Selling a home is incredibly stressful, especially if you’ve never done it before. On top of worrying about the price of your home sale and timing the sale, you’ll likely be coordinating buying a new home. It may take a bit of upfront effort, and maybe some extra money, but prepping your home for sale can drastically speed up the process—and possibly net you more money at the same time.
The question is, what steps do you need to take to prepare your home for sale?
Your first responsibility is giving your home a deep, thorough cleaning. Even if you do a good job of keeping up with the housework, over time, your home will accumulate an enormous amount of dirt, dust, and debris. If a person walking through your home notices grimy areas, or worse, if they smell an unpleasant odor, it could turn them off of your house.
In addition to basic cleaning habits like wiping down surfaces, sweeping, and vacuuming, you’ll want to give your carpets a deep clean, move appliances and clean behind them, and clean the ceilings and baseboards. This can be time consuming, especially if you don’t have professional equipment, so consider hiring a professional cleaning service for these tasks.
Most homebuyers will conduct a home inspection before they fully commit to buying a home, and if the home inspection finds anything off, they may require you to fix it before they finalize the deal—or they may walk away entirely. Accordingly, it may be a good idea to get a home inspection of your own, or at least take an assessment of the points of damage in your home that might be red flags to a potential buyer.
Every home is going to have points of minor damage, so there’s no need to obsess over every detail. But if you notice a light that doesn’t work or a sink that doesn’t drain quite right, a bit of extra effort can go a long way in securing the deal. You’ll also want to consider cost here; if the repair would cost thousands of dollars, it may or may not be worth committing.
You’ll also need to take some efforts to neutralize or depersonalize your home. When prospective homebuyers tour your home, they don’t want to see all the personal affects that made your home so appealing to you; photos of your family, pieces of obscure artwork, and other personal items can actually hurt your chances of a sale.
Instead, work on removing anything that’s unique to you. If your walls are bold or unconventional colors, consider painting them something more neutral. Invest in décor that appeals to the majority of homebuyers, instead of the unique items you likely have in your possession.
Furniture Arranging and Staging
You’ll also need to spend some time arranging the furniture and staging the home. If you have any furniture that looks old, dirty, or otherwise unpleasant, it may be best to get rid of it. Otherwise, you’ll need to arrange the furniture in a way that makes each room more photogenic—and in a way that maximizes the apparent interior space. You’ll be surprised at how much bigger your home can look with a few pieces of furniture arranged properly. This can be tough for an amateur to do, so don’t be afraid to hire a professional—or at least consult with one.
Similarly, you’ll want to work on the lighting of your home. Bright interior lighting is almost always a good thing; it’s even more effective if you know how to point that lighting to highlight the most important features of your home. For example, if you want to show off the central island of your kitchen, you can put a bold spotlight on it. If you want to bring attention to the mantel, you can install some extra lights around it.
All your work won’t mean much if people can’t see it. Most homebuyers today do some or most of their searching for new homes online. The only way to effectively show your home online is through visuals like photos and videos, but amateur photography and videography won’t do. You’ll need to think carefully about how you frame and compose your photos, how you light the area, and ultimately, which photos you choose to display. Consider hiring a professional.
If you’re struggling with the home preparation process, talk to your real estate agent. They may have suggestions on how to approach your home, or may be able to connect you with a third-party service that can help you take care of things. In any case, focus on one step of the process at a time.