As you guys know by now, Finn and I recently put our condo on the market and we’re actively searching for a new house here in Chicago (this post has the scoop on what we’re looking for!). We knew from the start of the year that we wanted to move, but unfortunately, the market was a little slow during January and February.
Because things were off to a slow start on the buying side, I decided to focus my effort on the selling side. During February and March, I put some time into prepping our house to sell. That way we could get all of the heavy lifting done, and focus our attention on finding a home when the market picked up.
I’m sooooo happy I put in some work during those slower months because we decided to list it quickly a couple of weeks ago (more details on why we went in that direction here) and luckily I was ready!
If you’re buying/selling right now, I thought this insight might be helpful as you prep your home to sell.
Tips to Prep Your Home to Sell
Purge & Declutter
Luckily, Finn and I are already pretty good at maintaining a somewhat minimalist lifestyle. I did spend a good chunk of January acting like Marie Kondo and we ended up getting rid of excess kitchen supplies and clothing. Plus, my drawers are looking good thanks to her folding technique.
From the many open houses I’ve been to, it’s evident that not everyone declutters when selling. But it realllllly makes a big difference. People will definitely be opening cabinets and closets, and the last thing you want is for your stuff to come tumbling down on them. Take a weekend and get rid of extra stuff to make your home (and yourself!) feel lighter! Plus, it’s one less thing to pack when it’s time to move!
Fix Up Any Neglected Areas
We’ve been really good about maintaining our home over the last 3.5 years. If something breaks, we try to fix it immediately. We did have a few paint touch-ups that needed attention, so we got those spruced up this past month. It had been on our to-do list forever and I’m so happy we got it done ahead of time, instead of waiting until it was time to list.
If you have leaky faucets, sticky doors, or other neglected areas, now is the time to give them some TLC!
Remove Personal Items
This one took the most effort for me because I do have a lot of personal items scattered throughout our home. Wedding photos, pictures of loved ones, photo booth strips…they’re all around our house! But I took an afternoon and went room-by-room removing items and placing them in a plastic box for storage.
The picture ledges over my desk needed the most attention because they’re usually full of photos of my favorite people. I ended up printing some black and white photos from our travel destinations (like our Italy, Iceland, and Quebec trips!) to fill the frames. I simply put the personal photo behind the generic one, that way it will be easy to change back when we move! The pictures cost me a few bucks and the wall is now “buyer friendly.”
Again, I don’t keep tons of stuff out and about in our home. But I did want to make things even more minimal for the sake of the listing photos and the open house. I went through our built-ins and other styled areas of our home and removed a few items. This helped the items breathe a bit more and ended up making the space look a bit airier and lighter.
Just a few simple changes and every room was more streamlined and ready for buyers!
Get Your Clean On
The magic eraser is my new best friend because IT IS MAGIC! I used this bad boy to get rid of scuffs and scrapes on our baseboards and doors and everything is now looking so much better. I clean our home weekly (following this checklist) but often neglect overlooked areas like that. I scooted around our home for 10 minutes with my damp magic eraser and a clean rag and I went to town.
Other areas I gave some lovin’: dusted light fixtures, cleaned inside of windows, wiped down our fridge, cleaned closet floors, etc. You should definitely give your entire home a good clean before you host open houses, but it’s nice to get some of those other tasks off of your list ahead of time. Here’s my cleaning checklist that I use each week that keeps me on a good schedule.
Gather All the Paperwork
Dang, a lot of paperwork goes into selling your house. If you’re going to do anything on this list to prep your home to sell, this should be it! We had to gather tons of information for our realtor for the listing and it ended up taking a few days to get it all together.
This paperwork included a list of upgrades to our home (along with cost and date), our homeowner’s association budget, our HOA meeting minutes, our building’s bylaws, account numbers for gas and electric, and more! Plus, the write-up for the listing and accurate measurements of each space. Gather all of these crucial documents ahead of time (just chat with your agent to figure out what she needs), to save time and headaches down the line.
Take Listing Photos
Finally, take listing photos ahead of time. A girlfriend of mine knew she wanted to sell sometime this year, so she had photos taken last fall when the outside of their home was still looking lush and pretty. Now when she is ready to list, she’ll have those photos all done (and won’t have to showcase a barren exterior!).
We were planning to get the listing photos done weeks before we were ever going to list, but ended up deciding to list very quickly. Our realtor then got a professional photographer in our place and we had the photos done quickly. It took some time to prep and make sure everything was clean and looking its best, and then another 30 minutes for the actual photos. I was relieved we were able to get it done fast, but definitely consider taking those photos ahead of time so you’re not rushing.
Prepping to Buy
The one big thing we did before officially starting our house hunt was have a discussion with our mortgage lender to get pre-approved for a loan. That took some time to gather all of the paperwork and get it over to her. It was a great task to get done well ahead of time, so we could go into the buying process with a good idea of our budget.
There are definitely other things you can do before an open house or showing (like adding fresh flowers and making sure everything smells great), but these are the tasks you can get done way ahead of time.
Since I’m a selling newbie, I’d love to hear from you! How did you prep your home to sell? Share your tips in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.Casey