Written by: Olivia Forgette
Deciding to sell your home can feel like a daunting task. Preparing your home to sell can take some elbow grease and effort. Some fixes are more important than others, so look no further for tips to prepare your home to hit the market and ways to maximize your appraisal value.
We have taken a deep dive into the internet and spoken with top real estate agent Maureen Forgette to give you a comprehensive guide into prepping your space to sell. Plus, learn how to maximize your home value at the appraisal.
Surely, you’ve heard the phrase, “Declutter, paint, clean.” But preparing your home to sell can entail a bit more than this in some cases.
“A lot of clients believe that they need to get their home ready before they call their agent, and that simply isn’t the case,” Forgette said. “I can’t tell you how many clients put in a lot of work and money into parts of their home that weren’t necessary, or they chose finishes that aren’t particularly great for resale value,” she finished.
Tip number one, let your agent come to your home before you prepare anything! Your real estate agent has professional knowledge in what will make your home standout and sell for top dollar. Trust them to give you a to-do list, and then get to work!
Another thing Forgette said a lot of sellers forget is curb appeal. “The outside is just as important to buyers as the inside,” she said.
Experts say curb appeal improvements increase a home’s value by 20 percent. That can add quite a bit of change into your pocket, so there is no doubt that exterior updates are worth the effort.
Tips for exterior sprucing
- Give your windows a sparkling cleaning
- Pressure wash your siding or walkway to remove any mildew and dirt that has built up
- Trim back any overgrown bushes or trees (especially if they are blocking the driveway or sidewalk)
- Weed and mow your lawn for a well-groomed aesthetic
- Add some mulch to the front of your home for a fresh look
- Brush away any cobwebs or debris especially around the front door and entryway
Next up is decluttering your home interior. A cluttered space is distracting for buyers and can give the look that the home is not well maintained.
Declutter like a pro
- Start by not adding to your problem! Don’t purchase more clutter when you’re trying to downsize the mess
- Break the decluttering process down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Focus on one space at a time
- Take before and after photos to track your progress and keep you motivated
- Start with the main areas you can see first. Sure, it’s great to have the closets perfectly organized, but the most important things are open areas that buyers are going to be looking at
Now that you’ve spruced up your curb appeal and de-junked the interior, the next step to preparing your home to sell is to make minor repairs. Think about replaced that cracked glass in the window, touching up some chipped paint, replacing that pesky burnt out lightbulb, or swapping out GFCI light sockets around water sources. Buyers don’t want to see a leaking faucet or obvious work that they will need to complete.
Once you’ve taken care of those minor fixes you’ve likely been putting off for a while, it’s also a great idea to air out your space. Get your windows open and some fresh air flowing. Be sure to change your furnace filter, maybe light a candle. Smell is something that buyers will remember! Click here to learn more about how to freshen the scent of your space.
Along the same vein of smell, is deep cleaning. Clean every nook and cranny! In fact, a home that is deep cleaned before selling can add $2,000 to your resale value!
Scrub like you mean it
- Do a pass of the whole house including vacuuming, mopping, removing cobwebs and dust, and scrub the baseboards
- In the kitchen, wipe down cabinets, countertops (including the crumbs behind the toaster), and appliances
- Hit the bathroom by deep cleaning every inch! Shine fixtures, scrub in the grout, clean mirrors, and storage shelving
- Rent a carpet cleaner and clean carpeting throughout the house. If your carpets are in exceptionally bad shape, consider replacing the flooring with a durable wood lament (wait for your agent’s opinion on this before you invest the money on replacing!)
Amp up your lighting
When buyers are touring your home, they want to feel like it’s bright, light, and inviting. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by increasing your lighting throughout your home. You should aim for a total of 100 watts for every 50 square feet of space. In fact, having bright, LED lighting in your home will increase your home value by 1-to-3 percent!
Make your furry friends disappear
We love your pets as much as you do! But buyers may not. Many buyers are allergic to pet fur, or don’t appreciate the mess they can leave behind. Because of this, it’s important to try and make any trace of your furry friend disappear. Thoroughly clean the areas where your pets spend the most time, and when showings start rolling in, take the cat tree, crates, and food and water bowls in the car with you along with your pet family members.
Add some simple staging
Now that your space is in tip-top shape, it’s time to do some simple staging so buyers can visualize themselves in your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, about one third of buyer’s agents said staging increases the value offered between one-and-five percent! Plus, 49 percent of buyers agents cited that home staging influenced the buyers view of the home overall.
- Stage the home where it counts. Rooms that have the biggest impact are the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen.
- De-personalize the space. Buyers want to imagine themselves in the space. Keep some style and charm, but ditch personal photos, items hanging on the fridge, and religious or political items.
- Go neutral. If you have a crazy paint color in a child’s room, or some other loud design elements, it may be best to swap those spaces for some more neutral tones as this will appeal to the largest number of buyers.
- Rearrange furniture. You want to maximize the walkable space in your home. If buyers feel like they’re scooting past furniture, they won’t believe that your space has the room they need. Consider eliminating excess furniture, or simply rearranging so there is flow when walking through the home.
Prepping for appraisal
“The appraiser comes out after everything in the home has been negotiated and inspected to give a value of the house,” Forgette explained. “If your buyer is FHA, the appraiser will be looking to make sure the home meets FHA guidelines, so this is something to consider when preparing your house to sell,” Forgette said.
So, what is an appraisal exactly? An appraisal gives a fair market value of the home. It assures the lender that the price you’ve agreed to sell your home for is fair. The appraisal can also be used to determine property tax values.
An FHA loan needs to meet certain additional criteria in order for that buyer to purchase the property. You never know what kind of buyer you are going to get, so it’s important to consider these criteria when fixing up your house to sell. Click here for the basic criteria needed in an FHA appraisal.
Forgette said, “I always like to remind my clients to keep their house in great condition for the appraisal as well. Many [clients] think since they are under contract, that it’s okay to let cleanliness slip, but the appraisal is what determines the value of your home. If you want top value, you need to be sure that the house is in top condition to wow your appraiser,” she explained.
We hope that you’ve found these tips on preparing your home to sell useful, and that you now understand what it takes to get maximum value out of your appraisal. If you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell real estate, contact Maureen Forgette!