It can be tempting to just skip preparations and get on the market fast, especially when homes are selling like hotcakes (like they are here in Idaho). While it is good to take advantage of favorable circumstances, it is still important for agents and buyers to communicate with one another and properly get the home ready for selling. Learning to talk about preparations and future expectations with clients is particularly important for new agents looking to become successful

Here are five steps to prepare any home for the market. 

  1. Research the Market for the Right Price
    How much should be spent on fixing, renovating, or touching up a house? Does this property lack essential amenities that could lower the price, or have unique additions that make it competitive?

    Market research on property values can determine a lot more than the final asking price (though that is also important). It clears up expectations and focuses your future plans—understanding your competition can be the deciding factor between budgeting for a contractor to install a fancy new sink, or just sticking with a new coat of paint.
  2. Make Sure All the Right Paperwork is Ready
    This is one of those things that can seem out of left field to sellers: Why does the paperwork have to do with prepping the house? Surely this is more important for later on? Common misconception! And one that should be cleared up as quickly as possible.

    A clear understanding between the agent and the client about all the documentation necessary for the entire process speeds up everything. Documents reporting gas checks, electrical checks, window installment, and planning permissions can identify problem areas when budgeting as well as check off some important legal matters.
  3. Know When to Repair and When to Renovate
    Using the information gathered from market research and collected records on the home, identify the aforementioned “problem areas” of the house. Check everything that would come up during a home inspection:

    – Ceilings and roofs
    – Foundations
    – Plumbing
    – Heating
    – Wiring
    – Ovens and gas
    – Garage doors

    Identify anything that is damaged, not working, or simply looks… unattractive. Then, see if there are any popular features shared by similar houses on the market that his property lacks: newer kitchen installations, a larger porch, more bedrooms.

    Prioritize budgeting for repairs over added features, especially if the repairs will reduce the risk of further damage or injury (old gas pipes, faulty wiring, rotting floorboards, etc.). Once you know the essential repairs, then look at superficial repairs and marketable renovations to see if anything will entice buyers and potentially add value to the home. 
  1. Declutter and Depersonalize
    A cluttered home simply isn’t as appealing as a well-organized home, and buyers want to view a clean space where they can imagine living. Properties for sale need to be welcoming without feeling too “lived in”.

    Agents shouldn’t be afraid to suggest that clients “purge” some of their extra belongings and clothes before selling a home—it is very likely they will have to abandon some possessions in the move anyway. Remember: it is important that closets and storage spaces be tidy as well, no cramming all that extra stuff just out of view!

    In addition to decluttering, homes need to be depersonalized. This can be difficult with properties where people, naturally, feel at home. Now is the time to pack-up personal belongings that could remind buyers that someone else is living in the space. That means:

    -Family photos
    -Children’s Artwork
    -Religious or political books

    This process is a good opportunity for owners to begin viewing the home as an object for sale: this is the time for home-owners to start feeling like home-sellers and look forward to the future.
  2. Deep Clean
    With the property all organized, make sure to give it a good clean—especially the bathrooms and the kitchen. In addition to dusting surfaces and scrubbing nooks and crannies, make sure to address any foul smells or deep stains.

    Sometimes a proper clean will involve professionals. Agents might want to consider working with contractors that offer wood and carpet cleaning to save clients money.

These five steps are the foundation of a solid selling strategy which agents and homeowners can collaborate to bring to fruition. Clear communication and punctual preparation lead to effective budgeting and quality offers, both agents and sellers should care about that.

The housing market changes rapidly: guidelines, preferences, and values are not fixed in stone, and it is up to responsible agents to educate themselves to navigate those changes. Boise Real Estate School offers “Hot Topics in Real Estate” to keep you up to date with the biggest issues, including home inspections, consumer privacy, and environment hazards—learn more about Hot Topics in Real Estate on the course page