Getting Your House Ready to Sell

Handling Presale Preparation

A metamorphosis occurs the moment you decide to sell your property. The “home” you love so dearly turns into a “house.” This shift in vocabulary is part of letting go — the emotional detachment process all sellers experience sooner or later. Home is where your heart is. Houses, like TV sets, toasters, and tangerines, are commodities sold on the open market. You’re getting ready to sell a house.

Getting your house ready to put on the market takes time. Exposing your property to the market before it looks its best gives buyers and agents who tour the house a bad initial impression. It’s nearly impossible to get them back for a second look after you correct the showing flaws.

If you make the right improvements when fixing up your property, you increase the odds of selling it quickly for top dollar. If, conversely, you make the wrong changes to your property, you waste the time and money you spent, prolong the sale, and possibly even reduce the ultimate sale price.

Start the presale fix-up process by getting an outside opinion of your house’s strengths and weaknesses. Good real estate agents are an excellent source of advice about readying your house for sale. Because agents see your house with fresh eyes, they can spot flaws you no longer notice. Furthermore, agents look at your house the way buyers do. They know how to prepare houses so that they’re appealing for marketing — a process sometimes referred to as staging. And, last but not least, because agents work on commission, good agents don’t want to waste your time or theirs trying to sell a house that’s not up to snuff.

Common Presale Pitfalls

Suppose that your house needs a new roof, kitchen remodeling, or bathroom upgrades. What’s the best way to handle major expenses like these?

Don’t spend big bucks on major improvements. For example, don’t install a new roof just before putting your house on the market. A wiser plan is to give buyers a credit to cover the repair cost. Prepare for negotiations regarding the credit by getting several competitive bids for the corrective work from reputable local contractors, and then base your credit on the lowest realistic bid.

Why offer to give the buyer a credit? For one thing, you can avoid a huge out-of-pocket expense by handling the repairs this way. Furthermore, this arrangement allows the new owners to have the work done by their own contractor whenever they want after the sale is completed. Last, but not least by a long shot, if the buyers have problems with their new roof after the sale, the repair is their problem – not yours. You aren’t liable for their contractor’s work.

Nor should you redo a kitchen or bathroom. You generally can’t increase your sale price enough to fully compensate you for all the work and money you put into the project. Furthermore, you can’t second-guess the next owner’s preferences in toilets, tile, and tubs. Don’t even try. You can go wrong on appliances, cabinets, colors, finishes, and other design choices.

A much better plan is to reduce your asking price so it reflects that your house has an old kitchen or bathroom instead of squandering your time and money on a major remodeling job people hate.