Selling your home can be an intense, emotional, expensive and long process. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve compiled a simple list of tips for selling your home that will help you avoid the most common mistakes home sellers make that cost them money. Home buyers have a lot of options in today’s market and if you want your home to stand out, sell quickly and go for the best price, here’s what you need to know.
Pricing your house appropriately is one of the most important (and tricky!) aspects of selling your home. There are many factors to consider and research to conduct. Begin the process by comparing your home to those in the same neighborhood, which are around the same age and of similar square footage. Don’t forget to take into account any renovations you’ve done or are planning to do. You can also “sweeten the deal” for potential buyers by offering options like seller financing or a semi-furnished home. While there are a number of online calculators available to help get you started with pricing your home, overall, your best bet is to go with a professional appraiser or real estate agent.
If you think your home is already organized and uncluttered, you’re probably wrong. You have a lot more stuff than you think and tucking it away in a closet like you do when you host a party isn’t an option. People love snooping and peeking into everything! So de-clutter your kitchen, bedrooms, closets, cupboards and all storage areas. These places should only be about 2/3 full, which will make them seem large and spacious. Anything you don’t need or haven’t used in the last year can be sold in a garage sale or stored. Rent a storage unit if you have to! Not only will this help prepare you for moving, but clearing off your counters and dressers will make upkeep easier for each of your showings. You should also consider storing large furniture items, like bookcases (since you’ve just cleaned them out).
Like most people, you’ve probably spent a lot of time and effort making your house feel like a home, adding personal touches and style to each room. Unfortunately, potential buyers want to picture themselves living in your house. This can be very difficult for them to do if you’ve got dozens of family photos hanging on the walls. Avoid making this mistake by removing most, if not all, personal items, keepsakes, souvenirs and knick-knacks from your home. Instead, opt for things like fresh flowers and scenic photos; things you might find in a comfortable hotel room that make it more inviting.
Once you’ve de-cluttered and organized your home, it’s time to make it sparkle! You’ll need to clean everything and everywhere (probably places you’ve never even cleaned before). Pay special attention to appliances, windows (inside and out), bathtubs, and those easy-to-forget places like ceiling fans and light fixtures. Steam-clean carpets and polish those hardwood floors.
Not only will you want your home to look and feel clean, but you’ll want it to smell clean, too. Eliminate odors by taking out the garbage, compost and recycling every day and don’t be afraid to use a very lightly-scented room deodorizer if you have pets (more on that below).
Organizing and cleaning aren’t limited to the indoor areas of your home; you need to consider your home’s curb appeal, and property, too. Make greenspaces look well-cared for by raking leaves, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedge, weeding, and planting flowers. Clean out the gutters, rent a pressure washer for the driveway and front steps and add a fresh coat of paint to the front door to give potential buyers a great first impression. Add a cute patio set if you have the space so that people can picture themselves enjoying the outdoors and entertaining in the backyard. Make sure the outside lights work and are turned on once the sun goes down for when potential buyers are driving by at night.
While home renos can be fun and exciting projects, potential buyers are generally looking for ready-to-move-in homes that won’t require any extra cost or work on their part. Getting rid of wallpaper and applying fresh coats of neutral-colored paint means they won't have to after they move in and will also go a long way in making your home more aesthetically pleasing.
It’s also very important to make sure things are functioning properly. This means taking care of any small fixes that you can. These include, but are not limited to, fixing leaky faucets, tightening loose door knobs, fixing doors that don’t close properly, replacing cabinet and drawer handles, making sure light switches work, repairing bathtub caulking, etc.).
Of the various mistakes home sellers make, this one often gets overlooked: Fido and Fifi might be just a furrier-than-usual family member to you, but not everyone feels that way. Pet hair and odors can give off unsanitary vibes. Remove signs of pets by tucking pet beds, litter boxes, food dishes and toys out of the way. Barking, meowing, over-friendly and aggressive animals can all be very distracting during home showings; be sure to take your pet for a walk or have them stay with the neighbors when potential buyers are viewing your house.
Now that your house has been organized and cleaned from top to bottom, it’s time to showcase it! Make each room feel as inviting as possible by pulling furniture away the walls and arranging symmetrically. Keep in mind that neutrally-colored walls and furniture can help make spaces look bigger and more welcoming. Lighting can also go a long way to help set mood, so be sure to open all curtains and blinds, change lampshades and increase light bulb wattage to make your home seem as bright as possible. Don’t forget to hang fresh hand towels in the kitchen and bathroom.
You’ll be tempted to stick around during home showings to see what potential buyers think of your home and to offer some insider information about it; but you shouldn’t. Instead, leave flyers with useful information or important documentation for people to take with them and refer back to. This can include home valuations/appraisals, photos of your property in different seasons, amenities that are close by or even transit routes.
There’s a lot of money at stake when it comes to selling your home, not to mention the liability that’s involved. Seek recommendations for real estate agents from friends and colleagues, and if you come up empty-handed, do your own research. Check references and don’t be afraid to interview potential realtors. Selling your home is a huge undertaking, so seeking help goes beyond hiring a real estate agent; hire a home-stager, professional cleaner or a handyman to help get your home in tip-top shape.