Five Ways to Prepare Your House For Sale

Also published on the Huffington Post.

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There are two seasons in DC Real Estate – Spring and the Holidays. Once “Spring” gets into swing, the Washington DC Real Estate Market continues unabated until the holidays. Since my house is awash in candy wrappers, and my mini-me’s have been on a week-long sugar high, I know we’re heading from Halloween right into the holiday season.

I am currently in planning mode for spring. Never mind that I’m still wearing flip flops. Never mind that the temperature has yet to dip below 60. Never mind that winter is still coming. My mind is on spring.

I hope I’m not the only one looking 3 months ahead right now. If you anticipate selling this spring, is there anything you can be doing besides planning your holiday menu, scrapping your holiday menu and booking a flight to Mexico instead of enduring the circus that is your extended family at the end of December? Well, yes! There ARE things you can be doing. And not, it’s not the usual bit about painting neutral colors and freshening up the landscaping.

Lucky for you, I like lists and I made one just for you.

1.Tell anyone who will be buying you holiday presents – don’t. I know, this doesn’t sound like the holiday spirit, but your main goal is to clean out the house so that it shows well. We need to tackle what you already have, but most important? Stop anything further from coming in. Shoot, I’m not planning to sell my house but today when I was talking to my parents I said, “Don’t buy the kids any stuffed animals please, I just sent three dozen out for donation.” (They won’t listen. They never listen.)
 
2.Split your house into manageable zones and tackle one zone each weekend. Be very critical of each item. If you haven’t used it, you don’t need it. If you haven’t worn it, you won’t ever wear it. Make a donation pile after each task and then move it to your car before anyone has a chance to retrieve one of the items from the pile and drop it back into rotation. (I know how this works. I am both child and parent of “they who will not throw anything away.”) Drop the items off at your local donation bin during the week. Every week. Gone. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Do it again next weekend with the next project area. Watch your house slowly become manageable!

 

3.Before you leave a project area, make sure it is tidy. Sure, you’ll have to do this again as we get closer to listing time. It’s unrealistic to think it will stay perfectly organized until February. But a bookshelf? Once that puppy is cleaned out and organized, it should stay that way. Unless your holiday parties are real literary ragers.
 
4.Consider hiring a home inspector. They can give you a critical rundown of the areas in your house that need attention. Some people will say this is a double-edged sword because once you have the report, an item has been disclosed to you and you then must disclose to any buyers. True, but anything serious you either already know about or should know about and it should be fixed anyway. We want to remove as many potential objections a buyer may have to not buy your house. If you hand them a report with most items marked as “fixed,” it may give them some peace of mind, even if you note that you didn’t fix some of the smaller issues. It’s more often the “not-knowing” that bothers buyers.
 
5.Take basic care of your house. Living with 22 dead track lights in a home of 38 total is ridiculous. (This once happened to me. Seriously. It was a very dark house.) Don’t let your house go on the market without changing the a/c filter and cleaning the caked-on dust off the vent. (So many people are guilty of this.) Do the little deferred maintenance projects because buyers can sniff these out in a heartbeat and will wonder what else you haven’t tended to.


If you work on the items on this list for the next 3 months, you will be in great shape to sell when spring arrives! If you want help, call me. I love throwing things out. Especially if they’re not my things.
Next week I’ll cover what buyers can be doing for the next few months to gear up for spring.

 
Also published on the Huffington Post.