A new custom Florida home is on your radar, but, oops — you must first lose the old one. Hold that excitement. Most folks aren’t liquid enough to place the current abode on the market, then head south to buy the new home at the same time. You can’t either? No worries. We’re here with helpful tips for selling your current home faster that you might think.
Don’t set an unreasonable price
You likely had a parent warn, “moderation in all things,” at some point when you were a kid, right? The same principal applies here. You may think your current home is worth $300,000 — it might have appraised that way — but if other homes for sale in your immediate market are moving at approximately $230,000, you’ll be frustrated. And won’t sell your home.
There’s another buyer-beware factor to over-pricing your current home. The longer it stays on the market, the more psychological red flags arise in prospective buyers’ and real estate agents’ minds. “What’s wrong with it?” they wonder. “Must be a valid reason it hasn’t sold.”
Uh huh. You’re too in love with your home.
Don’t go bonkers on upgrades
Unless we’re flipping properties for investment purposes, most of us live with problematic spaces until we’re ready to tackle a major renovation project. That same caution is helpful as you consider the necessary work and clean-up prior to listing your current home.
It’s tempting to launch an all-out assault on your targets, but also a waste to invest too much time and money on upgrades that may not help sell your home.
Need an example? A buyer may not like the new floral wallpaper you select for your master bath. It’s a better use of resources to strip the old wallpaper and paint those offending bathroom walls a soothing neutral shade. You have a better chance of a prospective buyer saying, “looks fine to me.” Plus, you still wield the selling advantage of a fresher, upgraded space.
But do fix things that’ll help you sell
Are your shower heads clogged with mineral deposits? Tired from longtime use? How about outdated linoleum in the kitchen? Time for a change! Start by making a list of potential projects, then prioritizing them.
If it helps, think like a prospective buyer — which you will be once you sell your current home. A helpful exercise is to walk through your home as if for the first time and take notes about what catches your attention — ugh, those scuffed hall closet doors. The powder-room toilet with the cracked seat. Stained kitchen counters. A dysfunctional ceiling fan. Walls that need repainting. These are easier and smarter fixes that can pay off big.
Speaking of the kitchen…
Definitely upgrade the kitchen!
It’s the one area of your home that needs to shine. Kitchens are major selling points because they perform vital functions every day. Many buyers will overlook dated carpet or disagreeable paint colors if the kitchen is clean, pleasant and stocked with classic, working appliances.
So invest your renovation dollars here. Again, don’t sledgehammer it and start from scratch (unless it’s really that bad), but replace faucets. Appliances if it’s time and you’d do that anyway if you weren’t selling your home. Paint or reface cabinets. Tuck small pots of fresh herbs in the windowsill over the sink.
If you need the inspiration, remember that kitchen tweaks give you the biggest chance to recoup your upgrade expenses via the selling price of your home.
Let the sunshine in
Already a Florida resident? Then you know the state’s mild climate, gorgeous sunlight and outdoor-oriented lifestyle all are crucial considerations when buying a home. The reverse is true when you sell a home here.
Good natural light — and well-placed fixtures and lamps — can be a major bonus. Most buyers aren’t seeking a cave. Cozy spots, yes. Especially a reading nook or quiet study or office. But if you’re squinting or using the flashlight app on your phone in your home, it’s time to lighten up.
Wash your windows inside and outside. Banish heavy curtains or drapes that hog sunlight. Or, replace them with lighter-weight curtains or sheers is lighter colors. Wash the drapery you keep — get rid of dust you might’ve forgotten!
Concerned about privacy? Consider attractive fabric valences atop your windows instead of heavy, dust-mongering curtains. The valence hides shades and shutters that pull up during the day, allowing natural light to flood your home, then pull down at night.
If your ceiling fans don’t have lights, buy inexpensive but good-quality light kits at a hardware or home-improvement store and install them (or have it done). Be sure all light fixtures and lamps are stocked with brighter, longer-lasting and more energy-efficient light bulbs.
Groom your home’s exterior
Just as sharp clothes can make the man and woman, a sharp home exterior can make or break a deal with a prospective buyer. Here’s another useful application for that first-time walkthrough exercise above, for interiors: recreate it by walking around outdoors and seeing what you find.
It can be as simple as realizing you should call a landscaping company. A major tidying and trimming executed by professionals — mowed lawn, manicured shrubbery — may be all your outdoor areas require. But do it. Crabgrass creeping through driveway cracks won’t impress buyers. Neither will overgrown flower beds nor bare spots in the lawn. Strong hint: if you have a cracked and/or discolored driveway, it’s probably time to seek replacement estimates.
Structurally, tackle those onerous chores such as cleaning out gutters (hire the kids to do it). Paint trim, shutters and exterior doors. A new brass or stainless steel front doorknob and new doormats are smart choices.
Have a fence that’s sagging, rusting or rotting? Replacing it with something simple and classic is another good use of your upgrade budget.
Declutter, declutter, declutter!
Interior designers and home fashionistas aren’t banging this drum for the thrill of it. Overstuffed closets, drawers, cabinets and garages drag us down psychologically and emotionally. Ever try to organize a messy space, then give up because that what’s-the-use sensation overwhelms you?
If you want to sell your home for top dollar, you must declutter it, even if that means hauling your clutter to a self-storage center. Picture a prospective buyer opening that kitchen junk drawer. Being told they can’t open certain closet doors. You’ll hear them mentally crossing your current home off their short list.
But have some fun tackling your clutter. If you’ve already got a mess, separate it into three mini-messes: piles to keep, piles to sell and piles to donate. Clothes and shoes that don’t fit or are outdated? Gone. Your teenagers’ childhood toys (seriously)? Gone. Your college diploma? Keep. Mismatched bath towels from your first marriage? GONE.
A garage sale is a proven tactic for shedding a lot of junk all at once, plus squeezing a few handy dollars from it. Clothing and furniture consignment shops are another good option. For stuff you can’t (or don’t want) to sell, find local nonprofits, charities and shelters that can use your clutter, then feel good knowing your unnecessary stuff will help someone else. Another benefit: your donations are tax-deductible.
Think how nice it’ll feel to see neat rows of items on formally jam-packed shelves or in drawers. It’s a corollary to…
Take the you out of your home
You’ve heard the phrase “staging your home.” You have to. A prospective buyer doesn’t want to see your collection of 100 still life paintings hung all over the house. That buyer wants to be able to picture how his or her collection of paintings would look on your spacious walls.
This means temporarily packing up tons of family photos, knickknacks, piles of books and small appliance strewn over the kitchen counters. Taking pets to the sitter or kennel while you show your home or host an open house (remember that strangers may not appreciate their cuteness, litter box or hyperactive barking). Or, their smells.
You want serene, clean tabletops, counter-tops, walls and floors. Think neutral, not personal. Save the individualization for the new home you’re about to buy. It’s why…
You MUST make a great first impression
Mom was right! You want a prospective buyer to walk in your current home and be captivated enough to return and make an offer. Like many life situations, a great first impression is all you get in the home-selling (and buying) process. A buyer may quibble or complain about a few things once under contract, but getting them to that point is your focus.
It’s a lot of work to sell your home for a good price, but there are tricks to doing it better and faster. Good luck!
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