Preparing Your Home for Sale
When your house is up for sale, it is often more than just the purchase price that will make or break a deal. Yes, price and location are major factors, but the last piece of the puzzle involves making your home look its very best and presenting it as a desirable place to live.
Preparing your home for sale requires that you ask yourself one simple question: "What can I do to make my home and property as appealing as possible to prospective Buyers?"
Work with your REALTOR®
Your first order of business should be to consult with your REALTOR® and gain an objective opinion of what you need to do. REALTORS® have the experience and knowledge that can help identify problem areas and suggest improvements. The also have the knack of being able to read what potential Buyers want and can zero in on specific items that might facilitate a sale. Most of the time, REALTORS® will not suggest major renovations; a few minor repairs here and there and a thorough cleaning are usually all that is required.
Cleaning up the homestead
Virtually all Buyers are on the lookout for one thing - a clean house. Many will simply walk away if a home looks uncared for; at the very least, an untidy home will fetch a lower selling price. Start with a tour of your home and note every opportunity to remove clutter and dirt. Clean rooms not only show that your house has been well maintained but make closets and living areas look roomier.
Basements, garages and storage sheds may be out of sight to you but, to potential Buyers, nothing spoils a first impression like a basement full of boxes and dust or a garage that smells of years of old oil and exhaust fumes. Don't spare the elbow grease. No matter how long it takes to get rid of the clutter and dirt it will be well worth it if it helps sell your home.
The two most important rooms in most Buyers minds are the kitchen and the bathroom so pay particular attention to these areas. They should be spotless and shining.
There are certain items that must be repaired if there are problems. A leaky roof, for example, must be fixed. Any electrical problems will have to be addressed. Furnaces, water heaters and plumbing also fall into this category.
Others may not need major repairs but still need attention. These can include leaky faucets, holes in window screens, any broken glass, broken door knobs or cupboard handles and just about anything else that doesn't work or look as it should.
Which brings up the issue you may have been avoiding: painting. If some of your walls are too dirty to come clean with a thorough washing you may want to consider a paint job. You don't have to go overboard but obviously-yellowed or stained walls should be refurbished. This task may not be the most enjoyable but it will pay big dividends in your REALTORS® ability to sell your house.
Wallpaper is another concern. If the pattern predates Woodstock or is frayed and peeling, replace or remove it. Carpets and area rugs should also be clean and in good repair.
A couple of tips to keep in mind are: mirrors are desirable because they make rooms look larger and white paint (or subtle off-white) is a good neutral choice favoured by most buyers.
Outside and in
Your yard and outside property should also be inventoried. If you are selling in the summer, trees and shrubs should be pruned and your lawn cut every two or three days. In the Fall, rake fallen leaves regularly and sweep the sidewalk. Winter will require you to keep your walks and driveway clear of snow and ice at all times.
If the paint on your outside walls is cracked or worn undertake a touch up. This should be adequate but, if the exterior hasn't been painted in years, a new paint job will increase your chances of an easy sale.
To renovate or not to renovate
Usually, most renovations don't translate into an increase in selling price of more than the cost of the renovations themselves.
Painting, wallpapering and modest landscape improvements usually recover their costs but major projects, such as new patios, decks or additions rarely do. Your REALTOR® can help you make decisions in this area. If it is felt that Buyers in your area are looking for specific features then major renovations may be called for.
Disclosing hidden faults
Pointing out known defects in your home is not something that comes without hesitation. Still, you must make clear any issues that will affect the Buyers decision to purchase. Even intermittent or infrequent problems, such as drains that back up in heavy rains, should be disclosed. Some buyers now hire inspection professionals to survey a home. Trying to hide a major defect will surely backfire, both in your ability to sell your home and in possible legal action after you sell.
Again, your REALTOR® will be able to offer solutions or advice. It does happen that a home will sell despite a major defect as long as the problem has been disclosed.
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