If you plan to sell your home in the spring, now is the time to start getting it ready. Spring will be here before you know it, and you don’t want to miss the perfect opportunity because you're still addressing lingering issues. So, what, exactly, should you be doing to get your house ready? These are 6 ways to prep your home now for the spring real estate market.
- Want to know if now is the time to sell? Check out our housing market forecast.
Actually, before you prep your house, you need to prep yourself. “Houses are selling at a very fast rate and a lot of people are surprised that they are under contract sooner than they expected,” says Michael Hills, vice president of Brokerage at Atlas Real Estate.
So, this is the time to decide if you really want to move, and if so, get all of your ducks in a row. “If you are looking to move into another house, I recommend having your lender letter available and to start looking at other houses, before your current house is listed on the market, because of the speed at which houses are going under contract.” Prepping yourself also means that you’ll need to change your mindset. It’s no longer “your house,” but instead “a potential buyer’s house” so start emotionally detaching yourself from it.
One thing that may slow the sale of your home: carpet. So now is the time to work on getting it up and out. Wall-to-wall carpet can actually be a deal-breaker to some buyers, according to Jaylon Brigham, licensed associate real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens in New York City, NY.
She says they really hate it in the main room like the living and dining areas. “Many buyers don’t like it, they find it dirty and old fashioned, and it becomes a real distraction from the home’s otherwise wonderful qualities.” As an agent, Brigham says she’s often had clients who wouldn’t get rid of the carpeting and their homes would languish on the market. “But after I finally convince them to remove the carpet and refinish the wood floors underneath, we usually end up with multiple offers.”
Clean your windows
Another task to take care of before the spring real estate market is making sure your windows are squeaky clean. “If you’re used to living with dirty windows, after a while you probably don’t even notice that you can’t properly see out of them, and half the light is blocked,” says Brigham. If your home is dark, dirty windows make it seem even more bleak. And if your home is bright, Brigham warns you’re doing it a disservice by not showcasing such an important feature. “Do yourself a favor and either clean the windows yourself or hire a service - it’s worth your time and money,” she says.
Spruce up the exterior
Your home’s exterior is just as important as the interior areas, so don’t neglect it when you’re prepping for a spring showing. “One thing people often forget to do is power wash the surroundings of the house, and this could include the siding, walkways, backyard, driveway and garage,” says Ron Abta, San Francisco realtor and founder of Polaris Realty. “Not only will it make your property look cleaner, it will also create an inviting atmosphere – and it shows that you care about the entire home,” he says.
“Basic landscaping and planting fresh shrubs or color flowers can also make a huge difference in the buyer's attitude when they step into the home.” However, don’t plant too early (unless it’s early season plants and flowers) or a hard freeze could kill them. “Also, it’s a idea to buy a new welcome mat and make sure the doorbell works,” Abta says.
One of the best ways to make your home appealing is to make sure that it is crisp and clean. And according to Ben Creamer, principal and managing broker of Downtown Realty Company in Chicago, IL, the easiest way to achieve this goal is by adding a fresh coat of neutral paint to the walls. “This creates a calm and pleasing palette for the home, and allows the buyer to more easily envision their own furnishings and décor in the space,” he explains. It also covers all of those nicks, scratches, and imperfections.
Make small fixes
This is also the time to take care of all of those little projects you’ve been putting off. “Make sure all the lightbulbs around the property are working and if you have any potential holes in the wall, fix them,” says Brett Ringelheim, real estate agent at Compass in New York, NY.
He also recommends removing any broken items from the property. “The objective is to make the property look perfect and move in ready.”