What Should You Do to Prepare Your House for the Market?

Joe Polyak January 25, 2018

What Should You Do to Prepare Your House for the Market?

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I believe that most people’s goal in selling their house is to get the highest price while keeping costs as low as possible.

The reason you want to bring your house up to showing condition is to minimize the costs the buyer places on some of the work.

For example, let’s say a buyer comes into a house and sees old, stained, ripped carpeting. Not only does the carpet give off a bad odor, but most buyers will also assign a high price to replacing the carpet. If you ripped out the old carpet and sanded and finished the hardwood floors beneath, that would only cost between $3,000 to $4,000. A buyer may see the old carpet and decrease their original offer by $10,000 to $15,000 to account for replacing the carpet.

I believe that the most important thing for people is not necessarily to get the highest selling price but rather to net the most money from the home sale. That means if you spend a dollar on a repair or update, you would like to get at least two dollars back.

That said, there are five things that I recommend focusing on when preparing your house for sale:

  1. Curb appeal. The exterior of the house is important because it is the first picture people see when browsing online, and it’s the first impression they get when they pull up to the house.

Landscaping is important. Trim the grass and bushes so the yard looks clean, not scruffy. Adding some fresh mulch in the flowerbeds can go a long way towards making your front yard look great.

You should also pay attention to the paint on the exterior of the house. If the paint is deteriorating, it’s time for a fresh coat. I like to have a designer come with me to help the client pick out colors. You want a nice contrast between the paint on the house and the trim. Your house should stand out, but not deviate too much from the other homes in the neighborhood.

How does the front door look? What about the garage door? Changing these doors out can be relatively inexpensive and goes a long way in increasing your curb appeal. You may even be able to get away with painting the front door and garage door to give them a fresh look.

One small but important detail is the mailbox. If it’s old or damaged, consider replacing it.

  1. Floors, walls, and ceilings. What kind of flooring do you have? Right now, buyers prefer hardwood floors or engineered flooring. If your home already has hardwood floors, like many older homes do, you can probably sand the surface and stain them to give your home a new look.

What if your home has carpeting? Well, you can check to see if there are hardwood floors underneath. If not, install new carpeting, hardwood flooring, or engineered hardwood floors, which are much cheaper.

What does the interior paint look like? If it’s in rough shape, you will have to repaint. If you repainted in the last few years, then you may need to touch up some spots. When paint ages, it tends to change colors a bit, but it will match close enough.

If you decide to repaint, use a light, neutral color. Paint the trim and ceiling either white or off-white.

If your interior doors are scratched up and dented, you can replace them for as low as $100 a door. Also, pay attention to light switches, outlets, and other small details. Buyers pay attention to detail, so changing these little things throughout the house will make a much better impression and ultimately bring you a higher sales price.

  1. The kitchen. Consider changing out old linoleum floors out for vinyl flooring or tile. If the kitchen was redone in the last 10 to 15 years, you can re-stain the cabinets to make them look newer. If they are much older, you may have to replace them. Another trick I like to use is to paint the cabinets white. They will look great!

Painting your front door and your garage door can give your home a fresh new look.

Do the oven and range have a lot of stains from years of cooking? It may be worth it to replace them. How about the refrigerator and the dishwasher? Replacing these appliances with newer stainless steel ones can make a significant difference in the way the home looks to the buyer.

  1. The bathroom. If your toilet is more than five years old, it needs to be replaced. It costs less than $500 each to buy and install the toilet.

Depending on when you last remodeled the bathroom, it may be time to remodel.

  1. The basement, the garage, and the attic. Usually, all you need to do is clean these areas and empty them out. If you’ve been living in the home for a while, that may be easier said than done. You can hire a professional organizer who will help you haul away junk and store items you want to keep. You can also take care of this yourself.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any other questions about preparing your home for the real estate market or about real estate in general, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

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