Preparing to sell a home is almost as big a job as moving itself. There is so much to do and a relatively short time frame for accomplishing everything. To get the largest offer in the shortest period, take advantage of a little planning and a lot of elbow grease.
The reasons are obvious when you think about it. People want to look at a clean house in good repair. If something is off or just a little dirty, it opens the door to doubts about the home’s overall integrity and its past maintenance. When a prospective buyer sees a home where everything is shipshape and move in ready, they are more likely to meet or even exceed the asking price. Regardless of what the rest of the housing market is doing, you stand a better chance of selling your home quickly if you work your plan.
Three to six months before placing your home on the market
- Hire a building inspector to check your home from top to bottom. Ask your building inspector to prioritize the items that need to be taken care of.
- Select a real estate agent and request some information about the housing market. If possible, work with the real estate agent to review the list of items found in the building inspection. It’s not necessary to sign an agreement with the agent at this point. This is a preliminary stage. (You might even decide to stay in your home!)
- If you intend to sell your home yourself, do some research and become familiar with the local market and what features matter to home buyers in your area.
- Create a list of items that need attention along with a budget for getting them done. Plan major fixes that could stop a sale from proceeding first.
- Begin building a home inventory of work done, warranty information, and vendor contacts. Document everything you do (and what you have done). This book is a critical sales tool and guide for the next owner so don’t be tempted to underestimate its value. It will help you set your selling price as well as reduce your capital gains, if any. You know how the IRS loves good records.
- Begin working major projects.
One to three months
- Wrap up major projects.
- Organize outdoor projects to enhance curb appeal. Hire a landscape maintenance service to do regular trims and mowing to keep everything looking neat from now until the house sells.
- Paint rooms that need fresh paint. Use neutrals like taupe, grey, and muted colors like sage green. Tie rooms together with freshly painted trim. Do a neat job and be picky about the clean up. If you don’t have time, hire a painter.
- Declutter your home. Remove EVERYTHING that you don’t need or use regularly.
- Conduct a garage sale to unload as many of your unused and unwanted possessions as possible. If a garage sale sounds like too much of a nuisance, list items with an image and price on Craigslist or get someone to just take it away through a Freecycle posting.
- Donate usable items to a charity or thrift store. (Don’t forget your receipt for taxes.)
- Get packing boxes, labels, tape, and markers.
- Items that you want to keep, but don’t want to display or use until after you relocated can be packed now. (Secure and store items that you don’t want on public display.)
- Contact a real estate agent about listing your home if you are not working with someone already.
- Assemble all the paperwork concerning your home including deeds, notes, and any legal documents if applicable. Collect plans, working drawings, mortgage company information, utility bills, and Home Owners’ Association CC&Rs. Note items that stay and items that go (i.e., you are leaving the washer and dryer, but want to take your grandmother’s prize hydrangea).
- Make keys if necessary for agent and for the lockbox.
- Plan staging for open houses.
- Create a routine to ensure that everything is absolutely clean from now until the house sells.
- Do a thorough deep “spring” cleaning (even if it isn’t spring). Hire pros to take care of cleaning projects that you don’t have time or skill to do from cleaning gutters to carpets. Take advantage of professional services whenever possible.
- Make arrangements for doggy daycare or off site pet care so you can whisk Fifi away as necessary.
One week to listing
- Set staging for buyer viewing. If you have old furniture that doesn’t display well, rent furniture for showing during the sales process. (This may necessitate a bit of education of family members accustomed to eating in front of the TV.)
- Prepare a final checklist to execute in a few minutes when the realtor calls to say they will be over to show the house. (For example, open drapes and blinds so the house appears bright and cheerful. Turn on lights. Remove pets, etc.)
After listing showings and open houses
- Pets, especially their odors (cat box and dog bed) need to be neutralized. Keep their stuff clean. Change cat boxes daily. They have a way of knowing that something is up and faithfully barf to let you know that they know.
- Monitor smells. Any “off” smell is a huge turn off to buyers.
- Perform your cleaning routine faithfully every day. The kitchen and bathroom are particularly important to keep immaculate.
- When the agent calls, arrange to disappear.
Daily cleaning routine during listing period
- Touch up windows and mirrors
- Sweep/vacuum entire house
- Mop floors
- Clean smudges around doorknobs, light switches and on walls
- Dust ceilings, walls, blinds, etc.
- Clean and polish bathroom fixtures (Rubbing alcohol on a cloth quickly removes water spots on bathroom fixtures)
- Fluff pillows
- Add strategic bouquets of seasonal flowers.
- Empty cat box
- Run wash (don’t leave dirty clothing laying about)
- Clean stove, refrigerator front, and sink
If it seems like you are living in a model home, take heart. It’s only temporary, but your efforts will pay off in a smoother sale with a better return.
Amarillo’s Parkview Realty
5005 Lexington Square
Amarillo, Texas 79119
Please contact us anytime via: phone, fax or email. We will make every effort to respond to your questions within 24 hours.