Tips to Sell Your Home in the Haymarket Area

10 tips to sell your home and things you should do BEFORE you put it on the market …

It is strongly recommended that you use a Realtor® to help you sell your home. A Realtor will get your home listed on MLS, market your home, bring in the buyers, manage the transaction and assist with closing. However, in the end, it’s the house that really sells itself. You can have the best real estate agent in the world, with the best technology, but if your home doesn’t show well, needs improvements and/or is overpriced, it simply won’t sell. I can’t stress this enough.

Your house will sell, eventually, after you’ve dropped the price several times and spent months showing it. The key to selling your home quickly and at a fair market price is to put some time, elbow grease and some investment into it BEFORE you put it on the market. Home preparation and pricing the house right from the start can save you time and aggravation.

I’ve heard so many sellers say: “Let the buyer make the changes THEY want” or “I can’t afford to make the updates”.  However, can you afford not to? How much less will your house sell for in the end?

The reality in today’s market is that many buyers want “move-in ready” homes, meaning not only can they move in without having to do updates, but will be happy with the condition of the house as is without having to consider renovations in the near future.  They also want a home that they can envision themselves in, without the style remnants and wear and tear of another family.

There are generally three types of buyers that I work with:

  1. Buyers who are looking at homes in the top of their price range with little room in their budget for updates. These buyers may be willing to pay asking price, or even slightly higher, if the home is move-in ready. So, if your house needs a lot of work, you’ve potentially lost them.
  2. Buyers who don’t mind a little work but they want a deal on the house. So, if your home needs many updates, be prepared to negotiate, or price it accordingly.
  3. Buyers who want to be in a specific neighborhood or want a specific type of house and are willing to make sacrifices to get what they want. The right buyer will come, it just may take a while. A good Realtor will be able to point out the unique value of your home that makes it desirable and how to price it accordingly without having to do a lot of updates.

You may be fortunate to be in a scenario where there is a high demand for your type of house. However, in the Haymarket area real estate market, and in other regions, there has been surge of new listings in 2015 and 2014 compared to 2013, so the supply is up. Prices are holding steady but competition is strong. Your best bet is to have the advantage by getting your house prepared.

Some home improvements can be costly, like a full kitchen makeover, but simple projects like painting and wallpaper removal are feasible. Dated features like wallpaper borders, puffy balloon shades, and light fixtures can easily be replaced.

The other big must for preparing your home for sale is to make sure it is fresh and clean. Buyers are turned off by clutter, stained carpets, odors, mildew in the bathrooms, spotted walls, overstuffed closets and overgrown landscape.

RELATED: See 8 Things that Turn Off Buyers during House Hunting

Your furnishings and decorating reflects your taste and in many cases, may have been expensive to install. Your home is special and personal to you and probably holds memories. That is why it is hard for a real estate agent to make difficult suggestions. However, our job is to be honest and to help you sell your home—at the price it deserves.

Things you MUST do before you put your home on the market:

Repair any roof leaks and ceiling stains, mold issues, faulty wiring, evidence of rodents or termites, non-functioning appliances or HVAC systems, broken railings, loose floorboards, leaky faucets, missing shingles, loose bricks on front stairs … anything a home inspector is going to tag.

If you have an older home, consider having an inspection done before you put your house on the market so there are no surprises later. Then you can budget for what needs to be done, plan to price the house accordingly or be prepared to negotiate if you leave items “as is”.

Here are my suggestions for the top 10 things you should TRY to do to to prepare your home for sale:

1. Rent a storage unit. Unless you have extra storage space, a storage unit is the first thing you can do to get ready to sell your home. You’re planning to move anyway, this is a good way to start packing and cleaning out. Pack up extra closet items, toys, knick knacks and small furniture. Clean out extra garage items so it looks spacious. Store furniture that might be stained or worn. Your entire home should be clutter free!

2. Remove dated wallpaper borders and wallpapered rooms and replace with a fresh coat of paint. Notice I said DATED. Wallpaper is making a comeback and well-installed, tasteful wallpaper applications can be a good selling point. But the older, dated prints or decorative borders are not as attractive to buyers. For painting, don’t be afraid of color, but do your research to make sure you pick something that is would appeal to buyers. Talk with experts at Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams.

Kitchen Remodel by On The Level Contracting 3. Update your kitchen as much as you can. Granite countertops, tiled back splashes, new appliances and modern light fixtures will go over big with buyers. Consider painting older wooden cabinets. Painted cabinetry is very trendy right now and doesn’t cost a lot. However, for major kitchen remodels, do your research. The Cost vs. Value may not pay off depending on your home and location.  Minor updates generally hold more resale value than major remodels. (Photo: Kitchen remodel by On The Level Contracting)

RELATED: Cost vs. Value: What Remodeling Projects Pay Off?

4. Steam clean carpets or replace them if they are really stained or worn. Prioritize rooms if you can’t do them all starting with the family room and master bedroom. If you have hardwood floors under a living room or dining room floor, remove it and have the floors finished.

JCPenney Bali Natural Roman Shade5. Paint any rooms that are in need. Repaint bedrooms that are too bold like a teenager’s neon blue room with stars on the ceiling. Most buyers with children will want to make their own choices in these rooms so give them a neutral palette.

6. Remove older curtains or dated custom valances. If you can’t replace them just take them down and put up simple roman shades or bamboo shades which are simple yet dramatic. They can be found at reasonable prices from (Photo: JCPenny Bali Natural Roman Shade)

7. Update your bathrooms as much as you can.  At a minimum, make sure the tile and grout is spotless. If you can, change out older faucets, light fixtures and drawer knobs. Add a fresh coat of paint. Put out new towels. Make sure ALL personal cosmetic items are removed from all surfaces before photos and showings.

Modern bathroom interior8. Do your best to remove odors. Eliminate odors from smoke or any other strong odors by steam cleaning draperies, carpets and upholstery. Consider smoking outdoors before and during the time your house is on the market.

FrontDoor9. Make sure your house has curb appeal. One of the easiest fixes is to paint your front door, colored doors are in style right now. Trim the shrubs, weed, mulch the beds, powerwash the deck or patio.

10. Remove evidence of pets. Be prepared to remove evidence of pets like food dishes, crates, kitty litter, etc. before the photo shoot and showings. Most buyers like animals but with pets come odors, shedding, stains, scratches and more.  It’s best to not advertise that these problems might exist, even if they don’t.

RELATED: Curb Appeal – the First Step to a Successful Sale

One way to get ideas on preparing your home for sale is go online and look at the homes for sale in your neighborhood and the ones that sold recently.

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RELATED: 10 Things a Good Realtor will Do to Help You Sell Your Upscale or Luxury Home

If you’re getting ready to sell you home, call Bryan Garcia for a free Competitive Market Analysis and consultation. Call or text 703-517-2574 or Email Bryan.