Planning on selling your home soon? Take an objective look around your home from a buyer's perspective. What would stop you from making an offer? What do you need to do to put your home's best face forward?
Here are some projects to jump on now to get your home to be in tip-top shape for a spring sale:
#1 Update Your Curb Appeal
“Curb appeal is important," says Steve Modica, sales associate and property manager at HomeXpress Realty in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Make sure the bushes are all trimmed.
- Remulch or replace stone walkways and paths.
- Remove any dead plants and trees, and aerate your lawn so it will be lush.
- Pressure wash the driveway, the front walk, and the exterior of your home.
- If need be, have the exterior of the house painted.
- At the very least, apply a fresh coat of paint on the front door.
The National Association of REALTORS® "Remodeling Impact Report" backs this up with data suggesting that landscaping projects often contribute to higher sales prices. Homes that did a landscaping upgrade or added a deck or patio, saw returns on investments above 100%.
#2 Get a Home Inspection
The National Association of REALTORS® says 77% of home buyers have an inspection done before completing a home purchase. To avoid nasty surprises once you're in the process of selling your home, have your own inspection done and make any repairs before you list the home.
You should know that if the inspection does discover any flaws, even if you fix them, you'll have to disclose them. But that's still a much better strategy than letting the buyer find flaws, which gives them bargaining leverage.
#3 Replace Flooring and Paint Walls
Determine if your carpets need replacing or just a deep, professional cleaning. If they need to go, consider if hardwood or another flooring material might appeal more to buyers.
You'll also want to inspect interior rooms for dirty or scuffed walls that need a fresh coat of paint. “Paint the whole wall, don't just do touch-up repair work, because it never looks as good," says Modica. Also, if you have eccentric or loud wall colors, now is the perfect time to update to a more neutral palette. Stagers recommend beige, light gray, and off-white.
#4 Tackle the Basement, Attic, and Garage
Often overlooked, these storage meccas can become a catch-all for junk. Get down and dirty in these hot spots and organize them from top to bottom. Install shelving, pegboards for tools, and hanging brackets for bicycles and other large sporting equipment. Your goal is to pitch the junk, sell what you no longer need, and categorize the rest.
“Donate or recycle clothes and bedding you don't use anymore in order to free up storage space in your closets, basement, and garage," says Amy Bly, a home stager at Great Impressions Home Staging in Montville, N.J. These areas should look roomy, well-organized, and clean.
Related: Garage Storage Ideas Under $50
#5 Consult a Stager
Buyers need to see themselves living in the house, and they may have trouble doing that if all your personal effects are on display. A professional stager can create a plan to help take you out of the picture.
Bly spends about two hours walking through a property assessing curb appeal, interior flow, closets, bookcases, media cabinets, flooring, and more.
"I give homeowners a multipage, room-by-room form they can use to take notes on my recommendations," says Bly. She typically recommends changes like neutralizing out-of-date decor, removing old furnishings and carpeting, and updating light fixtures. She also suggests the type of shower curtains, towels, bedding, and pillows to display for an upscale look.
Getting a jump on these fall projects will give you a leg up on selling in the spring. Today's buyers are savvier than ever, so when you're ready, have a friend or relative drop by for a tour and point out anything you may have overlooked.
Related: Best Projects for Return on Investment