Prepare Your Home to Sell
Prepare your home to sell is the second of the “3-Ps” to selling your Seattle area home quickly and at the highest possible price. The first P is Pricing, and the third P is Presentation. My 3-P system is a proven method of listing and selling your home in any market. Even in a sellers’ market, the 3-P system produces superior results in terms of days-on-market and sales price.
Preparation – the second P
How well do you know your home? Not sure? When you prepare your home to sell you will remember much you’ve forgotten and learn some things you never knew. Preparation involves research, making to-do-lists, accounting for paperwork, and deciding what’s worth repairing and improving. The successful selling of a home is always the result of teamwork between the seller and the agent. Nowhere is teamwork more necessary than in the getting the home ready for sale.
To prepare your home to sell, we take six actions:
- Check public records – correct if out of date, claim home on portals
- Take inventory – condition, seller disclosure, prepare listing input
- Make repairs and improvements – safety, return on investment
- Make interior buyer-friendly – clean, pleasant, navigable
- Create curb appeal – grounds, vegetation, lights
- Estimate net proceeds – different price points, costs of sale
Check Public Records.
What do potential buyers know about your home? More than you think if they’ve done their homework on the Web. Is the information they found up to date? Find out for yourself. First, visit your county website (King, Snohomish, Pierce). Do the records still show a septic tank when you are now connected to the public sewer system? Contact the county and correct this. On real estate portals, you should claim your home and enter all the information yourself. Why is all of this so important? Because wrong information may keep potential buyers away.
How much do you remember about buying your home? Have you kept the inspection report and the Seller Disclosure statement you received at the time? Now that you are the seller the shoe is on the other foot. If you’ve made repairs did you keep receipts? If you’ve made major improvements, did you get permits? If you did your answers will go a long way in filling out the 5-page Seller Disclosure statement. Taking inventory of your home’s condition and features will ensure the accuracy of your home’s listing.
Make repairs and improvements.
When you prepare your home to sell safety comes first. That could mean installing GFCI outlets near any water source. Next are cosmetic improvements. Painting those smudged walls is well worth it. Carpet cleaning can do wonders. Now is a good time to have the furnace serviced, especially if it’s an older model. How about more expensive improvements? Not in a sellers’ market. Paint the kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. Many buyers prefer to make their own improvements to suit their tastes. If your roof is reaching the end of its “useful life”, you can either get a new roof now or negotiate with the buyer later.
Make the Interior Buyer Friendly.
Buyers are looking to purchase a house that will become their home. Help them to see it that way. Remove your family pictures and diplomas. Turn your home into a furniture showroom. One of my agent friends does the “penguin walk.” Anything she bumps into needs to be moved or removed. Less is more. Do you have pets? Even a dog or cat loving buyer doesn’t like to smell yours. Plan to have the dog out of sight while your home is shown. Straighten out your closets and hide the prescription drugs. If you’ve moved out, have the home staged. Staging shows possibilities when buyers lack imagination. A staged home is likely to sell faster.
Create Curb Appeal.
Most home owners enter their home through the garage. We own homes to enjoy the inside and rarely look at them from the outside. For buyers, however, this is the first thing they see. Just as with the interior there are minor and major things to do. When you prepare your home to sell, clean the driveway, mow the lawn, trim the shrubs and clean the gutters. Is there moss on the roof, some shingles out of place? Get a professional. Don’t venture on top of your roof. Also, hiring a good landscaper is well worth the money. Think of curb appeal as staging the exterior.
Estimate Net Proceeds.
How much money will be yours after the sale? The purpose of the Seller Net Proceeds Estimate is to know the amount of money left after accounting for all cost of selling your Seattle area home. They include excise (sales) tax, escrow and title fees, and commissions. It is helpful to create estimates early and for different price points. This will help to evaluate the cost benefits of the preparations to sell your home. Also, if you have a substantial mortgage the net proceeds estimates will tell you at what price point you are entering “short sale” territory.
Published originally as the 38th issue of The View from the Street.