Homebuyers need to plan months or even years in advance to prepare for a big purchase. Homeowners may not need quite as many months to transform themselves into sellers, but they should realize that selling a home, even with the help of a Realtor, requires time and energy. If you’ve decided 2016 is the year you want to move, you probably have the same idea as many sellers: to put your home on the market in the spring. While winter weather lingers, it’s time for you to get started preparing for spring. Not only do you want to make sure you’re 100% photo-ready for your listing, but you want to give yourself room so you’re not frantically trying to do everything in one weekend before the onslaught of spring buyers.
Take the following steps to make sure you’re ready the moment the first robin appears or you glimpse a daffodil in bloom:
- Spend time in model homes. When you live in a community with both existing homes and newly built homes, it’s essential that you look at both to see what buyers will be viewing. In a model home, you not only are looking at the competition, you’re also seeing the latest design trends and staging techniques in action. You can pick up some tips to spruce up your own home’s presentation and, if you know you need to paint, check out the color scheme that currently appeals to buyers.
- Visit open houses. While the homes you look at now won’t necessarily still be on the market when you list your home, you can get an idea of what homes look like at different price ranges. Your Realtor can help you determine your asking price, but by seeing what other homes are like you can have an informed view of the current market. You can see how these homes have been prepared for marketing and pick up some ideas about what you need to do with your home to get it ready for buyers.
- Take a tour of your own home. When you’re selling your home, it’s time to look at it through neutral eyes as much as possible. Take your smartphone or a notebook, along with a critical viewpoint, and determine which rooms need to be cleaned up, which closets could use neatening and what small repairs must be made. Make a list of projects to tackle – large and small – so you can get started and knock some of them out months before you’re ready to move.
- Make a list of your home improvements. Depending on how long you’ve owned your home, you may have replaced or improved various systems, appliances and spaces. As you tour your home, make a separate list of all the improvements you’ve made, including whether you’ve had annual check-ups on your chimney or heating and air conditioning system.
- Make a list of the best things about your home. Your Realtor will thank you if you’ve already given some thought to the marketing of your home – is it the great location? The yard? The neighborhood and sense of community? Thing about what you liked about it when you bought it and what you’ll miss when you leave it behind.
- Start packing. It may seem too early, but there are almost always things that you don’t need that can be packed away for months at a time. Start with your storage areas or your garage and tackle your closets. Decide if you want to donate, sell or keep every item – or trash it. You don’t want to move things you don’t need and the bonus to this step is that you’re starting the decluttering process. Empty shelves and empty closets are appealing to buyers because they get the sense there will be plenty of space for their possessions, so purging now will result in an easier sales process.
- Make small repairs or replacements and start painting. A dreary winter day is a great time to tackle your sprucing-up projects. If you need to re-caulk, do heavy-duty cleaning, replace light bulbs, switch plates or doorknobs, this is the time to do it. If you know a bigger job needs doing, start lining up a handyman or contractor.
- Make a curb appeal plan. It may be too soon to put out flowers, but you can get ready for spring by making plans for painting your front door or your shutters and deciding how much work is required to get buyers to jump out of their car and into your home.
- Interview Realtors. Get recommendations and interview a few Realtors experienced in your local market to choose someone you feel you can communicate with and trust to do a great job marketing your home and negotiating on your behalf.
Take these steps during the winter doldrums and you’ll be ready to welcome the spring selling season with a smile.
Interested in a new home in St. Charles? Click here to download our free Homebuyer's Toolkit www.stcharlesmd.com/Toolkit.
Michele Lerner is a freelance writer with more than twenty years of experience writing articles and web content for newspapers and magazines on topics related to real estate, personal finance and business. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, NewHomeSource.com, Realtor.com, Bankrate.com, Insurance.com, HSH.com, The Washington Times, NAREIT's Real Estate Portfolio, and numerous Realtor association publications. Her latest book, "New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home" and her first book, "HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time" are available now at Amazon.com or from MicheleLerner.com.