5 Steps for Preparing Your House for Sale

With prices as high as they are in Orange County, buyers want move-in ready homes. For example, two homes with almost identical floor plans recently sold in my neighborhood with a whopping $100,000+ difference between them.

One of these homes, although in relatively decent condition, still had the original kitchen in it. I wouldn’t describe it as a fixer-upper, but it could have used some TLC. It was exactly what you would expect from a “typical” home. The other, was highly upgraded with beautiful renovations, but certainly not $100,000 in renovations…

The point is, that the kind of buyers looking to spend almost $1 million dollars for a house will place a premium on homes that are move-in ready. They are also likely to place a pretty steep discount on anything less than move-in ready. It’s important to keep this in mind when preparing your house for sale.

READ: 13 Reasons Your Home Hasn’t Sold Yet

So, here are 5 steps you can take when preparing your house for sale that will help make it move-in ready.

1. Start With a Home Inspection

Your buyers are most likely going to get their own home inspection. You can take a proactive measure by arranging your own pre-sale home inspection as you are preparing your house for sale. This will allow you to catch any potential problems that a buyer might baulk at early.

You can even use this to your advantage by showing it to potential buyers and pointing out items that you have already fixed. You can also use the pre-sale home inspection as leverage when you have multiple offers, requesting buyers to commit to NOT asking for certain repairs or even making a non-contingent offer.

2. Get Estimates for Repairing Certain Items

There may be repairs that you either know are needed, or that the inspection turns up. Either way, if you can’t afford to make the repairs yourself, you should at least get some cost estimates for these repairs.

You can show the estimates to potential buyers so that they can make their offers accordingly. You may also want to track down any user manuals, warranties, or guarantees that go with appliances and machinery that are being included in the sale.

3. Complete any Minor Repairs When Preparing Your House For Sale

Many repairs won’t cost a lot, but left untended to can be very noticeable. Things like ripped screens, sticking doors, cracked calking, or plumbing drips are usually easy to fix. These small repairs also make the home look and feel well-maintained, but, if left un-repaired would give the impression that the home has a lot of deferred maintenance.

READ: What You Should Expect a Great Listing Agent to Do

4. De-Clutter, De-Clutter, De-Clutter

Clutter is the enemy of making a good impression and preparing your house for sale. I’ve heard many owners and agents baulk at the notion that de-cluttering your home is necessary. They say things like “The stuff in my house that will be leaving with me doesn’t affect the value at all!”

Well, technically that may be true, but it definitely affects the impression you leave on buyers, which directly affects the offers they make, which directly affects the price you ultimately get. Remember, the TRUE value of your home is ultimately dictated by what a buyer is willing to pay for it!

That being said, you should de-clutter and de-personalize as much as you can. As silly as it may sound, try to make your house look as little like a real person’s home, and as much like an IKEA catalogue as possible. Remove about a third of your furniture (put it in storage), remove shelves of knick-knacks, try to eliminate family photos in favor of generic pictures and art. Remove stuff from closets, use organizers to make everything look neat and tidy. Then, with whatever is left, stage your home so that it looks as visually open and appealing as possible.

5. Do a Deep Clean

Cleanliness is next to godliness. Make sure your house is clean from top to bottom, and pay attention to the details. If your home is thoroughly clean, it will make buyers feel like your house has been thoroughly cared for.

How clean should it be? Mind the details! Wash all of the fingerprints off of the light switches, dust the shelves, behind and underneath decorations, wash all windows inside and out, take light fixtures apart and wash them, clean the baseboards, wash the scuffs and marks off the walls, and anything else you can possibly think of. Definitely shampoo the carpets and mop the floors.

Then, after everything is clean, keep it clean! Your house may be on the market for a few weeks before attaining a buyer, and showings can come up unexpectedly. You’ve already worked so hard preparing your house for sale,  do your best to keep it in showing condition until it’s sold.

P.S. I generally include weekly cleaning in my standard listing agreement 🙂

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