Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home, it’s likely you’ve spent years getting everything just so, from the paint color to the decor to every last framed photo or special heirloom. Now, you’re moving—and one of the best ways to prepare your home for a sale (and garner top dollar) is to totally depersonalize it.
This can be hard for many people, to say the least. We’re so emotionally tied to our homes, and it can feel hurtful to learn your design choices or cherished pieces won’t resonate with buyers. But depersonalizing is also one of the most important ways to get your home ready to go on the market and undergo showing.
There are other ways, too, to prepare your home for sale, and fortunately, not all of them are quite so emotional. Keep reading to find 7 things on your pre-sale to-do list before you find your new forever home.
Find the Right Agent or Broker
Just like buying a house, selling a house means pairing up with a professional agent or broker who can guide you through the process. You’ll want to find someone who’s an expert in the area where you live, will know how to set a competitive price, and will know how to best market your property to interested buyers.
Going the “by owner” route? You’ll still want to plan on marketing your home so that it stands out from the rest. This may also include getting professional photos taken, which is something many agents and brokers offer through their services.
According to a 2018 real estate tech trends report, “95 percent of home buyers [used the internet] to search for homes, and 54 percent of buyers [stated] that the use of the internet was the first step taken during the home buying process.” First impressions are essential, and if a buyer is looking at your house online, those photos could make or break their decision to move forward with a tour or offer.
Consider a Pre-Sale Home Inspection
While home inspections are required as part of the homebuying process, pre-sale home inspections aren’t. But hear us out: Wouldn’t you rather know about key issues before you put a home on the market, rather than finding out about them later and losing a buyer because of it?
Moreover, while you’d pay for a pre-sale home inspection out of pocket (prices are usually around $350-$600, according to Bankrate), you wouldn’t need to pay for another one; that responsibility falls squarely on the buyer.
By undergoing a professional home inspection, you can learn about potential roadblocks ahead—and work to correct them in advance or have a more realistic expectation of what your home will sell for. You don’t necessarily need (and may not want) to correct major issues like foundation repair, but you won’t be in for any big surprises. Also, you may find opportunities to make small repairs and upgrades before you list.
First impressions are essential; if a buyer is looking at your house online, those photos could make or break their decision to move forward with a tour or offer.
Allow Potential Buyers to See Themselves in a Space—Not You
We kicked off this piece talking about depersonalization, and now we’ll go into more detail. Just as you have an emotional attachment to your home, so too will buyers (and that’s a good thing). But, highly personal mementos or highly individualized taste can get in the way of a buyer being able to envision themselves in a space.
Both for real estate photos and showings, plan to scale back on the family photos lining the hallway or grandma’s vintage china displayed in the dining room. If you have a pet in the home, you may want to minimize signs of their presence, too—put the dog or cat bed away and move their toys out of sight. Not all buyers are animal lovers and seeing outright signs of a pet may be a turnoff.
Keep on Neutralizing
Taste is personal, too, and not everyone may have the same affinity for, say, midcentury modern decor or French countryside style as you do. Where you can, keep neutralizing and decluttering your home to help buyers get a sense of what possibilities it may hold for them. At the bare minimum, get rid of superfluous junk, and consider swapping affordable accessories for more neutral versions—think simple, neutral pillows, throws, and rugs, for example.
If your home has wild paint colors, you may want to trade them for a crowd-pleasing shade of ivory, light gray, or soft beige. If you’ve got a lot of decluttering to do, you don’t necessarily need to throw everything away. Instead, get a storage rental for a safe place to keep extra items. If you’d really like to commit to creating a blank canvas, and timing and budget allow, you could also call in professional home stagers.
When you opt for a professional photographer, you’ll see firsthand what an incredible difference good lighting can make. Perhaps your home inspection revealed a few areas to improve, or you’ve embraced the quest to depersonalize and declutter.
As you consider upgrades like these, it may be beneficial to add lighting to that list. Swapping out seriously dated fixtures or even just lightbulbs can make a big difference in a home’s appearance and allure. The same goes for blinds and window treatments.
It doesn’t matter if a homebuyer is single or has several children: storage is important to just about everyone. Before listing, go through your closets and remove enough items so they aren’t bursting at the seams. This will give the illusion of more space and also help create that clean, uncluttered look that helps buyers make an emotional attachment of their own.
Enhance Curb Appeal
While most potential buyers will have likely made their first impression online, you have another chance when they pull up to your house for a visit. The downside to that is, you’ll need to invest a little money—or at the very least a little elbow grease—into making your home’s curb appeal shine. A few common ideas to consider include cleaning the gutters, tending to the lawn, power washing the sidewalk and/or siding, and painting the trim.