Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

By Jeff Williams on Home Improvement, Interior Decorating

Getting Your Home Ready To Sell

Nine years ago I bought my first home and had all of my college buddies move in. It was awesome. We slapped a little paint on the walls and set up a big TV for sports and video games. That was the end of my project list. Then I got married. All my buddies moved out, my wife moved in, and it was awesome. The project list got quite a bit longer but was completely doable. We added insulation, new windows, siding, hardwood stairs, and a bunch of other stuff. I thought the house was finished. Then we started having kids and the project list grew a bit again. Now as a family of 4, we want to move closer to the grandparents. The home that seemed perfect, just the way we liked it, no longer fit our needs.Getting your home ready to sell-8

We brought in a trusted realtor to help us objectively evaluate our property so that we could get the most value out of it. We knew that having a professional with years of experience would have the best pulse on the current market and what people were buying in our area. She could tell us if our remodeling choices would help or hurt us.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation, your home no longer works for the needs of your family. If so, read on for some tips on getting your home ready to sell.

Finish the outstanding projects

Getting your home ready to sell-6When buying a home, the number of people that want to finish someone else’s projects is few. There may be some of us that read this site that like buying fixer-uppers but a majority of home buyers do not. A majority of buyers want a turn-key home; One that can be lived in and enjoyed right away.

To get my home to turn-key, I have two major projects that need finishing. I need to finish the fireplace and built-in cabinets and build a new deck. The fireplace was something I picked up at auction about 8 years ago and sat new, in box until about last year. I still have to finish the cabinets and lay up the stone but it will be done in a few short weeks and the pay off should be well worth it. Many of the other comparable properties in the area do not have anything close to this.

The deck is also a project that I’ve been thinking about rebuilding for the better part of a decade but other projects have always taken a priority. In the last year though, a previous owner’s fix for a rotted post has started to fail. The deck seems mostly sound currently but there is no way it is safe enough to sell. Unsafe items in a home can be a deal-breaker for buyers so be sure to address them. Besides, a new deck adds a lot of value especially when there is a nice view.

Paint over the bold colors

I heard a statistic from a realtor friend recently that 95% of perspective home buyers start their search for a home online long before they line up properties to visit. To tell you the truth I think it is probably closer to 97-98%. People head out to their realtor’s (or other agent’s site) and look up properties matching their criteria in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and then scroll through the pictures of the home. The ones that don’t show well get passed over rather quickly. Page through Pinterest or Houzz quickly. I’m betting you notice a trend. White or antique enameled trim and gray or tan walls are the most popular. They main be somewhat plain and boring but they go with pretty much everything and that appeals to the masses.

We had wine colored walls down in our lower level family room. It was really warm and cozy but it is on the dim side and doesn’t photograph well. If we were staying at our home for the long haul we would probably leave it. Instead we are switching to Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray (SW 7016). I suggest grabbing a number of swatches (or a fan deck) and taping them to your walls. See what they look like with your lighting conditions.

One thing to note, buyers are more forgiving of bold colors when it comes to children’s rooms. Your listing agent may choose not to take a picture of that one to post online though.Getting your home ready to sell-1

Knock out the punchlist

The final thing to do when getting your home ready to sell is to make a punch list. A punch list is what we contractors call a list of damaged or minor repair items that need fixing before a building can be turned over to the owner (and everyone can get paid). Use this same idea in your own home. Start in one room of the house and document all of the paint touch ups, trim repairs, or other not quite finished items in that room. Then move on to the next room and do the same thing. Keep doing this until you’ve hit every room in the house. Then you go back through the list and start finishing up those items. Fix those squeaky hinges and loose door knobs. Touch up the walls where your buddies tried to move the couch down stairs. Redo the sealant around the tub. You get the idea.Getting your home ready to sell-4

Final thoughts

Finishing the outstanding projects, painting over bold colors, and knocking out the punchlist should help you get your home sold closer to the asking price and in a timelier manner but we want to hear from you. What did you do when getting your home ready to sell? Did you get the price you wanted? Did it sell fast? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Jeff Williams

Contributing Editor Jeff Williams is a carpenter for a commercial General Contractor specializing in concrete, steel, and wood buildings. Jeff comes from a long line of contractors. His parents started a commercial General Contracting firm many years ago and it has afforded him life-long, hands-on learning opportunities from rough and fine carpentry all the way to structural steel and concrete. Jeff has a Construction Management degree and loves the thrill of coordinating and successfully managing large jobs from start to finish. Inspired by the difficulties sometimes encountered to complete punch lists his motto is, "Work hard until the job is done."

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  1. Hello Jeff, i too have been in mess last year with a thought of selling my home. Initially i wondered whether i could get the same price as i wanted but finally with my friends suggesting me for a slight and affordable makeover of my home, i was able to reach nearby sale amount of my home. I did repair all the door knobs to work perfect, add furniture to kitchen as demanded here, did repaint my home and various other little touch ups to sell my property….Truly it was difficult task but however with help of my friends i was able to get it done effectively and affordably too…

  2. Thom Schwetye says:

    Great article. Thanks.
    Could not agree more with the points. When we sold a house quite a few years back, our trusted and experienced realtor talked to us like an old aunt! Clean it up. Take it out. De-personalize all the art and pictures. And finish up all the ‘projects’.
    Her last statement has stuck with me for many years. ‘It’s not your house anymore. It’s a real estate deal.’ Harsh, but true.

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