There are always things to do in order to get your home ready to put on the market. Some are large ticket items, some small, and some may not be necessary at all. It takes a pair of skilled eyes to help you separate the must-do from the don’t-bother. An experienced, savvy real estate agent can assist you in deciding how to put your checklist together.
For example, your aged kitchen may really need a makeover, but that’s a very expensive project. So, you’re thinking about simply putting on new countertops to give the room a little punch. Your agent might agree or might say that’s only putting a bandaid on something that needs a total facelift. Your new countertops could stand out like a sore thumb instead of helping the kitchen’s appearance. New owners may want to do the complete remodel themselves and your new countertops will be ripped out anyway.
Another example: suppose there’s a large crack running down the corner of your living room wall all the way from the vaulted ceiling to the wainscoting. It has been there for years...in fact, you really never notice it anymore, so you plan to just leave it. Your agent will probably tell you that home hunters will spot that crack quickly and suspect it was caused by foundation problems. Fix the crack and repaint; it’s not an expensive job.
Agents are experts at evaluating what needs to be done. Your agent will tour your property inside and out to show you what needs to be done to attract qualified buyers. It is very difficult to look at your own home with an objective eye. You need to look at it the way prospective buyers will, and that’s a difficult task. It’s hard to see flaws after living with them for years. It also can be very emotional because your home is full of memories and your individual decorating choices. Deciding what to change or repair to give it a more neutral appearance can be a sensitive issue. You need an agent to walk you through the process.
Your final checklist will fall into three categories.
- The unnecessary ones are either items that won’t make much difference to getting the house sold, or they are just too expensive for you to tackle in advance of putting it on the market.
- Simple items are frequently cosmetic changes or quick, affordable replacements.
- Serious issues are unavoidable and must be addressed before listing the house. These are the kinds of repairs you must do or risk having an interested buyer worry that your home may have multiple problems.
Your real estate agent is critical in helping you complete your final checklist. Once that step is complete, you can work through it until your house is ready to be staged, photographed, and listed.
Here’s an important tip: don’t think you can hide major problems because any major issues will be discovered during the buyer’s professional inspection. Expensive surprises during inspection could scare away buyers looking for a turnkey house ready to occupy immediately. Also, many states have disclosure rules. Some require the seller to answer any question asked by the potential buyers. Others require the seller to voluntarily disclose any problems once the house is on the market.
You may be tempted to save some money and sell your home without the help of a real estate agent. You will likely regret that choice because of the concerns discussed here. In addition, your agent will give you excellent service in pricing your home, understanding the local market, publicizing your sale, and helping you negotiate the massive number of legal and regulatory requirements that you will have at closing. Make the right choice, and hire a valuable partner for your home sale, one of the largest financial transactions of your life.