Before you put the 'for sale' sign in the yard or look for a realtor

Getting Ready to Sell Your Home

by Debra Karplus

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According to, 5,250,000 existing homes were sold in 2015. You may be considering selling your home to move elsewhere. Regardless of your reasons to move, there are some things that you can do to prepare your home for sale and maximize your ability to sell it for a reasonable price.

Fix what obviously needs fixing.

Anything that you can fix in an organized and planned fashion will most likely cost less than if you pay to have it fixed in a hurry or under duress. People looking to buy your house will probably want to know the age and condition of the roof and of the furnace since those can be pricey repairs. If you suspect any problems at all with either the roof or the furnace, get them fixed immediately.

Additionally, take care of lesser repairs and upgrades before that "For Sale" sign goes onto your lawn. Things like a leaky faucet or a door that sticks or does not close properly could be deterrents for a potential buyer.

Be sure to address anything that might be a code violation. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors cost less than $20 each and are required in your home. Be sure to have them in your bedrooms, kitchen, and near the fireplace and furnace. Perhaps your husband installed an outlet for a window air conditioner but didn't do it exactly up to code. Now would be the time to get that upgraded properly. Be sure that the plumbing and electrical in your home could pass an inspection.

Should you decorate?

That's an interesting question. If you have some obvious decorating issues such as bold colors that "scream you" but might be a turn-off to your typical buyer, it might be worth the money to put on a new coat of paint in a more neutral and desirable color. The same goes for places in your walls that are stained or marked or have bare spots.

And what about the kitchen? These days, people are spending more time in their kitchen cooking, eating, and socializing. Make your kitchen as desirable as possible without breaking the bank. How your kitchen looks could be the deal maker or deal breaker when it is time to sell the house!

Related: DIY Home Staging

Get rid of clutter.

Preparing to sell your house is a great opportunity for scooping out junk. Thrift stores, charities, the Habitat Re-store, Freecycle, and Craigslist are all great places to unload things you no longer want or need. Surprisingly, one of the more difficult items to get rid of might be the piano at your house that no one plays anymore and won't fit in the house you want to buy. Contact the musical people in your life to get the word out that you have a piano to sell or even give away.

Spend money on a pre-listing inspection.

More and more sellers of homes are using professional inspectors. For about $300 to $400, a professional can come into your home and give an honest assessment of what needs fixing. Inspectors are not supposed to move anything when performing an inspection, so keep that in mind. Once you have the report from your inspection, which is generated within a few days, get busy getting things fixed, especially those pertaining to plumbing and electrical.

Having a pre-listing inspection and making the recommended repairs will expedite the sale of your home. First, it shows that you care and want to know in advance what might be wrong with your home. Second, it gives the potential buyer the option of skipping their own inspection.

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Find a reputable realtor.

Fewer people are opting to sell their own home in recent years. reports that in 2016, 89% of home sellers used a realtor. Drive around neighborhoods similar to yours and note where you see "Sold" or "Sale Pending" on realtor signs. Ask people about their experience with these realtors.

Expect the realtor to charge a brokerage fee of approximately 6% that is split with the buyer's realtor. Use a realtor that lists on MLS (multiple listing service) and will schedule an open house. And if your realtor appears not to be acting on your behalf, end your relationship immediately. One woman used a realtor that was highly recommended. The realtor scheduled an open house but then failed to show up for it. The seller quickly fired her and found someone new.

Selling a home can be stressful. Take your time and follow the right steps to get ready for its sale.

Reviewed January 2018

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    • Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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