Get Your Home Ready To Sell

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Real Estate

Get Your Home Ready To Sell

A common mistake people make before selling their home is to spend a lot of money – renovations, new roof, remodeling. While buyers will be impressed with these things, spending $5000 on remodeling will not usually add $5000 to your sale. Spend as little money as possible, and spend it on cosmetic, readily seen features like interior painting. The time to remodel is when you plan to stay in the house, not when you’re going to sell.

First things first – declutter and either have a garage sale or donate. Whatever doesn’t sell needs to be set out for a Disabled American Veterans or taken to Goodwill. Once the clutter is cleared away, it will be easier to see what needs to be done.  Of all the smooth seller transactions I've seen, almost every one happens because decluttering and packing took place months before the listing hit the market.  In the other extreme, waiting until listing the property leads to incredible stress and frustration.  Don't put it off!

If you think about everything that needs to be done to sell your house, you might throw your hands up in despair, or at least feel some anxiety. Take one step at a time, one small task at a time. Break it down to manageable-sized chores and you’ll have better results.  Begin finding packing boxes early from Nextdoor, Craigslist, TrashNothing, or your local grocery store, and concentrate on one corner of one room at a time-taking your time and marking the contents of each box will make sense when you unpack in your new location.

Cosmetics and Minor Repairs

This is your first impression, so it had better be a good one.

Edge, mow and fertilize the lawn regularly. Make sure it’s well watered and reseed any sparse areas.

Put a bright coat of paint on your mailbox.

Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees regularly. Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.

Buy a new welcome mat.

Check the foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and crumbling, and reseal if possible.

If you have siding or brick, power-wash it. If you have a painted exterior, consider repainting in a neutral shade. This is especially important if there is any peeling.

Make sure the porch light works.

Clean and align gutters and downspouts.  Confirm that there is a slope away from your home's foundation, and if not, bring in soil and rock to create a positive slope away.  This WILL be called out by just about every home inspector.

Inspect and clean the chimney.  Be sure to get a report from the chimney sweep.

Have the HVAC inspected and cleaned, and make sure a report is produced by the HVAC company.  Most buyers and buyers' agents will request to see the condition of the HVAC and the fireplace, so be proactive.  A report that states the furnace is older but still fully functional is better than no report at all, and might get you out of springing for a new furnace through a price reduction or closing credit.

If the doorbell doesn’t work, repair or replace it.

Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles. If in doubt about your roof, reach out to a roofing company.  Most will give you a free estimate of the condition of your roof.

Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.

Remove oil stains from driveway and garage.

If you’re selling in the winter, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice. Otherwise, keep the walks and driveway swept.

Repair broken outdoor steps.

Spring for some brightly colored potted outdoor flower arrangements for the front yard near the entrance.

Wash the windows inside and out.  Amazon sells a number of inexpensive window washing kits that will change your life.

Store RVs, boats and extra vehicles (anything that can’t be parked in the garage) elsewhere while the house is on the market.  If you live on an acreage and have older/non-functioning cars, arrange to have them hauled off now.  Cars that have sat for years can get stuck in the mud and may take numerous attempts to remove.

Paint the front door.

If prospective buyers walk into your house greeted by the smell of cat litter, cigarette smoke, mildew or pet accidents, there is little chance that even a reduced sales price will persuade them to buy. So the first thing to do:

Clean, clean, clean. This includes walls, floors, inside closets and cabinets – everything. If you must, hire a cleaning service to come in and do the job.

Get rid of clutter. Put away appliances you normally leave on countertops. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Clean out your closets, garage, basement and attic.

Paint the walls and ceilings a neutral color – off white or beige.

Repair cracks, holes and damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint, and tiles.

Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork. 

Repair dripping faucets and showerheads, and re-caulk moldy caulk seams in shower, bath, and sink areas.

Buy new cabinet knobs for the kitchen.

Shampoo all carpets, scrub and wax linoleum, wash and wax wood floors.

Unclog slowly draining sinks and tubs.

Mend torn screens. Clean out all window tracks.

Check to see that all windows will open and close.

Replace burned-out light bulbs. Use brighter light bulbs.

Make sure every light switch works.

Nail down any creaking boards or stair treads (drive two long finishing nails at opposing angles through the floor and sub-floor into the joist).

Lubricate any squeaking doors

Remove excess, worn or unattractive furniture.

Thoroughly clean all appliances (especially refrigerator and oven).

Replace old toilet seats and shower curtains.

Clear all cobwebs from corners and doorways.  Outbuildings and garages take a lot more time, so start early.

Wash all light switches, handrails and doorknobs.

On Showing Days

Keep draperies and shades open to let in the light.

Place fresh flowers throughout the house.

Have your home well-lit during showing.

At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting in back if you have it.

Set out colorful, luxurious towels in the bathroom.

Avoid having dirty dishes in the sink or on counters.

Keep any toys in the children’s rooms, bikes, wagons and skateboards in the garage.

Play pleasant music at low volume.

Spend the day of an open house away from home.

Leave pets outdoors.

Unless you’re selling it yourself, let the agent show your house, and don’t tag along.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

A 30-40 cubic yard rolloff dumpster costs $400-700.  Compare this to numerous trips to the landfill.  Consider what your time is worth, the hassle of loading and unloading throwaways, and possible punctured tires at the landfill. 

April, May, and June are the busiest moving months (late May is the peak), so plan on arranging a moving service months ahead of time.  This goes for moving junk, pre-listing deep cleans, carpet cleaning, and anything else associated with moving.  If you can work on these tasks in January, February, March, you'll be ahead of the game and ready to list during the peak months.


Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay


Please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your move into or out of Northern Colorado.  Thank you!

James Sack, REALTOR®  

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

1109 Oak Park Drive | Fort Collins, CO 80525

C: (970) 217-9705  |  O: (970) 223-6500  |  E:  |  W: