How to Prepare Your Home to Sell in the New Year
December 22, 2018
BY Ben Matthews (Home Improvement Blog)
Ready or not, 2019 is practically upon us. Some people enter the new year with small resolutions while others have big plans. One of those big plans you may be considering? Selling your home.
Perhaps you are looking to sell soon after New Year’s Day, or perhaps you are waiting for warmer weather. Either way, preparing your home for selling requires a fair amount of advance planning. Whether you are selling sooner or later, that planning needs to start now. Below are six tips for preparing your home for selling in 2019.
If you are selling during the winter, one thing will affect how your home looks: winter. All your pretty gardens won’t be blooming, and all your lush trees (at least the non-evergreens) will be devoid of leaves. Much of the curb appeal offered by your home during other seasons won’t be as evident, so everything else about your exterior must be perfect. Perhaps the most basic thing you can do is to make sure the pavement on your property—all of the pavement—is free of snow. It's likely that you already shovel your sidewalks and driveway; if you are planning on selling, clear every sidewalk (even the ones set far in the back yard), the patio, and any place on the street where potential buyers may be parking cars. Apply rock salt or sand in these places, to prevent visitors from slipping on ice before they even reach the interior.
A common tip to prepare your home for selling is to declutter it for showing. Fewer items occupying space will make it easier for potential buyers to envision their things in the house while allowing your home to look more spacious. In the winter, decluttering can be a bit more challenging because more warm-weather needs are taking up space in hallways and on coat racks; you can’t exactly host a garage sale in January. After the holidays, you may end up with more stuff (especially if you have kids). You may need to be creative with your decluttering, or even consider renting storage space to temporarily hold things until after you sell.
Keep it Clean
Winter wreaks havoc on your house. Preparing a home for selling entails keeping it clean—an additional challenge when snow is continually dragged in, and you might not have as much energy to deep clean as you would in the spring. Make the extra effort to keep your house sparkling, even on the cloudiest, snowiest days. Prospective buyers are likely dealing with the same winter blahs as you are; a warm, clean, inviting home will brighten their moods and better enable them to see everything it has to offer.
Take Down the Holiday Lights After New Year’s Day
People joke about holiday lights still visibly decorating a house on Valentine’s Day (or later), but to a prospective buyer, it could also indicate a homeowner's lack of attentiveness to the needs of the home. Put away your lights—don't let them linger more than a week after the New Year; even without turning them on, lights will be obvious to potential buyers. However, if you are showing in December, go ahead and decorate your exterior with welcoming lights—don’t go overboard, but don’t stick out as the only house on the block without any holiday illumination.
Take Care of Minor Repairs
Homeowners preparing to sell often face a long list of minor tasks and repairs—non-urgent things they have been meaning to address over the years, such as that missing ceiling tile in the basement, a leaky faucet, or that room that needs painting. This list can become overwhelming once you decide to put your home on the market. Find some time to tackle a few of these projects before getting serious about selling. Unless you are a skier, it's likely you won’t be too enthused about being outside on miserable winter weekends, so take advantage of this time to focus on home repair.