5 Steps to Prepare You and Your Home for Sale
Few people decide to sell a home overnight. Getting the best price for your home, with the least amount of stress, takes time and planning. Here are five steps you should follow as you to start preparing to put your home on the market.
1. Learn your home’s market value
Most homeowners have a relatively good idea of their home’s value. You get fliers in the mail, look at nearby homes for sale online, or even go to open houses. Maybe you recently refinanced and saw an appraisal.
But when it comes time to think about selling, you need a firm idea of your home’s “market” value. Market value is what a buyer is willing to pay on the open market.
Having a local agent (me!) look at your home is the first step toward getting a practical idea of your home’s value. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and put together a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). After touring your home, I’ll get back to you with some information about the market, recent comparable sales and an opinion of your home’s value. Even if you’re months or years away from selling, having an agent early on engages you in the process and allows you to start gathering information.
2. Assess your home’s physical condition
Every homeowner thinks of their home as simply their home: a place to live and make memories. But when you look to sell, you should start thinking like a seller… or more appropriately, a buyer. That means seeing your home as a ‘product’ and its potential for sale on the open market. By looking at it this way, you’ll understand that the deep purple living room paint or the overly cluttered office, which doubles as a guest room, may not look enticing to buyers.
In most cases, you’ll have some work to do to sell your home. A good agent, along with a CMA, will give you ideas for home improvements to consider. What you don’t want to do is spend money needlessly; we can talk about what should be improved or left as is.
Additionally, you need to know your home’s overall condition. A property inspection could be an excellent investment. If you discover you need a new roof or that the furnace is about to expire, you’ll have time to address it before a buyer catches it. Ultimately, this can save you time and money. Knowing what your home needs, early in the process, will help orient you towards a successful sale.
3. Start watching the comps
The train to a successful home sale truly pulls out of the station once you’ve gathered all of the information. Armed with knowledge about your home’s current market value and what you would need to make it “market ready,” you should start watching the comps, going to open houses and fully engaging with the local real estate market. The more homes you see, either in person or via your agent (who should be keeping you in the loop), the better you’ll understand what it will take to get your home sold. Pay attention to how homes that go before yours fare on the market. Get a sense for what the highest and best price would be for your home in your neighborhood. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set-up a ‘listing alert’ on my website – www.TheJerseyShoreHomeFinder.com.
4. Do your homework
After speaking to a good local agent (again, me), you may have any number things to do before you can list your home for sale. Start speaking to painters, general ‘fix-it’ contractors, landscapers, and stagers. Ask me for recommendations. Get bids for what would need to be done. Start understanding how much work you’re willing to do, what needs to be fixed and how much you want to spend. Together we can prioritize the work and get things lined up.
5. Set a deadline and get to work
You and I should pick a date to get the property officially “listed” and then work back from there to plan the work. Your home should be “open house ready” for the photo shoot. Listing photos are people’s first impression of your home today. While curb appeal matters, photos are a VERY important part of the strategy. Plan to get all the work done before the photo shoot. The hardest part for most sellers is these weeks and months leading up to a sale. Once the home is on the market, the home is out there, in its full glory for all the buyers to see.
No two home sales are alike, of course. The process is filled with bumps along the way, and red flags can appear out of nowhere. Engaging with a good local real estate agent early on in the process is the best first step to becoming a successful home seller. Take your time and do your due diligence. The more you plan, the better off you’ll be and the quicker your home will sell — and for top dollar. Karl Hess provides expert real estate advice on The Jersey Shore in Ocean County.