Unofficially, the spring selling season begins after Super Bowl Sunday. This means there is still time to transform your home into a house in which a potential buyer could envision themselves living. Preparing your home to sell can quickly become an overwhelming hurdle if you don’t approach it as a series of small steps. Follow this week-by-week checklist to have your home ready to list by the peak selling season.
Find the right real estate agent. Buying or selling a home can be a major undertaking, and that’s why most buyers and sellers enlist the services of a real estate agent to guide them through the process. A good agent will provide all the knowledge and resources needed to make your home sale more seamless, from local market insights and negotiating skills to marketing exposure and more.
Inspect your home’s infrastructure. Check your home to make the updates and repairs that will improve your home’s value. Evaluate the condition of the pipes, windows, roof, etc., so you have the time to fix these issues, and so you aren’t surprised when it’s time for a potential buyer to bring in an inspector. In addition to the larger items, make sure the handles on the cabinets are tight, the lightbulbs are working, and scuffs are removed from the wall, to present the image of a well-cared for house.
Declutter. Create four categories — throw out, donate, move to storage and keep. Do this to make the move out easier, as well as to show a home that is free of visual clutter. If your home is filled with an abundance of furniture and decor pieces you can’t part with, rent a storage unit for the duration your home is on the market.
Deep clean. After the home is decluttered, conduct a deep clean, including windows, baseboards, walls and floors. Additionally, deep clean the areas that are closed off, such as closets, cabinets and drawers. Potential buyers will likely be opening these storage areas so be sure to keep them tidy.
Assess the curb appeal. While lawn maintenance in January is minimal, make the necessary updates to entice buyers before they enter the front door. Paint the front door, replace the mailbox if it’s damaged, update outdoor lighting if it shows signs of wear and tear, and set out a seasonal arrangement in the outdoor planters.
Paint the walls. If your taste is on the bolder side, paint the walls in a neutral color palette prior to listing. Neutral colors will appeal to a wider variety of buyers, and help them better picture themselves living in the home. Don’t forget to touch up the baseboards and door trim.
Stage the house. Consider enlisting a professional stager who can assess the current condition of your home and determine the tweaks that will set it apart from the crowd. They often have inventory they can bring in, or will rearrange your belongings to create a different layout.
Take professional photos. The majority of buyers begin their home search online, so great photography is essential in order to capture their interest. Once your home is in tip-top shape, work with your real estate agent to have a professional photographer take photos of the house.
Final cleaning. Pay special attention to the bathrooms, floors and countertops. These are areas that will catch the first glances of buyers walking through your house. Also make sure the home is odor free. Consider opening the windows, running a humidifier and using an air purifier to neutralize the air.
Add life. Set out fresh flowers, plants or a bowl of fresh fruit to breathe some additional life into the home, and to create a welcoming vibe.
Hide valuables. With strangers walking through your home, make sure you remove or lock up any valuables, such as jewelry, treasured collections and artwork.