Prepping a Home to Sell Within a Fixed Timeline: 1 Month or Less, 3-6 Months, and 6 Months or More
I know selling your home can be a scary process. You want to sell as quickly as possible and for as much as possible, but there are so much uncertainties in the market and SO. MANY. DECISIONS! And so many checks! You know that you need to do X, Y, and Z. but you are just not sure if everything will get you the return on investment you want or need.
The awesome news is is that while you cannot control the market conditions, noisy neighbors, other listings, etc., you can very much control how you present your home to sell. The better you present home against its competitors, the more likely it is that you will get a qualified buyers and recoup your return on investment. This requires strategy, planning, and persistence on your part.
In this post, I am going to make some recommendations of what to do if you are planning to sell your home with one month or less, in 3-6 months, or you have 6+ months or more.
If You Are Selling Your Home in 30 Days
The first thing you want to do is check out the open houses in your neighborhood, especially the ones that are very similar and comparable to your home . Observe the type of people who are visiting (they are the potential buyers for your home too!), what they are looking for, and chat up the real estate agents and see what the market trends are now.
The second key thing to do now is to go through your house from top to bottom, inside and out, and identify and prioritize what are the high-, medium-, and low-priority projects to tackle first and start there.
If you are living in your home while you are selling, you also want to pack up stuff that you won’t need or will be out of season during the selling period.
We have a few checklists in our shop that can be helpful for this process, specifically in the beginning where you need to do your first walk-through to make sure that you have everything. You can also consider checking out our 30-Day Home Staging Challenge course, where we organize the process of home staging and map it out for 30 days.
These two blog posts can also be helpful for you: [FREE WORKSHEETS!] Preparing A Home for Sale When You Have a Budget of $500, $1500, or $5000 or Less, Prioritizing Curb Appeal Projects to Maximize Your Time & Budget
You also want to have a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent on your side. He or she should know your neighborhood well and specialize in your neighborhood or the type of your home. You also should feel very comfortable communicating with your real estate agent. You want someone who can work well with you.
If You Are Selling Your Home in 3-6 Months
Having more time is going to be advantageous in your planning process. The process is basically the same as if you only have 30 days to prepare the home for the market, but you have much more time to plan and to buffer yourself, especially if you are doing major work like refinishing the floor, electrical work, plumbing, etc.
You will have more time to plan out projects and make sure you have enough time and budget to finish them. This is also a good time to start working on landscaping and the backyard, since plants will take time to grow.
At this time, I would not recommend any major remodeling projects. Our staging work primarily focused in the Richmond and Sunset districts of San Francisco, where the kitchen and baths often were not updated since they were built. Home sellers and realtors often asked us if they should remodel. We have always said and will still say no.
Because at this point of your selling process, a remodel can seriously risk a delaying your marketing time, not to mention you will not get the return on investment from the remodel. The time period is too short for you to recoup the cost by the time you sell the house. The only major repairs at this point would be on the deal-breakers, like foundation issues, holes in the ceiling, mold and pest problems, etc.
Most of the time, remodeling is about increasing your joy living in the home in the long-run. Monetarily, you are really not going to see significant return on such a short period of time.
You can check out the full article here: Q&A: To Remodel or Not to Remodel?
During your planning process, you also want to establish a buyer’s profile, especially if you are planning to stage the home yourself. In one of our podcast episodes, I interviewed Lisa Colalillo, realtor and host of HGTV Canada’s Critical Listing. We chatted a lot about her experiences as a realtor and a host on the show, about why houses sell and don’t sell, and how to stage to attract the right buyers. The biggest takeaway for me was the four questions Lisa had come up with to successfully target potential buyers for her listings.
You can check out the blog post analysis here plus downloading the free worksheet: 4 Critical Questions to Ask to Successfully Stage Your House for the Right Buyers + a Free Cheatsheet
If You Are Selling Your Home in 6+ Months
It never hurts to start working on your home early, especially if you know that you want to sell your home in the distant future. Even if you are not selling for six months or more, I would still get a trustworthy and experienced real estate agent who specializes in your neighborhood or the type of your home involved ASAP. Do a lot of homework about market trends and how potential buyers in your neighborhood think. What are their motivations to buy? What kind of lifestyles do they want to live? Any type of home makeover or design decision should have your buyers in mind at this point.
I see a lot of homeowners make a lot of personalized decisions that can be expensive to reverse when it comes to selling the home. For example, I had a seller who had these specialized textures put into her walls. But when it came to the time to sell, it was difficult and costly to remove them. The workers had to tarp and cover everything in the home, sand the walls, do a through clean-up and vacuum, and repaint. Not to mention the homeowner had to move out during this whole process. All in all, expensive.
At this point of the game, your mind needs to focus on what the buyers would prefer to have in their home. Things like high-tech gadgets like a door bell or an energy friendly thermostats that can be controlled by an app on the phone, energy-efficient appliances, USB charging outlets by the bed, etc. are attractive to millennial buyers. Senior citizens would prefer a house with no steps, extra-large bathrooms, and handrails installed in the showers, etc. How you prepare your home for sale will be largely dependent on what is appealing to your buyers.
No matter what kind of timeline you have, in general, here are the top recommendations:
Breathe, stay organized, and never panic.
Having trustworthy and experienced real estate professionals like someone who specializes in your neighborhood or the specific type of home you have will be incredibly beneficial. Always consult with your local real estate professionals for any major decisions.
Go through your home from top to bottom, inside and out, with a critical eye. Write down everything that you can think of that needs to be done and start prioritizing by time needed and your budget.
Always hire professionals for plumbing and electric work, especially the type of work that requires permits.
We do not recommend remodeling, since it can be very costly and can cause serious delays of your marketing timeline. Unless it’s dealbreaker, like a leaky roof, mold and pest problems, foundation issues, don’t do any type of major work at this point.
When in doubt, reach out to a home stager in your neighborhood for a consultation.