Your home is a huge part of your life, both financially and emotionally. So the decision to sell a house is not one to be made lightly. You need to determine a marketing strategy. Price the house to attract buyer interest. There are a million other details to sort out.
First thing to do – Hire an agent: We suggest looking for an agent who utilizes tools and communications techniques you are comfortable with and has the following attributes:
- Knowledgeable in your housing market
- Highly trained
- Able to provide references
Declutter and Depersonalizing the home
As you begin the process for staging your home and prepare your home for buyers, you need to help them envision their family living in the space that your family loves. Though it can be hard, it’s important to remove a lot of the uniqueness your family brings.
Start packing early: Anything that you are sure you will not be using before moving day should be boxed. It’s never too soon to start weeding out your possessions. Throw out, recycle, give away, or sell the things that you don’t want to move. Store those beloved family photos until it’s time to unpack your new home. While lively wallpaper and paint colors may be perfect for your family, replace them with neutral tones for others. The last thing you want is a buyer passing on your home because they thought one room was “just too green.” Upgrade to hide the years of use; new appliances, carpets, and countertops are all possibilities to get more interest and higher offers. Each home is different, so contact us for a non obligatory personal consultation.
Decide what to take with you: You will also need to decide what will be included in the sale before you start showing your home. If you want to take your washer and dryer with you, for example, tell serious buyers before negotiations start.
Identify your home’s flaws or problems: Sellers are obligated to disclose any major problems or flaws in the structure or property, such as dry rot, termites, asbestos, or a new highway slated to run nearby. The disclosure requirements vary by state, but if you fail to mention the leaky roof or flooding basement, you could be sued for fraud.
Get the house in “showcase” condition: Small cosmetic touches can increase your home’s value by thousands.
Suggested Exterior Improvements
- Painting: Touch up your house’s exterior paint, and paint or clean the front door.
- Lawn: Keep your lawn freshly mowed and neatly trimmed.
- Sidewalks: Sweep your sidewalks daily.
- Shrubbery: Remove or replace any dead or dying trees, hedges, or shrubs; prune anything that looks unsightly or overgrown.
- Flowers: Filling flowerbeds with seasonal flowers is an inexpensive way to add color and charm.
- Repairs: Be sure that all gutters and downspouts are in place and clean. Replace missing roof shingles and broken or cracked windows.
- Make sure the garage door is greased and working properly and the house address numbers are easily visible.
- Repaint or replace your mailbox if it shows signs of wear.
- Windows: Keep your windows spotless.
- Eliminate or hide clutter: Clear everything out of the garage that you don’t need.
Suggested Interior Improvements
- Clean, scrub and polish: Keep your stove, oven, refrigerator, microwave and other appliances spotlessly clean inside and out. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, make sure your home is sparkling clean.
- Clean and spot-treat all carpeting. Polish wood floors and vinyl flooring. Clean walls, doors and woodwork.
- Eliminate odors: Buyers will notice strong smells as soon as they walk through your front door. Eliminate smoke, mildew and pet odors.
- Fix drippy faucets and running toilets: If any of your sinks or bathtubs drain slowly, unclog them.
- Get rid of clutter: Keep clutter off kitchen counters and dirty dishes out of the sink. Straighten all closets.
- Paint, paint, paint: It doesn’t cost much but goes a long way to improving your home’s appeal inside and out. Neutral colors appeal to most people and are your safest bet.
- Here are some staging tips that you can use to increase your house’s “emotional appeal.”
- Kitchen: Aromas from fragrant goodies like freshly baked gingerbread or just-brewed coffee bring back wonderful memories of home.
- Bathrooms: Always have fresh towels in bathrooms. Buy new shower curtains; old ones are usually spotted with mildew. Put new soap in the soap dishes.
- Clear everything off your refrigerator: Most folks use magnets to stick everything from vacation snapshots and finger-painting masterpieces. Create a clean slate.
- Comfort: Keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A house that’s too hot or too cold isn’t inviting.
- Flowers: Vases of colorful, fresh flowers throughout the house make a wonderful impression on prospective buyers.
Additional Tips to Remember
A Home is Sold but Not Bought
When you put your home on the market, getting an offer can be easier than finding a house you’d like to purchase. This can put you in the position of nearly having your home sold without a new place for your family to go. One way to avoid this is to research new homes before putting yours on the market. You can get all your research together so when the time comes, you can make informed decisions quickly. If your home is already getting offers, consider accepting one with a longer timeline for closing or making the acceptance contingent upon you finding a new home. In extreme cases, you can even rent your home from the buyer until you’re ready to move. Contact me to discuss what timelines are best for your situation so you can enjoy a smooth transition.
The Smell of a Sale
Odors are tied to memories, people, and emotions. When you put your home on the market, you’re encouraging strangers to walk through and not only look but also smell around. Most homes have some odor which can be neutral or even pleasant, but it’s hard for someone who lives there to identify it. Ask a friend to walk through and describe what she smells in each room. Some rooms, especially those with pets, will need professional carpet cleaning or replacement along with deep furniture cleaning. When buyers are coming, bake something with strong, pleasant smells like chocolate cookies or cinnamon bread. To skip the baking, slice (and serve) pieces of citrus. Your buyers will love the aroma, and you’ll love the offers. When you’re ready to start the process, contact me for an individual consultation.
Did you know most home buyers make a decision about whether they like a home within 12 seconds of stepping out of their car? Curb appeal can make or break a sale. Invest time in all the lawn maintenance you’ve been putting off. In the summer, this means mowing and watering the lawn. In the winter, it means shoveling regularly and discarding broken branches and other debris. If you have a garden, spend some time weeding and beautifying the area. A new layer of mulch can make it look new. For a low maintenance option, create beautiful rock gardens. Anything that lets buyers enjoy the exterior will impress. Don’t forget to replace broken shutters and repaint as needed. Contact me for an individual consultation.
Painting your Home to Sell
Repainting your interior walls before putting your home on the market is a low cost way to increase the appeal and perceived value of the house. Choose a light, neutral color like brown, tan, or beige. Never paint the walls white as this is actually a harsh tone that makes rooms look smaller. To make your job easier, paint all the rooms the same color. You can paint the ceiling the same as well, but if it’s a few shades lighter, it will pop more. In fact, the lighter color actually makes the ceiling look higher and the room bigger. If you have time to paint the rooms differently, opt for reds, oranges, or yellows in the kitchen, light yellows or tans in the bathroom, blues or browns in the bedroom, and darker browns in the home office. Each home is a little different, so contact me for an individual consultation.
New Bathroom Look
A bathroom that looks old and outdated can be a huge turnoff to a buyer. But you don’t need to invest in a remodel to get buyers to invest in you. Replace the toilet and vanity if they look dingy, which can often be done for less than $500. Install white lights above the vanity and lay down a new bath rug that matches the new towels. Deep clean the tub and consider refinishing it for extra shine. If you can make the buyer feel as if she is walking into a spa, you’re sure to impress. Get a new shower curtain and tie it back with ribbons. Light a few candles with peaceful scents and roll washcloths into a decorative pile beside the sink. It is amazing what a thorough cleaning and new linens can do to a bathroom. Contact me for an individual consultation and even more ideas.
Shooting Your Home
When your home goes on the market, the first thing buyers will look through is your online photographs. From there, they will usually decide whether it’s a home they want to see in person… or not. Capturing your home’s essence on camera is crucial. An investment in a professional photographer may pay off, but a good real estate professional can often get good photos without one. To get ideal photos, they may ask to minimize the amount of furniture so the shots enhance the size of the room. Positioning the camera in front of an expanse of floor rather than behind a piece of furniture or half wall also does the same. Shooting in natural light is best, but repositioning lamps if necessary to brighten corners with white light can add great impact. Aiming the flash at the ceiling when taking pictures also enhances photos; reflected light is more similar to sunlight. Your agent may want to try different angles and different times of the day, to find the most ideal shooting conditions. Contact me with questions regarding highlighting the best features of your home.
In many homes, there is one space that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. The tiny room with slanted walls on the top floor or the teeny space below the stairs is often used for storage. If you can convert these areas to usable space, you have one more feature to add value to your home. If you can fit a comfy chair and install some shelves filled with books you’ve created a library. Add a chair and a computer to a closet with a waist high shelf and you have an office nook. Install wall shelves in any open corner in the bathroom to stylishly store linens. Every space has the potential to be a selling point. Contact me for an individual consultation to help your home reach its potential.
Selling a home with Kids
When you have kids and a home for sale, maintaining a buyer friendly environment can be challenging. Give yourself one full day to declutter for every room in your home. After you’ve finished, put as many things in storage as possible, especially large children’s toys. Anything that you can do without for a few months should be gone. For things that are staying, create an organization system. Plastic storage bins that stack are perfect for accessing and stowing toys quickly. If you have a diaper changing station, work to make it as minimalistic as possible. Put the diapers, wipes, and other necessities in a nearby drawer so they’re out of sight. Use baby blankets and stuffed animals to add color to the room, but again, less is more. Contact me for a personal consultation to help simplify this delicate procedure.
If you’re thinking about selling your home, you’ll want to know the estimated value before taking the next step of talking to your real estate agent. We take public and purchased data to render a home value estimate and show you the most recent sales near your home. You can update your home facts based on characteristics, unique features and local market conditions, which can affect the value.
Brad and Karen Mattonen
Coldwell Banker Vista California