Thinking about selling in the spring? Now’s the time to get the house ready. Don’t wait ‘til the snow melts and warm temperatures creep back in. While these aren’t the only things you’ll need to do to sell your house, they’re a good start to get you ready for the spring selling season.
#1. Fix it. Take care of any necessary repairs as soon as possible. Even if you plan on upgrades, remodeling, shiny new appliances, etc., put your repair priorities at the top of the list. When people come to see your home, you want them to know it was well cared for and the more fixes you do now, the smoother the process will be for you in when you sell and buyers seek repairs after a home inspection. Some examples:
* Leaks of all kinds—roof, basement floor, any pipe or drain leak, dripping faucet.
* Anything broken—cracked windows anywhere (safety issue), inoperative appliances, nonfunctioning outlets, lights, light switches, cracked switch and outlet covers, doors that stick or don’t open and close properly, toilets that don’t flush or run constantly.
* Safety concerns—insecure railings around balconies, banisters along steps, inoperable smoke detectors, anything with splinters, etc.
#2. Declutter and depersonalize. We’ve written extensively on this topic, but it’s one of the most important things you can do when getting your home ready for sale. It’s connected to some of the other items in this list, but basically, a buyer must see the home as a blank canvas they will make their own. They should not be reminded that someone is living there—or lived there before—and is trying to pass on their memories to the new buyer. So personal family photos, that 10’ x 10’ tapestry from your favorite rock band that adorns the living room wall, or your political poster collection from the last presidential campaign needs to be removed. Keep flat surfaces sparse and eliminate most of the knick-knacks. And make sure it’s clean—cleaner than you’ve ever had it. Clean—along with nothing broken—tells a buyer the home is well cared for.
#3. Painting is usually a great idea. Plan now, not in the middle of March. The winter months are typically uncooperative when it comes to exterior painting, but if you’re going to do it or have it professionally done, now is the time to make those arrangements. Once the weather begins to cooperate, it can be tough to schedule, and it takes time to get it done. If your home has vinyl siding, plan to power wash it in the spring to give your home curb appeal. If you’re painting the interior, you can do that in the winter. Pick neutral colors (light gray is popular now) and get to work. Accent walls typically should go. Keep the neutral colors uniform throughout your house. Remove wallpaper; it’s typically very taste-specific, and it’s often very indicative of the era in which it was installed. Remember, this is not about what you like, it’s about creating a canvas for the buyer to imagine themselves creating a future in your home.
Important tip: If you do NOT want to paint, but just want to touch up, only do so if you have the EXACT match for your paint colors. This includes not only specific color, but also exact paint brand and texture.
If you can’t touch up, and new paint is also not an option, clean walls as best as you can. Products such as Mr. Clean Magic Eraser are excellent for removing scratches and seemingly permanent wall marks.
#4. Should I remodel? Without a doubt, something remodeled is going to be more appealing and demand more money than something dated, worn out, or heavily used. But deciding whether or not you should remodel requires special care. Remodeling magazine releases an annual report that analyzes upgrades and a seller’s return on that investment. A lot of real estate agents will lean heavily on sellers to fork over the big bucks on a remodel. A remodeled home is more attractive and easier to sell—for the agent. D.C. Region Real Estate digs deep into the remodel issue here. Just make sure you don’t overspend and, in the end, lose money. You could skip the remodel and brighten your space—paint, declutter, replace switch plates, etc.—and just understand this reality when you come up with a realistic sale price. If you spend $20,000 to get $10,000 more in price, you’ve lost. Also, if you’re remodeling, be strategic. Kitchens, bathrooms, walk-in closets, and master bathrooms are what people look for nowadays. Don’t go halfway, either. It’s not worth adding a new granite countertop to existing 30-plus-year-old cabinets and 20-year-old appliances. Instead, paint the cabinets, clean everything up, and maybe install new hardware. They won’t be new, but it’ll be an upgrade—refreshed, functional space ready for the new buyer to make their own.
#5. Should I stage the house? The International Association of Home Staging Professionals says that homes staged by an Accredited Staging Professional® (ASP) sell in 11 days or less and for 17 percent more than non-staged homes. So yes, it’s a good idea to stage a home. One of the biggest advantages to staged homes is the ability to make it stand out among other similar homes for sale and have the appeal that might win out over a non-staged home. However, staging isn’t the only thing that will push you across the finish line. Other home-prep items—some listed here—need to be in place to realize the true impact of a staged home. If a home isn’t properly prepared to sell—cleaned, decluttered, repairs completed, and perhaps most important: priced correctly—paying for staging will be a waste of money and effort. Used in conjunction with these great selling tasks, staging will take your home to the next level.
These are just five things you can start thinking about and at least begin to do right now. While they aren’t the only things you’ll do to get your home ready, you’ll definitely have the competitive upper hand when the temperature rises and you’re ready to get your home on the market.
Christopher Prawdzik, an Accredited Staging Partner® Real Estate Agent, and his wife, Angela Logomasini, are licensed Realtors® with Samson Properties in Alexandria. Operating as D.C. Region Real Estate, they serve the Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland real estate market and offer comprehensive real estate services, including 4½% full-service listings.
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