You will likely have seen a lot of good checklists on what to do to get your home ready for a spring home sale. Most of those, however, focus on general cleanup and staging right before you go on the market. There is a lot to do before you even get to that phase. So below are action items you can start now while you are waiting for the spring selling season.
Get Rid of Hazardous Waste and Junk in Basements, Attics, and Garages. This is one of the top stressors sellers encounter as closing date approaches. Movers won’t take them. And they are impossible to get rid of at the last minute unless you are willing to risk breaking the law and mother nature by tossing them in your regular trash. Buyers do not want you to leave them behind, so don’t count on that. If you visit my Seller’s Blog Page on www.michellelanerealtor.com or the www.newtonma.gov web page, you can find more information on how to dispose of hazardous waste and bulky trash items.
Get Rid of Furniture that You won’t be Keeping or Using for Staging. This is another stressor for sellers at the end of the sale process. Charities who take used furniture will only take furniture in good condition and pickup needs to be planned weeks in advance. If you are not taking the furniture to your next home and your Realtor (me) tells you it is not worthy of being used for staging, then start planning now for it’s removal. It is especially good to do this BEFORE you touch up paint on the walls. My team can help you find the charities that will take your unwanted furniture and household items.
If you are going to Need a Dumpster, Get it Now. It doesn’t look appealing to buyers who are driving by your house before the first open house to see a dumpster in front of it. Plus, it is too stressful to be doing all that at the last minute. So best to do this early.
Inventory the Work that Needs to be Done around the House. We all get used to the little flaws around our house – screens with holes in them, doors that don’t shut, locks that don’t work, cracks in the walls and windows. We learn to live with them because they are a nuisance to fix. The buyers also think they will be a nuisance to fix, so not only will they will call you out on these things, but it will impact their estimation of the value of the property.
Get a pre-listing Home Inspection. Clients often ask if they should have a presale inspection and my answer is – it depends. If you are not going to fix anything the inspector finds, then you may want to get the inspection just so you know what you will have to negotiate post buyer inspection. But if you have no money to make any of the repairs that come from the inspection, knowing everything that’s wrong with your home will mean you are obliged to disclose all those problems to potential Buyers. If you can fix things like asbestos, mold, leaks, malfunctioning mechanicals before a spring home sale, then get an inspection and take care of those things before you put your house on the market.
Get a pre-listing Survey. Maybe. Surveys are not cheap – roughly $1,500. But if you suspect a neighbor’s fence, shed, stone wall is encroaching on your property, better to find out and deal with it now rather than have your sale fall apart. Plus, Buyers will be psyched to have that survey in case they want to put in a fence or such after moving in.
Look up Permits for Your Home. Once a client signs a contract with me, my team does this for you. But if you want to get a head start, look up your home with the city to see if there are any open permits. Buyers will insist that you have them closed out, which may mean bringing in the appropriate contractor.
Line up Contractors. Contractors are notoriously difficult to line up any time of the year, but nearly impossible to pin down in the spring when everyone wants work done. So, once you have inventoried what needs to be done, start lining up the contractors now while they have the time to come out and give you quotes and get you on their calendar.
Figure Out How Much You Can Afford to Spend on Preparing the Property. And where you will spend it. Aside from the repairs already mentioned, the biggest bang for the buck is spending the money on:
- Spackling and Painting in neutral, modern colors.
- Refinishing Floors or Replacing Carpet
- Changing Light Fixtures
Lighting makes an incredible difference to how a home looks to potential buyers. I can’t tell you how often people make commentary on lighting and light fixtures in homes on the market.
Start Collecting Up Boxes. You will never have enough boxes so start accumulating them now. You can get them from stores, on Facebook Yardsale groups or buy them at UHaul.
Donate Stuff to Charity. If it is not going with you to the new home and not needed for staging, get it out of the house now. My team can help you find charities that will take your donations.
Line Up Where You Will Store Extra Stuff While the House is On the Market. Perhaps you have things that you will take to the next house, but they are not necessary for selling this house – extra toys, books, clothes, dishes, etc. Figure out now where that will be stored – relative’s house, storage unit, POD and line that up now so you are not stressed as the time to list your home approaches.
Inventory Major Mechanicals and Improvements. Buyers always ask these questions:
- How old is the furnace, hot water heater, roof, windows, etc. Look that up now.
- How old are the appliances? Are they under warranty?
- If you have an oil furnace, have it serviced. Buyers look for those service tags.
- If you made improvements, give your Realtor (me) information on when all those were done.
Dig up Your Paperwork on the House. Your attorney, your agent and buyers are going to ask a lot of questions, so start digging out the paperwork now: utility bills, tax bills, mortgage details, survey and rental contracts.
Thin out Closets and Storage Areas. Buyers will open your closets. So, they should look like IKEA closets – sparse and organized. Same for the kitchen cabinets. If they are crammed full of stuff, the buyer gets the subliminal message that there is not enough storage in the house. Which means you will have some packing up to do. If you have expensive shoes, coats, purses, those should be taken out of the house and stored someplace safe. If you are still using them, do this as you get closer to listing the house.
Discuss Staging with Your Realtor (me). An early discussion with your agent on staging will help you determine what to toss and what to keep. My service is unique in that we offer partial to full staging of the home either free or at a reduced cost, depending on the extent of staging required. An early discussion will help you know what I can stage for you and thus, what you can pack or toss.