5 Things To Do Before Selling A Home

When you’re thinking about selling a home, it’s tempting to say “let’s get it on the market fast.” But, acting too quickly could actually cost you a LOT of money. […]

May 23, 2016 // Tammy // No Comments //

When you’re thinking about selling a home, it’s tempting to say “let’s get it on the market fast.” But, acting too quickly could actually cost you a LOT of money.

As a real estate agent working with sellers, I provide specific recommendations on things they can do to make their home more appealing to buyers. The goal is to ensure that we can sell the house in a relatively short period of time – and at the highest possible price!

When we work together, I go through the home (inside and out) to look for ways to make it stand out to buyers. However, some things require more time and should be taken care of prior to meeting with me.

Here’s are the top 5 things to do first:

1. Evaluate The Home’s Curb Appeal

When an agent puts your house on the MLS system, the first photo will be the outside of the home (or it can be second if there’s a water view photo). The MLS system is what feeds popular home searching web sites like realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia – so this photo is really important! If the first photo doesn’t capture their attention, they may bypass your property and not even click-through to see the details and other photos.

It’s also the first impression from the street for those driving by (many buyers drive by before ever calling to make an appointment to see the house). It’s really easy to lose potential buyers before your agent even knows they exist.

Bottom line – making sure the outside of your home entices buyers enough that they want to see the inside is critical when selling a home.

2. De-Clutter and De-Personalize

OK – so you’re planning to move anyway, right? That means you’re going to be boxing things up and getting rid of things you no longer want.

Start that process before you list your home!

You want your house to be as free of clutter as possible, as well as free of everything that makes it “yours” – and that means removing knick-knacks, family photos, small appliances you rarely use and out-of-season clothing. Take everything off the refrigerator – including photos, family calendars, etc.

Bottom line – Selling a home requires de-cluttering and de-personalizing every room. The goal is to get buyers to envision themselves living in the home. They can’t do that if your “stuff” is everywhere reminding them that it’s your home.

3. Clean Out The Garage

Sure, living in Florida means not having a basement…which means there’s limited space for your things. But reminding buyers that the house has too little storage is the LAST message you want to send! After all, if your stuff won’t fit – neither will theirs.

Start by taking everything out of the garage (yes – that means everything that is not attached to the walls or floor!) Decide what you need to keep handy for the next couple of months; such as lawn and pool equipment, bicycles, tools and sports gear.

Everything else should be boxed up and put into storage. If you’ve built a storage platform that hangs from the ceiling – great! If not, consider renting a storage unit for a few months.

When putting things back into the garage – consider adding hanging brackets for things like rakes, bicycles and anything else you can keep off the floor.

Most importantly – make sure you have room to park the car (or two).

Bottom line – Many Floridians may be accustomed to leaving the car outside and using the garage for storage – but others (especially northerners who are relocating) expect to park vehicles in the garage.

4. Consider Major Updates

Here’s a real estate “truth”:

“You always pay to update the house. You either pay for it while you’re living in it, or you pay for it when you sell it.”

Few people want to buy a house with a 1970’s kitchen or a 1950’s bathroom – especially when they’re buying in the range of $400,000 and above.  Yes, even waterfront property!

Here’s another “truth”:

“Buyers estimate that the cost of updates and repairs to be a lot higher than they actually are – sometimes by twice as much.”

Buyers who are willing to do the updates themselves may relish the idea of “making the home their own” – but that luxury comes at a premium price for the seller. You may include a $20,000 price reduction in your Listing price to compensate for an outdated kitchen – but buyers will further drop the price by another $10,000 – $20,000!

Houses with outdated kitchens and bathrooms and flooring that needs to be replaced also sit on the market a lot longer than homes that are updated. The longer a house sits on the market – the lower the selling price.

Sure, someone may buy it – eventually – but it might be after multiple price drops, resulting in only “lowball” offers.

I’ve also talked to many sellers who decide they want to try to sell a house first. They figure, if it doesn’t sell, they can always pull it off the market, do the updates, then put it back on at a higher price.

But, here’s the reality – if a house has been listed for sale within the past year (and especially on those that failed to sell) – many lenders won’t issue a home-equity loan.

A good strategy (even if you don’t plan on doing the updates and instead want to “test the market”) is to take out an equity loan or line of credit now – before you put it on the market. With modern Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) loans – you only borrow if and when you decide to use it. Otherwise, you may not be able to make updates and you’ll be stuck accepting less than what you should.

Further – the home’s listing and sales history is available to everyone. If buyers see that a home was listed at $450,000 three months ago – and now it’s listed at $470,000 – it clouds their judgment. Often, they won’t take the time to find out WHY the price went up – they’ll just ignore the property and move on to the next one.

Bottom line – bite the bullet now. Take out a Home Equity Line of Credit before listing the home for sale. To get top dollar – go ahead and do as many major updates you can (kitchens, baths, roofing and flooring). Be sure to leave some money (line of credit) in reserves for things that crop up during the inspection.

5. Deep Clean and Refresh

You want real estate agents and buyers to get the best possible impression of your home.

In order to do that, every room should be sparkling clean (especially kitchens and bathrooms). This means doing things you may not think about often, such as dusting ceiling fans and baseboards.

When was the last time you painted the inside of the house?

Do the wall colors reflect your personal style?

For example, your daughter may like pink walls with Disney princess-themed murals – but few buyers will see that as a selling feature. Your goal is to appeal to the majority – not the select few.

To attract the most buyers, the walls and trim should be neutral colors. Very few buyers have the ability to envision their furniture in the house if the wall colors clash.

This holds true for carpeting as well. Carpet needs to be completely free of stains, odors and signs of wear. A few hundred spent on room-sized carpet remnants can increase your odds of getting an offer – and at a higher price.

Bottom line – Create a neutral palette that’s sparkling clean and odor-free.

Once you're ready to put your house on the market - give me a call. You'll be amazed at all the things I do DIFFERENTLY than other agents to get your home sold faster and at the highest possible price. 

Tammy Slater-Kendrick
cell: 727.888.3882