Earlier this week I was speaking to a couple who are thinking about selling their Houston-area home in the Spring. They asked, “When would be the best time for them to start preparing it to sell?” I advised them that now would be the best time to start preparing which at this time is late fall.
Depending on how long they have lived in their home and how much “Stuff” they have accumulated over the years it may take a while. Therefore, preparing their home to sell in the Spring could last through the Winter months. Let’s face it, we all accumulate items over the years. It is a part of being human and owning a home.
Fortunately, here in the Houston, Texas area the Winters are mild, so it is not so terrible compared to the northern areas of the State or northern States of the country. The temperatures here usually drop in the months of January and February. Occasionally, there may be a couple of days in November or December when the weather drops at or below freezing.
The couple asked a few questions in which we will explore below.
What should we start with first when preparing our home for sale?
My first advice to them was to start with a plan. Preparing your home to sell without a plan will become overwhelming. Plan daily, weekly and monthly tasks to be accomplished. It will help you to schedule your improvements with enough time to place your home on the market in the Spring.
Should we start on the exterior or interior of our home first?
It is totally up to you whether to start on the exterior or interior of your home. Some people say get difficult projects out of the way first so you can sail through the easier projects. Others say start on the smaller projects and work your way up to bigger projects. I say do a little at a time according to your plan and it will be all done on time.
Furthermore, interior projects seem more difficult than the exterior projects to some people and vice versa. It depends on your perspective. Below are tasks you should consider before listing your Houston area home for sale in the Spring.
Tasks to complete for the interior of your home.
For all the rooms in the house, clean around doors, windows, light switches, baseboards and chair rails. Have curtains cleaned and if they are dark curtains, either remove them or pull them back to brighten the rooms.
Lubricate all doors and windows that need it. Tidy up all corners from spider webs if any. If there are wooden floors fix all the scratches, replace carpet if needed or have cleaned if the carpet is a neutral color and barely worn. Tile floors should be cleaned or replaced if it is not a neutral color. Basically, the home should be cleaned from top to bottom. A fresh coat of neutral color paints throughout gives a home a new house smell.
Declutter and depersonalize your home to turn it into a house that home buyers feel free to walk through without wondering if you still live there or someone may be coming out of the closet when they are viewing the home with their agent. For home buyers, it is awkward to picture buying a home that has strangers pictures all over the place. Once you place your home on the market, you should view it as a house on the market that you no longer own. So get several boxes and start packing away. If you need to pay for storage for a few months or store your personal items at a relative or friend’s house temporarily then do it. Your home should look like a Builder’s Model home in one of the Houston areas new home communities. If you were trying to sell a car, you wouldn’t have it dirty and cluttered. You would have it cleaned and painted if needed to result in the best return.
Take care of the guts of your home. I’m referring to the internal plumbing, HVAC, and electrical of the interior of the home. There should be no leaking anything in the entire home. All electrical systems should be intact and the HVAC system should be functioning as intended. Especially the heat and plumbing since you may be working through the Winter months.
Exterior tasks to complete before Spring
In the Fall and Winter months, there is the obvious landscaping that must be maintained. Picking up leaves and keeping the yard free of debris comes to mind and should be done no matter which season. In addition, there is the not so obvious that as homeowners we can overlook, but buyers often notice right away. I’m referring to the overgrown trees that line the fence that are leafless at this time, the overgrown hedges that may be blocking a window or the drainage of the flower beds around the house that may cause other problems.
While the leaves are gone, it is the perfect time to prune your trees and trim your hedges back before the growing season. It is best to handle it now to avoid last minute pruning after the trees begin to awaken for the Spring and you have overgrowth. If you have a pool, maintain the filter and pump in good working order or have it repaired. Wooden fences may discolor over the years, but a good pressure washing may bring them back to life.
Pressure washing the brick around your house, porches, driveways, decks, and sidewalks will do wonders for curb appeal. In addition, to pressure washing, a fresh coat of exterior paint in agreement with your Homeowners Association architectural guidelines always adds value. If the home doesn’t need painting a light pressure wash should do the trick of cleaning it up a bit.
The skeletal system of the home or the bones should be strong. Check the roof for loose shingles if the roof is older. If your doors and windows are sticking make sure it is not a foundation problem. The home must have curb appeal.
Curb appeal is what buyers see on a website through pictures that prompt them to request their Agent to make an appointment to show your home. In the Spring when the grass is green, the flowers bloom and the tree leaves are back, buyers will be looking at homes that have curb appeal and you will be ready if you prepared your home in the Winter.
In conclusion, your home should be ready to list by the time March rolls around on the calendar. It should be clean from top to bottom and inside and out. When a buyer views your home on the internet the home should speak for itself.
We will visit how to maintain your home while listed for sale in another article. Thank you for reading.
Click here to download The Homeowners Ultimate Guide to selling their home.