Is Your Home Really Ready For the Market? 7 Ways to Tell

You might be emotionally ready to part with your home and are already on the prowl for a new place to call home, but is your house truly ready for the market? If your property is not adequately prepped before you list, you could sabotage the process.

Before you list your home on the market, ask yourself the following questions first and make any necessary adjustments.

1. What Does the Home Look Like From Outside?

Aside from photos online, the first glance that buyers will get of your home is from the exterior. When buyers pull up in front of your home, will they be “wowed” or will they want to walk away? It’s common for buyers to be so turned off by some properties simply based on the curb appeal that they refuse to go any further with the showing.

Take a good, hard look at the exterior of your home. Does the lawn need mowing? Are the trees and shrubs growing out of control? Are there dead leaves piled up on your doorstep? Is the front door paint peeling? All of these factors – and more – go into curb appeal, which is a crucial component to selling a home in a reasonable amount of time. Be sure to tackle all necessary tasks to help get your home looking spic and span from the curb so that buyers will be more enticed to walk through the front door.

2. Is There an Accumulation of Clutter?

One of the first suggestions that real estate professionals and home stagers will make to sellers is to de-clutter. You might be accustomed to toys piled up in a corner, magazines stacked on the coffee table, or an excessive collection of knickknacks, but buyers don’t necessarily want to see all of that. What they want and expect is to walk into a home that is neat, tidy, and free of clutter.

Even the closets, drawers, shed, and garage should be de-cluttered, as buyers will almost certainly go through these spaces. Stuffing your closets with all of your belongings to get them out of sight is not going to cut it. What you need to do is get rid of excess items that are adding to the clutter and taking away from buyers’ ability to visualize the space as it could be.

Whether you toss some things in the trash, put them in storage, or start packing them for the move, eliminating certain items can help create a much cleaner-looking space that flows nicely.

3. How Does Your Home Smell?

Some smells might be obvious, but others might not be. Homeowners get used to the smell in their homes, whether or not they may be pleasant or offensive to others. You might want to bring in an unbiased person who doesn’t live in your home to come in and give you an honest opinion and assessment of what the interior of your home really smells like.

It could smell like the dog, cigarette smoke, last night’s dinner, or anything else that might potentially turn buyers off. If there’s a foul odor in the air, this will need to be addressed and dealt with before the first buyer walks through the front door.

4. Are Improvements Needed?

Unless they’re specifically looking for a fixer-upper, buyers typically want to see a move-in ready home before they decide to put in an offer. If they start walking around and notice that a number of upgrades are needed, they might not be so keen to buy.

Take a look around your home – is there anything that could use an update or repair? If so, you might want to consider making the necessary improvements before listing your home. That said, there are certain upgrades that you should focus on and others you might want to leave alone. After all, you don’t want to sink more money into improvements than you’ll get back.

Upgrades that tend to bring in a decent ROI are painting, new or refaced kitchen cabinets, new countertops, new light fixtures, and even new hardwood flooring. You should also keep in mind what the competition is like and if there are any specific upgrades that other properties on the block typically have, such as granite counters in the kitchen or hardwood flooring instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. In this case,  you might want to consider keeping up with the Joneses. Your real estate agent will be able to guide you as to what upgrades should be done and the maximum amount you should spend.

5. Do You Have Renters?

If all or part of your home is being occupied by renters, you’ll want to make sure that they’re on board with helping to keep the place neat, tidy, and well-maintained. Ideally, you’ll have a good relationship with your renters and they’ll respect the fact that you’ve got your home on the market.

Unfortunately, some tenants don’t exactly live the way buyers will want to see the home. Oftentimes they’ll even be unwilling to keep the home up to a certain standard that you’d expect. If that’s the case, you may want to wait until their lease has expired before putting the property up for sale. That way you’ll have total control over how the house looks.

6. Is Your Home is Filled With Family Portraits and Religious Artifacts?

One of the goals of effective home staging is to depersonalize the space to help buyers easily see themselves living in the home and calling it their own. But if you’ve got dozens of family pictures hanging on the walls and on shelves or a bunch of religious articles on display, these might make it harder for buyers to envision the home as theirs.

When prepping your home for the market, be sure to take these down and have them packed and ready for your move.

7. Has Your Home Been Professionally Staged?

It’s one thing to clean, de-clutter, mow the lawn, and remove personal artifacts. But it’s quite another to furnish, arrange, and decorate a home to suit the tastes of buyers in an area. Not every neighborhood is the same, and neither are the buyers looking in them. Professional home stagers study the specific types of buyers in an area and understand what they’re looking for in a home.

When they stage a property, they keep these needs and wants in mind and stage a home appropriately so that buyers find them as attractive as possible. Professionally staged homes typically sell faster and for more money than homes that have not been. And the money that you would spend paying a professional stager will likely be fully recouped – and then some – when it comes time to sell. If you haven’t had your home staged by a pro, consider doing so before you list.

The Bottom Line

A lot goes into getting a home ready for the market, and the pre-listing tasks should not be skipped or rushed through. It’s important to make sure that your home is really ready for the market in order to garner as much attraction as possible and sell within a reasonable amount of time.