How To Prepare Your House For Sale To Downsize

HOME DOWNSIZING BLUEPRINT - Ep. 2 Preparing Your House For Sale

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How to Prepare Your House For Sale To Downsize

Preparing Your House For Sale

The first thing that should be done is to take a good look at your house, not as the homeowner that you are, but as a potential buyer that you want to attract to buy your house. If you have lived in your house for more than five to 10 years and haven’t performed any improvements, chances are others may see some dated aspects to your house.

Over the years, I have heard hundreds of homeowners say one of the following: “But if I update it, the new buyer will probably just change it anyway,” or, “I most likely won’t update it the way someone else would want,” or, “The buyer is not buying a new house. This house is just fine the way it is,” or, “If I put more money into the house, I probably won’t get it back out of the house when I sell it,” or, “If I update the house, I’d just as well stay.”

Home Buyers Typically Have No Imagination

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that most buyers have no imagination. If they walk into a house and don’t like it the way it is, they will simply go on to the next house. Even though some of us know that some paint and floor coverings can make a big difference, most buyers just don’t have the vision to see what can be done or just don’t want to worry about it.

Most buyers want to buy a house, move in, unpack, and live in the house, period. One of the other things that a lot of buyers do, is to look at new homes. They see the new paint, new floor coverings, new kitchens, et cetera, and then have the expectation that any house they look at or want to buy needs to be new and updated. You may not agree with this, but this is the reality of attracting a buyer for your house if you put it on the market.

Basic Items To Prepare Your House for Sale

First, let’s go over some basic easy items that can be done.

One, declutter the house. I’m sure if you’re considering downsizing and selling your house, you have heard this numerous times.

If you have items such as furniture that are not needed, consider removing them from the living areas of the house. Getting rid of the stuff that clutters the house will make the house seem larger.

Depersonalize the house. You have also most likely heard that too many pictures or other items that you have on display in your house may give the appearance to potential buyers that you really don’t want to sell. Potential buyers may also not be able to picture themselves as living in the house.

There is a fine line between making the house too neutral for potential buyers, and creating an environment that you don’t feel comfortable living in. It’s not enjoyable to live in your house after years of living there, but feeling it’s not your house any longer.

Updating Your House

Now let’s discuss some basic updating that can be done.

Painting. Probably the one item that can be done to make the biggest impact is interior and possibly exterior painting. As mentioned earlier, a lot of individuals that are considering selling worry about painting as they would want, but not as a potential buyer may want.

Floor coverings. One common thing I see is outdated carpeting or other flooring. A seller will state that the carpet is just fine or has years worth of life left. However, if the carpet is more than five to seven years old, even in good condition, most buyers are going to consider it outdated. In the current market, hardwood floors are popular, but they need to be in excellent condition.

Then there are the major updating items like the kitchen. If you are expecting to ask top of the market price or a price comparable to other houses that have sold that look new, you’d better have an updated kitchen. Some sellers will say, “but the buyer isn’t buying a new house.” That may be correct, but if the other houses that potential buyers are looking at have nice, updated kitchens, then your house needs to have an updated kitchen or be priced to reflect that it doesn’t.

Bathrooms. The same information applies as with kitchens. Potential buyers look at both of these items and will either expect discounts off the price of a house, or will expect to spend a lot of money to update these items to a like-new condition.

The roof. Not only will potential buyers look at a worn roof as needing to write a big check that they may not have the money for, but most lenders will not provide a loan on a house that needs a new roof now, or that will need a new roof in the next several years.

The HVAC system. If heating and air conditioning systems are more than seven to 10 years old, most buyers will look at these as being outdated, or at the very least, not nearly as efficient as they would want. Potential buyers will either expect a reduction in the price of the house or expect to have to write a big check for updating these systems within several years of buying the house.

Windows. As with some of the other potentially large expense items, even if the windows are in relatively good condition, if they are more than seven to 10 years old, or especially up to 20 years old, potential buyers may consider them dated and not as energy efficient as new windows.

Foundations and basements. As with a roof, this can be an expensive repair for potential buyers if they have any issues. Also as with a roof, most lenders will not provide a loan on houses with foundation or basement problems.

Then there are cosmetic items like lighting, outlets, et cetera. These perceived minor items may not seem important to update, but potential buyers will look at these items also and will or will not get the impression that the house is dated. Most of these items are not that expensive, but the costs do add up when updating these items throughout the entire house.

Last but not least, and actually what should be first, are outdoor and exterior items. We previously mentioned exterior paint or siding and the roof, but also pay attention to the yard and landscaping. Are there patches of bare spots in the lawn, weeds in the flower beds, overgrown foliage? Also pay attention to the driveway, patio, or deck if applicable.

If concrete surfaces like driveways and walkways are cracked and uneven, this may prevent a lender from providing buyers a loan on the house. As a general rule, if you expect to price your house at or close to the top of the market for the house, the house needs to be NICE.

To Get A Nice House Price, It Needs To Be NICE

When discussing the above information with potential sellers, one of the usual responses is, “Well, if I do all of these things, I just will stay in the house.” That would be one option, but I’m assuming if you want to sell, that is still your preference.

One other statement I often hear is, “I think I can just put some new paint carpet in the house and it’ll look just like new.” To most potential buyers, this will not be accurate, or a seller will ask, “What are the items that I really need to do, because I don’t want or can’t afford to do everything.”

When considering what updates to do or not do, I usually tell a seller to either do everything or do nothing. If potential buyers walk into a house with only some updates done, they will immediately see the items that have not been updated.

I learned years ago that even if a house has new paint, new floor coverings, a new kitchen, new bathrooms, but does not have the updated lighting or other small items, those items are the first thing the potential buyers see when they walk in a house.

So if a house is priced to reflect a nice, updated house, it’d better be nice, otherwise the price of the house needs to reflect its current condition to give potential buyers a reason to be interested in it. If a house that needs updating is priced as if it were completely updated, most buyers are just going to move on and look at the next house on their list.

How Will A Potential Buyer See Your House?

Take a step back and place yourself into the mind and shoes of someone coming to take a look at your house. Will they like what they see or be turned off? People are emotional and make decisions accordingly. As the saying goes, you have just one chance to make a good first impression. What will that impression be?

You may want to have your home professionally staged so that it is placed in the best possible position for sale. Here, a staging expert is brought in to basically model the house so that it is displayed in the strongest possible light. The right real estate professional may be able to provide this information to you as well.

I hope this has provided you with some good information about preparing your house for sale. For additional information, just fill out the form below, and we would be happy to assist you any way that we can.

And, if you’d like to explore selling your house, completely as is, on YOUR date of choice, without all of the potential hassles that come with listing your house and selling in a traditional manner, just fill out the form below, and see how Home Downsizing Solutions can help you sell your house and downsize stress and hassle free!


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