How to Prepare Your Home to Sell

For most sellers, selling quickly and for the highest price are their top priorities. To make sure you reach your goals, some preparations are in order. I would suggest there is no one better fitted to advise sellers on how best to prepare their homes for the market than their real estate agent. We are working with buyers every day. We know what their thoughts and concerns are. We know what they’re looking for, what hooks them, and what can prevent a home from selling entirely. So I’ve made this list of considerations for you to think about as you prepare your home to sell.

  1. Curb Appeal. Whether buyers are viewing your home online or in person, the front of your home is the first thing they’ll see. You only get one chance at making a great first impression and you need to make it count. If needed, make sure to clean your exterior walls, porch, deck, walkways, exterior doors, and windows. If any stain or paint in the front entrance area is chipped or faded, a quick sand and a fresh coat of paint or stain will help revive your exterior. Adding flowers in standing planters or hanging baskets are a nice finishing touch. Think simple when it comes to your garden. New mulch and some fresh flowers will go a long way. Make sure your bushes and shrubs aren’t overgrown by pruning those back. Planting grass seed or laying fresh sod is a good idea for bare patches on your lawn. Edging the perimeter of your lawn will make it look great as well. Water your lawn and garden regularly in the weeks leading up to listing your home to keep everything looking its best.
  2. Floors and Walls. For your floors and walls, start with a deep clean. Grout between floor tiles in the kitchen can become discoloured over time. You can rent a heavy-duty floor cleaner that will help restore the colour. Carpet shampooers can be rented as well. They can bring the life back to your carpets and have the added benefit of helping your home smell better. In the case of heavily scratched or worn hardwood floors, you could consider re-staining them. This is something you can do yourself if you’re comfortable and is almost always going to pay for itself when it comes time to sell. Painting has one of the highest returns on investment of any of your home maintenance projects. If your paint colours are outdated or your walls are in rough shape, painting is going to be high on your to-do list. You don’t have to paint everything white but you should go with light and neutral shades like muted pastels, beiges, or light grey. Keep in mind that if you intend to match a colour that is on your walls with paint that’s been sitting around for a while, you’ll need to do a colour test. The paint on your walls will change colour over time so any patch-up work won’t necessarily match.
  3. Clean and Organize. Going through what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of is going to save you a lot of time on the other end of your move. The added bonus is that your home is going to look clean and spacious in the meantime. Not to mention that you won’t have to pack and pay to move all of your unwanted stuff. Go through your closets, cupboards, drawers, and storage areas. Donate or throw out anything that you no longer use regularly. Your closets will look more spacious and appealing when they are half empty. After clearing out what you don’t want, you can also pack away clothes, shoes, sporting equipment, and other belongings that are out of season and you won’t be needing until after you move. If you were thinking about replacing your home décor, linens, rugs, etc., this is something that you can do before your move to help with staging.
  4. Depersonalize. Depersonalizing allows buyers to feel welcome in your home and to be able to envision themselves living there. When buyers enter your home, they can feel like they’re intruding in someone else’s space if it’s filled with personalized belongings. Help them feel comfortable by neutralizing as much as possible. Remove things like photographs, kids’ toys, pet items, religious or political items, excessive knick-knacks, and other personal items. Home décor is best kept to a minimum.
  5. Maintenance and Repairs. One of the smartest things a seller can do is to anticipate things that may come up in a home inspection and address them before putting their home on the market. Once repair costs are introduced to the bargaining table, those repairs are likely to cost you much more than if you had completed them yourself beforehand. Another aspect of this is that many buyers are using all of their savings for their down payment and other closing costs. They’re not necessarily going to be able to afford to make any repairs themselves which could dissuade their interest in your home entirely. Repair any damage to siding, eavestroughs and downspouts, patch holes, fix broken or missing shingles, make sure doors and windows open and close properly, replace mouldy grout, make sure sinks and toilets are working properly, and ensure appliances are in good working order. Emotions run high during negotiations and deals have been lost over moot points as small as a damaged window screen. Plan ahead and set yourself up for an easy transaction by completing these repairs before you list. If you suspect there may be an underlying issue with your home that could come up after an inspection, it would be wise to have your own home inspection done before listing. Maybe you’re not sure the furnace is functioning properly or you think some of your windows may be leaking. It’s much better to find out about any issues beforehand and not in the midst of negotiations.
  6. Small Upgrades. Large renovations are not practical for most people. Unless you have the time and expertise to complete large projects on your own, they are likely going to be too costly to ever recoup the investment. There are some smaller, more affordable upgrades however that can help make your home feel more modern and up-to-date. Some things that may need upgrading include kitchen and bathroom faucets and hardware, light fixtures, trim, toilets, countertops, doors, door handles, cupboards, and appliances. Each upgrade needs careful thought to determine whether or not it will be worth the investment. Like unaddressed maintenance issues, buyers may use the outdated features of your home to negotiate a lower purchase price. Why not benefit from the extra attention your home would gain from other buyers by doing some of these upgrades yourself beforehand?
  7. Increase Light and Spaciousness. You can allow more natural light into your home by pulling open blinds and curtains, washing your windows inside and out, and trimming back shrubs and trees if they’re blocking sunlight. Getting the right bulbs can totally transform the look of your home. Bulbs in the 3000–3500 Kalvin range are best for nearly every interior room of your home. They cast a bright light that is still slightly warm and will make a big improvement over other colour temperatures. Minimize excessive furniture and décor items to reduce the visual weight of an area. This will help an area feel larger and more spacious. Adding lamps and mirrors can help brighten dark rooms or corners. Light coloured linens, artwork, and décor will keep things light and airy as well. You can read more about this subject here: How to Brighten Your Space and Increase the Perception of Space.
  8. Choose a Great Agent. Your agent can help you understand what buyers are looking for and advise on the advantageousness of each of your planned projects. It’s important to work with a local agent who knows the area. A local agent will be better able to represent you and your best interests. They will be a great source of recommendations for reputable third-party professionals if required as well.

Ok, there you have it. A lot of information to think about and hopefully, you’ve been inspired to take on some of these projects!

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