Preparing Your Home For Selling

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Preparing your home for selling can be an intimidating process.  Regardless of how long you’ve taken up residence, the same general principles apply when opening your home up to potential buyers.  If a sale of your property is on the horizon, do yourself a favor and start your preparations early.  Having your to-do list knocked out and leveraging yourself as a seller ready to hit the market allows you to capitalize on opportunity as soon as it presents itself. Preparing your home for selling can mean a lot of different things.  What you should or shouldn’t do comes down to an equation of the price you want to receive for your home, its condition, the way the market is behaving in your community and more.  You should be working with a qualified Realtor like myself who can weigh your home against comparable properties to give you an accurate value of your home as well as the value certain upgrades will bring.  The objective is to be strategic in the improvements you invest in to increase your overall bottomline.

With that said, below I’m outlining some basic steps you should take to prepare your home regardless of the price point or neighborhood you are selling in.

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Step 1: Declutter

When showing your home, the idea is to allow a buyer to survey the home and visualize it for their own lifestyle or family. When you show your living room with baskets of toys residing in the corner, you are sending prospective buyers a message that a) there isn’t enough storage to put these toys away b) there isn’t another room in this house that could work as a playroom and c) this is a home for buyers with small children.  Each item in your home tells a story for a buyer – ask yourself what the items you have chosen to leave out are saying.

Closets and cabinets should be paired down to essentials and appear organized and tidy.  The emptier they are, the more storage is perceived.

Step 2: Depersonalize

Your home should show as a blank canvas for buyers to envision as their own. When it comes to personal items, consider whether they enhance or inhibit a buyer’s ability to picture themselves in the space.  Selling your home is about creating an emotional connection between a buyer and a house.  If the space wears your unique stamp, it obstructs these essential connections from taking place.  For example, if the seller is a young, recently married couple whose walls are filled with recent wedding images, more mature buyers may be turned off thinking the home is better suited for a first-time buyer.  Assess the message each of your personal items sends and pack away those that may deter buyers.

Step 3: Cleaning

A clean house goes an incredibly long way – I would wager it the most important aspect of showing your home.  Dust, dirt, stains and odors are an immediate turn off to buyers and a red flag of what might be lurking in unseen areas of your home.  It doesn’t cost you a thing to be sure your surfaces are wiped clean, your floors are dust mopped, your glass surfaces are smudge free and the garbage has been taken out.  Your home should have that freshly cleaned feel each time it’s shown to a prospective buyer.

Depending on the condition, it may be worth investing in professional cleaning services for areas like carpet and tile.    For a minimal investment, you can be assured you are showing your home with maximum appeal.

Step 4: Furniture Placement

Most eager buyers walk through a home visualizing how they can entertain or host gatherings in the space.  At the same time, they are taking inventory of the belongings they will need to find room for in your home.  A smart furniture plan can be a great tool to highlight your home’s features or distract from shortcomings.  If rooms are cluttered or furniture is over-sized, consider renting a POD or other mobile storage solution that can free up space.

The key is creating an atmosphere that eliminates guess work for your buyers.  Use furniture as a medium to draw attention to the elements that make this space special.  A Realtor like myself can help you optimize the layout of your home to capture buyer interest.

Step 5: Staging

When we talk about staging – we are typically referring to a service provided by a professional home staging company. These professionals have a strong foundation in design and hand select furniture and accessories from their inventory to show your home at its highest potential.  Furnishings and decor are typically transitional style in neutral finishes to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.  Home stagers use their keen design eye to create cohesive spaces, allow for optimal flow and spark those essential emotional connections.  Depending on the company, staging is often rented on a monthly basis and includes an additional fee for set up and take down.

Professional staging is a strategic investment you make when you and your Realtor agree it will yield you a greater return.  This isn’t the case in every situation, so be sure to consult with a professional before making a commitment. When you are working with a solid foundation, often simple and inexpensive tactics can perform well and set you up for a quick sale while avoiding unnecessary expenditures.

There is no one-size-fits-all plan for preparing your home to sell – however, the simple steps above apply regardless of the price range you are selling in.  When considering more costly upgrades like professional home staging or renovations, be sure you have a qualified Realtor like myself advocating for your bottomline.  Selling your home is about netting you the highest return, not forfeiting your hard-earned dollars.

If you live in the Ocean County area and are considering selling your home, email me at [email protected] or call me at (732) 966-0800.  I’d love to walk through your home with you and help make suggestions of upgrades that can directly benefit your bottomline.  If you plan to sell your home in the near future, let’s start getting a plan in place early to best leverage you as a seller.


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