Does one of these moving-van situations apply to you?
Your boss just green-lighted a job transfer to Florida. Your family has given you a countdown clock for your retirement at the end of the year. Yours or your spouse’s parents have promised to watch the kids ALL THE TIME if you move to Sunshine State headquarters.
For all the reasons listed above and myriad others, you’re so ready to pursue buying a new custom Florida home. But there’s the slight problem of your existing home, which you must sell before you can buy a new one from ICI Homes.
We’ll assume you haven’t hit a state lottery and aren’t the recipient of a lifetime trust fund.
That’s most of us, so we know selling the current home must precede buying the new one. The good news is that despite sometimes-varying opinions from industry and media pundits, you can accomplish this in a reasonable time frame even if you live somewhere that’s experiencing real-estate hiccups. The key is turning your current home into a hot-ticket item for its next owner.
Read on for our best tips to revving up the sale potential on your old home.
“But I’ll do that when I’m packing,” you say.
No, you’ll pack all that clutter and take it with you — needlessly, may we say? — because you didn’t take a few days on the front end of the home-selling process to purge junk. We say, “junk” in the kindest manner because all of us have some junk whether or not we want to admit it.
Here’s the more important point: selling a home requires staging it in an inviting, spacious atmosphere. All tabletops, countertops and furnishings should be un-cluttered. Walls should wear only necessary decoration. Potential buyers should be able to open any drawer, cabinet or door and not be aghast at bulging shelves, overflowing hampers and exploding messes.
Don’t say, “but I’ll store it all.”
Instead, make the staging process — which will require time and attention — a thousand times easier by de-cluttering your home well before it hits the market. Take a few weekends and attack the worst offenders first — closets and garages. If you can’t park vehicles in your garage, start there.
A few hints: separate your clutter into three piles — keep, dispose and donate. For example, if you have clothes you haven’t worn in a year and don’t anticipate wearing soon, those go in the dispose or donate piles. Same with shoes, hats, accessories and jewelry. If it doesn’t fit and never will — gone.
Try not to be swayed by sentimentality. If you inherited Grandpa’s 1930 John Deere lawnmower that doesn’t run, thank Grandpa for thinking of you and sell it to an antique dealer. If you want to keep your now-18-year-old son’s christening grown, we get it. But donate all the clothes he wore as a four-year-old. And don’t tell anyone you still have them!
Antique shops, consignment furniture and clothing shops and garage sales all are good options for clutter disposal. Donations are a great option, too (and tax-deductible), especially when you know stuff you don’t want or need can help someone else.
Which leads us to…
Remove the ‘you” from your decor
A potential buyer won’t be charmed by your collection of 200 strawberry-themed teaspoons. Or paperweights. Or the 20 years’ worth of recreational sports trophies in your man cave.
A potential buyer wants to imagine their furnishings and collections in your current home. They can’t do that with your ultra-personalization cluttering walls, surfaces and floors.
Yes, it means un-decorating. Temporarily storing art, collections and other personal possessions until you sell your home. Allowing walls to breathe, and sofas and chairs to wear only one or two well-placed accent pillows. Getting stuff off the floor — dog food and water bowls, paper shredders, kids’ stuffed animals and books and magazines.
This is why you de-clutter before you’re ready to put your current home on the market. You might discover you really don’t need or want 200 strawberry-themed teaspoons or paperweights. Only 50 of your very favorites will do.
An added bonus: not only does de-cluttering lighten our home’s storage load, it frees us psychologically. We don’t feel overwhelmed when we open a drawer or closet and see too much.
You can stage your home yourself, or hire a staging expert to do it. Either way, not having to sift through junk, or hide “you” stuff that shouldn’t be staged, saves an enormous amount of time.
Concentrate on the kitchen
The kitchen carries the day with resale value. Ask any real estate professional you know.
Your current one doesn’t have to be photo-shoot perfect. Dated countertops that are scrupulously clean, in great shape and not stained, don’t have to be replaced. Same goes for that basic, still-sturdy tile floor you’d eventually replace if you weren’t moving.
But if you’re going to drop some coin on an upgrade, the kitchen is the place to do it. Paint or replace cabinet fronts. Upgrade appliances with classic new versions. Spring for new sink faucets and cabinet knobs. Now’s also the time to install simple, new granite countertops and floor tile.
The key words are “simple, classic and basic.” Don’t order black marble countertops or paint your cabinets lavender because those are trending on social media. Stick to neutral colors and styles, and your kitchen upgrade will pay you back in potential buyers’ interest.
Be sparing with other upgrades
Common sense says you’ll have to fix or replace items in other parts of your current home.
If all interior walls need repainting, get it done (in pleasing neutral shades). But don’t go overboard with other upgrades. You’ll spend too much time and effort that won’t be rewarded in your selling price.
After the kitchen, bathrooms are the next-best place to spend sweat equity and money. All fixtures should work beautifully or be replaced. Cleanliness can’t be over-emphasized. Switch out tired bath mats for plush new ones and do the same with shower curtains.
Elsewhere, refinish or buff floors. Get an electrician to fix the ceiling fans that creak (or replace them). Pressure-wash your pool deck. Refresh your flower pots or beds with fresh plantings.
And lighten up: banish heavy, dusty draperies, clean windows, shutters or shades.
Set the right price
This one’s tricky because naturally you want to sell your home for top dollar. However, many variables — local market fluctuations, the location of your neighborhood, its age and your home’s age, to name a few — affect how much or little that potential buyers will offer for your home.
Research is key. You’ll want to know the current resale climate in your area, even if you use a real estate agent to sell your current home and are totally hands-off. Having that knowledge still helps you understand why your home’s listed at $360,000 even though it appraised for $400,000.
Your price should be in the ballpark of other, similar homes for sale near yours. You want to be competitive and you can’t do that with a price that’s too high. Your price also should leave room for negotiation. Don’t go to market expecting to get what you want down to the decimal point. Potential buyers expect to negotiate for what they want, and they’ll expect it from you, too.
Make your best first impression
If you, during a showing of your current home, find yourself apologizing for bicycles strewn across the driveway and unfolded laundry strewn across a bed, you’ve already at a disadvantage.
Need we say that odors are a complete no-no? That’s why pets bunk elsewhere when you show your current home, and their litter boxes and beds are cleaned. That burned tomato-sauce smell in the kitchen? Failed air freshener in a bathroom? Also taboos.
Most potential buyers should understand that real life happens in a real home they may be interested in buying, but perception always reigns. It’s like messy shelves or racks in a store. If it’s too much trouble to search for something you want to buy, you’ll shop somewhere else.
We know it’s not easy to keep your home in pristine shape while maintaining work and family schedules. If your household contains small children, their attendant state of disarray can be challenging when the real estate agent calls and says, “Can I bring someone by? Is now a good time?”
Just remember you want potential buyers to walk in your current home and be captivated. In a positive way.
Ready to find your custom Florida home? ICI Homes is Florida’s Custom Home Builder. Talk to us here.