Getting your home ready to sell can be daunting, but it is important to do what you can to show your home in its best light. Buyers tend to judge a home in the first few minutes of walking through the door, and the busiest traffic is in the first two weeks of listing it. That means, in order to capture the buyer's attention quickly, it's important to pay attention to several areas of your home. How you present your home can either help or hinder its sale.
Plan to work on your home to bring it up to its best, before signing with your realtor. You will want your realtor to see it in its best light, and to help you price it accordingly. A top selling realtor works quickly. You don't want to scurry around after signing your contract with only a day or two's notice to fix it up before the first appointment is due to arrive.
If you have several months of lead time, you will have the advantage of pacing out your job list. Getting rid of keepsakes and clutter is a difficult task, and often takes longer than one expects. It can be less stressful, if you do a little at a time over several weeks.
Even if you're rushed to get a quick sale, it's still helpful to have a checklist of areas to tackle, for the short amount of time you'll have. Take a walk around your home with a pad and paper, and make a list of projects you see that need attention. Estimate how much time to allot to each task, and write down a deadline date. If you have several months to work with, you can probably allow a two week deadline for each area. If your time is less, it will have to be broken down by day or hour segments.
Your list might look like this:
Declutter – 2 weeks (1st-15th)
Book storage unit & load – by the 25th
Wash walls and repaint – 1 week per room
Re-carpet and clean floors – after painting
Touch up woodwork – 3 days
Clean windows – book window cleaner by 30th - 1 day
General cleaning and repair – ongoing, especially week before showing
Sometimes choosing contractors, paint colors and carpeting are the hardest decisions to make and the most time consuming. Allow time to get quotes and for scheduling. Carpet installers need ten days to several weeks' notice. Painters need to book their schedule ahead of time.
Allocate a budgeted amount to be spent on fix-ups. Prioritize the items you think will be best recouped by the sale of the home and forget the others. If after receiving quotes you feel you don't have the budget to spend on upgrades, sell the house as is. Just make sure it is priced correctly compared to other homes in your area.
Resist the urge to do nothing. Every little bit of effort to clear the clutter, clean and make your home look more spacious and generic is worth it. Start now. Do your homework and then get moving on things a piece at a time. It will eventually all come together just as you imagined.