First step, grab a notebook and assign a page for each room in your house. Go through every room, with a critical eye, as if you were a buyer looking at your house for the first time. Recruit the help of a friend if you need to. Make sure you tell them you want their HONEST opinion. This is not the time for thin-skin. You may LOVE the chartreuse walls in your dining room, but what do others think of the color?
Start in the driveway, and make note of everything you see that needs attention. Enter through the front door. How does it look? How does it smell? If you were entertaining guests, would you be proud to open the door and welcome them to your home? Make note of walls that need to be painted, closets and cabinets that need to be decluttered, carpets that need to be steam-cleaned, staging that needs to take place. In the yard, make note of landscaping that needs to be done, repairs, pressure washing, etc.
Don't forget to start to consider arrangements for any pets you have, whether they be inside or out. Some people are allergic or afraid of animals, so having a plan to have them out of the house and/or yard during showings will ensure your potential buyers will stay and take a good and thorough look, inside and out!
Now that you have started your “Master Success List” for getting your house listed, lets break it down:
Step 1: Declutter and Purge:
This will get you off to a great start, and for some people, it is half the battle! You won't believe how good it feels to get rid of the clutter in your house! As you go through each closet, cabinet and drawer, identify if you really want to move (or store) each item. Do you really need three different sized wardrobes because you might lose that extra twenty pounds some day? Moving clothes can be a real chore---they are cumbersome and heavy. So why move them if you are never going to wear them?
Step 2: The Purpose of the Room:
Do you have exercise equipment and a desk in the dining room? A bed in the keeping room? Make sure each room is set up for the room's intended purpose. (One exception to this might be a dining room, since many people don't use dining rooms to dine anymore.) You may need to put some things in storage-you want your house to look more spacious, and too much furniture or equipment can make a room look smaller than it really is.
Step 3: Make Necessary Repairs:
Repairs that need to be done may be very obvious, and should be fixed prior to listing. But to avoid potential unexpected expense, and possible deal-breakers, have your house professionally inspected before listing it for sale. The buyer will probably have their own inspection done, but if you have an inspection before you list it, you can take care of the repairs in advance, and you can also leave a copy of the inspection report out for potential buyers to review when their agent shows them the house. This is a value-added bonus because it is an expense the buyer wouldn't have to incur.
Step 4: Stage Right!
After you have completed the first 3 steps, have your critically-eyed friend come back and take a look around. What is their reaction? If it still doesn't “work” for them, consider hiring a professional stager to come for a consultation. Homes that are professionally staged may sell quicker and for more money. Stagers can suggest how to arrange furniture, accessorize rooms, what color to paint the walls and landscape touches for a great first impression.
Step 5: Stager Recommendations
Do them! Your home stager should have given you an itemized list of things you need to do.
Step 6: Great Curb Appeal!
First impressions are so important, and you never get a chance to make a second one! Curb appeal can be the deciding factor whether a buyer wants to go in or not. I have had clients in the car with me as we pull up to a house that have said, “No, keep going----Not liking the look of that one!” Make sure your house/landscaping is neat and tidy on the outside. Give the landscaping a good trim and prune, get rid of the weeds and keep the lawn mowed. A fresh coat of paint , some pops of color with some pots of flowers and a new welcome mat at the front door will prepare them for the feeling they get when they step inside: “WELCOME to your new home! Come on in!”
Step 7: Spic and Spotless!
When you clean the house, clean everything from top to bottom: Light fixtures, ceiling fans, window treatments, windows, baseboards, carpets, grout, etc.
Step 8: Interview and Hire an Agent
Of course you can list your house to sell on your own, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a lot of time, marketing and real estate expertise. Selling your own house is a lot like representing yourself in a lawsuit instead of hiring an attorney: You have no one working for or protecting you that is licensed to do so. Marketing the biggest investment/asset of your life is a big deal, so to get you the highest dollar for your house, you should put it in the hands of a licensed real estate professional. Since I just did a blog series, "Finding the “RIGHT” Realtor®!," I won't re-address the interview process here....just click on the link to go to the interview questions.
Step 9: Create a Brag Station
If you have an electronic photo frame, load pictures of your home at various times of the year and leave it on the kitchen counter. You can put pictures of the spring landscaping, beautiful tablescapes, feature rooms with beautifully accessorized décor or the home decorated for various holidays. You can also prepare a notebook to leave on the counter with a copy of the home inspection, the seller's disclosure, neighborhood comps, etc. And if you list your house with me, a “Home Book” is prepared for you to leave on the counter for prospective buyers to take with them when they tour your home, and includes this information and more!
If you are either ready to or considering putting your house on the market, view the Selling Your Home Checklist on my website or just give me a call to schedule a consultation to create a plan! Call me at 478-973-2684.
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