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Step 4
How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

What to Expect

Now that you’ve made the decision to sell and have met with a real estate to discuss current market conditions, it’s time to prep your home to be on the market. What sort of repairs and renovations should you focus on to get the most for your money? How should you clean and stage your home to get it looking its best? And what type of marketing should you employ to get your home out there? While every home is different, there are a few tried and true tips for prepping a home to be sold.

Cleaning
There a few shortcuts when it comes to cleaning your home before putting it up for sale: walls re-painted, floors waxed, windows wiped. Every inch of your home will have to be attended to, and there are no crawl spaces or closets where you can hide your stuff. A potential buyer will want to see every inch of the home, and storage space can be a real attraction for buyers. In the time that you have to live in your home while it’s on the market, you are going to have to live with a bare minimum of your possessions, and you might want to consider renting a storage space.

Read: Cleaning up and cleaning out your home ready for sale

Staging
It’s important to clean every inch of your home before you put it on the market, but don’t make the mistake of making your home so clean that it’s actually empty. One or two key pieces of furniture will help give potential buyers a frame of reference for a room’s size, and it will help buyers picture themselves in the home. The key to this balance is to de-personalize. Keep the just the essential, universal items on display.

Hiring a professional stager to make your home look its best is a minimal expense, considering how much faster it will help get your home off the market. A professional stager will not only know these basic tips but also how to best implement them in your home. A stager will often have a photographer they work with or can recommend one to use to help with your marketing materials. Your real estate agent most likely has a stager or two that they can connect you with.

Read: Why hiring a professional home stager sometimes makes sense
Read: How to de-personalize your home for sale

Repairs/Renovations
If you have been in your home for a long time, haven’t kept up with repairs over the years, or are otherwise in the dark about the condition of your home, it might be a smart idea to get a pre-inspection. While the buyer may inspect again during the negotiation process, at least this way there will be no surprises.

Once you know what needs to be fixed, consider how much of the sale price the work involved actually is. When it comes doing repairs before the home goes on the market, the two types you want to take care of yourself are small ones and really really big ones.

If a repair is less than 5% of the price of the home, it is a good idea to get it done before an inspector catches it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if there is a problem big enough, like a roof or foundation problem, you might have to take care of it before it prohibits the sale of the home at all. There is a sweet spot in there, between 10-20% of the home’s value where the repair might be best left to the next owner.

Read: What repairs should be completed prior to selling a home?

Read: How to boost your curb appeal to sell your home quicker!

Marketing
One of the first questions you should ask your real estate agent is about their marketing plan. All agents should have a solid plan in place, including social media, and a concrete amount of money they are willing to spend on advertising. Part of that marketing budget is for your Stager and Photographer, who will help get your home out there. There are always new ways and methods of photographing homes, so make sure your marketing team is utilizing not just photos, but drone video and 360-degree images. 

Preplanning For the Sale

Home Selling: How to Prepare in Advance & Avoid Surprises

In the home-selling journey, small but important parts of the process can end up piling up on the seller. If these things aren’t taken care of along the way, they can surprise the seller, who then has to do it all at once at the end. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, here a few things you can do in advance to make the sale of your home that much smoother.

Work Out the Details of the Move, Including Insurance

In the terminology of real estate, when the previous owners move out of a property and the new owner moves in, this is called possession. When a home sale is closed, the buyers want to take possession as soon as possible. To this end, there are a number of things to work out between the buyer and the seller, including utilities.

Often, sellers vacate the property before the contract is completed. If you are making one of these types of moves, then make sure your insurance company doesn’t have any provisions about leaving a home vacant. Insurance companies don’t like homes to be left vacant, so if you are going to vacate, make sure there aren’t any penalties in store for you.

On the topic of insurance, you should check in with your insurance company about insuring any big-ticket items you own in the course of the move. For these more expensive items, it might be a good idea to have them appraised, in order to make sure the insurance covers them correctly.

Sorting Out Your Own Mortgage 

In the course of your home’s sale, the buyer will be furiously getting together their paperwork in order to obtain a loan. Make sure everything is sorted out on your side of things, as well. If you have recently refinanced, then make sure you have all of that paperwork recorded. If you are selling and buying at the same time, then make sure your mortgage company knows about it so they can time it out to work for you. It is possible to borrow against the money you will receive at the close of the sale.

Documents to Have in Hand Before You List

Before you list your home, make sure you have in hand such documents as: the title, deed, and survey of your property. Having this paperwork in hand can save a lot of time later. The title and the deed are the documents that make you the legal owner of the property, while the survey is what legally determines the property’s size.

If you are still paying your mortgage, then the company who owns the lien has these documents. If you paid your mortgage off, they sent them to you. If you have lost them, there are most likely copies at your county records office. If you cannot obtain the documents through any of these ways, you might be in trouble.

Title officers exist for this very reason, and it is their job to make sure no one else has a claim on your title. If you bought your home a number of years ago, and never received a deed or title from the seller, chances are someone else has a claim on your home; instances of this are very rare, though.

Making Sure You Have Some Contingency Plans!

Selling a home is always more complicated than we expect, and it is smart to have a Plan B, Plan C, and a Plan D in place. Sometimes we are faced with an embarrassment of good luck, and a home sells much faster than we expect. In this case, you should have a plan for where to stay if your new home isn’t available yet.

In some cases, a buyer that isn’t ready to move in yet will rent the home to the old owner as part of the purchase agreement. If you haven’t already, you should look into a storage space to hold some of your possessions while in transit. Many home sellers get a unit as soon as they start cleaning house. It can come in handy if plans change, or for just holding onto your personal belongings while you show your home.

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