5 Things To Do Before Selling a House

By Steph Matarazzo

|10 min read
things to do before selling a house

If you’ve made the decision to move, the first thing you likely need to do is sell your house. Whether your family is growing and you need more space or you’re changing location for work, one big step in this next phase of your life is selling your current home and possibly purchasing a new one.

If this is your first time selling a house you probably have a lot of questions. It may seem like a simple process but there is a lot to think about and a lot that goes into making sure all parties walk away happy.

Speed and price are the two things most home sellers prioritize. So before that your listing goes live there are some important things to do to ensure your home sells fast and for top dollar.

Here are 5 things to do before selling your house.

1. Find a Real Estate Agent

This is an important first step. A good partner can make all the subsequent steps clear and easy.

It’s important to find someone that you feel understands what is important to you and will give you the attention you need. Make sure you research and interview at least a few agents. It may be tempting to go with just anyone, but you’ll likely be working with this person for a few months, sometimes talking daily. You’ll be thankful if you take the time to find the best fit.

It may be tempting to try to sell your house on your own, but this isn’t recommended. According to the National Association of Realtors, only 7% of homes in 2020 were sold by owner (FSBO). Those that were sold by the owner sold for an average 18% less than ones that had an agent.

2. Declutter and remove personal items from your home

One of the first things buyers will notice on a home tour is if the space feels welcoming. When a home is full of stuff it can be a big turn-off.

Making a home feel open and uncluttered will allow buyers to see the potential and focus on the home itself instead of all the stuff they see.

Similarly, people looking to purchase a home want to be able to imagine living there. This can be hard when they see pictures of other people on the walls and artwork on the fridge of kids that they don’t know.

Try to remove anything from the house that is only valuable to you. Any personal items or mementos that you love but might not be attractive to a stranger. Again, you want them to picture themselves living there, not that they walked into someone else’s home.

3. Make small repairs and improvements

Have you been living with a broken hinge on a kitchen cabinet or a stain on the carpet? Maybe the walls are scuffed and paint chipped from where your kids kick off your shoes. These are likely things you don’t notice anymore, but a new home buyer will.

Though new paint and a few new pieces of hardware may not seem like a big deal, for some home buyers it may indicate a lack of care by the previous owners. Many people looking to buy want a home that is move-in-ready and even little fixes, like new carpet, can turn them off.

If you put in the time to fix up broken fixtures, paint-chipped walls, and clean or replace carpet, you will increase your chances of selling at a price you’re happy with.

4. Clean and then clean again

There is really nothing worse than starting a home tour only to find dirt and grime around every turn. Even the most updated kitchen that is covered in crumbs and grease will turn buyers off.

You are better off with an old kitchen or bathroom that is sparkling clean than a brand new one that is dirty.

Why? Because buyers have a hard time looking past the dirt and not bothering to clean before a showing can indicate that the home wasn’t taken care of.

In order to put your best foot forward, clean until you can’t clean anymore.

5. Maximize light

Whether you notice it or not, lighting is everything in a house. People want to feel like a home is light and airy, not heavy and dark. So focusing on light is huge.

There are a few ways you can maximize light in a room.

  • Make sure there are multiple light sources so you aren’t just relying on light from one place. These can be ceiling lights, desk, and floor lamps.
  • Remove curtains and window coverings. Odds are the new homeowner would remove or replace these anyway, so get rid of them and let the light in.
  • Ensure you have the right bulbs and lamp shades to let off the right kind of warm and natural feeling light.
  • Keep windows clean. Dirt can block a lot of light so a simple clean will help a lot!

Don’t rush to put up the “For Sale” sign

Taking some time to make your house shine will really pay off in the end. Just remember, home buyers, want a house that looks as perfect as it can. Picturing themselves in a messy house will not get them excited. Though some experienced home buyers can see past all the faults, many only see what’s wrong and not what’s right.

If you prepare well and work with a good real estate agent you’ll be happy with your results.

Steph Matarazzo

Steph is the Marketing Director at FastExpert and has been working in the real estate data and research world for two years. She is passionate about educating people on the real estate market and Excel spreadsheets. She lives on the East Coast with her family and recently purchased her own home.  

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