Preparing Your House to Sell
Things to Do Before Putting Your Home on the Market
Getting your home ready to be listed is one of the most critical steps to ensuring you have a quicker sale at the highest value possible. The first impression is the most powerful impression for potential buyers. Remember that “less is best”. Properly preparing your home prior to putting it on the market will make your home look its best for showing.
Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:
- Have a pre-sale home inspection.
Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
- Organize and clean.
Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows (inside and out), carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
- Get replacement estimates.
Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
- Find your warranties.
Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
- Spruce up the curb appeal.
Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. How your home looks from the outside can significantly influence potential buyers’ perception of its value.
- As you approach the entryway, what is your impression of the property? Clean the area around the front door, doorknob, and doormat so it’s free of cobwebs and clutter. You can even light the path to the front door, frame the entrance with pretty plants, or hang a seasonal wreath to create a welcoming atmosphere.
- Pay attention to the landscaping. Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Mow your lawn, edge the grass around walkways and trees, and trim bushes so they don’t block windows or architectural details. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight, and clear toys from the lawn.
- Is the address clearly visible? Make sure your house numbers are clean and polished.
- Is the walkway and driveway free from cracks and impediments?
- Is your mailbox in good condition?
- Make sure your outside lighting is upgraded.
- Clean exterior walls and windows.
- Give your house a face-lift with a fresh coat of paint.
- Clean and repair the roof and shutters.
Forms You’ll Need to Sell Your Home
- Property disclosure form
This form requires you to reveal all known defects to your property. Check with your state government to see if there is a special form required in your state.
- Purchasers access to premises agreement
This agreement sets conditions for permitting the buyer to enter your home for activities such as measuring for draperies before you move.
- Sales contract
The agreement between you and the seller on terms and conditions of sale. Again, check with your state real estate department to see if there is a required form.
- Sales contract contingency clauses
In addition to the contract, you may need to add one or more attachments to the contract to address special contingencies — such as the buyer’s need to sell a home before purchasing yours.
- Pre- and post-occupancy agreements
Unless you’re planning on moving out and the buyer moving in on the day of closing, you’ll need an agreement on the terms and costs of occupancy once the sale closes.
- Lead-based paint disclosure pamphlet
If your home was built before 1978, you must provide the pamphlet to all sellers. You must also have buyers sign a statement indicating they received the pamphlet.
Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor
The 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report indicates that large-scale jobs aren’t likely to return sellers their full cost. But there are improvements worth doing in anticipation of an upcoming sale. (You can read more specifics in the original Realtor Mag article.) Typically simpler, low-cost projects tend to return greater value. If your home needs to be remodeled before it can be sold, here are some important tips.
- Get at least three written estimates.
- Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.
- Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.
- Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.
- Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won’t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.
- Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.
- Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn’t. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
- Ask if the contractor’s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved too.
- Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.
- Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.
- Guarantee that the materials that will be used meet your specifications.
- Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the work.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.