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From Home to House – Preparing to List for Sale

by Chip Collins

You’ve decided it’s time to get your home ready to sell. This typically comes from some sort of need or change of life situation and is hopefully, filled with joy and excitement, although, I know that’s always the case. In any circumstance, listing your home for sale requires some effort and preparation in order to be encourage a successful sale.

10 Family Photos – It must be that every show on HGTV strictly instructs owner to take these down before showing their home – because we hear that time and time again.  The truth of the matter is that you’re not just selling a house – you’re selling the idea of a home, and homes have people in them.  So don’t rush to pack up all your family photos, because you might miss the opportunity to have an emotional impact on some buyer prospects.  That said, how many you leave out might be another matter…

9 Attics – It’s often said that the worst thing about storage space is that you fill it up.  How true…and after 5, 10, 20 years in a house, invariably owners are shocked at how much “stuff” they’ve accumulated. While a buyer might be able to appreciate the volume of storage space in a home by seeing how much “stuff” it is currently holding, the impact is even greater when a lot of the “stuff” is cleared out so the buyer can see the open space available for their “stuff.”   Tackling this clean-out process can be physically, logistically, and sometimes even psychologically challenging – but rest assured there are steps, systems, and resources available to help get you to the finish line.

8 Pre-Sale Inspection – This proactive practice is becoming increasingly popular (and important) among sellers.  The hiring of a licensed, local home-inspector before selling your home can bring to light important issues with the mechanics of your home, giving the owner a high level of knowledge and confidence about the condition of the property.  This affords an owner the luxury of time to tackle any maintenance issues without a looming deadline (i.e., closing), though it also creates a disclosure issue for any items (i.e. defects) that the owner doesn’t plan to address.   Getting guidance through this process is important as it relates to what buyers expect, and what a Contract of Sale may require.

7 Smells – Once you live in your home long enough, you get used to a lot of things…including smells.  Often, owners just don’t “smell” them anymore.  Pets, cigarettes, cooking, and even air fresheners are primary culprits for giving a home a certain set aroma that not all buyers appreciate upon their arrival.   Neutralizing these smells can be critical to earning a buyer’s interest…and it takes a fresh nose to bring this important topic to the forefront of your selling strategy.

6 Dust – In even the cleanest houses we go to list, invariably we find certain areas of the home that are overlooked.  These include ceiling fan blades, HVAC intake vent covers, and baseboards, among others.  Remember that buyers will be seeing your home for the first time with “fresh eyes,” picking up on things that, as the owner, you’ve become accustomed to walking by every day without noticing.

5 Maintenance – Time is a home’s worst enemy, creating maintenance issues that require seemingly-constant attention.  And while most homes are “re-sales,” that excuse doesn’t always make a buyer comfortable: they seem to want things to be as perfect as they can be.  This isn’t usually feasible or reasonable; however, addressing maintenance items up-front can go a long way to making your selling process smooth.  The key is identifying what needs to be accomplished…and when.

4  Paint – The color of walls in someone’s home is usually a reflection of their taste, personality, decorating style…and that’s why so often a buyer’s first step when taking ownership is to change some of the paint/colors in the house.  But that doesn’t always mean you should forego some painting prior to putting your home on the market.  Toning down strong colors for photography, covering up smudge/scuff areas, and neutralizing spaces are just a few reasons why painting might make sense.

3 Landscaping – Whether you proudly tackle this on your own, or you rely on a professional, landscaping is the visual framework of your residence.  The “American dream” often features perfectly green grass, vibrant flowers, sharply lined planter beds… all of which are rarely achievable even in the best of climates.  But shooting for this ideal goes a long way to ensure that you’ll beat your competition in this category.  Edging, pruning, adding mulch or pinestraw, installing fresh flowers – all right before the house is photographed – makes a lot of sense for a huge visual impact.

2 Ugly Stains – Roofs, driveways, patios, even the sides of your home with low sun exposure…these are the areas that take the brunt of the great outdoors, often leading to stains, mildew, dirt accumulation, etc.  In addition to improving curb appeal, tackling these areas goes a long way toward preventing buyer “horribilization” (Read more about this REAL phenomenon here:

1 Clutter – One man’s collection is another man’s mess!  One of hardest things about selling your house is converting it from a home into a product for sale.  Getting over this threshold can be critical in creating the best first impressions, and tackling accumulated items (i.e., clutter) is often the most important step.  Countertops, kitchens, baths, walls, closets – these are usually the prime locations of clutter that need the most attention for the biggest impact for buyers.

While this may not be in any particular order, and is certainly not all inclusive, it makes for a good starting strategy. For questions or guidance beyond readying your home, or for more of what’s been laid out here, look to our team of seasoned experts at Collins Group Realty to help. We look forward to working on your behalf in the future to secure your successful sale!


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