How to Prep Your Home for Sale (When You're Not Ready to Sell It)

welcome!We've been getting a few calls lately from folks who aren't quite ready to sell their homes, but who think they will be in a couple of years. They want to know how they can start prepping their homes now for their eventual sale -- and, knowing they won't be in their homes long-term, they want to know which updates and renovations are cost-effective choices, and which ones aren't. These are smart questions. If you think you'll be selling your home within the next year or two, now is the time to start getting your home into the best shape it can be -- not only because it will save you from a mad dash of home improvement projects when you're in the midst of making your next move, but also because it will give you the chance to enjoy the results of your work. (No one wants to be up late stripping wallpaper the night before the moving truck arrives, and once you've gone to the trouble to prep your home, you deserve the chance to live in your newly refreshed space!)

Each home is different, but here are a few general tips on how to prep your home for sale well in advance of putting a sign in the yard.

Improve the first impression: Your front yard is often the first thing buyers see--so consider investing in your landscaping now, to give new plants the time to fully mature. If you're on a budget, Freecycle can be a great place to look for plants and gardening tools this time of year.

Paint: If the inside of your home hasn't been painted in a few years (or if some of your rooms are painted with taste-specific colors like dark red or hot pink), now's the time to add a fresh coat. You don't have to revert to white (unless you like white!), but do find a neutral shade in a palette that suits your style and your furniture.

Replace fixtures: Swap out brass fixtures, cheap bathroom fixtures, and/or fixtures that are out of sync with the character of your home (super contemporary track lighting in a 1920s bungalow, for example). Inexpensive lighting options can be found at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. Consider updating your flourecent kitchen lights with recessed lighting for a warmer, updated feel. Call us for a great electrician that can make this update at an affordable price.

Purge your stuff: Almost everyone has piles of something somewhere -- in the back of the closet, in the corner of the spare bedroom, perpetually covering the dining room table... Get rid of it. Have a yard sale. Sell any bigger-ticket items on Craigslist. Donate it to your favorite thrift store. You'll feel better, and your house will, too.

Freshen outdated rooms: Outdated kitchen and bathrooms can be the No. 1 turn-off for buyers, so do what you can to update these spaces. You don't need to gut your 1970s bathroom, necessarily, but smaller changes can make it shine -- fresh paint, new bath hardware, replacing the shower stall door with a new shower curtain, etc. When working with outdated tile and/or fixtures, experiment with a wide array of color swatches to choose a color that embraces vintage hues. The right colors and accessories can minimize dated trends without costing a small fortune.

Turn your inspection report into a to-do list: Depending on how long ago you purchased or refinanced your home, your inspection report can offer helpful guidance for important improvements. Look for electrical or plumbing issues that were never resolved, foundation issues, etc. Talk with a Realtor to determine which of these items should be addressed prior to listing your home for sale.

If you have specific questions about how to get your home ready for eventual sale, let us know!