If you're considering selling your home this spring or summer, read on. Even though we are still in the prime of winter and you're biggest worry is how many inches of fresh powder landed overnight, focusing on a few key items around the house now can greatly help you maximize value when you're ready to sell in a couple of months.
While the warmer months are a great time to list because buyers are a plenty, it is also VITAL that you do everything you can to present your home in the best way possible, because while there's lots of buyers, there's also a lot of inventory available, and you have to make sure your home stands out [in the right ways]. Here's a few easy ways to get the most out of listing your home, and if you start early, the task of selling your home will feel so much more manageable when the time comes to list.
One day when the roads are bad and the snow is falling hard, commit to stay inside and get all your paperwork compiled. Search through drawers, behind cabinets, and in old file folders for all paperwork relevant to your home, and create a folders for it all. A 2-folder system is easiest, with one folder designated for documents you will need [mortgage papers, tax documents], and another designated to everything the new homeowner will need [warranties, appliance manuals, notes about paint colors used, and utility bills - preferably for one year to see the home's energy use through all seasons]. Having these ready well in advance will make it easier for your agent to market your home, and be a great benefit to the next homeowner and ensure a smooth closing process.
2. ESTIMATE REPAIR/REPLACEMENT COSTS
Even if you're not willing or able to replace or repair broken or aged items before you sell your home, getting an estimate on the cost to fix these items gives you a huge leg up during the negotiating process. If fixing your roof will cost $10,000, you can price your home accordingly and present the estimate to interested buyers. Doing this could could get you thousands on the final sale price of the home because buyers will feel better about your asking price upfront, knowing it already includes consideration of these costs, which will deter them from asking for extra discounts on the home for those repairs after their inspections.
3. START PURGING
Now is the time to eliminate all the clothing, sporting goods, and accessories that you didn't wear or use last year. Doing this now will not only make your closets look less cluttered [and larger!], but it will also save you the hassle of doing this after you sell your house when you are overwhelmed with other moving tasks.
4. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!
Pick one room per week, and commit to a deep clean - this includes scrubbing baseboards and trim, removing scuff marks from the walls, taking everything out of the cabinets/shelves/drawers and cleaning inside (and while you're at it, organize them!), pulling out furniture and vacuuming and dusting behind and under it, scrubbing grout, washing doors and doorknobs. Once you feel like you've done a good job, invite a friend over and have them pick apart your cleaning job - a fresh set of eyes is the best way to see how a buyer will view your home.
5. D.I.Y. vs hire a pro
Use the few months before you sell to decide how much you're willing and able to spend on items to improve the value and saleability of your home. If you have a large issue, such as a roof fix, bathroom remodel, or new flooring, HIRE IT OUT! Spending money on a professional in these areas will greatly impact the value that the improvement has on a home. If you install flooring yourself and it isn't installed properly, an incoming buyer is going to have to replace or fix it anyway, so it isn't even worth doing in the first place. On the other hand, items such as repainting walls, cleaning, and replacing fixtures is something that you can do yourself, and can be a great way to save money. Don't underestimate the power of "spending money to make money" when implemented in the right areas.
6. get real with your realtor
If you haven't already begun the search for a Realtor, now is the time to start looking. If you don't already have a trusted Real Estate Professional, ask those you do trust who they recommend, and do your homework! Be sure that his or her values and business style align with your own. While you certainly want the best possible price for your home, don't let yourself be "oversold" by someone who over-promises - instead, make sure they can have an honest conversation with you about the good and the bad when it comes to your home. Make sure their commitment to you is a honest one.
7. Start Snooping
After you find your Realtor, start "snooping." No, I don't mean you should peek in the windows of your neighbor's house, but you should have your Realtor provide comparable homes that are currently available so that you can get a sense of what is out there - it will be these homes that become competition to your home when it is listed, so it is wise to know what these homes offer. You may also find some great inspiration from these listings for ways you can improve upon your home, helping to maximize value.
8. Finally, Relax!
Keep in mind that there are many moving parts to a real estate transaction, but if you have a trusted Realtor working by your side, this process becomes very manageable, and can even be enjoyable! Start preparing your home in advance, and many of the common stresses to selling a home can be easily avoided.