Tips For Preparing Your Home To Go On The Market

Dated: 11/11/2015

Views: 880

by TJ Anderson

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We’re about to move into the holiday season, when, yes, home buying and selling slows down a bit. But you might be surprised — winter can be a great time for home sellers, since inventory isn’t quite as broad. It can be a great time for buyers in a hot market like Nashville’s, too, since competition isn’t quite as fast and fierce.

If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, you don’t necessarily need to wait for spring. Of course, regardless of when you hit the market, you do need to make sure to do a little home prep first.

An experienced, informed Realtor can help you through that process, walking you through your home and going over what unfinished projects can hurt your offers, what tweaks and changes can bring a real boost, which efforts would end up costing more than the return they’d bring. It’s a big part of how we help you have the best selling experience possible. 

A professional staging company can make a huge difference, too, but even without springing for that, there are simple ways to make sure your home is making the best impression it can. Here are a few that we think are key:

All-caps CLEAN

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Yes, duh. But you’d be surprised how many sellers go way too easy on this, leaving stray bits of ick for potential buyers to find and then think, “What other kinds of deferred maintenance are hiding here?” Before day one on the market, a hardcore, thorough cleaning is in order, and if you don’t have time to do it yourself, there are lots of companies that do move out/move in cleaning. It’s well worth making buyers feel like everything’s neat, clean and well taken care of.

Consider your lighting

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Film and TV crews have teams of lighting techs for a reason: The right lighting makes a huge difference in how a space looks and feels. So when poor lighting makes your actually large space feel closed-in, your buyers are feeling less impressed, and less inclined to make an offer. There are a variety of ways to use lighting to your advantage — putting focus on particularly great selling points in your space, accentuating high ceilings — but a general rule of thumb: Shoot for bright and airy. 

Don’t empty, declutter

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Some buyers have vision, some don’t, and that’s part of the point behind staging: to give all potential buyers, whether they have imagination or not, a vision of how they’d feel living in the space. An empty room doesn’t usually tug at the heartstrings quite as much. So yes, clean and declutter vigorously, but don’t empty the place. Minimal pieces and accessories that make a space feel like a home are the way to go.

Know this: Buyers will open everything (and they should)

Remember how we were just talking about cleaning and decluttering? Stuffing lots of stuff into cabinets or closets doesn’t get your home market ready. Buyers will open those closets, see them overflowing with odds and ends, and immediately feel like the home has a lack of storage. Again, you don’t have to completely empty everything — kitchen cabinets look great with some nice dishware and pretty glasses, and linen closets with clean, new and freshly folded linens give a homey feel too. Just make sure nothing is overstuffed. 

Fix or replace the small stuff

As a homeowner, it’s easy to think that a broken doorknob or a little hole where a photo was once hung aren’t big deals. They’re not, really. But remember that buyers are prone to making wide assumptions from small things — the feeling, when they see a little problem, is to imagine that bigger ones are hiding, and have been left just as untouched. Fix or replace those little things, since they probably won’t take much effort or cost much money, and give buyers fewer things to worry about.


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You’ve heard this one a million times, probably, and it’s because it’s a really easy and really true thing. You want buyers to imagine themselves living happily ever after in that space, not imagine that they’re tourists in your happily ever after. So family photos and really personal decor should go — just into storage, until you move into your new place. 

Don’t forget your landscaping/curb appeal

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First impressions. If you’re not in a position to do a landscaping overhaul out front, do your best to make sure everything looks neat, trimmed and uncluttered. For an extra touch, a few potted plants or topiaries can make for a much warmer hello. 

Make sure buyers’ hello isn’t a smell-o

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Everyone says that smells spark the strongest memories, and you don’t want buyers thinking about their brother’s dorm room or the cat box when they walk in the door. Deep cleaning goes a long way toward eradicating lingering odors, but, beyond getting rid of any bad smells, it helps when the space just smells great. Great smells bring great feelings. Candles work, so does baking cookies, but we really like stove top potpourris, like this one from the Casual Craftlete. Leaving it to simmer, it fills the home with fantastic fall smells — cranberries, cinnamon, rosemary — and it lingers, just in a wonderful way. Never a bad idea before an open house.

Find these helpful? We’d love to hear your feedback.

If you’re looking for some direct help (and a dedicated partner) as you’re getting ready to sell, give us a call or an email — creating the best selling experience possible is what we do. 

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TJ Anderson

TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....

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