Organize, De-Clutter, Clean & Pre-Stage
You’re thinking about listing your DC home for sale and want to prepare, while limiting your work to things that will really pay dividends. Here are a few tips on what might be a good investment of time, effort and funds: Organize, Declutter, Clean and Pre-Stage because the single biggest factor in maximizing profits on your home sale will be presentation.
- Visit model homes of national builders in your area. They have the presentation process down pat. Pay close attention to the staging and content of each room—what you see, and what you don’t—then use this as a guide for your presentation;
- Organizing and decluttering are things you can do prior to engaging an agent. Clear surfaces of photos, bric-a-brac, non-essential items and small kitchen appliances. Box up rarely used items and rent a storage unit or store in uniform boxes stacked nicely in the garage, a secure out-building or basement. Hold a garage or tag sale for items you no longer want. Donate to charity. When you move, you’ll be glad you did!
- Clean flooring, windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, shelving and baseboards to make the house read “immaculate”. Focus extra attention on bathrooms, kitchen and laundry;
- Pre-stage by evaluating your furnishings and color palette with a critical eye. What will buyers see? How does each room feel when you enter? Compare each room to those model homes you toured and make a list of the things you’d like to change. Eliminate obvious eyesores and broken or makeshift furnishings. If you want to keep these items, put them in storage. The actual staging process should be a collaboration with your agent and possibly a professional. They’ll have valuable insights that will save you time, effort, funds and the dreaded “do over”. Think back, again, to the model homes you visited. Did you note the color palettes, tones, vignettes, furniture scale, etc.? All that know-how comes with years of training. Getting assistance in this area will improve your chances of selling your home quickly, and at a better price.
Estimate Repairs before listing your DC home for sale. Big-ticket items which are worn, dated or non-functional (carpeting or hardwood flooring, HVAC units, roofing, windows, appliances) are best addressed prior to listing. These items matter to buyers and will be factored into offer price. Estimates will serve you in knowing which you can afford to do before open houses begin, and the cost of the rest in case a buyer asks for a credit.
Assemble paperwork for title insurance, significant repairs, warranties, maintenance, etc. If your home was purchased within the past 10 years, your buyer may qualify for a reissue rate on title insurance. Find your title policy and have it available. Do you have a home warranty that is transferrable? If so, make that information easily accessible to the buyer when they go under contract. Are any of your major components still under warranty? HVAC, roof, plumbing, major repairs—all receipts and warranties will help. If you haven’t lived in the home long, do you have a copy of the home inspection report from your purchase? Receipts from contractors or other service providers? User manuals for appliances and electronics that will stay with the home should also be included. Floorplans, blueprints and other architectural or historic designation documents are a boon to buyers and should be available. Find these documents before you put your DC home on the market, and place them in a folder you can use to gather all documentation relating to the sale (new inspection report, receipts, etc.). Make sure you create a copy for your real estate agent. You’ll be asked for these items at several points during the transaction and you’ll use some of them to complete your DC Seller Property Disclosure package when listing.
Create Curb Appeal
Curb Appeal may be as important as what’s inside the house because it creates the buyer’s first impression of the property. When the interior of your home is in open house shape, continue the process outside before listing your DC home for sale. Visit several open houses in your area to see how your home will compare. Pay extra attention to the landscaping, exterior of the homes, the garages and driveways. Refer to the new construction model homes you visited. How did they deal with landscaping issues? Pick up some home magazines and look at exterior photos to get ideas. Remember that small changes can sometimes make a big difference.
Condos, Townhouses and Co-Ops
If you’re selling a condo, townhouse or co-op, the fixes differ from those recommended for single family homes. Even though you’re not permitted to make changes to the exterior of the premises, there are things you can do inside and to personal outdoor space to help your home sell quickly and at a good price.
- Submit a request 90 days in advance of your sale to the HOA/Management company to have scuffed hallways painted, hallway/entrance flooring cleaned, common area wall nicks and scrapes repaired, dim or burned out lights replaced, and so on;
- In the same request, ask to have your front door painted/repaired/replaced if it is peeling, chipped or warped;
- Create an inviting space on your patio or balcony if you have one. Correct warped or weather-damaged deck boards and patio stains. Repair fences and gates. Eliminate clutter, but including a small, potted tree or large plant, a small table with chair, and a spot or two of color that will compliment your interior.
Do some homework on the values associated with updating your home. Consult your agent before you paint, tile, install new flooring or fixtures, or make alterations to the home and landscaping. Your agent will have recommendations and selection advice to ensure your choices reflect those of your target buyer and market trends. Some investments will net you more on resale than others, so be sure to take this into consideration before jumping into a project.