October 23, 2019

The process of selling your house can be both exciting and overwhelming. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems and listing a house is no exception. Many people think that simply putting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard and uploading some photos to the Internet is all it takes. But, there’s so much more to it than that, especially if you want to secure a buyer in a timely manner.

Selling your home and getting the best possible price for it requires some advance planning and work. Here’s a checklist to get you well on your way to a successful sale.

How to Prepare

Find a great real estate agent

Meet with more than one agent to find one that will do the best job selling your home. It's important to carefully vet each agent. Some agents specialize in certain neighborhoods or types of houses. Ask for recommendations from people who have recently sold in or near where you live.

Make sure you understand what fee the agent will receive upon the sale of your house. Once you decide on one, you’ll likely sign an exclusive listing contract with them for 30 or 60 days. A good agent will also make recommendations and suggestions to make the sale as efficient and beneficial as possible.

Deal with all minor repairs

Take care of all minor fixes that you’ve been putting off, things like loose doorknobs, leaky faucets, and scuffs on floors and walls. 

Lighten up the place

Sunny, light filled spaces tend to be more appealing to people so try and get rid of any dark, heavy drapes or window coverings. Replace any burned out bulbs in overhead fixtures and consider adding table or floor lamps to areas which seem to always be dim.

Organize and de-clutter

Potential buyers will likely look into your closets, so straighten and organize them. Pack away excess clothing and other items and store them in an off-site storage space if possible. Remove all personal items and clear off any shelves or tabletops.

Some people rent a storage container, such as Pods that lives somewhere on their property until they’re ready to move to their new home. This way you have a place to take some of your excess clutter to open up the home for potential buyers to visualize their lives there.

Eliminate any bad odors

Banish any pet, food, or other offensive odors. Start by airing out the house. Wash all the curtains and window coverings. You can hang mini blinds in the shower or bathtub to clean them. Steam clean carpets and upholstery. Fresh, natural scents from flowers or plants can make a room feel more comfortable and cozier. 

Clean

While you're getting rid of those odors, clean, then clean some more. Move all the furniture to get to every nook and cranny of the house. In bathrooms and bedrooms, you can have fresh linen and towels hung, again introducing homey scents. 

Choose the right moving company

Spend time finding the best moving company before you have to actually move. Doing this will reduce the inevitable stress of moving. Look for companies with proper insurance and good reviews. Also, be sure to ask the right moving questions, to determine whether a company is a good fit. Remember that the cheapest isn’t always the best option.    

There are various levels of service when it comes to moving companies. You can go full service with a company that provides the truck, helps with packing, loads and unloads, and drives the truck. Another option is to rent a truck yourself (if you or someone you know is able to drive it) and hire a company to help you load it and unload it. There are also all sorts of combinations in between.

Don’t forget to either hire movers that provide dollies and furniture pads or rent them yourself.

How to Update your Home

While there is cost associated with updates before selling, always consider the return. Depending on your target seller, the return of a simple upgrade may exceedingly outweigh the time and cost it takes to make the upgrade.

Up your curb appeal

First impressions count when it comes to home sales. Consider power washing the exterior of your house or updating the siding if needed. A fresh coat of paint is a good bet, especially if your house is currently an unconventional color and/or your paint is chipping away.

Weed and trim all your flower beds. Plant something that will bloom soon if possible and keep the grass neat and trim.

Perform a minor renovation.

Bathroom and kitchen renovations will almost always raise the value of a house. You can do things like replacing cabinet handles and drawer pulls, re-facing kitchen cabinets, or re-caulking the bathtub, anything that will give a fresh, clean look.

Make your home more energy efficient

Many buyers these days are interested in homes that are energy efficient. There are both big and small ways to accomplish this. The best place to begin is with an energy audit and/or home inspection to get ahead of any potential concerns from prospective buyers. Increasing your home's efficiency can call for small or large projects.

A large energy project is to install solar panels to heat water and generate electricity. Solar panels aren’t cheap, but they offer significant savings throughout a home's life span. 

Add storm doors on all exterior doorways and make sure all windows are sealed properly for a sizeable efficiency change without having to put down as much cash as you would for solar panels. If you have old, wood frame, single glass pane windows, think about updating to new, double paned windows that help keep indoor temperatures where you want them to be.

Don't want to spend too much time or money on making your home more energy efficient? Change the shower heads and toilets to low flow versions. While the task at hand may seem simple, this could make or break an eco-friendly buyer's decision to close on the house.

[For someone looking to buy an energy efficient home, use these tips to make an informed buying decision: 7 Steps to Enter the Home Buying Negotiations with Your Eyes Wide Open

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Haley Kieser, Guest Poster

Haley Kieser is a freelance writer from Arizona. She loves writing and sharing information with others. In her spare time, you can find her exploring the outdoors or tackling a DIY project. She covers home and living for notable brands, such as O2E Brands.