How to Sell Your House in 2020 – Part 1

It may seem early in the year to be talking about this, but if selling your home this spring, summer, or fall, is even a remote thought in your mind, it’s best to start getting prepared now, even if it’s just mentally. This process can be really overwhelming if you go at it all at once, so I’ll break it down into more manageable bites for you.

Meet with your Realtor to get a game plan (here’s where I come in).

Bear with me on a really bad sports analogy, okay? Before any team goes out and wins a game, they work with their coach to strategize. Timing and teamwork are everything. You want to win the most points (dollars) for your efforts, and your coach (Realtor) should make it simple and lay it all out for you. Then, when game time comes, you’ll be prepared to compete and win.

The first thing I’ll do is walk you through is all of the numbers. I’ll show you all of the market statistics that affect your property’s value, and I’ll also show you how I get my valuation for your property. This is our starting point, and this helps us to know what you can expect. We’ll also talk about repair budgets, what you need to fix or update, and what’s not worth your time or money.

I like to walk through a property if at all possible before giving you a final price point, because you may have forgotten to tell me over the phone that your kitchen ceiling is falling in (that would detract value), or that you actually happen to have a custom built wine cellar that adds more value to your house. I’ve seen both of these in listing appointments, and neither was mentioned before our first meeting…. you get the point. Walking the property helps me to give you the most accurate picture of what I can sell your house for. This will also help me in putting together a repair budget and telling you what you should update.

Set your timeline and repair budget.

After you know what your house is worth, you can evaluate your personal finances and see how much you can afford to/what makes sense for your bottom line to update or repair before we list your home. Sometimes, a house has been meticulously maintained and there’s almost nothing for us to do. Please don’t think that your house needs to look like it came out of a design magazine in order to sell for top dollar–I’ll help you determine how much is necessary to get ready to sell.

Touch up paint and do repairs/renovations

As I mentioned, this is something we should work on together. You may have been planning to put in a new bathroom since the day you moved in and never got around to it, but since that may or may not help your house sell quickly or for more money, let me evaluate this for you to make sure it’s worth your time and money.

Oftentimes, a fresh coat of neutral paint does wonders in making a house feel bright and new. However, there are exceptions. Artsy or unusual paint or wallpaper can be divisive for buyers, but it also just might make someone fall in love with your house’s uniqueness. Jonny jokes that we bought our house because I fell in love with the spotted wallpaper in the dining room, which is partially true. My mom and one of my best friends hate it, but I love it, and I was the one buying the house. It could be the same situation for the buyers of your house!

Our house was a for sale by owner, and while I loved the unique wallpaper in the dining room I can tell you one thing: I did NOT fall in love with the paint. A pink living room, purple formal living room, dalmatian dining room, partially painted seafoam green kitchen and a tan laundry room ALL visible from the front door was not my cup of tea. If I had listed the house, I would have advised the sellers to paint everything a pretty warm white or neutral gray. Except the dining room, of course.

Speaking of paint colors–what color to paint? Neutral wall colors vary in popularity. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, yellow-y beige was in every new construction home. Around 2010, we started seeing more and more grays. Now, in 2020, and for a few years, we’ve been seeing a trend towards a bright or warm white.

Neutral wall colors, as with other home finishes, vary by region. On the west coast, and in the southwest, textured walls and warmer whites and beiges are more popular, while in the southeast and midwest, grays and smooth skimmed walls are more standard. Don’t over think this, though. When in doubt, ask your realtor or their stager, or visit a few new construction open houses to see what’s popular.

A few things I like to do: changing out hardware and window coverings and refreshing paint can make a world of difference on a home. If you have pets, sometimes replacing carpet is a good idea, but most of the time a good shampoo the week before we list is sufficient. I almost never suggest a major remodel unless there is a large profit to be had. If you’re curious how renovations might affect your home’s value, just shoot me a message. I’m happy to do a quick evaluation and give you an answer. As for other renovations, I could get really detailed, but since it varies so much by property, let’s just keep this as a broad overview for the time being.

KonMari the heck out of your house.

You’ve been wanting to do it, and selling your house is the perfect excuse to take a big load of non-joy-sparking clothes, weird kitchen gadgets you’ve used just one time, and any boxes of musty Christmas decorations you bought your first year out of college to Goodwill. Let it all go and feel how clean your mind and house feels!

But in all seriousness, this is the time to really think through what you want to sell, donate, throw away, or pack up. You’ll want to pack up as many personal photos and items as you can. This can feel very strange, but you don’t want buyers not to be able to picture themselves in your home because your parents’ wedding photo and your kids’ artwork all over the fridge make it feel like they’re intruding into someone else’s space.

This stage can be emotionally difficult for younger kids, especially if they’ve never moved before. Seeing their toys and drawings disappear from their home can be scary, so involving them in the process is often really helpful. If they’re old enough, have them help you pack up their toys, and talk about how exciting it will be to unpack them at your new house–just like Christmas morning! Let them choose their favorite toys to keep out, and if you have a child who says that every toy is his favorite, sometimes giving him a specific box to fill (and packing up everything that doesn’t fit) can be a way to give him a feeling of control during a transition in which he doesn’t have much control.

One thing I like to tell clients at this stage is to think about everything you actually want to move. If you don’t want to unpack it, don’t pack it.

I’ve got more for you, but for now let’s just stick with these beginning tips. Send me a message if you’d like to know what your home is worth, or if you’re curious about the value specific home renovations will add to your home.

Stay tuned for the part 2 of How to Sell Your House in 2020 coming your way next week!

All photos by Rachel Breakey Photography. All Rights Reserved.

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