What should I be doing now even if I’m not quite ready to sell?
This is such an important question and one I wish I could broadcast out there for all potential sellers to see, even if they are still a couple years away from selling! Here is why: when you call us to tell us you are ready to sell, most of the time the seller is ready to list their house NOW. Selling is such an emotional journey and when I have to come to your house and point out everything wrong with your house, give you a laundry list of items to fix before you can sell (for top dollar) and tell you that your house really isn’t ready to go on the market for at least another month, this is devastating to sellers and immediately creates a stressor.
Here is a list of things I would tell a seller to start doing at least 6 months prior feeling like its time to put their house on the market:
- Take lots of exterior pictures and at different times of the year. This is SO important! The spring market can start as early as February/March here in Minnesota which can be a very ugly time of the year. February/March pictures of houses are generally not that attractive – the snow, if there is any, looks dingy. If the snow is melted, your yard doesn’t look pretty and green and your landscaping looks drab. The trees have no leaves. The professional pictures just don’t do your house justice, no matter how awesome our photographer is. If you can email me a couple exterior photos of your house and yard from different times of the year (think gorgeous fall colors, summer patio shots, spring photos when the yard is lush and the flowers are in bloom!), you give me so many more options to showcase your home to potential buyers!
- Fix items in obvious disrepair. Even if you have to bribe a friend to come over and walk thru your house with you to point out things that look like they need attention, having a neutral 3rd party or an unbiased eye look at your house can help you start tackling the list of things to get done sooner rather than later. I’m happy to come over and do a walk thru with you as well so we can make a list of things that I think should be done before we start the listing process. The more you can get done now, the better off and less stressed you will be when it comes time to sell.
- Take care of your yard. I don’t expect you to be the lawn whisperer but if your flower beds are full of weeds and your yard is full of dead spots, try to do what you can to take care of these items before your house goes on the market. Buyers are judgmental. They are going to walk up to your house and be prepared to find things wrong. If they are greeted by dead grass and overgrown landscaping, they will have a negativity towards your home before they have even walked in your front door.
- Staging. I’m a huge proponent of professional staging but it is expensive and I realize not everyone can afford it. However, most stagers offer consultations and I cannot recommend this enough! Hire a stager to come over to your house and give you tips. Find out what color to paint your kitchen walls, have the stager give you recommendations on how to place your furniture to showcase your house the best, get their opinion on which decor items look good and which ones make your house look cluttered…everything! Money spent doing this is money saved for you when it comes time to list your house and by having the stager come out well in advance of listing your house, this will allow you to do a lot of the work (painting, hanging pictures, decluttering, etc) yourself, thus saving you money.
- Declutter. Have you ever walked into a house and just felt like the walls were closing in on you? I have and it is not a pleasant feeling. Decluttering is such an important part of the selling process and yet can also be one of the most overwhelming because it is a large task. However, starting the process early enough will give you time to get rid of or put away the items you do not need or that create that feeling of clutter so that when it comes time to list your house for sale, your house will feel well maintained, clean, and spacious and will allow a buyer to easily envision themselves living there.
There you have it, my top 5 things that sellers need to know when they are even THINKING about selling. Psst…pass this list along to anyone you know who might be tossing around the idea of selling so they can get working on these items now so come spring market, they are ready!
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