Selling a home involves many moving parts, so it’s best to be proactive. Start planning upwards of 6 months ahead to avoid rushing at the last minute to complete deferred maintenance repairs, consider your next living arrangement, and be able to time the marketing strategically to local market conditions. Deferred maintenance can affect not only the value of what your home can sell for, it can also affect your time on the market. If you plan on selling without taking care of maintenance that you have not done on the home, then be prepared to price your home accordingly. Getting these critical components in place prior to listing could enhance the value of your home, ensure a smoother listing experience, and mitigate buyer negotiation leverage once you accept that offer.
Create a punch list of repairs.
Using an Excel spreadsheet, a pad of paper, or your smartphone or tablet, go room by room identifying what repairs are needed.
- Windows open and close easily.
- Install GFCI certified outlets.
- Doors close and doorknobs turn easily.
- Chipped or nicked trim?
- What else?
Perform a deep clean
Closets, oven, range, refrigerator (pull it away from the wall to vacuum the coils), carpets/hardwoods, windowsills, chandeliers/fixtures all need attention.
Hire a professional painter
Liven up the walls and doors inside and outside with fresh paint. When you’ve lived in a place for a while, your mind begins to ignore little inconsistencies. A new visitor to your home will notice these details, so keep in mind they contribute to the overall first impression. A professional painter can help repair cracks in ceilings and walls as well.
When getting your interior or exterior ready to be painted, think base colors like creams and whites for your paint colors at time of sale. You may love that purple colored room for your own use, but these more extreme colors can influence a buyer’s interest in your home. Provide the new buyer with a fresh palette to introduce their own color scheme to their new home. This one preparation can save you on market time, putting more money in your pocket at closing.
Install new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Oregon law requires new detectors to be installed. There are some affordable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors available at your local hardware store.
It’s all about curb appeal! The first impression is usually the last.
- Prune, weed, clear brush, mow, lay down fresh bark mulch.
- Hire an arborist to shape existing trees (never refer to it as “thinning” a tree). In fact, this should be done even if you’re not selling!
- Having a tidy home on the outside bodes well for the inside.
Assess the roof
One of the most overlooked components of selling a home is the roof condition. Inspectors will assess the condition of the roof after you receive an offer, so if repairs or even replacement are necessary, it will mitigate the need for negotiation on the price of your home while saving time on repairs already completed.
Have your paperwork and invoices available for work you’ve had done on your home. If you had work completed by a contractor that required a permit, verify all permits were finalized with your local bureau of planning and permitting. You don’t want to get into a transaction on your home and have an open or voided permit come into question. If a final inspection was not completed, you may have to open walls, cut into sheet rock, or pull up flooring so as to prove to a city inspector that work was done to code. Avoid a potential nightmare in the middle of a real estate transaction.
If selling a condo, line up all your HOA governing documents and proof of insurance. Your management company may have a login to access documents electronically. Request access for your yourself and your agent, so a tedious yet critical detail is taken care of in advance.
Ensure all appliances are in clean and working order. If there are any dings to the enamel, thermometer adjustments needed in the oven, thaw a freezer, replace the dryer lint filter, or anything else you find, these will be good to have taken care of before people start viewing your home.
Consider coordinating a staging company with your broker as the final step in preparing to sell. Staging will showcase your home to people who may not have an imagination or need a physical visual in order to imagine themselves having the lifestyle you’re selling. Part of staging involves decluttering and depersonalization. You want the new buyer to imagine themselves in your home, not what it was like for you to live there. Another side benefit? Packing up personal items saves you time for when the real move happens.
Use a professional real estate photographer. They have the digital technology to deal with minor touch-ups, enhance lighting, and streamline your photos for use in virtual tours and/ or 3D tours.
Pricing your home
Your broker should provide this “apples to apples” home sales comparison of properties within a mile or less and over the last 3-6 months. This information helps determine the best listing price. Keep in mind the market determines the actual sales value of your home.
Pricing your home too high can cause the home to stagnate on market and necessitate a price reduction. Don’t wait too long to consider a price reduction if showing activity is not producing an offer. If you have been seeing double-digit numbers in showings without an offer, then a price reduction should happen within a few weeks. Perception is reality. If buyers see a home on market for more than a few weeks, their perception can be that there is something wrong with the home.
Portland is also known as a “polite market” where buyers will usually not make offers on homes they think are overpriced, so as to not upset the seller with a lower offer. Buyers in the Portland Metro area will often wait for the seller to make a price reduction before submitting an offer. Real estate values can be unpredictable, so keep an eye on factors like the state and national economy, unemployment rate, interest rates, and other factors.
Be ready to accept raw feedback about your home. You have memories and emotions attached to your property, so it’s best to remember to try to not take constructive criticism personally.
Create a showing schedule with your real estate broker that works both for you. Maximize the availability of the home to buyers to see your home, such as evenings, after work, and weekends.
I’d love to learn more about what your greatest challenges have been when selling your home. Did I miss anything on this list? I look forward to hearing from you.
Published September 10, 2020