Sellers tell me this all the time: I’m not ready to sell my home—there’s too much to do to get it ready. This is a legit concern, because there’s a ton involved with preparing your home to sell. But where folks can get caught up is with the idea that your home must be completely updated to maximize the value you get out of it. And because of this false assumption, people can feel trapped in their home, overwhelmed at the cost and time it will take to get it ready to sell.
Part of my job as a realtor is to advise you on how to best prepare your home before we list. This helps you understand where to invest your time and money to get the most value out of your home. I have nothing against updating, but you do have to be smart about it. Maybe that means thinking twice before renovating your entire kitchen, but instead taking another look at your entry way and curb appeal. The value of improvements can go either way depending on your specific situation, and I’m happy to weigh in on that decision.
However, some things do payoff for sellers though every single time. They are decluttering, depersonalizing, and cleaning. These tasks also happen to be extremely practical and free! They do take time, but if you act like you’re getting paid as you power through each of these tasks, it makes it easier. Because the reality is you will be paid big time—when you sell!
This is the most important task for home sellers to focus on. It’s also the most time-consuming, but I promise: you will breathe freer, feel calmer, and smile once your home is decluttered. And so will your potential buyers! According to a Princeton neuroscientist study, clutter competes for your attention, inhibiting your ability to focus and resulting in increased stress. You want to make your home as calming and inviting as possible, and that starts with decluttering.
Tip: To get started, focus on decluttering just part of a room, which will help you build some momentum. For example, you could start with your closet. Go through all your clothes, and if you haven’t worn them in the last 6 months, donate, sell, or give them to friends. Once you have your closet done, you can step it up and finish the entire room and so on. Focus on taking as much stuff as possible out of your view. Those are just a few tips I had, but there’s a ton of helpful info out there on decluttering. There’s even a whole decluttering movement that’s formed over the past few years. Here’s a link to an article by Joshua Becker I found especially helpful. And to quote The Minimalists, the easiest way to get easiest way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it.
This is all about neutralizing your home and removing your personal taste from it. This seems a little harsh because you’ve put in a lot of love and effort into making your house a home, but you want potential buyers to envision themselves moving in, and that’s difficult to do if your personal stamp is on everything.
Tip: Start by removing all photos of you and your family. Then, remove anything that won’t appeal to most buyers. Some items to consider removing are religious icons, artwork that’s somewhat controversial or taste-specific, personal care items and prescriptions, your daughter’s doll collection. And yes, the head of the 12-point above your fireplace will also have to go.
This task is broad and can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to know what to focus on when cleaning. The areas that deserve special attention are the entryway, bathrooms, and kitchen. The entry way is the first impression of the inside of the house and it should be simple and clean. Make sure shoes are put away, the closet is organized, and the floor is cleaned before all showings. Bathrooms are important because they’re very personal spaces. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so you should try to make the tub and shower look like new. Same goes for the kitchen. And also pay attention to smells. Potential buyers shouldn’t be able to guess what you had for dinner last night.
Tip: Everyone’s idea of “clean” is a little different. If you’re not the cleanest person around, after you’ve finished cleaning invite a clean freak friend over to check out your home and encourage brutal honesty. Also, if this task is just too much for you, consider hiring a cleaning service. It may be worth paying someone a couple hundred bucks to take this off your plate.
Get help from pros
Just doing these 3 things will make almost any home very marketable. Because home prep is so important, I use professional stagers Laurie and Melissa with Trend Staging. This is a complimentary service I provide for all my sellers. How it works: sometime at your convenience during the home prep process, Laurie and Melissa will come over and go through your entire house. They will analyze every room in your home and make recommendations while taking notes for you. They’re happy to answer any of your staging questions, so have your paint swatches and carpet samples ready to get their opinions on if you’re going that route. After they’re done, you’ll be sent an electronic copy of all their recommendations. It’s a slick process that adds a ton of value, which my sellers appreciate.
I hope you find this info valuable. Feel free to contact me by phone, text, or email if you have any questions about the home selling process. I look forward to hearing from you!