You’ve decided that you’re ready to sell your house, found a great real estate agent, and are busy making repairs and updates to make sure your home stands out. But, you’re probably noticing that getting ready to sell your house can be a big undertaking. From tackling home improvement projects to having your home staged, there’s a lot to do before listing your home for sale.
Even with a list of to-dos, many people may forget important tasks throughout the process. Luckily, to help you as you’re getting ready to sell your house, we’ve put together a list of the top things most home sellers forget to think about that could cost you the sale. So before putting your home on the market, be sure not to overlook these 11 things:
1. Declutter and organize your closets and cabinets
You may have gone through your home and minimized the clutter, organized your desk and other surfaces, and stored away your antiques and personal items – but did you tackle your closets and cabinets?
During a home tour, there’s a good chance that potential homebuyers will look in your closets, kitchen drawers, and cabinets, so you’ll want to showcase what your house has to offer in terms of storage. Start by decluttering your closets, cabinets, and drawers, being sure that you’re only keeping enough belongings in each to highlight the potential that space has to offer. Think of it as an extension of your home staging, but for your storage areas.
There’s a lot to do to prepare your home before it hits the market. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to begin, consider hiring a professional organizer to help get your home in order so you can focus on other important tasks.
2. Clean stains and eliminate odors
We should all consider small stains, marks, and other imperfections as badges of honor for a house that’s been well-loved. Nonetheless, when you’re getting ready to sell your house, these slight bumps and bruises will stand out to potential buyers, so make sure to tackle them head-on.
Start by going outside and re-entering your house as if you were an interested buyer looking at it for the first time. From there, do a walk-through of every room and take note of all the imperfections you notice. You might be surprised with how quickly your list grows.
If you have pets, there’s a good chance your home may have an odor that you can no longer smell. Deep cleaning your house is a surefire way to help eliminate these odors, but simple things, like opening up the windows for a few hours each day, can help air out your home (especially if there are any chemical smells lingering). You can also place plugin room fresheners to help infuse a clean scent throughout your house. However, be sure you don’t overdo it with artificial scents – this can make buyers question what smell you’re trying to mask.
3. Replace light bulbs
Small tasks, like replacing a lightbulb when it goes out, are something that many forget to do when getting their home ready to sell. To keep potential buyers from being distracted by these little imperfections, walk through each room and ensure every lightbulb is working. Don’t forget to check that all the exterior lights are working as well. Depending on the time of year, open houses or home tours could happen when the sun is going down or when it’s already dark, so be sure to make your house shine inside and out.
Pro tip: Make sure all your light bulbs are the same color temperature inside your house as well as outside. A soft-white light LED bulb can create a bright but welcoming environment for new homebuyers.
4. Think about the small details: plants, mirrors, rugs
As you’re getting ready to sell your house, consider each room’s individual characteristics so you can really showcase the potential of every room.
Add some greenery throughout your home
Nothing breathes life into a room more than a little greenery. A potted tree can work wonders in a living room, but even smaller house plants throughout your home can make a difference, such as on a desk or near a bedroom window.
Open up even the smallest rooms with mirrors
As you’re getting ready to sell your house, you may notice a certain space feeling a little cramped. Consider adding a mirror to open up the room. Mirrors can make small spaces seem large because they create the illusion of depth and work wonders in darker spaces to reflect light into areas that may not receive an abundance of natural light.
Rugs can add character to an otherwise unimpressive space
A simple way to add character to your home is by staging your space with rugs. However, keep in mind that you want to use rugs to enhance a space rather than use them as the focal point. If you have a strange space in your home that you never really figured out a good use for, a rug could offer a little personality while leaving the space and its potential to the imaginations of the buyers.
5. Enhance your outdoor space
Enhancing your curb appeal is one of the most impactful ways to create a great first impression. However, you don’t want to forget about your other outdoor areas, such as your front porch or entrance, back entrance, side yard, and backyard. You want to enhance the outdoor spaces around the house so potential buyers can see themselves living as much outside your house as inside.
Simple additions like placing potted plants at your front entrance or adding fresh beauty bark around the base of your hedges and trees can go a long way. If you don’t already have a designated outdoor space for entertaining, consider building a DIY fire pit or staging your deck with outdoor dining furniture. If you don’t plan on taking on a major outdoor renovation before selling your home, it’s a good idea to invest in your backyard’s landscaping. Ultimately, your outdoor space is just as important as what your home has to offer on the inside.
6. Get professional aerial photography
Listing photos are powerful marketing tools when you’re getting ready to sell your house, and homes with professional photos are known to sell for more and spend less time on the market But another great way to make your home stand out amongst the competition is with aerial photography.
Drone photography can show off your entire property, offer a scenic view, and capture the surrounding area. An aerial shot can easily put the full scope of your property into perspective for potential buyers and make for eye-catching listing photos.
7. Don’t forget about your gutters
Depending on where you live, you may not see as much rain in locations like Phoenix, AZ, but in many cities where rain is much more common, such as Vancouver, BC, clogged gutters are red flags to potential buyers. If you don’t have time to clean your gutters yourself as you’re getting your home ready to sell, consider hiring a professional to clear out and inspect your gutters to ensure this little oversight doesn’t drown out your hopes of selling your home quickly.
8. Paint your baseboards and crown molding
It’s common to paint the interior of your home a neutral color to appeal to more buyers, but many sellers forget to pay attention to their baseboards and crown molding when getting their home ready to sell. While the crown molding may need minimal cleaning and touch-ups, your baseboards most likely have seen a lot more traffic, especially if you have kids and pets. To correct these homely blemishes, try cleaning your baseboards with simple dish soap and water. But, if it has seen years of wear and tear, consider refreshing them with a new coat of paint.
9. Focus on your floors
If you’re considering what repairs to make before selling your house, a floor makeover can be one of the smartest investments to give your home a refresh. One of the first things homebuyers look at when entering a new home is the floors, so it’s important to make yours a statement. If your carpet is approaching its 10-year mark, it’s most likely looking pretty worn and can benefit from being recarpeted. Recarpeting your floors can make a huge difference in making your home look fresh and ready for new homeowners. Such as you did with your walls, you’ll want to go with a neutral color to appeal to the majority of homebuyers. However, if your carpet is only a few years old, getting it professionally cleaned can go a long way in bringing your carpet back to life.
If you have hardwood floors, bring them back to their former glory by refinishing them. This will include sanding down the floors to eliminate the original finish and stain, then restaining with the desired color followed by a coat or two of sealer.
10. Gather your documents
As you’re getting your home ready to sell, you should have your important documents in order as well. You’ll want to gather all documents you have regarding warranties, manuals, service records, and any repairs done to your house. These documents are important for several reasons, and different parties need certain ones before you sell your house.
During the home inspection process, home inspectors are going to go over your house with a fine-toothed comb. If your furnace or water heater hasn’t been serviced in years, they’ll let you know. Take a proactive approach by gathering all your service records so you’ll know ahead of time if something needs to be serviced before listing your home.
However, beyond the paperwork your agent and the home inspector would like to see, title companies require very specific documentation to sell your home, including:
- Mortgage loan information, which will show any outstanding mortgage balance and pay-off balance (if there is any)
- Final purchase and sale agreement
- Title report
- Property tax information, including the most recent tax statement
- Homeowners insurance information
- Lease agreement, if you’re currently renting the property
- Any reports or documentation that relates to the property
- Warranty paperwork, permits, service documentation, instruction manuals, dates of home improvement projects, and age of the roof, furnace, hot water heater, HVAC, and all the other major appliances.
11. Pre-sale home inspection
The last – but arguably most important – step is to conduct a pre-sale home inspection when you’re getting ready to sell your house. While not mandatory, it’s a proactive approach to understanding your home’s value and addressing any repairs or issues before listing your home for sale.
If you wait until the buyer initiates their own home inspection, you may encounter delays during the closing process as repairs are being made, or as you negotiate with the buyer on repair costs. These factors could affect your asking price as buyers may ask for concessions to cover any repairs, so you’ll want to limit the number of factors that could cause the buyers to walk away from the deal. Ultimately, getting a pre-listing home inspection will leave you in a better position when it comes time to negotiate with potential buyers.