Before putting your home on the market for sale, it is always a good idea to do some work to make the home ready for the buyers! Work done upfront today can yield to a better purchase price tomorrow and few days on market!
Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin. No matter how long you have lived in your house, I have never seen a home that did not have some issues that an untrained eye might miss. We can't all know building codes. We can't always be aware if there is an electrical box in the attic that is loose or if one of our receptacles is not grounded. Those are small issues. What about heating and air units that are not working optimally? Hot water heaters that aren't up to code? Leak roof or wood rot around windows and doors? These are all things that will come up in the inspection and it is better to know about these issues up front to address them prior to getting that buyer to maintain your home for you, to protect your investment, and not to impede sale!
Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine. Look at your house with the eye of a Buyer! If you see something that distracts then by all means fix it, clean it, or make repairs! Remove items from the refrigerator, clean the appliances, make everything feel "like new!" I recommend a local carpet cleaning service to my clients where in the neighborhood of $150 +/- they will make carpet look and smell like it was brand new again! If the hardwood floors are all scratched up, there is nothing that makes a house "pop" like refinished hardwood floors! Yes, that can be some money, but it will yield to a higher net for you at closing! Biggest turn offs for home buyers today?
Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need to be replaced soon, suchyour roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin. It also allows you to put some reality in the mind of your Buyer and their agent as to what those issues "really cost." Whatever the real cost to replace or repair, in the mind of the Buyer it is going to be "ten times" the real figure. I have a contractor for example who occasionally bids out items for me to have this ready upfront! This helps with other questions too. Recently for example we had a Buyer put a contract on a listing of mine and he questioned whether the HVAC system was "sized correctly" to support the size of the house to heat and cool correctly. Thanks to having done a pre-listing inspection, my client provided me with the service records on the recently serviced HVAC system (where she had to get more coolant added to it as it was low - again a good reason to do this upfront prior to contract and listing), showing too that the unit was sized correctly for the size home! Took worry completely off the Buyer's mind just by being prepared!
Just a side note, but biggest turnoffs today for most Buyers are the "existence" of carpet in the home and especially worn, dirty carpet as well as wallpaper! Loud colors or bold paint colors on the walls. If these can be remedied prior to closing your home will sell for more and sell more quickly than the competition! My best advice would be to call Dirty Harry's to bring the carpet back to life and like new again! I have vendor contacts for paint and wallpaper removal as well!
Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. If you bought title insurance when you bought the home, have this handy as well as the closing attorney will possibly ask for a copy. I have a warranty for my listings that is unique! When I list a house we can put the warranty on the home during the listing timeframe. It is active and covering the house and yet costs my Seller nothing until closing! If anything goes wrong between the listing to the home inspection to closing, the warranty company will address those issues so my Seller doesn't have to out of their pockets! If it is not paid for nor wanted at closing by the Buyer then it goes away never having been paid for, but more times than not the Buyer or Buyer's Agent pay for it for the Buyer's benefit as the new owner! One way to add some comfort to your Buyer on a warranty "in force" where at closing there are no "pre-existing" conditions or concerns with the coverage!
Spruce up the curb appeal. Once again pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is there any exposed wood that needs to be stained or painted? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments? I had a Buyer's agent call me the other day to explain how "there are cracks in the driveway that lead the buyer (and the agent a well) to believe that there is a foundation problem with the house!" Really, I did get that phone call! Even fixing or repairing or at the very least ceiling issues that detract from curb appeal might also help you keep rid of some really crazy questions and perceptions too during the sales process!
In the end, remember that you are competing more and more with new construction again and this will continue to get more plentiful as the days and weeks go by a the housing market continues to recover. Make your home as worry free as possible and it will sell more quickly and for more!