The Spring Market is around the corner! Preparing your home to make top dollar has to start NOW! Selling your home is a big undertaking. By the time we want or need to move, you have piled up years worth of clutter, the new kitchen that excited you when you first moved in is now outdated and let’s face it, maintenance covers the “must-do-now” list and you never got around to the improvements that were necessary over time. Here are a few top tips from an experienced Realtor to help you prepare for selling your price for top dollar.

1. Inspect


I highly recommend doing a pre-sale property inspection. Although the buyer will have the property inspected during the sale process, attracting the buyer is the first hurdle. When doing an inspection BEFORE you list your home for sale, damage and defects will be detected before you try to sell which will: 1) Put your home value in perspective; 2) Provide you a punch list for your handyman to fix before buyers complain about it; and 3) Give you the ability to push back during the negotiations of those pesky inspection requests. The cost of the inspection will almost certainly be recovered by number 3 alone. Providing peace of mind for buyers is a huge value and higher offers are typical.


2. Run to the Hardware Store

Here is what should be on your list: new light bulbs (I recommend bright white or daylight light bulbs) for every room in the house; fresh caulk for kitchen and bathrooms, grout pen for tiles in the kitchen and bathroom; updated kitchen and bathroom hardware and faucets;  new light switch and electric outlet plates for all outlets; leave the rest for the professionals. 


3. Clean, Clean, Clean

Trust me on this, a team of professional cleaners is the way to go. Your time can be better spent de-cluttering and hauling away any unwanted or unsightly clutter. Your regular cleaning regime will not cut it this time. Nooks, crannies, windows, and hard-to-reach areas should all be bright and sparkly.


4. Trust your Realtor on those updates – your equity should be YOURS

We love our homes. The years of memories, the story behind every peace of furniture, the personal touches are all wonderful…to you. Updates are a part of life, and if you have lived with your “perfectly fine” kitchen or bathroom for 10 years, it probably needs an update. Your realtor wants to sell your property for the market value(or more), so trust them when they point out the weaknesses your property has in comparison to the market. Your “fine” kitchen will deduct big bucks from your property if the neighbor offered an updated kitchen when he sold last year. Your realtor most likely has an army of contractors specializing in every field to help you bring your home up to date from a fresh coat of paint to a full kitchen and bathroom renovation. In some cases your realtor can front the costs interest free for renovations, staging and cleaning, check out Compass Concierge to learn more. Trust their judgement and guidance. Your equity should not be sold along with your home, it is yours to keep if you make the extra effort to do so.


5. Curb appeal

Don’t forget the exterior of the home, it’s the first thing a buyer will see when walking up to the front door. Power wash the exterior of the house as well as the driveway, buy a new welcome mat, add some color with potted plants, paint the front door, exchange the door handle, mailbox and house number and keep the garden perfectly manicured. You can also consider staging your porch with a seating area whenever possible. Make sure windows near the door are clean and old or discolored blinds or curtains are removed or replaced.


6. Lights. Camera. Action.

Just like a camera adds ten pounds to us, it adds ten years to properties. Your light fixtures will stand out like a sore thumb on the listing photos. Change them with modern fixtures, ensure all the light bulbs are the same color, the brighter the better usually, remove unnecessary shutters or blinds that block light, all curtains and blinds should be open at all times for showings, add lamps in dark areas…you see where I am going with this. Not only will our property photograph better, it will sell faster when buyers can SEE it.


7. New stuff for you!

Staging is a must. Have you ever wondered why properties for sale look like they are right out of a magazine? That’s due to savvy sellers knowing the value of staging. If your home is vacant, have it staged professionally, if you are still living in it, engage a staging company to assist you with what you have. Replace old furniture if you intend on buying something new for your next home anyway. Get fresh bedding (think Hotel Room), new towels for the bathrooms, new throw pillows, and anything else that can be replaced now to enjoy in your new home later. Go on, treat yourself. You will deserve it after all this work to prepare for the sale of your home. Pro Tip: Staging cost can be covered by the Compass Concierge program. Sell for more with no upfront cost!


8. Start Packing

Yes, start packing now. Pack up anything your realtor or staging company suggests. Pack all the personal trinkets. Pack most or all of your art, let your agent guide you on this. Pack all the family photos. Drop off unwanted items at donation centers, recycle your collections of news papers and magazines, toss out those projects you never got around to…the broken things you haven’t needed for years. You will need storage for all that you pack. Cluttering up a room or the garage will not only impede on an excellent showing experience for the buyer, but will remind them that there is not enough space in the home for everything you own. Pro Tip: storage companies like BINSWAP can collect your storage items from your home and deliver them to your next home later. The move will be so much easier!

Do you live in Chicago and plan on moving this year? Get In Touch for an in-home consultation from an experienced Realtor to get your home preparation started in time for the Spring market!