Preparing Your Home 

For Sale

Most buyers form their first impression of your home before they even get out of their cars. This is “curb appeal,” or the view from the curb that tells the buyer how attractive and well-maintained your home is compared to other homes. Buyers normally form their first impression within 30 seconds.  In a competitive market, it takes more than trimming the hedges and planting a few flowers to create curb appeal. The exterior of your home must be in pristine condition, freshly painted, cleared of clutter, with no visible repairs needed. A home appears poorly maintained if there is a broken step, overgrown bush, peeling paint or abandoned toys in the yard can spoil the appearance and your buyer’s first impression. Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

Curb Appeal - Curb appeal is important because it sets the tone for what the buyer is going to see inside. If the buyer likes the exterior, he or she will be predisposed to also like the interior and you’re that much closer to selling your home. To see what needs to be done to sell your home faster and for a higher price, go outside, stand on the curb and try to look at your home the way the buyer will.

Walkways/driveways –  Make sure walkways are clear of snow, weeds, or debris. Repair or replace cracked steps or pavers. Driveways should also be clear of vehicles, toys and debris. Park cars in the garage.

 Landscaping – Keep your lawn mowed, edged and watered. Prune dead branches and plants. Weed flower beds and replace leggy, thin landscaping with fresh plants and flowers. Marigolds are inexpensive. Add mulch in the areas that need it, repaint the front door an eye-catching color that complements the rest of the exterior, make sure the doorbell is working properly, wash the mailbox, keep the porch and walkways swept and get an attractive mat for people to wipe their feet. Make sure that your garden hose is coiled and out of the way.

Exterior – Replace loose or damaged roof shingles, clean the gutters, and paint and caulk window trim and doors. Replace broken windows. Power wash siding, brick, windows, and porches. Paint or replace furniture such as rocking chairs or porch swings. Replace mailboxes, light fixtures, door knobs or any other fixture that looks less than fresh. Have door handles and door knockers spotless. Paint your front door. Make sure if you have a pool to keep it sparkling clear and free of leaves.

Some parts of your home may require more work than others, but it’s well worth it to get buyers eager to see what’s inside.

O.K. we have handled the outside now lets go inside

Tips For Making Your Home Welcoming Without a Big Expense
  • De-clutter, de-clutter and then de clutter more. Have a yard sale, pack away the things you don’t need and put in a storage unit
  • The entry must be welcoming and make room in the hall closet so that the clients can see that there will be room for their winter coats.
  • Organize all closets
  • Windows can sell homes. They must be crystal clear to show a view if that is what you are selling. They also help with odors. Throw the windows open and let fresh air in.
  • Check your home for smells. The old adage if your house smells it will not sell. Track down all odors and eliminate them. Be careful of room sprays and can cause allergies for clients and make them wonder what might be wrong.
  • Lighten Up by making sure all lights work and are on during showings.
  • Make sure that your kitchen counters are clean and clear. Make sure that the cabinets are clean and organized and drawers are organized. 
  • Remove all  magnets from the refrigerator and make sure it shines inside and out. Make Sure if you have a pantry that it is clean and organized. 
  • Clean the ventilating hood in the kitchen.
  • If the kitchen floor is badly worn, replace it with new flooring.
  • Replace any loose tiles on the counter and walls.
  • Remove any appliances or knick-knacks you keep on the counters. Clean, uncluttered counters will make the room look bigger.
  • Putting some baked cookies on a plate on the counter makes the room feel welcoming.
  • Make sure that your bathrooms are organized and shine.
  • Repair any dripping faucets.
  • Keep fresh towels in the bathroom.
  • Remove any stains from toilets, sinks, bathtub and shower.
  • If the sink, bathtub or shower drains too slowly, unclog it.
  • Give room a paint jobs
  • Stage and play up outstanding features. Large nice master bath can be staged as a spa spot with lush towels, bath salts, etc. If you have a fireplace set up a cozy, romantic scene with wine glasses. A book nook is a great place to put a cozy chair lamp and a small table. Toss a throw over the chair and put a book on the stand.If you have a small area the would make a small home office, stage it as such. If you have a wonderful dining room, set the table with china.
Get an inspection - Sometimes if you have an older home, it is a good idea to get your own home inspection so that you can make repairs before you put your home on the market, this allows the cost of these to be incorporated into the sales price. Issues found on an inspection by the buyer, will have buyers wanting to re-negotiate sales price based on their finding causing you to receive less money.

Get Ready for Inspection
You’ve prepared your house for sale, hired a listing agent and the marketing plan has succeeded so well that you have an offer on your home. All good news so far, but you still have a couple of challenges to face, including a home inspection. No matter how much you know about the place you’ve occupied for the past few years or decades, a home inspector may find issues that your buyers will want you to address. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll ace your inspection, you can take steps to make it less likely that a home inspection will put an end to your sales plan. Consider a Pre Listing Inspection. Depending on the age and condition of your home, you may want to schedule an inspection before you put your home on the market. If your home is relatively new and you’re not aware of any problems, you can probably skip this step; but if you have any concerns about your property, it could be worthwhile to spend $400 or so to hire your own inspector. Once the inspection is done, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing about potential problems and having the opportunity to address them on your own time, rather than under pressure from a buyer who wants work completed before the settlement date. You can and should disclose to buyers any problems your home inspector finds and what you’ve done about them – whether you’ve made a repair, replaced an appliance or planned to offer a credit for the buyers so they can fix it their way.

Prepare for the Inspection
Regardless of whether you’ve had an inspection, your buyers are likely to hire their own home inspector. You can be helpful to that inspector in several ways, which is likely to make the inspector feel a little more favorable towards you and your home. That’s not to say that the inspector would overlook a serious problem, but perhaps he would lighten up a bit on some minor issues. 

Try these methods of buttering up an inspector:
  • Remove clutter: You’ve probably started packing a bit, but it will help the inspector more if you empty the spaces beneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks and move any belongings that block access to your water heater or other appliances.
  • Get your paperwork together: You should create a file with documentation of all maintenance and repairs you’ve done on your home, including annual or semi-annual furnace inspections, receipts for roof or chimney repairs and other inspections. If you’ve had an insurance claim on your house, keep those papers together, too, so you can prove that you took care of the problem.
  • Provide complete access to your home: Make sure you unlock gates and doors to a shed or garage that don’t have lockbox access. Move anything that’s blocking entrances to the attic, basement or storage spaces.
  • Leave home: Inspectors find it easier to do their work without the presence of the homeowners and, even more important, without your pets and children around.
  • Clean your house: It won’t make a bit of difference if you have a leak, but a clean home gives the impression that you take care of your property and so the inspector shouldn’t expect to find as many problems.
  • Leave the lights on: Make sure your light bulbs work, especially in storage spaces or areas you don’t often use.
The easier you make things for a home inspector, the more favorably disposed he’ll be toward your home.

Remember Buyers Think Minor Repairs Are Worth A Lot More
Imagine you are a buyer looking at your home. What do you think obviously needs repairing? Money spent on repairs can make a difference in getting your home sold at a decent price. Buyers tend to overestimate the cost of performing repairs and will often reduce their offer by a higher amount in order to compensate for the expense. A better strategy is to perform the repairs before putting your house on the market. First impressions are key. Taking care of the necessary repairs before putting your home on the market is important to yielding top dollar and ensuring a quick, hassle-free sale.

 Simple repairs that make a huge difference in marketability and offer price are:
  • Replace cracked windows and torn screens.
  • Fix or replace any broken stairs or handrails.
  • Fix leaking plumbing fixtures on faucets.
  • Replace exterior locksets and garage door openers if damaged.
  • Replace broken or leaking gutters and downspouts.
  • Clean, repair, or replace the roof.
  • Repair or replace any worn boards on decks or porches.
  • Have your heater and air conditioning units serviced and filters replaced. 
I’d be happy to come by and make some recommendations on how to create an inviting atmosphere. Homes that convey pride of ownership often receive the best offers.

How Much Fix-Up Should I Do?

I often get emails from "by owner" sellers wanting to know how extensive they should be fixing up their homes in search of a buyer. Most already know that "curb appeal," or the first impression, is critical. So they're planning on cutting the front lawn and trimming the bushes. But, beyond that, how much more should be attempted? One recent inquiry indicated that the seller was planning on remodeling the kitchen to the tune of $35,000 which she described as a "modest makeover." She wanted to know if she could justify spending that much on a home she said had a market price of around $350,000. The real question being asked, of course, is how much is really necessary in order to get a quick sale at a good price... and what becomes overkill?

  • NECESSARY WORK OR OVERKILL?  Most sellers tend to go one of two ways. In the first case the seller doesn't want to spend a dime, not even enough for a can of paint for the front entrance. "I've lived here for x number of years and it's been fine. Why should I spend any money on the next owner?" The other attitude is diametrically different. This owner sees all the problems in the home that he's living in and put up with for years, and now believes they must be fixed in order to sell. "I managed with a broken sink for years, but no buyer would. I have to redo the kitchen in order to sell." Of course, the true answer lies somewhere in between. My advice is to first do all the cosmetic work, the inexpensive stuff. That includes cleaning and painting. Then, once that's done, take a look and see what, if anything, will hold the home back from selling. Usually the first thing that strikes the eye is an old worn carpet. Replace it. A new inexpensive carpet looks great for at least six months or longer and will help with the sale. But, what about our friend who wants to spend $35,000 in the kitchen of a $350,000 house? Forget it! The rule with remodeling is that almost never will you get your money out, even in those areas such as kitchen and bath that yield the highest return. Further, spending 10 percent of the value of the home on a kitchen remodel in order to sell, makes no sense. It would be one thing if the owner was planning on living in and enjoying the home for some time. But, it's quite another to add $35,000 in improvements. Will she now be able to sell for $385,000? Probably not if the true market value is $350,000. Better to drop the price $10,000 or $15,000 giving the buyer a perceived bargain and let the next person worry about the kitchen.
  • TRAP - What if the current kitchen is an old-fashioned eyesore? What if it inhibits selling the house? Then do the minimum necessary. You can put in a new tile countertop for a few thousand dollars (much less than granite or Corian). New, modest priced appliances can cost a few thousand more. Have the cabinets refurbished and painted, not replaced. A colorful new linoleum floor can be spectacular as can some new lighting. The whole job should cost less than $10,000. No, the kitchen won't be a showcase, but it will look neat, trim, modern and usable. And will contribute to the sale of the house. More important, our friend wouldn't have overspent for the price of her home.

Let Valerie Bomberger, ABR, AHWD  Re/Max Harbor Country help you in the Home Selling Process or Preparing Your Home For Sale. 

Berrien County Homes For Sale