Getting Your Home Ready for Sale Checklist

Will Bateson
Will Bateson
Published on May 11, 2021

         So you’re planning on selling your Livermore home and you’ve heard that we’re currently in the greatest sellers’ market ever so you figure you don’t need to do much except hire a realtor to put a sign in the lawn and wait for the offers to come flooding in, right?  WRONG!

         Right now almost everything will sell unless the price is totally out of touch with reality.  But by making your home show at its absolute best, you are likely to sell it for more.  How much more?  Maybe $50,000 or even $100,000 more!  So is that worth doing a bit more work than you planned?  For most sellers, the answer is a resounding yes!

  1. The Outside

Drive past your home and look at it through a buyer’s eyes.  Does it look like a model home from the outside?  Is the landscaping impeccable and the exterior paint new and an appealing color like Agreeable Gray?  It might cost you a few thousand dollars to make the curb appeal look incredible and a few thousand more to paint the exterior.  So what’s the Return on Investment for this work?  Easily 5:1, as in spend $4000 to make an extra $20,000.

  • Kitchen and Primary (Master) Bathroom, also known as the money makers!

In most parts of the country, where homes sell for less than $400,000, it doesn’t make sense to spend $20,000 or more improving the kitchen or primary (master) bathroom.  In Livermore, where the average home now sells for over $1 million, it absolutely makes sense if you have the time to do so;  if your budget is the issue, check out next week’s blog, How to Upgrade Your Kitchen for $0!

Again, every dollar you spend improving your kitchen or primary bathroom will be returned double or triple right now. 

Pro Tip:  Visit some model homes in your area to see what the current hot trends in kitchens and baths are

  • Flooring:  Consistent and Appealing

Have you ever entered a home and found a tile entryway, followed by carpet in the living room, a different tile in the kitchen, and laminate or wood flooring in the living room and a third type of tile in the downstairs bathroom?  Even if all are done well, the result is an absolute turn off to buyers.

  • Rule #1: The fewer types of flooring on each level, the better. 
  • Rule #2: Today’s buyers prefer hardwood or high end laminate over carpet; replacing carpet in all but the bedrooms is money well spent
  • Inspections?  Yes, you Need to Pay for Inspections!

Would you like to receive completely AS IS offers with all contingencies waived, including buyer’s inspections (and requests for any repairs or credits)?  Of course you would!  What if I told you that the price of getting these AS IS offers with no repairs or credits requests was less than $1000?  Seems like a good deal, yes?  YES! 

Most buyers have been trained that currently we are in an ultra competitive market for buyers, and they need to accept the property’s current condition.  But if you don’t do inspections up front, few will be willing to waive the inspection. Contingency.  Plus, by you choosing inspections as the seller, you can insure you don’t get that rogue inspector who sees a hairline crack and says the foundation needs repairing. 

  • Staging for the Win!

Have you ever walked through a model home in a new development?  Did you notice how everything seemed to go together?  If you asked about the features, you probably found that a) they cost a high premium and b) most buyers who buy new construction do not buy most of the upgrades shown in the model homes.   Builders are extremely careful with their money, and yet you’ll probably never see new construction that’s not been staged, which does cost builders a fair amount of money.  Why?  Because builders know that every dollar spent on staging is money well spent.  And that’s true for you too!  A typical stager in Livermore charges around $2 per square foot per month with a 1 month minimum – so $4000 to stage a 2,000 square foot home for a month; and a month should be plenty long enough. 

What follows are some useful tips you can do preparing your home for sale:

  1. Remove toys, equipment, and clutter from the yard. 
  2. Repair/replace light fixtures, doorbell, and doorknobs. This can present the perfect opportunity to upgrade to automated technology that’s enticing to new buyers, both inside and out. Outdoors, lights can be automated through an app or a home security system to save money on energy costs.
  3. Fix broken windows, shutters, and torn screens. Go the extra mile and seal window frames and seams with solid caulking.
  4. Clean/repair gutters and HVAC units. Remove any cobwebs and nests that you find. Clean or paint the front door and mailbox. Only 8 percent of people prefer a bold exterior home color, according to results from a Better Homes and Gardens survey of 400 homeowners. A pop of color may be better used on your front door, to attract attention without going overboard.
  5. Power wash the exterior, especially around entrances. Take care to remove mildew, moss, and stains from the side of your house using bleach. For more stubborn stains on the driveway or walkway, try a concrete cleaner.
  6. Wash windows. Wash out your garbage can while you’re at it, and store it out of sight.
  7. Mow lawn, trim bushes and shrubs, weed garden, and add potted plants for color. Attractive landscaping can add 6 to 7 percent to the value of your home. Store, sell, or donate any items you no longer need, like clothing, toys, knickknacks, furniture, appliances, books, games, etc. While your personal decor may be adorable, it’s best to remove items from the home that say too much about who you are. A buyer needs to picture themselves in your home before they’re motivated to purchase.
  8. Fix loose doorknobs, leaky faucets, cracked molding, etc. Do a quick walk-through with your toolkit and address any obvious fixes, or call a repairperson for the bigger tasks.
  9. Replace or repair broken doorknobs, cabinets, light fixtures, outlets, faucets, and vent covers. Making these small updates can have a twofold benefit — improving the appearance of your home, while increasing its energy efficiency. “Air can escape from behind light switches and outlets, causing up to 5 percent heat loss in homes,” Marquis says. When making updates, Marquis recommends adding foam draft stoppers behind outlet and switch covers to reduce heat loss.
  10. Clean and organize closets. In order to declutter the main area of your home, Haynes suggests converting the hallway closet into a handy mudroom. “Remove the door, place a bench inside, add a small trash can and enough sections with bins and hooks for every family member, and voila — you will handle all the disorganization in the hallway.”
  11. Refresh rooms with a new coat of paint. Light, neutral colors, which can help open up a room and create space, are recommended.
  12. Shampoo carpet and replace, if needed. You can also use our easy pet stain remover recipe for stubborn carpet stains and smells, guaranteed to be a turnoff to buyers.
  13. Wash all windows, frames, and sills. Also, vacuum window blinds and shades. Wash and dry window curtains.
  14. Open all window shades to create space and let in light. As HGTV’s Matthew Finlason confirms, lighting is the most effective way to set a mood when staging.
  15. Store pet supplies and pet dishes. Buyers who don’t own pets may be put off by pet accessories and smells at first sight.
  16. Add an air freshener plug-in in each room. However, keep in mind that heavy air freshener smells can be overpowering. Ask a friend or family member to give you their honest opinion when they first enter a room.
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