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4 min read

6 things a first-time home seller should know

Oct 24, 2019 9:04:43 AM

You've made up your mind: You're moving out, moving up, and moving on, and it's time to put your house on the market. As a first-time seller, you might not know that potential buyers aren't the first people you want to wow.

6 things a first-time home seller should know

Before your listing goes live, your real estate agent will host a brokers-only open house to give area agents a chance to tour your home. They've been around the block, and their standards are high, but if you're lucky—if your home shows especially well, if it's priced appropriately, if a broker has a buyer in mind—this preview can lead to a quick sale.

  1. In short: Prep your house for the brokers. Impress them, and they'll be back with their clients in no time.

    Now, how do you impress a broker? We're so glad you asked. Here are five more recommendations top brokers give clients to get their homes ready to sell:

  2. Service all the systems, and the major appliances, too.

    Your buyer will arrange for a home inspection farther down the line; why leave room for surprises?

    Get your heating and air conditioning systems serviced by a professional. Make sure your electrical panel is in good order. Give the plumbing a once-over. And definitely check in on major appliances.

    For example, what's the replacement date on your hot water heater? Electric models last from 10 to 15 years; gas heaters, a little less. If yours is nearing the end of its use, consider installing a new one.

    In most cases, a hot water heater a year from its expiration date isn't a deal breaker, but tending to details like this adds perceived value; ignoring them can take money off the table—buyers will wonder what else you've let slide. Don't let them wonder!

  3. Paint.

    Look at the walls – really look at them. Take down art or other hangings to make it easier.

    It's a rare home that has no dings or scuffs in sight. If there's a wood-burning fireplace, there may be soot marks you hadn't noticed. In a sunny room, spots can be faded.

    A new coat of paint delivers outsized returns. It makes any space feel larger, brighter, fresh, and clean.

    You may want to consider painting even if your walls are in A+ condition, especially if you've used a colorful palette in the past. Color elicits emotion—but not the same emotions for everyone! You want your home to appeal to as many everyones as possible. Neutrals show beautifully. They let the bones of your house shine and help buyers imagine putting their own stamp on the place.

  4. Declutter!

    This one can be tough. Clutter – the word itself feels like a ruling on untidiness. Take a deep breath, separate judgement from the word, and understand that in real estate terms, clutter is anything that draws attention away from the star attraction: your home.

    So, does it mean "Tidy up."? Well, yes, for starters. Clear off counters, tables, and windowsills. Stash the kids' or pets' toys. You've shopped for a home before, you know this already.

    If you live sparsely, you may not have much to do. But if you live like most of us, it also means depersonalizing your home a bit. Consider packing up collections, family mementos, excess cookware, overstuffed book and display cases, etc.

  5. Clean.

    But wait, you say, we just talked about decluttering. Haven't we covered this? No, friends, we have not. Decluttering is a surface affair – removing things to improve the visual read of your space. This goes deep.

    Scrub the floors and baseboards. Shampoo the carpets. Wipe down ceiling fans. Get and keep every surface in your bathrooms immaculate. Wash windows and window treatments. Clean the oven. Clean under things. Clean behind things. Let neither dust nor grime survive! Here are your buzzwords: Sparkling. Shining. Gleaming, glowing, refreshed. (If it sounds like the effects of a good spa day, you're not wrong.)

  6. Organize everything.

    From the foyer to the kitchen to the bedrooms, closets and cabinets will be opened. When they're overfull – or even just full-full – it gives the impression that there's not enough storage space in your home. You can change that. Pack up half of what's usually inside, then organize what's left.

    As you get ready to list your home and once it's on the market, it can help to think of it as a place you're taking care of for someone else – because in a way, you are. The inconveniences of living like you're ready for a magazine shoot are minor and temporary when your hard work shows and the offers start coming your way.

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Todd McClain

Written by Todd McClain