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How to Prepare Your Home for Sale

If you are considering selling your home or investment property in the next few months, you may be wondering how to prepare your home for sale. The condition of your home, from smaller touches to major upgrades, may affect whether you are able to sell your home for “top dollar.” As an experienced Los Angeles listing agent firm, we have plenty of advice for those preparing to sell their homes.

As the nights close in and the days grow colder, it’s tempting for homeowners to go into their own kind of hibernation. Many let the impending holidays act as an excuse to avoid scheduling maintenance and work on their property that will help them to sell their homes in the spring. This is a mistake! Spring is when the market is at its most active, with more homes on the market, and it’s also the time that the market is the most lucrative and advantageous for sellers.

Ways to Prep Your Home for Sale

When you’re selling a home, it can be tricky to look at it with an objective eye. What you see as part of its charm, a piece of your family’s history, might look messy and out of place to an onlooker. Minor issues that you have learned to live with or work around can be red flags to viewers.

Here are just a few straightforward ways you can prep your house and make it more likely that your home will garner multiple offers:

Clean the exterior: It’s essential that your home make a good first impression. If the face of your house looks sloppy, you’re likely to prejudice those viewing the house against the interior. Any smut of dirt, any scuff of paint, will be viewed far more critically. To avoid this, clean your gutters, make sure the windows are clear and glistening, and that there isn’t any chipped paintwork on door or window frames.
Improve your landscaping: If your property has a front yard, it will be a part of the first impression. An immaculate lawn is a great introduction to the property. Many property owners in Los Angeles have shied away from lawns, as too water-intensive and difficult to maintain. If you do have an alternative, like desert landscaping or a rock garden, ensure it’s weeded and in good condition. If your landscaping is lackluster, it may be worth hiring a professional to get it in good shape. You want your home to have curb appeal, and that means everything between the sidewalk and the front door is a priority.
Front door form: Speaking of the front door, looking inviting and well-maintained can be a matter of putting a fresh coat of paint on. If the color forms a pleasant contrast with the rest of the home’s frontage, so much the better. In a similar vein, if your home’s house numbers have faded or tarnished, do what is necessary to make them bold again.
Come in, relax: A tasteful new welcome mat can go a long way in establishing the right kind of first impression. It’s a small thing, but it can make a difference.

The Interior – Prepare Your Home and Make It Sell Fast

Once your home viewers step over the threshold, you have a whole new array of issues to manage. If you can hit all of these sweet spots, though, you’re doing very well.

Neutral colors: Inside, however, keep the drastic paint jobs to a minimum when it comes to selling your house. Particularly strong colors can deter buyers. Neutral wall colors generally help sell a home better.
Depersonalize, organize, optimize: Have you ever been to a show home on a new development? None of them have the clutter or disorganization of an actual family home. But they do make it very easy for viewers to superimpose their own impression of what the room would look like with their furniture and personal items inserted. You need to assume a minimalist design attitude in order to make that easier for your potential buyers. Make sure you have enough storage for the family photos, extra furniture, and additional personal items you’re putting away in closets and the like. Rent a storage unit, if necessary. Stuffing everything into an overloaded closet can be counter-productive: if viewers inspect the closet and find it full to bursting, not only will the clutter undermine their impression of the property, but it can give them the inaccurate idea that your home doesn’t have enough storage space for their needs.
No bad odors: Home buyers might not realize, but they judge a property with all of their senses. If your family has pets, make sure their odors aren’t present. Take the litter box out of the equation for the time being, and get rid of the smell of wet dog with some air neutralizer. You can make your home smell better by diffusing natural citrus oils through the property, or look and smell better with fresh flowers. Artificial citrus odors can set off alarm bells that you are masking something, but more natural scents convey the impression of cleanliness without the stigma of dirt. Finding the right scent for your home can substantially increase its perceived value.
Clean as a whistle: When you’re having an open house, your home cannot be clean enough. Don’t assume viewers won’t notice dust on the ceiling fan or hair in the shower. Your home should be sparkling. A deep cleaning a few days before you begin showing your home can work wonders.

Things Sellers Miss When They Prep Their House for Sale

It’s easy to overlook some common pain points when you’re showing your home. While you might neglect one or more of these out of ignorance or oversight, they’re easy for a viewer to pick up on.

  • Get your mailbox looking shipshape: Either clean it, if it’s not looking too shabby, or replace a rusty or broken one. It’s one of the first things a viewer will see and can impact their initial impression of the property.
  • Maintain your screen door: If your home has a screen door, make sure it’s not trapping dust or bugs or anything else. Oil it so it doesn’t squeak or scrape. If it’s too old to be salvaged, get rid of it.
  • Clean your sconces: It’s rare that viewings happen at night, but all the same, sconces that are dusty or festooned with cobwebs detract from the immaculate presentation of your frontage.
  • Don’t forget your roof: Roofs cost thousands of dollars to replace. Don’t give your potential buyers any reason to believe that it might be necessary. Mold, moss, and dirt can easily create the impression that the situation is more dire than the reality. Power washing can deal with a multitude of sins. Alternatively, you may want to consider bringing in a professional roofer to detail the roof with shingle-protecting products.
  • Depersonalize inside and out: depersonalizing your home for sale doesn’t just mean take down the family photos in the living room. It means removing everything in your yard that isn’t an integral part of your landscaping. Christmas lights, flags, garden gnomes, tools, wind chimes, bird feeders. Remember, you’re convincing your viewers to imagine themselves in your property. Anything that gets in the way of that vision makes selling your home harder.
  • No cracks: Make sure your sidewalk and driveway are in good condition. You can perform minor repairs yourself, but if there are significant issues to be handled, it would be best to bring in masonry professionals.
  • Light up your home: A bright house gives the impression of space, cleanliness, and happiness. A dark house does the opposite. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you should open your blinds and curtains when you are photographing or showing your home. If your window frames are old or blocking natural light from entering the home, consider replacing them with lighter options.
  • Kitchen chaos: In past times, a busy kitchen was thought to make a place look more homey. These days, fresh and clean is what viewers are looking for. That means the counter needs to be as clear as possible. If it’s not bolted down, move it. That includes seasoning racks, cookbooks, cutting boards, fruit bowls, wine racks, even small appliances like coffee machines and food processors. Find an out-of-the-way place to store them and put something delicate and unobtrusive there to underscore how fresh and clean the area is. Perhaps a vase of newly-cut flowers?

The Bienstock Group Assists With Top Home Sales in Los Angeles

The Bienstock Group is a firm of expert real estate agents which offers white glove service throughout the buying and selling process. In 2018 alone, we represented sellers in transactions totalling over $115 Million. We are proud to be among Los Angeles’ best real estate firms: our responsive, competent, hard-working staff are lauded by many of our clients. Through our bedrock principles of scrupulous communication, radical transparency, and genuine esteem and respect for our clients, we provide superior service and attention for clients navigating the complex Los Angeles real estate market. If you are not sure how to prepare your home for sale, or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a no-obligation evaluation of your Los Angeles property.