15 Steps To Prepare Your Home For Sale

Today’s buyers are looking to have their socks knocked off when they walk into your home. They are accustomed to seeing the beautifully manicured homes of HGTV, so when your home goes up for sale we want to deliver a lasting impression to buyers – and ensure it’s a positive one!

Many sellers don’t give themselves the time to properly prepare their home for the market. With a little preparation, we can ensure we have done everything possible to prepare for even the pickiest of buyers.

  1. Hire a real estate agent who wants to help prepare your home for sale. Some real estate agents think that their job starts when they put their For Sale sign on your front lawn. But I feel there is so much that can be done prior to that point that can help determine how well your home is perceived by buyers. So whether we have two months, two weeks or two days before you want your home up for sale, I want to make the most of that time to help ensure your home looks the best it can.
  2. Meet with a staging professional. All of the sellers I work with receive a complimentary staging consultation. Stagers can see your home from the buyer’s perspective and will make room by room suggestions on how to help WOW a potential buyer. After your staging consultation, we will discuss the action plan for implementing the suggestions the stager made.
  3. Fix what needs fixed. Any repairs that can be done around the home should be done. If you have been putting off fixing your broken air conditioner, replacing the dishwasher that died last month or fixing the leak in your basement, now is the time to do it! It’s also a good idea to do those home maintenance tasks you might have been forgetting about, like replacing your furnace filter, having your HVAC system serviced, and cleaning out your eaves troughs.
  4. Let’s talk about renovations before you do them. Some people think that before they sell their home they should put in a brand new kitchen, replace all the carpet with hardwood, and finish the basement. Before you go dropping major cash on renovation projects, let’s talk about whether that would be a good return on your investment or not.
  5. Gather paperwork. Pull together the survey for your property, your latest tax bill, your most recent utility bills, and any warranties and service manuals you have. Bonus points if you put it all in a binder and keep it handy for buyers to see.
  6. Fresh paint. A fresh coat of neutral paint in your home can make a big difference. And don’t forget the baseboards and crown moulding. They really pop with a fresh coat of white paint. Want help picking paint colours? I’m happy to help!
  7. Edit your belongings. Since you are going to be moving anyways, why not get a jump start on your packing? Go through your closets, storage rooms, basement, and garage, and pack up anything you don’t see yourself needing between now and when you move. Closets that are neatly organized and aren’t packed full of stuff will look bigger to potential buyers. De-clutter as much as possible. Compile loose papers, magazines and newspapers into one spot.
  8. Take curb appeal seriously. Buyers will make a snap judgement on whether they will like your home or not based on how it looks on the outside. At very least, make sure the grass is cut, snow is shovelled, garbage and newspapers collected from your lawn, trees and bushes are trimmed back, and that the walkway to your front door is easy to access. Ideally you will give your front door, garage door, and shutters a fresh coat of paint, flower beds will be tended to, and windows will be clean. Don’t forget about the backyard too! The path to the backyard should be clear, and the gate to the backyard should be easy to open and close. Decks and swimming pools should be kept clean.
  9. Air it out. Resist the urge to put a scented plug-in or candle in each room. It will only make buyers think you are trying to hide an odor and give them a headache. Instead, if possible, keep your windows open for a couple days to let fresh air in to help neutralize any smells from cooking, smoking, or pets. Emptying your kitchen garbage regularly helps too.
  10. Make it sparkle. Buyers can be nosy. Expect them to look inside your stove, your fridge, your garage, your crawlspace, under your bathroom counter and in your shower. So not only do all the obvious places need to be spick and span, but all the less obvious places need to be as well.
  11. Let there be light. Dark rooms give off an uninviting vibe so make sure all burnt out light bulbs are replaced and curtains/blinds are left open to let in natural light. Basements can be scary so pay special attention to their lighting – the brighter it is, the less intimidating it is. Don’t forget about your home’s exterior lighting. The light outside your front door should be left on during the evening to make it easy for real estate agents to access the lockbox with your house key in it. It also makes the house look more inviting.
  12. Brag about your house. Craft a note telling potential buyers what you love about your home and leave a copy for them to read at your house. Do you have the best neighbours in the world? Is the park down the street is brand new? Can you see the sunrise from your bathroom every morning? Do you love the magnolia tree in the front yard that blooms every spring? Buyers like to know they are buying the home from someone who has loved and cared for it. Also, if you are selling your home in the winter time, feel free to leave photos out that show off your home in warmer seasons. If you have photos of your beautiful perennial garden or how the trees in your backyard turn the perfect burnt orange in Fall, this can help buyers visualize what’s under all the snow.
  13. Secure valuables. While your house is up for sale, it’s a good idea to have any valuables locked up or removed from your home completely. Better safe than sorry. Also, any bank statements or private documents should be hidden or removed entirely.
  14. Make a plan for pets. I’m an animal lover, but not everyone is. Keeping your pets, their food dishes and toys out of sight during showings is ideal, although I recognize is not always possible. Ensure that litter boxes are cleaned regularly and preferably stored in a discreet location.
  15. Develop a pre-showing checklist. Showings can be booked with really short notice so it’s a good idea to have pre-showing checklist. It could look something like this: make sure all beds are made, wipe down the bathroom and kitchen counters, tidy up the front hallway, clean all dishes out of the kitchen sink, hide dog’s food and water bowl, turn on all lights. Doing a quick scan of each room of your house before you leave for work in the morning can help make sure your home is ready for any buyers that want to see your home during the day.

Now that your home is almost ready to go up for sale, I will continue working through my 83 point Plan of Action for Selling Your Home.

Consider hiring me to sell your home – I’ve got 13 reasons why!


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