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Home Selling

Checklists for Preparing Your Property

The for sale sign is about to go up and you’re wondering where you should even begin to get your house ready. Hopefully, at this stage, you’ve done a little bit of research so you know what you’re in for. If you haven’t, don't worry, we're here to help. We’ve put together 6 comprehensive checklists that will help get your property in tip-top shape for the market. Follow our checklists and you’ll be ready for everything from staging to photos to showings! In this guide, you’ll get the following checklists:

  • Where to Start? The 7 Basics to Getting Your Property Ready
  • To Stage or Not to Stage? Your Guide to Knowing if Staging is Right for Your Home
  • Your Exclusive Make-Ready Questionnaire
  • Make-Ready 101: 12 Tips to Get Your Over the Make-Ready Finish Line
  • A Checklist to Prepare for Photography Day and Showings
  • Your “Today’s the Day!” Checklist

Ready to get your home prepped? Read on to get started on each checklist!

Where to Start? The 7 Basics to Getting Your Property Ready

Whether you’re listing your home for sale in a few months or in a few weeks, starting with the basic property preparation will point you towards success (aka getting your home sold quickly for top dollar). If you’re up for the challenge, we’re here to guide you. Here are 7 steps to get you started:

  1. Cleaning! It’s time to get down and dirty with those dust bunnies you’ve let pile up–they sure will stick out like a sore thumb if you let them linger during showings. Start in messier rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, then work into living areas and bedrooms. Scrub the grout and the baseboards, caulk any areas that need it, and remember the basics: mopping and vacuuming. Make sure the place is spotless top to bottom!
  2. Time for some depersonalization! Your photographs and keepsakes need to be put away, or better yet, packed away. It’s time to prepare your space for someone else to imagine living in. Neutral is always better, so remove the family pictures, any religious or political items, and add some neutral art to the walls.
  3. Kick out the clutter! It’s easy for things to pile up when you’ve lived in a space for a long while. Take inventory and start chipping away at the clutter you’ve acquired. From notes and photos that have overtaken your fridge doors to that room where it’s hard to tell whether the flooring is tile or carpet; it’s time to declutter!
  4. Take some time to visualize! See your home from a potential buyer’s perspective–what sticks out? Can you really see yourself living here? Does anything feel off? Showings need to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable, so visualize what you can do to make your home presentable.
  5. Consider some painting! Again, neutral rules. If you have walls that are exotic colors, it’s time to get them back to neutral. Plus, a fresh coat of paint can really freshen up a space.
  6. Don’t forget your curb appeal! Go outside and take a good look at what your home looks like from the curb. What needs work? Remember, this is where your potential buyers will get their first impression, so tame the weeds and cut the grass! Pro tip: as buyers walk up, they’ll start forming an opinion of your home, which they’ll then try to confirm once they are inside. Is your house going to be THE one? It all starts from the curb. First impressions are everything.
  7. Ask your friends and neighbors! You’ve lived in this home for so long, even if you do remove your imaginary blinders, you might be missing some of your property’s biggest flaws. Invite your friends that will give you good, honest advice and take this into consideration (this will be good training for when you get feedback from your showings!).

To Stage or Not to Stage? Your Guide to Knowing if Staging is Right for Your Home

Often, with as little as a $2,000 investment in staging, you can increase your sales price by over $10,000. Let’s walk through when it’s right to stage and when it probably won’t work. First, take a step back and try to visualize all of these points as someone who is viewing your home for the very first time. How will they feel? What vibe does each room and each piece of furniture give off? Does the space feel like a place that you could make your own? To determine if you’ll need to stage or not, it’s important to put on your buyer hat and visualize from their point of view as best as possible. Let’s dive into some staging scenarios…

Vacant Property

If you’ve moved out of the home you’re selling, it’s likely that you’ve left no furniture behind. Vacant properties can sell quickly based on a number of conditions (neighborhood, market condition, floor plan, etc.) but if none of those are in your favor, you might want to consider staging. It can be tough for potential buyers to visualize anything when there’s nothing. When there’s no furniture or art, there’s no welcoming feeling, and that can ultimately hurt your chances of getting an offer. Take into consideration everything from the market to the condition your home is in. Remember that a warm and welcoming first impression can make all the difference!

Furniture Assessment

In the same sense of a property being vacant, having “some” furniture, but not “the right” or “enough” furniture can also be detrimental. Let’s break this down. If you’re in the process of moving out, and you have some furniture throughout the property, but it’s scarce and not put together, you could leave the home feeling awkward and uninviting. It will be tough to visualize anything in a scattered space. On the flip side, all your furniture could be in the home, but that super comfy couch takes up too much of the living area. This isn’t a great situation either because it could make the room feel cluttered and smaller than it actually is. Your furniture will need to be in balance–not too much but not too little will result in just the right touch. 

Land Value vs. Structural Value

Perhaps the property you’re selling is in an area that’s known to have homes sold and then torn down for new builds or heavily renovated homes. You’ll want to talk to your agent about how your property will be marketed and who the target buyer is before putting in the effort to have it staged. However, know that there’s a fine line between a property that’s a total tear down and one that’s a fixer-upper. A first-time homeowner may be inspired by a project, and sometimes some funky and eclectic furniture from the neighborhood thrift store or garage sale can help sell the home and the lifestyle. Know what’s best by knowing the market and neighborhood you’re in and working with an agent that does too.

Creating a Neutral Feel

Have an eclectic furniture style? Maybe you’ve collected furniture pieces over the years from different places, so there aren’t many matching pieces, but they’ve got tons of spunk. Unfortunately, that vibe won’t fly when it comes to selling your home (except for the rare case of the fixer-upper mentioned above). The best way to make a potential buyer fall in love with your property is to make it as neutral and HGTV-esque as possible. From the couches to the art on the wall to the light fixtures, neutrality is what will allow room for imagination without being stifled by loud and eclectic pieces. It is also what home buyers are accustomed to seeing in other homes and on HGTV. Just like that bright pink wall in your daughter’s room will need to be painted a light grey, the same thought process should go into each piece of furniture. Make it easy for your potential buyers to visualize living in this space by keeping it neutral, light, and airy.

Considering Flooring and Wall Condition

Living in a home for more than a few months (maybe even weeks) is going to result in some wear and tear. Be extremely aware of this when you consider staging. Carpets and plants can play a big part in making the little scuffs and marks “disappear” throughout your property. If the home is too empty, these blemishes (no matter how big or small) will stick out like a sore thumb to those who are viewing your home for the first time. You can (literally) throw some of those flaws under the rug through some simple staging involving neutral art, indoor plants, and throw rugs. Take a hefty consideration into staging if you’ve lived in your home for a number of years and inevitably have some of those “lived-in” flaws;” a few staging items can really do you wonders!

Your Exclusive Make-Ready Questionnaire

We’ve compiled all the questions you haven’t thought to ask yourself when getting your home into make-ready condition. Thinking about these questions as you prep your home will make a huge difference in your home ’s first impression on potential buyers. So before you declare your home is ready to be shown, ask yourself these questions:

Are “YOU” completely removed from the home?

You are selling this place, so it’s time to remove yourself from it. Pack away the photos of family and friends. It’s time to put away everything that makes this house your home and save it for your next house. When you’re selling, it’s best to truly make the property about the buyers viewing it. They’ll want to see themselves in the space from the get-go so they can personalize it as their own. Make sure there are no traces of you left behind.

Have you removed your clutter blinders?

It’s easy to forget about that pile of old clothes in the corner when you’ve become used to it. Guess what? When showings start happening, the first thing that people will notice is that giant pile. Even though that mess is going with you when you move, you’re making the potential buyers uncomfortable in a space they want to see as their next home. Take the items that you don’t use and donate them. Take any messes that you’ve been avoiding and toss them in the trash. Take those clothes that are “so last season” and pack them away. Take off your clutter blinders while you’re still living in the space and kick that clutter to the curb!

Is your junk-drawer extension tamed?

Let’s be real: sometimes the junk drawer becomes a junk cabinet which also becomes a junk table. The junk needs to go! One great tip is to make all the junk paperwork electronic by scanning it. Then you can keep the file without the clutter of physical paperwork. Shred it and toss it out if you can! If you’re not selling just yet, start this process now so it’ll be even easier to get the house in make-ready condition. Taming the junk drawer will benefit your showings as much as it will help your sanity.

Is your kitchen the focal point of your home (BONUS: can you see 80% of your countertops?)?

The kitchen area is often times a “favorite” when buyers are viewing a home. Making your kitchen open, bright, and welcoming can help potential buyers fall in love even faster. The kitchen should be a place where folks can gather for a discussion. Buyers should be able to visualize what it might feel like when they’re hosting family and friends, cooking magnificent dinners, or hosting awesome parties. Each room plays a part in what will make potential buyers fall in love, but making your kitchen standout can be a true winner. If you have a toaster oven or a microwave on your counter, put it away in the pantry and store it somewhere out of sight. The spice rack, the blender, and those 10 different spatulas at an arm’s reach should all be put away so that 80% of your countertop space is visible.

Does the furniture fit or fill the space?

Yes, there is a difference! Bulky furniture can be a huge turnoff (remember: clutter = bad). Your potential buyers need room to envision, and if that incredibly comfy couch takes up 90% of your living area, there’s literally and figuratively no room for that. Just because it’s comfy doesn’t mean it’s the best for showings. Furniture should fit each room as neatly as possible. Consider some staging if your furniture is not as neutral as it should be. Keep in mind: your home should feel more like a Homewood Suites hotel room than your home when it’s on the market. This little sacrifice will pay off a lot when you get that check at closing!

Are the toys tamed?

Have kids? Then you certainly have some toys to deal with. Time to wrangle them in and put them where they belong. Toy boxes will be your friend while you’re preparing the space to be in showing condition. Keeping a bulk of the toys in storage will be your BEST friend if you can get the kiddos to pick out their favorites for a few weeks while you’re on the market. Toys can be an extension of clutter so be sure they’re packed away during photos and showings!

Have you cleaned out your closet?

So you say your closet space is huge, huh? Well, if you really want to show it off, it’s time to clean it out; you’ll need to pack it up soon anyway! Getting each closet clean and tidy (or better yet, empty) will be the cherry on top of a sparkling property. Potential buyers will really get to see how much space your home has without needing to peer through your clutter. Even though the closet clutter isn’t outwardly visible, it’s a nice touch if your closet space is a selling point. The piles of clothes in the corner of your master bedroom are much more important, but if you can tidy up that closet, you’ll leave folks even more impressed!

Make-Ready 101: 12 Tips to Get Your Over the Make-Ready Finish Line

Your property is looking great and you’re almost ready for the big photo day and showings. Wondering what else you can do to give your home an extra touch of make-readiness? We have some cool tips for you!

  1. Make sure it’s neutral with just a touch of flare! Open spaces with neutral colors appeal to the widest audience. Make your home appealing to the most potential buyers by keeping it neutral and airy! However, if you have a dash of flash, it can really make a space pop!
  2. Truly unclutter your fridge and countertops. Taking the magnets off the fridge and removing smaller appliances from the countertops can really open up your kitchen.
  3. Keep your property as well-lit as possible! Natural light is the ideal way to make a space feel open, so keep the blinds drawn and let in as much light as possible. To take it a step further, make sure all the light bulbs have a soft white glow (not LED blue).
  4. Make it feel simple and minimal. The main living area should encourage conversation–give the potential buyers a place to discuss how much they love the home! Bonus points: leave snacks and drinks in the kitchen or living room so prospective buyers can stop and discuss your home. This may be their seventh stop of the day, and the chance of taking a second look around while sipping a Topo Chico could make them fall for your home.
  5. Remember symmetry! Keep a balance in each room. Make it feel welcoming as if each piece in the room truly belongs. A well put-together room will give off a sense of comfort.
  6. Beautify the home with flowers, but don’t overdo it. Flowers neatly placed throughout the home can help make the entire space feel complete. Still, avoid any overpowering scents or flowers that a prospective homebuyer may be allergic to. 
  7. Leave no project behind! This should be obvious at this point, but if you’ve started any home projects, it’s time to wrap them up. Don’t leave them unfinished!
  8. Upgrade finishes in rooms such as the kitchen and bathrooms–if your budget and time allow. Simple updates to handles, faucets, and towel racks may seem small but can leave a huge impression.
  9. Make your bathroom feel like a spa. Fold the towels neatly, include some green plants, and add unlit candles. Giving off a sense of relaxation to potential buyers will surely be a positive.
  10. Scrub the grout (again) and clean those baseboards (again)! We can’t stress enough how much of a difference these two minor things can make when your home is being shown.
  11. Add throw rugs to rooms that seem bare. A nice carpet in the center can really pull a room together and make it feel more liveable.
  12. Keep in mind the phrase “if you don’t know, it goes!” There will be items that you’re unsure about keeping in your home. When in doubt, just take it out.

A Checklist to Prepare for Photography Day and Showings

It’s a day or two before your photography appointment and showings are about to start–it’s go time! If you’ve followed all our checklists leading up to this point, you’ll be in good shape! Everyone needs those last minute reminders though, right? We’ve got you taken care of. Here’s your checklist to get prepped for the big days ahead:

 1. Hide your stacks of paper, any bills, and magazines

  • Scan the relevant paperwork and bills
  • Recycle magazines if possible

 2. Get the windows ready

  • Stash window screens in the garage
  • Add one more coat of window cleaner on the windows
  • Power wash the outside

3. Remove all items (except for neutral decor) from ALL countertops in:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Bedrooms
  • Living Area

4. Remember to depersonalize

  • Take all magnets and other items off the refrigerator
  • Remove photos of family and friends

5. Hide trash bins in the following rooms in non-obvious places

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen
  • Bedrooms

6. Get the yard up to snuff by:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Sprucing up the mulch
  • Adding colorful flowers near the front door
  • Stowing away lawn equipment
  • Hiding trash or recycling bins
  • Storing garden hoses and sprinklers

Your “Today’s the Day” Checklist!

It’s the big day! The photographer will be there soon and you’re curious about what last minute things you need to do. We’ve put together some surefire tips to keep you track of what you need to do on the day of photos and showings. Keep this checklist handy!

  • Plan ahead for where you’ll take the family
  • Turn on all lamps and lights
  • Make sure your blinds and shutters are up
  • Turn ceiling fans off
  • Remove pet carriers and pet supplies
  • Remove rugs from the bathroom and kitchen
  • Leave nothing on the hooks in the bathrooms or kitchen (except staged towels)
  • Straighten the towels in the bathroom
  • Put the toilet seats down
  • Use the bathtub as a “hiding place” for soaps and shampoos–hide inside the tub
  • Put dish towels and sponges away in the kitchen
  • Make all the beds
  • Straighten out pillows throughout the house
  • Open any patio umbrellas
  • Take cars out of the driveway

Before you leave the home for photos and showings, ask yourself:

  • Is it as bright and airy as possible?
  • Does every room feel neutral and welcoming?
  • Is there any trace of clutter or misplaced toys?
  • Will a potential buyer be able to envision themselves living here?
  • Am I completely removed from this space?

Photo day and showings can be nerve-wracking, but if you follow these tips and ask yourself these questions, you’ll be on your way to sold in no time!

Have questions? Get in touch with a Jovio Real Estate Specialist.

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