One of the more serious tragedies in the real estate market is finding that you need to sell your home quickly…but can’t.  Perhaps you are being transferred, or maybe there is a financial crisis you have to deal with before foreclosure proceedings.  In any event, these situations usually occur out of the blue.

So, before finding yourself in a predicament where your home must sell quickly, you need to plan ahead to prevent any sort of financial crisis from exacerbating.

There are two major reasons why a home isn’t selling.  First, it was priced too high. This can be a real killer even if the price is lowered dramatically.  You have probably already lost potential buyers who might not be back even after a price drop.  Second, and most common, the house isn’t appealing.  It needs repairs, upgrades, or a major clean up.

Don’t waste precious time putting a home on the market that you wouldn’t even buy again.  Get your home ready before even trying to market it.  Before contacting a listing agent to sell your home, save some time by going through this checklist.  Don’t make the mistake of selling your home “as is” at the price you believe it’s worth.  If your home needs work, prospective buyers won’t even make an offer.

  1. Have your own house inspected top to bottom.  A professional home inspector can help prevent problems during escrow by pointing out issues that need to be fixed prior to sale.  Wouldn’t you rather find out about the termites or faulty wiring before you have an offer on the house?
  2. Go outside and look at your house.  Would you be interested in buying it again?  Is the outside appealing enough so that you’d want to go in and look around?  If not, why not?  Too much clutter, overgrown bushes and grass, drab paint, or falling shutters can turn a prospect away in a blink of an eye.  Have a trusted friend give you an honest opinion as well.
  3. Check the rest of your yard for weeds, bare patches, pest infestations and overgrown shrubbery, broken fences.
  4. Remove external clutter.  No one will be impressed by garbage cans, broken toys or moldy pool covers.
  5. Fix cracks in the driveway, patio, walkway, etc.
  6. When was the last time the house was painted – inside and out?  A fresh coat of paint could mean the difference between a quick sale and no sale.
  7. Flooring is critical.  Dirty carpets, torn rugs, cracked tile and old vinyl just scream “neglect”.  If your floors aren’t in perfect condition, either fix or replace. 
  8. Appliances can date a house faster than an old calendar.  Kitchens are usually the reason a house is purchased…or not.  If someone walks into your kitchen and sees green appliances, they won’t be back with an offer.  Invest in some new appliances.  (Quick note: In some states, the owner is expected to take the appliances with them.  In other states, it is assumed that the appliances are part of the sale price and are being left in the home.)
  9. Bathrooms are important as well.  Countertops, vanities, sinks and faucets add style and can easily be swapped out for the old ones you have now.  No one wants an old bathroom with cracked tile and a pink sink.  Check for mold and mildew around the tile and grout, too, especially in showers and tubs.  Either bleach them out or re-grout to correct the problem.  It’s not only ugly, it’s a potential health issue as well.

How much should you spend to get your home ready to sell?  You need to do as much as is necessary to put your home into what is called “turn-key condition” which means buyers won’t have to do any maintenance.  Keep in mind that if your home is not in top condition, it will sit on the market and go stale.  A coat of paint, some yard work, new appliances, or even new carpeting can almost guarantee a quick sale at top price.

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