How to Get a Home Ready to Sell in Northern Virginia for Top Dollar

How Long Do Homeowners Stay in Their Homes?
The average Northern Virginia homeowner stays in their home for 11.1 years before selling. That’s a long time and a lot can happen to a home in 11 years – preparing to sell takes time – not just for your home but also for you. Not surprisingly, most of us don’t live in our homes day-to-day like we’re going to sell tomorrow. We lead busy lives at work and with our family. Maybe we’re behind on a spring cleaning. Maybe we’re in the middle of a home improvement project that hasn’t quite found the finish line. Possibly we still need to contact a professional to complete a few repairs that seem to linger.

Preparing a Home to Sell Can Take 3+ Months For Most Sellers
All sellers are different. Some sellers have been through the selling process multiple times and generally know what to do and how to prepare their home for market. They might just need help from an agent shoring up some details to confirm readiness. In other situations, I have less experienced or more particular sellers who prefer I walk the path with them more closely in their preparation which can take a few months. For some sellers, the home was once a primary residence, but now is now a rental property. The home may even be part of an estate sale or some other non-standard transaction type. These sellers may prefer that I take a more active role in leading and preparing the home for market which can take more time than usual.

Regardless – All Sellers Share These Two Goals
The common outcome shared by all my sellers is they have a target selling date in mind and they want top dollar for their homes.

How to Prepare a Home to Sell On-Time and for Top Dollar?
These are just some of the topics I discuss with my sellers while we prepare a showcasing strategy.

  1. Make it Sparkle
    Buying a clean home is one of the most important requirements from buyers. Daily living can generate cleaning challenges for sellers, but buyers want fresh, clean homes. Many buyers won’t even bother scheduling a showing if the online listing photos show any indication of an unclean home. Cleaning is an aspect that carries from the listing preparation phase, to photography, to showings and all the way up to the walk-through just before settlement.
  2. De-Clutter & De-Personalize 
    De-cluttering a home is the sister of cleaning. A home may be clean, but doesn’t show in its best light because there’s just too much “stuff” in living spaces, on walls, on countertops, in pantries and closets, etc. Clutter prevents a buyer from fully seeing space. The home will appear smaller and many buyers will confuse clutter with being unclean. De-personalizing is also important. Sellers should remove personal items and family photos to give buyers the opportunity to emotionalize and envision themselves living in the home. Your personal memorabilia can be an obstacle.
  3. Paint, Carpet & Minor Improvements
    Applying a fresh coat of neutral paint, deep cleaning carpets or even replacing aged carpet is almost automatic when selling your home. Walls can often have marks, dings, obvious paint touch-ups and nail holes that need attention. Carpets often become dirt traps and can be the source of unpleasant odors. Sellers can perform minor, cost-effective improvements that go a long way in buyer value and offer price. Examples include replacing dated light fixtures, door hardware, outlet and switch plates and replacing aged kitchen appliances.
  4. Maintenance & Repairs
    It’s important to tour your home in the eyes of a buyer and inspector. It’s always in the seller’s financial best interest to eliminate any potential items that could come up in a buyer’s home inspection or the seller’s HOA/condo inspection. Sellers should perform maintenance on all home systems. The HVAC should be serviced to ensure it’s operating normally – same for the hot water heater. Leaking faucets should be repaired or replaced. Faulty electrical outlets or any issues with appliances should be corrected. I recommend sellers have the home’s exterior and roof inspected for maintenance and repairs. These are examples of small investments that can be made by sellers to avoid serious impacts on an offer price or ensuing financial impacts from a buyer’s home inspection.
  5. Lawn & Landscaping
    Tidying up your landscaping is almost as important as the home’s interior condition. This is the buyer’s first impression as they drive up to your home and walk to the front door. Keep the lawn mowed and trimmed, weed and mulch the beds and plant some colorful flowers. Trim bushes and trees if necessary. Don’t forget the backyard and patio area.
  6. Decorating & Staging
    The overarching goal of staging is to make sure each room conveys an open, spacious and welcoming look. The home should appeal to the highest number of potential buyers possible. Anything that makes a room appear crowded should be removed – less is more. All good Realtors have a few staging professionals at the ready to help, if necessary. My stagers are cost-effective, and if needed, usually require just a few hours of consultation about what furniture to remove and what furniture to relocate to other areas of the home.

If you’re thinking of selling your home in the spring, I recommend you contact a Realtor now to help you plan a showcasing and selling strategy. For example, I’m already working with clients now in the fall season as we prepare for spring listings. Unfortunately, many sellers begin this process later than they should which can unnecessarily pressure the selling timeline and limit the ability to lean into the listing in the strongest position possible. However, some of my sellers don’t have the luxury of planning due to life events – that’s perfectly fine too. I have a showcasing and selling strategy for any timeline and home condition presented by a seller whether they want to sell today or next year.

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