Once your home is listed for sale, homeowners typically want to begin getting their homes ready for appraisal or review. It is important to have a qualified real estate appraiser visit the home before listing it, so you know what items are being improved and can help your home sell faster and for more money. Here are some things you should consider doing to get your house ready for sale:
Cleaning Your Home
The first step in preparing your house is cleaning everything from top to bottom. This means moving heavy furniture and taking pictures off the wall so every nook and cranny can be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant products. Though this may seem obvious, many sellers fail to realize the importance of a deep home cleaning service before an appraiser comes out.
Many buyers and their agents will open cupboards, drawers, and closets so they can inspect what the home looks like. Deep cleaning also includes washing windows and window coverings inside and out and dusting light fixtures, ceiling fans, shelves, and the spaces between furniture pieces. If there is a carpet, clean it thoroughly, including under heavy furniture that does not usually move much. You will want to shampoo rugs or steam-clean carpets if you have pets or smoke in your home because both of these things can leave odors behind.
Post-It Note Your Home
Leave sticky notes for yourself throughout your house, so you remember everything that needs to be done before an appraiser comes out to look at your home. You will likely want to arrange for a plumber, electrician, or a roofing services company to come out since these professionals should be familiar with your home’s general condition.
If you are replacing appliances, such as a stove, refrigerator, or oven, have those installed before an appraiser comes out. This way, the appraiser does not have to look at ugly appliances in a house that is otherwise move-in ready. Remodeling even minor things like painting walls and putting up new light fixtures can impact the value of your home.
If you have been thinking about changing those outdated colors on your walls, now is the time to do it. Painting not only increases curb appeal but can also improve how rooms feel overall. Many homeowners choose to sell their homes when preparing for a new baby or another life change.
Painting is one of the most cost-effective ways to prepare your home for sale because you can do it yourself (or hire painters) with minimal time and expense. Other remodeling projects that can impact value include adding decorative molding, new hardwood floors, putting in built-in bookshelves, or refurbishing bathrooms and kitchens.
Take care of chores like mowing the lawn/ landscape, tree removal, trimming back trees and bushes, checking gutters, and inspecting chimneys as well as the property’s outdoor enclosure if any before having an appraiser come out. These small things might seem unimportant, but they can have a big effect on how much buyers are willing to pay for your home. You will also want to repair or replace appliances and fixtures that stop working during the time between when you list your home and when an appraiser comes out to look at it.
If you are replacing an appliance, save receipts from deducting the cost of those items from your taxes. Although most appraisers will look at new additions as a positive thing, it is important to keep your choices neutral since some things might be considered too trendy or potentially outdated when someone is ready to purchase the home.
When an appraiser comes out to look at your home, they will give you a walk-through and ask questions about what you have done recently. Many homes will request additional information from the appraiser if they notice something that does not quite add up with the improvements and updates in the house.
For example, if you make one small change like putting new light fixtures in all of the bedrooms, but do not change anything else, this could potentially lower your asking price because it makes the home seem like everyone is moving out (especially if there are other similar upgrades throughout the rest of the house).
Another important part of preparing your home for sale is rid of pests. This means calling an exterminator if you discover you have a pest problem, whether cockroaches or mice. You will also want to make sure the yard is free of garbage that might attract animals (and pests like snakes and gophers). Pest control is another task that is easy to slip upon when you are busy with other things, so be sure to put it high on your priority list.
If your home is large enough, split off sections so an appraiser can look at different areas individually. This will help them avoid scratching up new floors or moving things around too much. Tagging off rooms is most common when there are complicated renovations underway in specific parts of the house. For example, let the appraiser know that they can only see items in the living room since you are currently renovating the kitchen and do not want anyone walking through on their way to check the appliances.
The master bedroom, unless you are using it for a home office or home gym, children or pet bedrooms. This will make the rooms feel smaller to buyers and give the impression that too many people are in the home (including children). At worse, buyers might assume these rooms belong to neglectful parents if they are not kept up well.
For example, toys on the floor could be interpreted as evidence that your kids do not respect their living space, and dirty clothes in a bedroom may indicate that someone doesn’t care about cleanliness around the house. If you want to avoid this type of misinterpretation when selling your home, close off access to these rooms by using items like folding screens.
Also, avoid using the kitchen as a storage room for anything you do not want buyers to see. If you have items that are still packed up, just put them in your garage or attic until after they have looked around the house. You can even dress up these rooms with inexpensive throw rugs and new light fixtures, so they have an updated feel when buyers come through. Other things you will need to remove include personal clothing items, photos of friends and family members who may not be relocating with you, and any large furniture that takes up too much space in a room (so it feels smaller than it is).
An appraiser will also want to look at the attic and crawlspace if your home has them. If these areas are not accessible or you do not have access to them, be sure to note this and let the appraiser know. Letting the appraiser look at these spaces is less common than tagging off rooms, but it is important because of what they can tell us about previous renovations and updates in the home.
Another thing that helps get your home ready for sale is letting an inspector come out before you list it to know ahead of time what needs to get fixed. Pre-inspection lets you know exactly what issues need attention so that there will not be any surprises during appraisal. This is an especially good idea for anyone who wants to list their home with a real estate agent to get feedback on what they can do to make it more attractive to potential buyers when they go to sell.
Most real estate agents will require a pre-inspection before submitting a home to be listed on the market. This is because they want to make sure their clients are aware of any potential problems, so they do not get caught off guard when things come up during appraisal. If you are selling your home on your own, it is still important to have an inspector look at it to know what needs attention before showing the home or having an appraiser stop by.
Undertake Small Repairs
After someone looks over your home and tells you what small repairs need fixing, take care of those items as soon as possible. You will also want to carry through with larger repairs that your inspector suggests since it is better for buyers if they know ahead of time what needs attention.
Remember that a good real estate agent will recommend reputable contractors they have worked with before who can handle any repairs you need to make or upgrades you want to add: for instance, an ideal residential concrete contractor. Most people will not want to list their home without this type of help since it is a big responsibility, and most buyers will not care about the small details needed for maintenance when they check out a property.
Make sure you have brought in professionals for any work that needs to be done with plumbing or residential electrician and home heating services since they can be dangerous if someone is not experienced enough with their use and installation. Ensure the entire house matches, so things like paint colors need to be consistent throughout the home.
It is also important to note that you should not move out of your home before listing it for sale, even if that means staying there while contractors are working on renovations. This way, buyers will know that anything needing attention was completed before putting the house up for sale, and you will not risk getting your home appraised at a lower value if you do not have it prepped for sale. Keep in mind that you will need to be prepared to answer potential questions about why the renovations are being done while they look around the property.
And if you are selling your home on your own instead of working with a real estate agent, buying cleaning supplies to make the place look nice for potential buyers is recommended. If you have pets, be sure to mention them as well because many people are allergic. It is also important to note that an appraiser will come out before closing if the buyer wants them to so they can ‘neutralize’ the property and not consider any enhancements you make before the sale.
Consider Plain Jane
Try not to get too fancy with renovations since an appraiser will be taking a look at your home after you have sold it. They will want to make sure the property is worth the same amount of money based on what it looked like when you bought it to start paying the home mortgage loan, so avoid making any large changes if they are not expected to pay off at a higher value at the time of sale.
That is pretty much everything you need to know about getting your house ready for appraisal and selling in general. Your real estate agent will go over all of these things with you or tell you how long each step takes so that you can estimate when someone might be able to move in after closing. Still, most people will not have their inspector come out before listing their home because they do not want to risk having problems found during that time.
You can do a lot of renovations or decorating before a home is listed for sale, but keep in mind that you will need to change the way it looks because an appraiser will be looking at your home after closing. If buyers know that you have made changes or upgrades, they might not want to purchase the property because their future inspector might point out flaws in your improvements when they come to check it out.
Keep in mind that it is a good idea to change the look of your home if you are sold in a short amount of time, though many potential buyers do not want to deal with tenants. Just make sure you use the money you get from the sale for making these changes and not for putting it in your checking account because an appraiser will consider what your house is worth based on its original price when you bought it. As a home owner, always consider getting home insurance as it can help you maintain your property in the right state to help you recover its initial state in the case of any structural damage from natural calamities.