to be in pristine condition.
Clean your mailbox.
If your mailbox is rusty or broken, replace it before you list your home for sale.
Replace your welcome mat with a fresh, new one.
Choose a simple design and avoid phrases like “Welcome to our home” that makes buyers feel like guests.
Remove storm doors and screens.
Nothing says “old” like a squeaky screen door that slams behind you. Take off your old storm door to instantly update the front of your home.
Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
Choose a paint color that works with the siding and style of your home, but also gives it a modern touch. Some popular options are contemporary black, homey red, vibrant yellow, or charming blue.
Buff and shine hardware on the front door.
Over time, metal door handles tarnish. Wipe oil-rubbed bronze hardware with a tiny amount of vegetable oil to give it new life. Clean chrome hardware with a damp cloth or polish to restore its original shine. If your front door hardware is from the ’80s and can’t be saved, install new hardware to wow buyers.
Dust cobwebs off of light sconces.
You want the house to look well-taken care and bug free, so remember not to skip over the little things.
Update the landscaping.
Once you’ve revamped the area around your front door, you might also notice your landscaping needs a bit of sprucing up as well. As the weather warms up and your yard starts to bloom, take the time to get your hands dirty by trimming shrubs, or cutting your grass. You can also get your kids to help if they’re out of school. Give them simple projects like planting flowers and plants to give some color to your yard.
Pressure wash your roof to remove unsightly dirt and mold.
There’s no way around it, your roof takes a beating from weather elements, which can make it look a lot more worn than it actually is. Many times, especially in warm, rainy climates, dirt, and mold stick on a roof. This could give buyers the impression that the roof is on its last leg, even if it could last another 10 years. This is important to note because buyers looking for move-in ready homes and their agents will steer clear of property if the roof looks damaged.
Check your driveways and sidewalks for bumps and cracks.
Uneven, jagged sidewalks or driveways are an eyesore, a safety risk, and a turn-off for buyers. Buyers looking for a kid-friendly home don’t want to deal with tripping hazards, especially if they’d like to avoid taking on any big projects immediately after moving in.
6. Stage Your Home for Prospective Buyers
Now for the last step: staging your home. The goal is to create a great first impression so that buyers put your home at the top of their list. According to Forbes, a staged home will sell for 17% more on average than a non-staged home, and 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. You don’t need to spend a ton of money and you don’t need to stage an entire home – a few updates can make any space feel brand new. Focus on rooms that impress buyers most, such as the kitchen, living room, primary suite, and bathrooms. REX works with the Home Staging Network & CORT furniture rental to make this process hassle free, with services starting as low as $129.
Perhaps you’re able to stage your home with the furniture and décor you already own. If this is the case, keep the following in mind:
Make sure every room has a purpose.
Let buyers visualize how they will be able to use every room in the house. That spare room you’ve been using as an office / guest room /dumping ground won’t help sell your home unless you show buyers how they can use it themselves. So, pick a use (office, guest room, playroom) and clearly stage the space to showcase that purpose.
Create a single focal point in each room.
Hanging a simple piece of artwork that enhances your staging, or highlighting architectural details, such as a fireplace or beautiful windows.
Open the curtains and let the light in.
A bright house feels bigger, cleaner, and happier than a dark, closed off house. So, for photos and showings, make sure all your blinds are up, curtains are opened, and lights are turned on.
Add the final touches.
Finally, it’s time for the little details like fresh flowers in the bathrooms, a wreath on the door, a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen, and a cute welcome mat on the front stoop to make buyers feel welcome. Setting the table with a runner, cloth napkins, and a full set of dishes is also a nice touch.
Selling your home can be an emotional process, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time. Memories and personal attachments often hinder sellers from taking an objective look from a buyer’s point of view, making it easy to overlook the things that can make or break an offer. It’s important to remove yourself from the equation and imagine that you are seeing the space for the first time.
Properly prepping your home to sell is critical if you want your home to sell fast and at the maximum price possible. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your REX agent. They are well-versed in both the local housing market and the listing process, making them your number one ally as you navigate the sale of your home.
Give us a call at 855-205-0599.