By: Lauren LaFountaine
In the last 6 months I’ve had to prepare 2 of my own properties to sell. Working in real estate and seeing so many people go through this process, the things that I needed to do to get my houses ready to sell came second nature to me. But I know this isn’t the case for everyone. A lot of people don’t know what things to do or what things will bring value to the sale of their house. I thought I’d share some of my experience with you on my properties that both sold in less than 2 weeks, in hopes that if you ever need to sell in the future, this might come in handy!
- Declutter: The first thing I do when I decide to sell a property is de-clutter! I generally rent a roll-off dumpster that runs about $300-$500 depending on size. With this, I can throw out more than just a few bags. I can really get rid of ALL my junk. A lot of times this is needed. If you don’t have enough to fill even a small dumpster than you could get away with just using your regular trash removal. For items that I no longer need but still have value, I hold a yard sale or list the items on Facebook or Craigslist. In doing this, you can make some money to do some other things that might be needed on your house. Rule of thumb, if you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably don’t need it! And after doing this two times now, I can’t tell you how good it feels to get rid of clutter!! (Insert Marie Kondo comments) Who wants to move all of that stuff to a new house anyway??
- Pack Up: After all of the clutter and unwanted items gone, I pack my unnecessary belongings. You want the house to feel bigger and open. The more you pack up, the larger this effect will be. I take down personal photos and things of that nature. They want to envision their family living there and a lot of times, it’s hard for buyers to use imagination. They cannot see past clutter, over-sized furniture or dark walls that makes the space feel smaller or even family photos hanging all over the house. Get rid of any visual cords, clear off counters from most everything and pack away anything that makes the space look disorderly. Make your home a clean palate for another family to decorate. A garage, basement or shed is a great place to store things that you don’t use everyday until the house sells. (Below is the bedroom before and after: Taking out unneeded furniture and updating the lighting was all that was done)
3. Repair/Enhance: Once all that clutter is out, you can really see where there might be things that need to be fixed. I had tenants in both of my properties and once they moved out, there were nail holes, dings and things to be patched/repaired. I hired a handyman and painter to come in and patch them all up and gave a few rooms some fresh paint. Make sure to paint any dark or bright colored rooms a neutral color. It will make the space feel bigger. Fresh paint can go a long way!! Take a look at my kitchen before and after with just paint and some new light fixtures!
Kitchen: Before dark paint and older light fixtures
After: Neutral paint and updated light fixtures made this space feel bigger and new!
I always think, if I was looking to purchase this house, what would I expect to be done? Make a list of things that need to be done. This list should contain any improvements or projects that will help the house sell. This is a tricky area because some improvements may not necessarily get you any more money. And here is where the help of an experienced agent comes in!! An agent who knows this business will be able to come in and tell you exactly what you can do to make the house worth more and what you should avoid doing. I always have Christine walk through my houses before I sell them. She gave me a couple of tasks to do before my last homes hit the market. For one house, this was putting in some new tile in a bathroom and new clean carpet.
What you should and shouldn’t do can vary depending on the market, the neighborhood etc. So make sure to ask a real estate professional when it comes to any projects, especially ones that are more expensive.
- Clean: I cannot stress this one enough! I ALWAYS hire a professional to come in and clean the house. I like to think that I am a thorough cleaner, but after seeing what a cleaning company can come in and do in 2-3 hours, I realize that I am not as quick nor as good of a deep cleaner as I thought. The smell and tidiness of a home are crucial during showings! I like to use a neutral scent in my houses for sale. Nothing too strong. Sometimes just the cleaners coming to clean is enough of a clean scent. But if you prefer to have some additional odor eliminators try some cedar, vanilla or lemon scented candles (make sure to blow them out before showings) or boil some natural fragrance in a pot beforehand. Avoid the overpowering sprays and wall air fresheners.
- Curb Appeal: Just like the inside, you want the outside to look inviting and well-kept. I always try to do fresh mulch (if weather allows), cleaning up the yard, fresh plants on the porch or attention to garden beds. This can go a really long way for not much money. Also, I painted my walkway to one of my homes that looked beat up and aged. Turns out, fresh paint was all it needed to revive it and make it look new again. Again, a good real estate agent will give you a list of the things you need/should do to get a better return on your investment. Another quick update we did to another one of our homes was to paint the shutters. They were an outdated maroon color prior. We painted them black and it made a world of difference! I think that cost us about $60 in exterior spray paint and one Sunday to accomplish it!
- Be prepared for showings. My homes were vacant but often they are not. If you are on the market, you want your house to be accessible as much as possible. Don’t turn down showings if you don’t have to. Try to make them work! Keep the house is showing condition.
Another tip: Even if you aren’t planning on selling your home right now, take some outdoor photos of your house after you get the yard work done, or after you complete a project. If you know or even think that you are going to be listing your house in the winter, take some nice summer photos of the outside of your home. We had an awesome backyard with a pool and lovely patio. We were listing in early spring and you were not able to envision how pretty it was. Luckily, I had taken some photos in the summer and were able to use these. We did the same thing after we repainted our shutters. We didn’t anticipate selling at the time that we did it but it never hurts to take some nice photos of your house when it’s looking it’s best and store them away for the future.