When there comes time to sell your house, you want to be sure you’re maximizing value and getting the highest possible offers from prospective buyers. Ideally, you want to spark a bidding war, which may allow you to sell for above market value.
While some properties are desirable enough to sell themselves, most listings require some preparation before putting a sign in the front yard. Knowing how to approach the pre-listing process will allow you to move the needle on value.
Enhance Your Home’s Appeal
There are certain quantifiable metrics that dictate the value of a home. Elements like square footage, number of bedrooms, neighborhood, and school zoning come to mind. Then there are the qualitative and emotional factors that buyers use to determine value in their minds. The more you appeal to these factors, the higher the price you can command.
Unsure of where to begin? Here are some seemingly simple steps you can take to impress buyers and spark a bidding war:
1. Spruce Up the Entrance
Good or bad – first impressions are hard to shake. In order to impress prospective buyers right away, you should focus on sprucing up the entrance to the home. In most cases, this means cleaning up the porch, pressure washing hard surfaces, repainting/replacing the front door, and adding some pops of color with fresh flowers.
2. Make the House Smell Good
Your house has a certain smell. Since you spend so much time in your house, you’re most likely oblivious to it. In some cases, this is a good smell. Other times it can be strange, musty, or downright stinky. And if there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s buyers plugging their noses when they walk through the door.
According to Green Residential, a property management firm in Houston, Texas, there are six common culprits of a smelly house: food, clothes, pets, HVAC system, lack of cleanliness, and trash.
Aside from cleaning up messes and removing the source of the smell, you can make your house smell better by diffusing essential oils, simmering scents on the stove, or having the carpet and upholstery professionally cleaned.
3. Declutter Personal Belongings
As much as you may like the gallery wall with all of your child’s school pictures from preschool through high school, prospective buyers don’t give a rip. In fact, they’d prefer that you didn’t have a bunch of personal belongings hanging around.
Prior to listing, go through the house and declutter as much as possible. Go ahead and box it up and put it in a storage unit. When it comes time to move out, you’ll already have a head start.
4. Consult With a Professional Stager
“A two-hour consultation with a professional stager can yield helpful paint and lighting recommendations, as well as suggestions for how to arrange furniture,” Time.com suggests. The typical cost for this sort of consultation would be somewhere between $150 and $400. In most cases, you’ll see a return of 10-20-times this value.
5. Fix Little Problems
Go ahead and fix all of those little problems that are easy and inexpensive. Even though they aren’t hard for a prospective buyer to fix after closing, they’ll have a cumulative impact on how they see the property. They’ll wonder, “If all of these things are messed up, is there something big I’m missing?”
If you aren’t handy, create a punch list for a handyman and hire someone out for half a day. Again, this is money well spent.
6. Send Your Pet Away
If you have pets, they need to go on a vacation. Whether it’s your next door neighbor’s house or an overnight boarder, pets shouldn’t step foot in your home in the days leading up to listing (or when it’s on the market). Not only do they create a mess, but they may turn off prospective buyers who don’t like the idea of a pet living in a home they purchase.
Showcase Your House in the Proper Light
In a hot market like this, you can put your house on the market as-is and get a few bites. However, you probably won’t be satisfied with the offers. For a little additional effort, you can improve the appeal of your home and increase the perceived value.
Try out a few of these tips and see for yourself!