In today's real estate market, it usually takes a lot more than putting a "for sale" sign in the front yard to obtain a buyer willing to pay a fair price for your home.
In fact, there is a lot of work involved. So here are eight specific steps you need to take right now if you want to take maximum advantage of the spring selling season from real estate expert John Adams.
1. Consider having your home inspected by a professional inspector. If there are any major issues, it is better to know about them now rather than losing a prospective buyer later.
If you discover problems now, you have the luxury of time to deal with them, or if you prefer, to obtain actual estimates of what a repair will cost.
2. Now is the time to eliminate the years of junk and stuff that have clogged up all your closets and filled your garage. Each room of your house should appear spacious and clean from top to bottom.
3. Take a hard look at your flooring. It the carpet is worn or smells bad (or both), replace it with a neutral color. Same for vinyl and hardwood. I know it's expensive, but you will get it back in a higher price and a faster sale.
4. Stand in the street in front of your house and decide what impression your home is creating. Does the exterior say that your home is well cared-for, or do you have small oak trees growing in the gutters from last summer?
Get some pots of bright flowers from the store and put them near the front door. Repaint the front door and steps and handrail leading to the entrance. And I almost forgot: it's really time to take down the Christmas lights!
5. Perhaps the least expensive way to dress up a house for resale is to put on a fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, the feds have outlawed the "volatile organic compounds" that made paint smell like paint and new cars smell like new cars, so the odor factor is diminished, but the visual is still powerful. Select neutral colors and just do it!
6. Let go of your home emotionally by removing personal and family memorabilia.
I once showed a home to a young couple looking to buy their first house. The seller had liberated a small town in France following D-Day, and the mayor had given him the local Nazi flag as a token of victory over the enemy. The flag was displayed prominently in a large glass case in the dining room.
I found out later that the young couple had been emotionally impacted (understandably) in a very negative way. While the owner was justifiably proud of his service to his country, he should have removed the flag before he put the house on the market.
7. Remove babies and animals from the house. I know that is controversial, but my job is to help you sell your house, and babies and animals create sometimes stunning odors that can turn off a buyer like a light switch.
Another time, I showed a very nice house to some prospective buyers. When we got to the nursery bathroom, we were subjected to an olfactory assault (also known as a diaper pail) so intense that decorum prevents me from issuing a further description. Suffice it to say that the nose knows. Don't let such an event ruin your chances of a sale.
8. ONE MORE THING: If your kitchen counters are white formica with gold sparkles left over from 1955, it may be time to look at replacing them with solid surface countertops. Figure about $35 per square foot of countertop installed, because that is exactly what the purchaser is doing when he or she walks through your kitchen. And please remove everything (and I mean everything) from kitchen counters, no matter how often you use it.