In today’s market, “move in ready” means more to a Buyer than just fresh paint & clean carpet; it means modern details & no “to do’s”. Even with the basics covered, a Buyer will consider a home a Fixer Upper if they wouldn’t be comfortable hosting a dinner party the day they move in.
Even if you will fall into the less than move-in-ready category, some preparation is prudent. Getting the best price is as much a function of perceived work as true malfunction.
In order to put your best foot forward, I suggest 10 main points.
Declutter If you are really planning to move, start packing. Creating room in closets, making rooms easy to view & move through, reducing distractions are all good reasons to start packing. Don’t get rid of so much that the home looks vacant. We still want to easily know the function of each room. Buyers just want to imagine themselves living in the house, not you.
Clean Honestly, you live in a home differently than you sell it. Consider this: if a restaurant was cleaned to your typical home standards, would you eat there? Buyers feel the same way. Little touches matter, like doorknobs & light switches, finger printy trimwork. Odors are paramount – Buyers often wonder if the smell will go away with the current furnishings, so smoke, strong cooking odors & pet smells can foul a deal before it ever happens.
Fix Stains, loose edges, leaks, missing components? Buyers are suspicious of unfinished work. Creative fixes can be fun, inexpensive and effective, but don’t do amateur, cheap work. If the Buyer doesn’t spot it, their inspector will.
Replace Old, worn carpet will never get clean enough. Peeling or chipped paint, missing shingles, rotten trim. Old Countertops and cabinet handles date any Kitchen. These items need attention. Don’t ignore them. Buyers won’t.
Remove Do you want to keep that special chandelier or the new washer & dryer? Don’t let the Buyer even get a look at them. Buyers consider everything negotiable & suspect any unseen replacement.
Don’t skip the closets, attic, garage or basement If possible, store packed items off site. Clean these spaces as you would the Kitchen. It reflects a level of care that really impresses. Leaving them a mess communicates shortcuts that you don’t want the Buyer thinking about.
Maintain the work you have done It can be exhausting, but assume the home will be shown every day. That means keeping it clean, fresh smelling & addressing any issues that crop up as soon as possible.
LIGHTS! Install the highest wattage bulbs (within safety limits) and be prepared to turn them on & leave them on. Agents showing your home will appreciate not having to figure out what switch operates which lamp while answering Buyer questions & trying to juggle the lockbox, keys, paper, phone….
Get out And take the dog & the cat, and especially the snake. Buyers stay longer in a home where they feel comfortable. That means no Seller eavesdropping on their conversation, dog barking, cat trying to sneak out or reptiles just scaring them. Seriously.
Know your bottom line Buyers make offers based upon what they see in the marketplace. That means your competition, recent sales & even things they see on TV. Unfortunately, how much you need to pay off your mortgage, buy your next home or pay off your credit card have nothing to do with the value of your house. Knowing your break even is important in knowing if you can really afford to move. Your real estate agent can help you determine the cost of sale, because it is more than your mortgage. There are a lot of little costs that add up. Be informed & the process will be smoother.