February 13, 2019 by
Once Punxsutawney Phil pokes his little head out of the ground and dares us to think about the arrival of spring, we start to plan for the arrival of spring real estate. Often, this is the busiest and most productive time of year to sell a home. If you are one of those homeowners who is planning to enter the market, now is the time to prepare your home for a spring sale.
While daylight hours are fewer and temperatures are cooler, there’s no better reason for you to focus on the interior of your home. You will likely be stuck inside anyways! However, it is not uncommon for the greater St. Charles area to experience brief spurts of mild weather during the winter – and we have suggestions for prepping the exterior of your home on those days, too.
Take a look at the 12 steps to prepare your home for a spring sale below, and get ready to start your spring cleaning!
Have a Game Plan for the Sale of Your Home
Your home is not the only thing you will need to get ready for sale. First, you and your family should start preparing yourselves for all the changes (and emotions!) to come. No matter the circumstances of your move, the process will go more smoothly if you do not push your feelings aside until closing day. Start detaching yourself from your current home, and focus on creating an attachment to your future home.
If listing your home is still weeks or months away, now is the time to make your game plan. Interview and select a realtor, and discuss a reasonable list price for your home. Make a plan with nearby relatives if they will be helping with kids or pets during showings. If you need to, rent a storage unit for boxes that accumulate as you start packing.
The sale of your home will be more productive if your family and real estate team are aligned on the same plan: To sell your home quickly, and for the best price.
12 Things to Get Your Home Ready for the Spring Selling Season
Taking the time to give your home a little TLC before listing will almost certainly pay off in the “wow factor” that turns showings into offers. Ready to get started? Make sure your to-do list includes these quick and easy tips:
1. Declutter your family’s stuff.
Now is an ideal time to jump on the Netflix phenom, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” if you have not already. We are talking about everything from the stack of mail that lives on your kitchen counter to the assortment of toys in the living room.
If this stuff will be moving with you, pack it up and put it in a storage unit or a kind relative’s basement. If it is not worth keeping, sell, donate or scrap it. Remember, this is not just a helpful step to stage your home for showings. You will have to do this packing once the home sells!
BONUS TIP: Consider packing any fixtures or small appliances that will not be staying with the house, such as the dining room chandelier or a microwave. These items that commonly can stay with a house may cause tension, if they disappear after a seller makes an offer. In this case, they are better off never seeing the items in the first place.
2. Create a blank canvas.
It may be harder for a prospective buyer to picture themselves living in your home if there are pictures of your family throughout. Help them visualize the change by removing these personal items. In addition to family photos, this could also include initial letters, art that includes your names or significant dates (such as an anniversary), and religious art that may not resonate with every buyer.
One of the most important aspects of a house’s blank canvas is the use of neutral paint colors throughout. As agent Marcy Martin says, “You may think of it as boring, but buyers want to add their personality to a home. If there is a bold room, such as lime green or hot pink, tone it down!”
3. Declutter and (re-)arrange furniture.
Get a jump-start on packing furniture while you create a little extra breathing room. Ask yourself: “What bulky furniture could we easily live without for a few months?”
Some obvious contenders could be the side tables placed next to every chair in your living room, hall and entryway benches, kid or pet play equipment, and that oversized arm chair from Grandma Ruth that doesn’t really belong in any room. The more you are able to move out, the more space you create to help make your rooms look bigger.
BONUS TIP: Take the leaves out of your dining tables, to increase walkway space for showings without losing functionality.
4. Give your home a deep clean.
As broker-owner Doug Meyer says, “Declutter and clean – always.” These two essential steps to prepare your home for a spring sale are essentially free, and can’t be overlooked. If you need to hire a cleaning company to help get this done on time, find an online coupon or seasonal promotion and consider it a smart investment.
Decluttering and moving furniture almost always helps you find lint traps, cob webs and dusty window sills that need attention. Don’t just stop at vacuuming – clean as if your in-laws are coming to stay the month. Other tasks could include:
- Shampooing the carpets;
- Bleaching or scrubbing grout;
- Polishing hardwood floors and/or linoleum;
- Wiping down windows;
- Scrubbing appliances, such as cooktops;
- Dusting ceiling fans; and
- Cleaning toilets and showers.
A dirty home sends a message to potential buyers that the place is not being well cared for. Do not send that message!
5. Strive for “light and bright.”
Aside from perhaps The Grinch, no one is looking to buy a cave. Lighting is critical to creating an ambient environment that makes visitors feel warm and welcome. As you’re evaluating each room, strive for a light and bright space.
Clean and replace light bulbs, particularly if any are flickering or burned out. Some recommend replacing ALL of your light bulbs to ensure they do not go out at an inopportune time, such as during a showing or inspection. And, don’t forget to wash curtains and wipe down blinds, so they will not be reflecting any dust.
6. Tackle any odors.
Pet odors, musty storage areas and even the smell of last night’s dinner can certainly leave an impression on potential buyers – and obviously, not a good one. If you have noticed any mild or just-plain foul odors in your home, buying plug-ins is not the answer. This is no fast cash home transaction!
Do whatever it takes to have odors removed from your home, whether it means following your deep clean with an air filter in each room, or hiring a professional odor removal service. A box of baking soda can help neutralize smells in your refrigerator and pantry, but should not be a substitute for cleaning them out.
7. Organize storage areas.
Visitors to your home can be snoopy, though we think it is somewhat understandable. Prospective buyers need to have an idea of what to expect for storage space, even if that means taking a peek inside your pantry, hall and bedroom closets. Get ahead of the game by tidying up these spaces.
Agent Becky Meyer suggests “putting everything in baskets and bins in closets or open shelving used for storage. If YOU look organized, the buyers will think they will be, too!” Similarly, a well-organized home gives off the impression of a home that is well-cared for. These nonverbal cues can be invaluable tools to helping you sell your house faster.
8. Remember your non-living spaces, too.
You’ll notice we do not recommend stashing all of the furniture and stuff you have de-cluttered in your basement or garage, and there is an important reason why. Buyers care about those areas, too!
Your unfinished basement may not be what sells the place, but buyers will not be able to appreciate the rough-ins or the new furnace if they cannot see it. Similarly, the foundation will need to be inspected for cracks and pest damage once you receive an offer – so you might as well get your belongings out of the way now.
9. Take care of the lawn and landscaping on a warm day.
Seize the opportunity of a mild winter day to get ahead on lawn work, as this plays a significant role in your home’s first impression. As with the interior, an unkempt lawn gives off the vibe of an unkempt house.
In addition to mowing the yard and raking leaves, agent George Black recommends that you consider:
- Pulling up weeds;
- Removing stray branches that have fallen;
- Refilling mulch, soil and/or stones;
- Pruning bushes; and
- Replacing dead plants or flowers.
Your curb appeal begins with your yard, so give it the time and attention it deserves whenever you get the chance.
10. Clean the exterior of your home.
While it isn’t impossible to complete this task when it is cold outside, it is much easier to save it for a warm day. Why make a chore any less fun?
Start by clearing your gutters and downspouts of any leaves, and cleaning out your dryer vent. Assuming you have already cleaned the inside of your windows, now is a great time to clean them from the outside. It would also be extremely worthwhile to power wash your siding so that your house sparkles from all angles.
11. Make any necessary repairs.
It may be easy for you to overlook the toilet handle that needs jiggling, or the faucet that drips quietly throughout the day. However, any prospective or first-time home buyer will not be looking to take on these repairs as soon as they move in. Do everyone a favor by completing these projects now.
Another note about repairs – even small fixes, like a door lock that does not latch, will be noted during a home inspection. Taking care of them now helps ensure your future buyers do not get scared off by an inspector’s laundry list of problems.
12. Create a welcoming front entrance.
Get buyers in the door with a welcoming front entrance. You can never overlook the importance of a tasteful wreath on the front door and a colorful welcome mat to help set the stage for a positive experience in your home.
Similarly, make sure the house numbers are prominent and in good condition, so that realtors and potential buyers are able to easily find your home for appointments. Give the mailbox post a fresh coat of paint, if it is chipped, and remove any gaudy seasonal decorations. (Hint: We’re definitely talking about the blow-up St. Paddy’s Day leprechaun).
Selling Your Home with Meyer Real Estate
From winter selling to spring selling, Meyer Real Estate is here to help you on the journey to your new home. We have been serving the greater St. Charles area for decades, and are proud to be celebrating our 60th anniversary in the community. When you are working with us, you can be sure that no one knows this area better than the team of agents at Meyer Real Estate.