One thing that doesn’t change in real estate – regardless of whether it is a seller’s market, a buyer’s market or even the rare, balanced market – is that being prepared makes everything easier.
If you’re properly prepared, there’s less stress, lower costs, and better outcomes. This is true whether you’re buying or selling, trying to find a place to rent, or as a landlord renting out a place. The better prepared you are, the better the results.
While being prepared is useful in all sorts of real estate transactions, it is when you’re listing a property for sale that it becomes absolutely crucial. We’ve come up with the three key stages in preparing a home for sale and by following them, you get the most amount of money, in the least amount of time, with as little stress as possible.
You ready? Of course you are!
STAGE ONE – If it’s broke, fix it.
Throughout your time living in a home, stuff breaks.
Sometimes it is just at the end of its useful life and through normal usage, it breaks down. Sometimes, you have kids, friends or family members who don’t treat the home like the delicate flower it is!
Whether it is an outdoor light that stopped working (and replacing the light bulb didn’t fix it), or a kitchen faucet that is getting looser and looser each time you wash dishes, there will be things in a house that need fixing.
While you may have been able to live with it during your time in the home, anything that is actually broken needs to be fixed when you’re selling the home. There is a tendency amongst home owners who are about to become home sellers to run out of steam at a certain point and try to pass the repairs on to the buyers.
We definitely understand this desire to pass the buck. There is so much going on when preparing for a sale that everyone reaches a point where they say “Look, it’s not that big a deal, the buyers can just get it fixed.”
The challenge with that is that when we are selling a home, uncertainty is the enemy. A home owner may have a very good idea of what is wrong and what it will require to get it fixed, but just not have the energy or time to make it happen. A home buyer who doesn’t have the same knowledge can turn a minor repair into a major issue, with questions about who can do it, how much it will cost and how big a disruption it will be to them.
If this happens enough times when considering a property, a prospective buyer can decide that the property is a fixer-upper ,that is more work than they can handle.
Whenever possible, fix broken items in the home. It’s worth it.
STAGE TWO – Tone it down, clean it up.
We’ve all heard the expression beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This second stage involves understanding that when selling your home, you are aiming to appeal to as many people as possible. Call it the lowest common denominator or builder bland, but the goal is to have a home that has only a few unique, style flourishes.
It’s often a challenge for home sellers to understand that your taste is not everyone’s taste. We’ve been in many homes where the seller likes a particular colour and has painted and decorated accordingly. After all, it’s their home and they should have it look the way they want.
However, when we want it to become someone else’s home, we need to tone it down. This doesn’t mean everything has to be off white and beige, but it does mean that the 2nd bedroom that the family calls the Purple Palace might need a coat of paint and some different linen.
The stronger the feel and character of a home, the fewer people it will resonate with, which means less interest (and therefore competition) for your home. Finding a buyer who has the identical taste as the seller is very hard to do and whatever can be done to make the home broadly appealing, should be done.
At the same time as we tone down the unique aspects of the home, we need to declutter and clean up the home. Life often gets in the way of how we’d like to live but an effort needs to be made to show the potential buyer how beautiful living in this home could be! Buyers are often aspirational, looking for more space, a nicer neighbourhood, a better life. When a home is clean, with everything in its place, buyers look around and say, “I want to live like this!” and decide to make an offer.
In whatever ways you can, make your home appealing to the majority of buyers. It’s worth it.
STAGE THREE – Avoid rush hour.
The final stage in preparing a home for sale involves planning in advance to leave enough time to show at its absolute best, right out of the gate.
- Whenever you see a listing with bad photos or a “Photos Coming Soon!” placard online, the listing Realtor has failed their client.
- When there is no marketing material at the home or information about the property available, the listing Realtor has failed their client.
- When the home is dirty or cluttered, the listing Realtor has failed their client.
With only one chance to make a great first impression, leaving enough time to create that impression is the crucial final stage in preparing a home for sale.
Cleaners need to be organized, stagers need to move in any staging, photographers need to be booked, marketing material needs to be created and printed – all of it takes time.
Unless there is an extremely time sensitive reason to rush a listing, sellers are well advised to make sure that the home is presented at it’s best from day one of the listing.
Whenever possible, give yourself enough time to do things right. It’s worth it.
Let’s recap the three stages and how your real estate agent can (and should) help with each.
If it’s broke fix it. Whether it is co-ordinating tradespeople or contractors, sourcing multiple quotes or arranging deliveries, fixing the visible problems in a home requires some work. We work with our clients to support them in this stage, to get things done.
Tone it down, clean it up. As real estate professionals, we see dozens of homes each week and have a good perspective on what is causing homes to sell and what is causing them to sit. We can advise on changes to be made and we can also arrange cleaners as well as decorators and stagers to come in to consult with the seller.
Avoid rush hour. For every one of our listings, we create a calendar where we work backwards from a listing date to make sure that everything that needs to be done, from repairs, to styling a home, and through to getting marketing materials ready, can be done in the time we have. We avoid stress and achieve the best first impression by planning ahead.
While selling a home is hard work, we work with our clients to make sure that when they pass the torch and say, “Get it sold!” they have had a partner and support in getting the home to that point.
If you considering selling your home and you want a partner to help with the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We promise we’re prepared for that conversation.