You’ve made the decision to sell your home, and you want to get the maximum possible sale price. So what do you need to do to get it ready? There are a million web sites out there that will tell you the basics on how to prepare it for market, some of them good, some of them way off base, but most of them way too generic to really be helpful. If you interview three different agents they will all tell you different things. Some will tell you only “what you want to hear,” just to get you to sign a listing agreement. Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing you need to do is change your mind set about how you think of your home. When you make the sometimes difficult and stressful decision to sell, you need to begin viewing it as a “business transaction.” It is no longer your “home,” — it is now a product to sell to the highest bidder.
Many people have emotional attachments to their home, me included. I will be hiring another realtor to sell mine when the time comes! If you have lived there for a long time – it holds the memories of your life. You have decorated it to be comfortable for you, with your colors and decorating style. It has been your refuge at the end of each day. When you make the decision to sell one of the most difficult things can be to no longer think of it as yours. It no longer matters if you like the colors, the carpeting the wallpaper in the bathroom, or the antique light fixture that has been passed down for generations. It is a product that must be merchandised for sale like any other product on the market. It matters if potential buyers like it and can envision themselves making it their next home.
When you hire an experienced agent you can trust, they will have the knowledge and resources you need, with expert advice on how to prepare it for market so it will appeal to the largest possible number of buyers. Remember, their advice and guidance is not a critique of your decorating style. It is their job to know what buyers want to see, how to reach them, and what changes you need to make to sell our home in the shortest possible time for the maximum market price.
It’s a “seller’s market” – why do I have to do anything? It’s no secret that there is a shortage of good homes in great neighborhoods and school districts for sale in Northern Virginia, and this trend is expected to continue. This may lead you to believe, and you may be told that you don’t need to do anything to prepare your home for market. The truth is, well prepared homes sell quickly and for more money. Well staged and prepared homes usually attract multiple buyers who write offers, the ideal situation for you as a seller.
It’s all about how it will show “online.” Competent and successful listing agents understand that marketing your home is all about how it looks online. They will be honest and open with you about what changes you need to make so it will appeal to the largest possible number of buyers. Most buyers today begin their home search online. If the listing has no pictures or bad pictures, which is almost always worse, they will not even want to see it in person. They skip right by that listing and go on to the next. If it appears cluttered and has too much furniture and decorating items that is all buyers will see – not the features of the house.
Knowing how to prepare it before the professional photographer arrives is the key to success, and money spent the right way, upfront, will be more than recouped in the final sale price. Don’t spend money preparing it before you get professional advice of where to spend your time and money. Many sellers begin doing what they think needs to be done to get it sold, and end up spending money on the wrong things. We’ve met with sellers who have painted the entire house white, replaced driveways, roofs, windows, and other expensive items, while ignoring other more minor things that are critical to getting it sold. When their house does not sell they just can’t understand why.
They’ve spent all this money, why aren’t buyers writing an offer. Make sure you get professional advice from a trusted listing agent to truthfully tell you what needs to be done and how to prioritize it. Beware of anyone who tells you “nothing” needs to be done just to get you to sign a listing agreement. You need to work with someone who will tell you “what you need to know to get it sold,” not “what you want to hear.”
If you still think you know exactly what to do from watching HGTV, above all else, please do not paint it white or use glossy paint, even in bathrooms or kitchens! Somewhere along the line many of us have been told that to sell your house you need to paint it white, and be sure to use “glossy” paint in kitchens and bathrooms so it can be scrubbed. I do not know who started this ugly rumor but it’s just not true. All white is cold and “institutional,” and glossy paint just shows every flaw in the walls! Talk to a professional before you spend money! The better it shows, both online and in person, the quicker it will sell, and for more money.