How to prepare your home for sale

Preparing Your House for Sale

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Preparing Your Home for Sale

Preparing Home for Sale

My husband and I have just learned we may be moving this summer. We are already in the midst of repainting the exterior. With a limited budget, what are the home improvements we should consider to most increase perceptions of our home's market value? Change faucets? Refinish floors? Hire a landscaper? Thanks!

Resources to Help Prepare Home

Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine has a great piece online (and free!) at In this series of articles, it discusses just what works best in preparing your home for sale and it should provide many good suggestions. HGTV also has some videos addressing this topic.

If you are planning to use a realtor for the sale, you might want to invite one over for a consultation as to the potential value of your home as well as professional recommendations for sprucing up the home to make it appear more saleable. These consultations are free yet you are under no obligation to sign on with that realtor.

And speaking of realtors, sales commissions are now negotiable and the average commission rate in the US is now around 5%, which is much better than the 7% of a few years back.

We listed our home for sale in 1990 and it sold within a week. Aside from some touch up painting and quick repairs, our major efforts went into making the home more spacious. Out with "all" the junk. Off-season clothes (all of them) went into storage off-premises. And the basement storage area was "finally" neatly organized and cleaned.

Warmth Aids Home Sale

I sold my older, smaller house in four days. I picked fresh flowers (lilacs and daisies) from my garden and placed them in vases around the house. Also, I put ground cinnamon on a cookie sheet in the oven on warm just before showing. The cleanliness and smell of a home can really sell it faster!

Budget Changes Prepares Home

My suggestion is to watch a fantastic show on cable channel HGTV called "Designed to Sell." The concept is that the homeowners need to spruce up their home in order to have it sell quickly at the highest price possible. The show sends in a design team with a $2000 budget and they must decide what features to update in the most cost efficient manner possible. We love this show as we know we will be selling a house in several months. We get wonderful ideas of things that can be done that are relatively easy and inexpensive yet the difference they make is amazing! They also point out errors that many homeowners make that could potentially turn off homebuyers and how to correct them. The show is full of information and how-to tips for homeowners who need to make changes on a budget.
L. Thorpe of Klamath Falls, OR

Prepare to Empty Home for Sale

A few years ago when we were getting ready to move, a real estate agent told us that an empty house sells better than an occupied house. It gives the impression that the seller is eager to sell. Also, an empty house is a clean palate for their decoration style.

Prepare to Impress

One of the tips in a real estate magazine in our town talked about the color yellow. It is the first color a human eye will see. And the way human brains are wired, it makes the most memorable impression. The real estate magazine suggested yellow be used in subtle decorating changes and noted the cheapest way is with yellow flowers in the front of the house. They are seen from the street for drive-by viewers. When a person does a tour, frequently they will take a picture to remember the place and compare it to other homes they are considering buying. So, your well-placed yellow posies will be seen and remembered!

Prepare 'Ready to Move In' Home

  1. Have your home sparkling clean. Hiring a service to do a top to bottom cleaning and then a weekly cleaning is a good investment.
  2. Your home should have well-maintained landscaping in front and back.
  3. No projects! Most buyers have very little spare cash at closing. One home we looked at went toward the bottom of the list because we would have had to immediately fix a couple of fence panels. Another had an incomplete remodel on the utility room.

If a buyer feels like they can just immediately move in and "make it home," they're much more likely to buy.
Roxanne in Socorro, NM

Declutter Home for Sale

Having spent 10 years selling real estate, I feel that the number one improvement is to rid your home of extra clutter. Remove all the extra furniture, too. All surfaces should be clean, dust free, and as bare as possible. It doesn't cost anything (except for a storage unit if you have too much) and having a garage sale can help with moving expenses. Be sure the garage, if you have one, is free from all the toys (both kid's and hubby's). Put the out-of-season stuff away, too. Have a friend go through and help you decide what should be put away.

Inside Out Home Sale Preparation

  1. Neutralize paint colors inside. White, off white, pale beige or pale yellow works well inside.
  2. Focus on curb appeal. Plant some fresh flowers, manicure the lawn and keep it that way. Put down fresh mulch, too.
  3. If lighting is outdated, update it with a simple and low cost fixture. Home Depot and Lowes have a large selection. A simple and up-to-date dome fixture is only $10, and it can do wonders for the bare bulb that might be lighting a hallway.


Prepared Home Needs Landscaping

We had plenty of drive-bys on our first home sale, but not too many requests to see the house. Then we took our tax refund and had a new front lawn put in to replace our old, worn-to-dirt and not very green yard. A crew came, raked out the area, added and leveled better top soil, seeded it, and gave us instructions on care. In 10 days or so, we had what looked like green fuzz. Before we knew it, we could mow. And a week after that, we had people looking at the house. A month later, after some negotiations, we sold and moved to our bigger home.

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