You’re ready to list your house, but you want to get your home ready for the real estate market. A few small repairs might be the difference in your home selling within a few days verses several months.
Few home improvement projects will return a profit, though. Follow these steps closely and you will make better decisions about what to do and what not to do when getting your home ready.
Walk through the property and ask yourself, “Would I buy this home?” Try to remove any emotion and sentimentally you have attached to the home so you can look at it objectively.
Choose Repairs Carefully
- A few hundred bucks worth of hardware (drawer handles, shower heads, ceiling fans) could significantly strengthen your selling position. Adding new insulation probably won’t…unless you are in desperate need of insulation.
- Prioritize changes and repairs according to when the house will go on the market. Projects requiring more contractors should be scheduled first.
- Stick to your repair/change timetable. Most homes will be on the market for at least a few months…especially those that need repairs to sell. Once you’ve come to a reasonable target selling price, don’t let outside factors make you vary from your original plan. If you’ve done everything correctly, the home will sell in due time.
Getting your home ready for sale is a tricky process. There isn’t a hard and fast rule on which repairs will return your investment. You have to know your home AND you have to know your market. If your home is likely to be torn down and replaced with a new construction, don’t pay to replace anything. But if your home has problems with the roof, the foundation or with termites, all of the affected items will have to be repaired or replaced.
Repair and Cleaning Checklist
- Paint: Does the house need new coats or an updated color?
- Holes and cracks: These are problem signs…especially if they are visible.
- Sidewalks, porches and decks: They need to be continually swept and kept in good shape.
- Windows and door screens: If they aren’t in good shape, consider repairing them.
- Gutters and downspouts: They must be secure (which is an easy fix) and you’ll want them to be clean when you show the home.
- Drive-up appeal: If any part of the home is unsightly, consider giving it a once-over to ensure prospective buyers are encouraged to stop and look inside your home.
- Lawn: An ugly lawn can destroy the drive-up appeal for your home. You need your lawn to be lush and fertilized.
- Lawn upkeep: It is imperative that you keep your lawn mowed, edged and weeded throughout the sales process.
- Shrubs and trees: Keep them trimmed.
- Flower beds: If your home has beds, make sure your flowers/plants are healthy and clean. If you have old, dying plants, get rid of them.
- Be careful here: Do not do anything to the roof until you speak to your buyer. If your buyer plans to tear your house down, there is no need to repair the roof…or even spend the deductible on the repair. On the other hand, if your buyer is financing the home, the mortgage company will demand that the roof is fixed either by the seller or through a negotiate settlement through the buyer.
- Leaks/un-level areas: See above.
- Missing shingles or tires: Again, see above.
- Floors: Keep them swept and get rid of stains.
- Floor space: Attractive garages look roomy. Move boxes and other clutter as close to the walls as possible to “maximize” your garage’s appearance.
- Garage door/and the garage door opener: Should be in proper working order.
- Appearance: You want your attic to look organized and inviting, not like a cluttered mess?
- Stairs: They should be in good condition.
- Lighting: Make sure the light fixtures are working and that the attic is well-lit?
- Insects/rodents: If there is any evidence of pests, get rid of them before you place the home on the market.
- Appliances: All should be clean and working.
- Cabinets: Clean and make sure they are in good shape.
- Sink: Recaulk if necessary and eliminate any stains and/or repair chips.
- Faucets: Check for leaks.
- Oven: If you haven’t cleaned it in a while, you should.
- Counter tops: Clean them and clear them of clutter.
- Tile: Regrout if necessary and wipe them down.
- Shower doors: These should be clean.
- Floor: Should be in good condition.
- Excess items: Pre-package these and stow them in storage areas to make the home appear larger.
- Walls and woodwork: Check for holes, cracks and/or needed paint.
- Wallpaper: If it is outdated or in terrible shape, replace it or paint over it.
- Windows: MUST be clean inside and out…and they should open and close easily.
- Floors: Should be clean and polished.
- Water damage/leaks: If you have stains, be sure to clean them as soon as possible.
- Carpets: Should be clean, flat and stained free.
- Draperies: Clean them and make sure they work properly.
- Hinges: If they squeak, lubricate them.
- Doors: If they stick, repair them…and inspect the door seals to ensure they are working properly.
- Locks: They should all work properly and you’ll need to the keys for each one.
- Lights: Check to see if they are working properly. Replace bulbs where necessary.
- Ceiling fans/vents: Clean and make sure they work properly.
- Overall cleaning: Depending on your situation, it might be wise to deep-clean your home before you show it…and it could also be wise to hire a professional to do it.