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With increased equity and real estate prices nationwide, it’s a seller’s market. As such, right now is a great time to learn how to prepare to sell your house. 

The real estate market is booming as lots of people flee city rentals to mortgages in the suburbs. At the same time, homes with a mortgage gained an average of $26,300 in equity in 2020, giving many current homeowners an opportunity to see incredible gains. 

Whether you’ve been thinking about moving on for some time or you’re interested in taking advantage of the market, this guide will show you how to prepare your home for sale. Spoiler alert: it takes work, so if you’re on the fence, read on, check out the home selling checklist, and decide if the time investment is worth the selling return.

How to prepare your house for sale

The first step to preparing your house for sale is preparing yourself for your house to sell. They say home is where the heart is for good reason; your home becomes a part of you, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time. It can be difficult to let go of a home you love, even if you’re turning a tidy profit.

When preparing your house for sale, it’s important to find ways to detach emotionally so that you can imagine another family creating their own memories in “your” home. While you might expect it to take months for your home to sell, in a hot market, it might take days. Set your mind on the future, to the next home where you’ll make new memories, because you might be there sooner than you realize.

Once you’re mentally and emotionally prepared, it’s time to get practical. There are a number of steps you should take to prepare your house for sale. In the following section, we’ll cover the following:

  • Addressing curb appeal
  • Applying cosmetic touches like cleaning up and painting
  • Fixing things that need fixing
  • Conducting a smell test
  • Thinking like a buyer
  • Promoting your home
  • Finding a real estate agent
  • Considering a house stager

Tips for getting your home ready for sale

There’s more to selling your home than taking some pictures and uploading it to a real estate site. This getting house ready to sell checklist will help you get on (and off) the market fast and maximize your home’s value.

Cosmetic tips

1. Examine your curb appeal

If you’ve ever watched House Hunters on HGTV, you’ve heard the term “curb appeal.” It’s the real estate equivalent of judging a book by its cover. Potential buyers will make a quick first impression of your home from the exterior because, let’s face it, we all want to live in an attractive house. (And yes, that applies to condos and housing developments, too.)

Invest a little time and money in simple cosmetic updates like planting flowers or bushes, repainting your front door, or keeping the front lawn mowed. You never know who might see a for sale sign in front of a good-looking house and decide to take a tour.

2. Declutter

Selling your home is a great excuse to declutter. Less is more when it comes to selling a house, so do a clean sweep of all the counters, windowsills, tables, and other visible areas before taking pictures of your home. Then go behind closed doors, into the closets, drawers, and cupboards.

A house that is overflowing with clutter sends the message that it isn’t big enough. If there isn’t enough space to store these things, a buyer might think that they too won’t have enough room. 

3. Depersonalize your space

This goes hand-in-hand with the process of breaking the emotional attachment to your home. As you declutter, donate, and put things in storage, you should also remove the personal things in your home. Pictures of your family or your kids’ artwork prevent potential buyers from imagining their own families in this home.

4. Paint your walls in neutral tones

Your taste might not be everyone’s taste. So that neon green accent wall in the master bedroom? Paint it white.

Bold colors may attract some buyers but to others, they just see another expense. Neutral, consistent colors throughout your home will help potential buyers fill in the blanks with their own colors. 

5. Fix the things that need fixing

Nobody wants to inherit the loose door handles, loose floorboards, or dead light bulbs that have been sitting on your to-do list for months. It may seem small, but even a single defect can make a potential buyer wonder what else needs fixing that they haven’t found.

Buying a home is an enormous endeavor for most people, so they may be picky. Ensuring they don’t find anything that needs immediate fixing is a good way to keep their minds at ease and focused on the positive qualities of your home.

6. Conduct a smell test

You may have noticed unique odors in the homes you’ve visited throughout your life. It’s possible that your home has one of these indescribable odors, as well. 

Conduct a smell test by inviting an unbiased person who is neither a friend nor your real estate agent to try to detect pet smells, kitchen odors, or distinctive “you” smells. If they find some pervasive smells, start deep-cleaning or explore masking techniques like candles or plug-in room deodorizers.

Logistical tips

7. Consider your home from a buyer’s perspective

When you’re preparing your home for sale, try to imagine seeing your home for the first time from a potential buyer’s perspective. Walk through each room and criticize them from a neutral point of view. Take note of the qualities of your home that are genuinely unique or attractive and try to highlight them during tours.

You might even want to consider getting a professional home inspection before listing to make sure there are no surprises in closing that could knock a few thousand dollars off the final sale price. Orchard recommends pre-listing inspections, and offers complimentary assessments for free for our clients. 

8. Find a real estate agent

While it’s possible to sell your home without an agent, and it may even be tempting in a hot market, it’s not advisable unless you really know what you’re doing.

That said, don’t hire the first real estate agent to send you a flyer. Real estate agents can make your sale a breeze and get you some more money, but you also might disagree on how to best sell your house. Do some research to find an agent who knows your market and whom you believe you’ll work well with. Don’t be afraid to interview more than one.

9. Consider staging

Staging may cost a little money but a great home stager can identify the elements of your home that will make buyers want to bid a little more. If your home is a bit aged or rough around the edges, a stager can hide some of the cosmetic imperfections and pump your home with some energy and beauty.

Who can help prepare your house for sale?

We’ve touched on real estate agents and home stagers, both of whom are valuable resources when preparing your house for sale. 

Another useful option is Orchard’s Concierge, a service that helps you get your home show-ready for no upfront cost. Orchard’s Concierge service works directly with you to recommend repairs and upgrades to help your home stand out on the market and sell faster. Orchard has negotiated rates with dozens of outstanding vendors to ensure you maximize your home’s value without having to haggle with contractors.

Don’t miss out on your dream home

Make a cash offer now, and Orchard will sell your old home after you move.

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