When you list a home, it is important to think like a buyer. Anticipate things that will cause concern and address them before you put the house on the market.
You get one first impression; leaving things as-is can lose you the quick sale and cost you money.
Start at the top – Make sure the roof is sound, that there are no missing shingles/slates, and that there are no leaks. If you have had a leak repaired recently, be sure to correct any damage inside that resulted from it. Buyers will not rest easy if they think there may still be a problem, and will walk away or hold money in reserve fearing expensive repairs.
Have fireplaces cleaned and chimneys checked.
Replace or repair broken or missing siding, gutters and downspouts. Clear the gutters so there are no concerns about drainage during bad weather.
Cover your air conditioner unit to protect it from the elements.
If you have an irrigation system, have it checked; have repairs made and sprinkler heads marked for snow removal.
If you keep holiday lights on your house all year round, take them down.
Repair walkways and driveways. Fill cracks. Replace missing or broken pavers. Seal your driveway for a fresh, clean look. Entry steps need to be secure and stable – no loose bricks or wobbly railings.
Rock your curb appeal. Trim trees and hedges. Add fall color with chrysanthemums, asters, coreopsis, and even kale and cabbages that can give your garden a punch. If gardening isn’t your thing, consider potted plants strategically placed here and there to add warmth and welcome.
Ditto your backyard. Make sure brush is cleared. If you have a patio area and/or pool, everything should be appropriately covered, stored and clean. Order and cleanliness send a message. A few potted plants here remind the buyer that when warm days come, this will be their haven.
Inside is just as important as outside. Buyers will be thinking about utility bills and maintenance. Bring that positive first impression you established outside inside. Declutter and depersonalize your space, and make sure the home’s systems are in good working order.
Have an organized space for coats, boots, hats, gloves, backpacks, etc., and use it. You never know when a realtor will call for a showing. Cold weather comes with a lot of gear; buyers will want to know there are enough closets and cubbies for everyone’s everything, including guests like them.
Add a few seasonal accents – a fall centerpiece in the foyer or dining room, autumn dishtowels in the kitchen, a lovely throw over a chair in the den or seasonal welcome mat all communicate that this home and its owners are on top of things.
Days will be shorter and darker. Make sure rooms are well lit even on the darkest days.
Check around windows, doors and even electrical outlets for drafts, and replace seals and missing caulking. If need be, replace old, drafty windows. You can either spend the money now, or watch it come off the bottom line during negotiations.
Have your furnace inspected. If it is at the end of its life expectancy, replace it. Make sure your home is compliant with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and that they are all in working condition and powered up.
Remove space heaters which will cause buyers to question whether the home’s heating system is adequate. Add a programmable thermostat or a learning thermostat like NEST; it’s inexpensive – even DIY- able – and your buyers will appreciate having extra control over their usage in the coming months.
Keep a log of all the work that has been done on the home, with copies of receipts and warrantees for roofing, siding, HVAC, appliances, etc. Let your realtor know this is available for prospective buyers to review. Consider having copies of utility bills available, especially if you have invested in more efficient systems than comparable homes in your area.
Consider including snow blowers, lawnmowers, etc., with the home as part of the sale; if you hire cleaning and snow removal help, include their contact information in the log mentioned above.
Work with your realtor to create a one-page sheet about Fall activities in the area - pumpkin festivals, winery tours, haunted ghost walks, heritage home tours – helping them to envision themselves in the home this time next year.
Homes that appear well maintained, carefree and ready for anything tend to sell fastest and for the best prices. If your home communicates care and ongoing maintenance, buyers will be more at ease about making you an offer and less likely to chip away at your asking price in anticipation of unpleasant surprises.