Prep to Sell

Spackle your walls, clean your grout and update your fixtures

Selling your home is no small task.  Before  listing it, you’ll need to invest some time and money into getting it ready.

Let’s start with time.

You’ll need lots of it.

More than you’re thinking right now.

Even if you hire people to help with the spackling and painting of walls and the refinishing of floors, you’ll need hours (we’re talking hours) just to prep for the preppers. By this, we mean taking down pictures, packing up books and belongings, and depersonalizing your home.

Just so you know.

The cost varies from person to person, home to home.  Actual numbers depend on the current market, the location the home, the competition, and whether you do the work yourself or contract it out.

We do recommend getting an inspection before putting your home on the market.

We know. We know. That’s not the way most people do things.

But getting an inspection before listing your home gives a clearer picture of all the necessary repairs that will help fetch top dollar for your home.

Here’s the thing: when sellers make cosmetic fixes without touching or acknowledging any of the big stuff, buyers tend to question what’s underneath all that sparkle. On the other hand, if you come to the table with your inspection, proof of major repairs, and disclosure of repairs that still need to be made, it will go a long way to gaining the potential buyer’s trust.

 Which repairs should you make?

Start with anything related to the roof, foundation,  code violations or water damage. These are improvements  most buyers don’t want to bother with. You’ll have to go so far down on the asking price to convince a buyer to purchase a home in need of these repairs that it makes more financial sense to tackle them before listing.

The amount of money spent on cosmetic fixes will depend on whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. In a seller’s market, you can get away with doing a little less.

In either market, look at other nearby homes for sale. If all the kitchens and bathrooms have updated countertops, fixtures, and faucets, you’d be wise to do the same. Don’t go overboard on high-end finishes, though.  They don’t always pay for themselves in the long run.

At the very least, when preparing your home for sale, note that the following cosmetic fixes will make the best impression on buyers:

  • Replace worn carpet.
  • Refinish wood floors.
  • Replace chipped tiles and clean or replace grout.
  • Spackle all holes and cracks, and paint all walls and ceilings in light neutral colors.
  • Recaulk in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Replace dated faucets and fixtures.
  • Resurface or paint cabinets and replace hardware.
  • Fix cracked walkways and run-down stairs.
  • Enhance outdoor spaces with fresh landscaping, and trim back unruly branches and bushes.

In other words, prepping your home to sell is a big job – bigger than most people initially think.

But look at it this way: when you see the offers start rolling in, you’ll forget how much you hated the spackling.

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
13 of 18 in Selling

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