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The 3 C’s of selling your home

Complete These Maintenance Musts Before You Go to Market

If you’re getting ready to put your home up for sale, your to-do list is probably a mile long. You’ve likely spent the last several months gathering documents, researching the market, and interviewing real estate agents. You’ve talked to your partner, pored over comparable local listings and, finally, you’ve come up with a plan and a price.

But that’s not all. Chances are that you’ve also spent countless hours cleaning, organizing, and making repairs. You’ve painted everything a neutral shade, replaced dirty carpet, and scrubbed every surface. Each evening, every weekend and, let’s be honest, many of your dreams (or nightmares?) have revolved around getting your house into tip-top shape.

Even after all of that work, there are still a few things many homeowners fail to address before they place their houses on the market. There are many issues that are biggies for buyers. Therefore, not taking care of them could be the difference between a quick sale at asking price and months of low-ball offers. So before you put that sign out front and upload those home photos online, take a second look at these maintenance musts.

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Clutter

You know your home needs to be spotless when you show it to prospective buyers, so you’ve probably adopted a rigorous cleaning schedule. You take out the trash every morning. You clean the tub and toilet every night. You wipe and wipe, and then wipe some more. But even if you can see yourself in every surface, you might be missing something important: everyday clutter.

Clutter is a home seller’s worst enemy. Prospective homeowners “buy with their eyes.” When trying to sell a home, a minimalist mentality is key. Depersonalizing the space allows potential buyers to envision themselves living there. Opening up the floor plan lets them picture their belongings in place of yours. This is true even for hidden spaces like attics, garages, and pantries.

The thing is, you still live there and so does the rest of your family. Your family photos still line the walls. Backpacks, jackets, and other everyday items are stored in the open. You still read in bed each night and place your book on the nightstand. You still put on deodorant at the bathroom sink each morning. You still stack the mail on the desk and snuggle on the couch with your partner. Short of moving out, what can you do?

Think about your short-term sacrifices for the sake of long-term gains. Staging your home for sale may mean temporarily removing things you love, like family photos and that comfortable but overwhelmingly large sectional sofa. In addition to making your home more attractive to buyers, decluttering makes it much easier to keep clean during the showing process.

A low-cost storage unit is a good option for removing your personal items without getting rid of them. Units are available in all shapes and sizes. Climate-controlled options will ensure your electronics, furniture, and photos aren’t damaged by moisture or extreme temperatures. Most facilities are open 24 hours, so you can access your belongings anytime you need them. Finally, month-to-month lease options mean you can keep the unit for as many (or few) months as you need it.

Cracks

This one is pretty simple: cracks scare away buyers. In reality, minor cracks in a home’s foundation are a normal part of a home’s settling process. Cracks in tile, plaster, and drywall occur as a result of normal wear and tear. Most are purely cosmetic and do not indicate any major structural issues. But for buyers, a crack in a ceiling, floor, or wall does nothing but raise red flags.

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The key to fixing any crack is to do it right. The goal should be to make it look as if the crack were never there. Otherwise, it may look worse than it did when you started. Furthermore, a lackluster repair may make prospective buyers weary of how the home has been maintained. They may even suspect you are trying to cover up a more serious issue.

Skilled DIYers might be able to do this type of work themselves, but most homeowners should consider hiring a professional. For a few hundred bucks, a carpenter or handyman can fix the cracks with professional-grade materials, equipment, and expertise. While they are there, you can also ask them to fill any holes, repair any loose or broken tiles, and fix any other cosmetic issues.

Of course, if you have any cracks in the foundation of the home, you should address those too. In most cases, prospective buyers won’t be able to tell which cracks are from normal concrete shrinkage and which ones might indicate more serious foundation issues. Call a foundation professional to seal any existing cracks and certify that no bigger issues are present.

Curb Appeal

The old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” goes for homes too. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to attract more buyers to your listing is by sprucing up the exterior of your home for more curb appeal.

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A fresh coat of paint for the front door is a must. Search for inspiration photos online, and choose a color that pops. If you don’t replace the door hardware, at least remove it and give it a thorough cleaning. Other easy, inexpensive projects include updating house numbers, installing a new mailbox, and purchasing a new welcome mat, door wreath, or other front door decoration.

When it comes to landscaping, don’t overdo it. In addition to mowing and edging your property, ensure existing trees and shrubbery look healthy and alive. You should also refresh mulch or pine straw and remove weeds from beds. Plant colorful flowers that complement the exterior of your home or strategically place potted plants at entrances.

If you have a wooden porch or deck, you should replace any warped boards and sand or stain it prior to taking photos or showing your home to prospective buyers. Paved walkways and driveways should be pressure washed. Gravel and pebble drives or beds should be refreshed as well. Of course, if you don’t have the time, skill, or equipment to tackle these more in-depth projects, consider calling a professional. A landscaping crew can usually get these items done in a day or two.

In theory, your home would be in perfect condition before the first prospect walked through the door, complete with professionally-staged furniture, freshly-painted baseboards, and not a nick of dirt to be found. In reality, most home sellers have to pick and choose where and how they spend their time and money when it comes to prepping their home for a sale. This may mean refinishing, repairing, or cleaning cabinets, carpet, and appliances instead of replacing them. It may even mean leaving some less-than-desirable features just as they are.

But when it comes to making a good impression — online or in person — the three C’s can be the difference between an official offer or a hard pass. For that reason, every homeowner should consider clutter, cracks and curb appeal to be non-negotiable home maintenance musts and make them a priority on their seemingly never-ending to-do list.