Preparing Your House for Sale 

By Mark Mielnicki 

The decision to sell your house has been made and you have opened the proverbial door to a multitude of other decisions. How much should you list it for? Which improvements should be made, and will you obtain the desired return on investment? How do we get buyers to choose our house over others in our neighborhood? 

The goal is to quickly procure a buyer at the highest price. Most homeowners will have to spend some money before putting their house on the market. Let’s look at options that offer the most resale value within a marginal budget. 

The first step is to hire a reputable broker who is knowledgeable about wisest investments in the current market. A broker will provide Comprehensive Market Analysis (CMA) that shows how your house compares with nearby homes that have recently sold, are currently on market and have been on the market for some time. The CMA will assist in determining an accurate market entry valuation as well as improvements that should be made and a post-improvement value. 

A Good First Impression 

A buyer’s first impression stays with them and must be positive. Buyers want to see the home’s potential and feel comfortable and in the house. Before spending any money, spend time cleaning and clearing. Remove all personal effects such as pictures, knick knackstrophies, etc. Personal items can make buyers feel like they are in a stranger’s home rather than seeing how they can make a house their own.  

Clear clutter from countertopscabinets and closets. Unpleasant odors from pets and smoke need to be eliminated as they are deal killers.  

Value-Adding Improvements 

One suggestion for increasing your home’s value is to improve the landscaping. Today’s buyers will make a subconscious decision about a home’s potential from the exterior photo. If the outside is not well maintained, you can lose a buyer before they enter your homevirtually or in person. 

Another suggestion is to paint. This is an easy, inexpensive way make your home look clean and bright. Using a light neutral paint is sure to improve the appearance of any house interior. If painting is out of your budget, give the walls a good cleaning.  

Next is flooring. Across the board, carpet is out. If possible, replace carpeting with hardwood or engineered hardwood. They are durable and receive the most praise from possible buyers. If you can’t replace carpeting, hire a carpet cleaning company to come in and make carpets look brand new. 

Finally, good lighting, granite, stainless steel appliances and hardware are great selling points. Light fixtures and hardware can be updated at a reasonable cost and create value. 

Big-Ticket Projects 

Before listing your house, consider fixing big-ticket items that are the most likely to fail an inspection such as doors, windows, roof and HVAC. You might have become complacent about a broken seal on a window or a sticky door, but today’s buyers look at those things and start questioning what else is wrong with the house that they are not seeing. 

Do not take inspection reports personally. Disclosures are required by law for every real estate transaction. If you know there is an ongoing issue in your house, it is good practice to have it taken care of before putting the house on the market. Insurance will sometimes help cover the costs of certain repairs.  

When polled, 33% of buyers stated that a new roof was a big part of their decision to purchase their home (Bobvila.com). Have a certified electrician inspect the home prior to listing and have defects corrected. This is a good idea whether or not you are selling, as electrical issues are the biggest cause of house fires.  

Insulation is an item most sellers don’t think of, particularly in the attic, and it is an easy fix. If flooding or seepage is an issue, we strongly recommend having this corrected as it is the cause of many contracts falling through.  

Updating kitchens and baths, and opening floor plans are almost mandatory for todays buyers that seek turn-key homes with the latest bells and whistles. Consult with professionals on the cost of improvements and estimated return on investments prior to making any major capital expenditures. 

Selling your home can be an overwhelming process and is considered one of life’s major financial decisions. Realtors take pride in creating value for sellers and providing a seamless transaction.  

Mark Mielnicki is Managing Broker/Principal at First In Realty Executives, 2409 W. 103rd St., 773-779-3473.  

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