Prep Your House to Sell in Any Market!

Regardless of whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s, you don’t want your home to sit unsold. The more days that tick by, the less likely you’ll get full asking price. A home that’s been sitting for a while leads potential buyers to surmise that something is wrong with the property. It makes sense to put forth a bit of effort to make your house move fast in any market.

To help with that, we consulted with Jill Jackson of Jill Jackson Design & Consulting, a Maryland designer who works with realtors to stage homes prior to listing them for sale. “We all know moving is stressful,” says Jill, “but the time you spend in staging is a lot less stressful than when your house hits the market. Starting early will help you feel less stressed when you get an offer and have to be out by a certain date.”

Here are 10 tips to help:

This step costs you nothing but time. As a matter of fact, you may even make money in the process. Take advantage of the many websites available that make it easy to sell just about anything online, from furniture to clothing to video games. If you don’t have the time to sift through your items now, check with relatives who may have some available storage space, or rent a storage unit for items you won’t need prior to your move. According to Jill, clearing clutter “visually improves the square footage in your home.” She suggests beginning this process as soon as you start thinking about moving.

Another one of Jill’s top tips is…paint, paint, and more paint! “This is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways to improve your home. Freshly painted rooms look clean, and that alone will add value to our home.” Consider hiring a professional if this is too daunting a task.

You know what they say about first impressions. They’re powerful, so it’s important to create visual appeal on the outside first. That way, buyers will walk in with a positive attitude. A manicured lawn, trimmed bushes, and some new mulch will go a long way in drawing buyers in.

“A bright and sunny room feels larger and more open,” says Jill. Take out screens, ditch the heavy draperies, and clean those windows to create a bright and cheerful ambience.

Once the clutter is gone, deep cleaning becomes a much easier task. Scrubbing showers, making sinks shine, and swiping away cobwebs will make your home a much more inviting environment for potential buyers.

It’s important to make minor repairs. Leaky faucets, torn screens, and burnt out bulbs say more to buyers than you think. It gives the impression that you haven’t kept on top of things, leading to questions about your upkeep and maintenance of the home in general. You don’t want to give the impression that there are bigger, hidden issues. Jill suggests going room to room to create a list of items that need attention and taking care of everything prior to listing your house.

The goal is for each potential buyer to envision themselves and their families in your home. That’s why depersonalizing made this list. Too many personal photographs or items on display make it harder for them to do that. It should go without saying that your personal care items be stored out of place, but even coats, shoes, jewelry, and hobby items should be tucked away. Help buyers see that each room could be used for more than what you’ve purposed it for. Help them imagine themselves at home there.

Although dependent on your timeline and budget, upgrades are essential. There are many simple changes that will enable you to command a higher price. Jill tells clients, “When a homebuyer steps foot into your entryway, they start a mental list of items that they’ll need to replace and add up the cost. Your goal is to keep that list small.” Here are some of the recommended upgrades that will give you the largest return on investment:

The final, but perhaps most important piece of advice from Jill: “Don’t list until your house is ready! In today’s market, homebuyers can see a house online before they even walk through it, so make sure your house is ready to be seen. Professional pictures are a must. Some people will look through your listing online a hundred times before even stepping foot into your house.”

By: Dawn Wooden