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Make your home market-ready: 12 musts that could bring the most money

In this competitive real estate market, there are mistakes to be made — but an expert real estate agent can help you avoid them. Just one example? How your home looks — and feels — to potential buyers is of utmost importance, and can bring a sale faster and for more money. Here, 12 must-dos to get your home ready to sell.

1. Prioritize rooms

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyers rank the living room first, the main bedroom second, and the kitchen third in terms of importance for staging. Of course, that doesn’t mean neglecting other rooms, but it helps to know where to concentrate your efforts. If you’ve converted any rooms (e.g. bedrooms) into home office space, restore them to their original purpose.


 2. Clean out and declutter

Buyers need to imagine themselves living in the house their way, not yours. Remove all personal items: photos, collections, knickknacks and most art objects. The idea is to depersonalize your home so buyers can see themselves moving in. Closets and storage space should also be decluttered and organized. A great tip is to put away at least one-third of your belongings to make rooms appear larger and less cluttered. Consider boxing and storing items in the garage, but avoid putting anything in the basement since it’s a selling feature. If need be, you could even rent a temporary storage facility.

3. Repaint in neutral shades

If you have eclectic taste and have painted the rooms in your home an array of colors, repaint them in a more neutral palette. Why? If a potential buyer doesn’t love the colors you’ve chosen, it might be an instant turn-off. Instead, opt for clean whites, quiet beiges or pale grays, which will make it easier for buyers to imagine their own things in the space. Also be sure to touch up any trim, baseboards and door frames that have scuffs or stains to help give the home a clean and put-together look from top to bottom.


4. Do a deep clean

Before your home goes on the market, you want to be sure it looks spotless. From dusting hard-to-reach spots that you normally neglect (such as ceiling fans) and getting your carpet professionally cleaned) to scrubbing glass windows and doors to organizing your pantry, now is the time to tackle all of those tasks that may be at the very bottom of your to-do list. This way, prospective buyers won’t be distracted by any unkempt areas and can instead focus their attention on what really matters: whether or not they love the space.


5. Staging increases the value and shortens the selling time

When potential buyers tour your home — either online or in person — you have only seconds to hook them, to make them want to see more. A professional stager, working closely with your agent, will help your house appear at its best for that first look. The NAR biennial home staging survey shows that staging can pay off with a price increase between 1 to 10 percent. Furthermore, 31 percent of respondents said that staging can reduce the time a home is on the market.


6. Elevate your curb appeal with a landscape refresh

Curb appeal makes a big and important impact. You want to turn heads when people drive past your home so that they’re eager to schedule a tour or stop by your first open house. To do that, you need to give prospective buyers the best possible experience as soon as they pull up. Power wash your home, walkways, porches, fences, driveway, deck and all other outside surfaces. Freshen landscaping with seasonal plantings and a layer of mulch, add floral pots to key areas to draw attention to the front door or courtyard, and consider a neutral coat of paint to convey the image of a perfectly maintained residence.

7. Hire a professional photographer who specializes in houses

Research confirms that a full 97 percent of new-home searches start online. Eye-catching photography is the first and most important opportunity you have to engage potential buyers, whether in print or online. Photos depicting beautifully staged, professionally lit interiors tempt buyers and sell your home more quickly. Professional house photographers will find your house’s best angles, inside and out. They can light the rooms so they photograph their best, and they can supply brilliant, high-resolution photographs for both print and digital venues. 360-degree virtual walk-throughs are also a popular feature that homebuyers request.


8. Price to sell

Smart sellers know that a strategic price brings more offers. Today’s buyers understand home values, and they jump on homes that are well priced. Pricing is critical, and your agent is the best source of advice. Our agents’ experience and access to local home sales data give you unparalleled insight into local market conditions so you can optimize your asking price.


9. Plan for showings

Consider how you’ll handle open houses and private showings. Will you require considerable notice before an agent brings a potential buyer? Do you have a plan for where to go while the house is being shown? What about pets and children? And don’t forget to secure personal documents, medications and jewelry.

10. Make sure your home smells fresh

If you own a dog, wash any furniture, bedding and areas that are favorite lounging spots. You may have been desensitized to your pet’s odor, but buyers won’t be. Change kitty litter twice a day and sequester the litter box. Scented candles are a nice touch that can mask any offensive smells.


11. Get your home inspected

A home inspection before you sell is not required, but it may give you a chance to fix any problems that are found and make your home more appealing to buyers. Review the inspection with your agent to evaluate the return on investment in repairs or replacements. They will recommend essential repairs and apprise buyers of those that were completed.


12. Updates and repairs improve your home’s marketability

Making repairs and improvements your agent recommends will hasten the closing since they won’t become a condition of the purchase agreement. Painting is the most cost-efficient way to spruce up your home. Check that your appliances are in good working order. Inspect your bathrooms for leaky faucets. Improve lighting with soft LEDs and update your fixtures. More expensive items may include electrical issues, the furnace, roof condition and foundation problems. Decide which repairs and replacements are feasible and worth the expense.


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