Moving out and selling the beloved (or begrudged) home you've lived in for years can be a difficult process, whether you're moving "on up" or moving "back in."
While your hired real estate agent can help with most of the home selling aspects, there are a few you can take on yourself. In addition to knowing how to make to home smell like fresh cookies before potential buyers arrive, you'll need to take these five steps when preparing to sell your home.
Appearances matter. Prepping a house for sale doesn't just mean dusting up and sticking a sign out front. If you really want to increase the value of your home and make it an attractive buy, there are a variety of things you can do that are cost-effective and easy DIY projects.
You can try pressure-washing and painting the exterior, doing some gardening and landscaping to boost curb appeal, replacing cobweb-ridden lighting fixtures, or repaving a cracked driveway. Even if there are some inner matters in disrepair, like bad plumbing, it's critical for purposes of selling that the exterior is presentable. As DIY becomes more popular, more people are willing to overlook some bad plumbing (as long as you disclose it), if they know and see your place as livable.
As much as home improvements are essential to make, you should also be cautious not to over-upgrade because it can come off as gaudy and obvious, and you might not get the return on investment that you’re hoping for.
Staging, the act of preparing a home of buyer foot traffic by decorating it, can feel a bit fraudulent because you’re portraying an idealized version of what your house is, rather than what it’s really like. But you shouldn’t feel that way because 1) it’s a common and expected practice; and 2) you’re showing people what their potential home could be like for them (if they put in the time, effort, and attention).
If you have a realtor, they should be able to help you out or at least advise you on staging tips, but here’s some just in case:
Invest in good, bright, and warm lighting so your rooms look well lit.
Don’t leave closets empty, but do leave a small number of storage containers inside them to make the closets look bigger.
Remove unnecessary wires that make rooms look cluttered.
Your home is your home until it’s not your home. When you’re selling your home, stop letting it be your home. Sure, leave a few knick-knacks like photographs and paintings on the walls, but it’s important to create an air of neutrality and let potential buyers project their own lives on your walls and in your rooms.
For some people who’ve lived in their place for a while, depersonalizing can mean taking a space that’s precious to them, like a den or a bedroom, and taking out all the customize aspects that you yourself love. Our advice? Bring in a friend and have them tell you everything they wouldn’t have bothered with and get rid of it or replace it with a rented alternative (at least for a photo session).
Talk with your neighbors
Even if you don’t particularly like your neighbors, when you’re selling, it’s a good time to let them know.
Neighbors are invaluable resources for potential buyers, and buyers know that. Letting them know an unexpected number of unfamiliar cars and strangers will be coming through for a few weeks and maybe even asking them questions about the house and neighborhood helps benefit both the neighbor, the potential buyer, and you.
It's also a good time to get to know neighbors you've never met. If you enjoyed living in your neighborhood, the buyers of your home likely will as well. Getting to know your neighbors, even right before moving, can lead to long-lasting friendships and a good excuse to still enjoy the family activities in your old neighborhood.
Out with the Old
Particularly relevant if you're moving from a large home to a smaller condo or apartment, you'll need to find a way to get rid of your junk. There are a couple ways of doing this. You can hold a yard/garage sale, auction your items on eBay or Craigslist, donate lightly used items to Goodwill or Salvation Army, or use junk removal service to haul away both unusable junk and landscaping debris.