If history tells us anything, springtime will be the peak season to sell your home this year. The number of homes on the market generally rises in March, with sales peaking in April and May before settling down in midsummer. With snow on the ground and a chill in the air, it may not feel like spring is right around the corner – but if you are planning to list your house for sale this spring, now is the time to get a head start on projects that will help ensure that you’re ready for an early spring listing.
Most people know that putting a house on the market requires a good deal of preparation. The earlier you can get started, the less pressured you’ll feel as listing day approaches. Remember that some “minor” repair projects can end up taking more time than expected, particularly if you are trying your hand at something you haven’t done before.
Your first step is to stand back and take a thorough, objective look at your house. Ask yourself a few questions. What projects have you been meaning to get started? Are any of them pressing? Would completing all of them improve your chances of a sale? Beyond projects you’ve already considered, are there a few more that might make your home more attractive to potential buyers?
Here are just a few improvements you might want to consider. Some of them, you can probably do yourself, but if you don’t consider yourself “handy,” enlist a contractor ASAP to help with the projects that are beyond your ability to do well:
Make small repairs and replacements. Small fixes can lead to big appeal. Do you need to do some caulking in your bathroom or work on cleaning or replacing the grout between tiles? Fix leaky faucets or replace them entirely. Make sure that your toilets aren’t running and that any appliances that will be included in the sale of the house are working properly. If tiles are cracked or chipped, now is the time to replace them. Take a can of WD-40 to squeaky hinges. And don’t forget your floors. Steam-clean your carpets or have them professionally cleaned. Also consider the shape of your hardwood flooring. If they are a little dull, simply buffing them could shine them up.
Spruce up your rooms with coats of fresh paint. Painting takes a while, and if you’re doing it yourself, you want to make sure that you do a thorough, professional job. Painting your trim (including baseboards, which get dingy quickly) can really brighten a room, while touching up the dings and scratches on your walls is a must. If you are painting full walls and rooms, remember that neutral colors work in your favor when selling your home. Potential buyers are better able to see you house as a blank canvas awaiting their sense of style.
Update your fixtures. Make a stop at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Without spending a lot of money, you can easily swap out drawer pulls and door knobs that are in poor shape or just look “dated.” Don’t use anything too splashy, and take care to see that the fixtures in a room or area all match. Make sure your light bulbs not only work well, but provide enough bright lighting to really make your house stand out during showings.
Start spring cleaning a little early. Clean out those closets, the attic, the garage, the basement, and the shed in the backyard. Start boxing up seasonal items for removal to a storage unit or a family member’s house. De-clutter the cupboards and drawers in your kitchen and pantry. And stow any knick-knacks that make your home look “busy.”
Don’t forget the outside of your house. Winter can be hard on a home, so check the exterior of your house for any damage caused by winter storms. Once the snow starts to melt, repair and replace broken gutters and drain spouts and repaint wooden steps and railings that have taken a beating in the weather.
With a little forward thinking, you can spread out the work required to get your home into tip-top shape. Start now, before the weather gets nice and spring fever sets in. When it comes time to list your house, you will have avoided the mad scramble that other sellers are making to whip their homes into shape for sale.
Vice President and Broker
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage