10 Important Things To Do Before Selling Your Home In Austin, TX
So you want to sell your home in Austin, TX…
Ask anyone who has bought and sold a house and they’ll tell you, selling a home is much more work than buying a home.
Having a process and knowing the important steps to take before (and during) your home can make the home selling process run much more smoothly.
If you’ve never sold a home before, you may be surprised at how complex it can be to get your property ready to sell.
From determining the correct listing price (which is becoming more and more difficult in today’s fluctuating market) to navigating contractual agreements, it’s an exhausting process.
Not to mention the things you SHOULD do to increase your profits.
Step #0: Hire A Home Inspector
This step is an optional step, BUT I highly recommend getting a home inspection BEFORE listing your house and I’ll explain why below.
Inspections are the #1 deal killer after you accept an offer on your home.
You can be proactive and eliminate this issue before they even come up, which will almost always lead to more money in your pocket.
It may cost you a little bit of money to address inspection deficiencies, but it’s money you would have spent anyway AND you hold all the leverage in a negotiation.
Once you have an executed sales contract with a buyer, the first thing the buyer is going to do is hire a home inspector to inspect your house. Why not beat them to it? An inspection usually costs around $300 to $500 in Austin. That’s pennies in the grand scheme of things.
Tackle all of the repairs before putting your home on the market. You will not be surprised by buyers who supply a list of problems to tackle after their home inspection.
Buyers will second guess a house when the inspection report is loaded with issues. When home buyers know that there has been a previous inspection and all repairs have been performed, they are more willing to pay top dollar.
I was recently involved in a transaction where the homeowner had not physically visited his property in a couple of years because he had rented it out to tenants. He put this home up for sale, and my buyer placed an offer on it.
We performed a full home inspection. It was one of the worst reports I’ve ever seen. The seller was livid when he received our repair requests, but it was his fault. He was hoping for the best possible scenario, and he set himself up for disappointment.
The seller ended up paying part of my buyer’s closing costs to keep the deal alive. The seller was lucky that my buyer still wanted the property after all the issues we had to address.
Step #1: Remove Personal Decorations
When selling your home, you need to put yourselves in the eyes of potential buyers. The goal is to create an environment where the buyer can picture themselves living in your home.
There will be many different types of people looking at your home when it is for sale.
Create a neutral environment to encourage the most feedback. The way to do this is to remove any objects that reflect your personal choices and lifestyle. If a buyer can walk through your house and determine your religious preference, family size, profession, and favorite alcoholic beverage, you may have problems.
Some buyers have a hard time emotionally attaching to a home when a seller’s life is overwhelming their experience. This issue is particularly true when those choices conflict with theirs. I recommend removing any evidence you lived in the home.
Once you remove all of the items mentioned above, you will be on the right track to sell your home. It will also help you to detach from your home emotionally and prepare yourself to move on. Start thinking of your property as someone else’s home. When a buyer has to ask if someone lives in your house while viewing it, you have done your job well.
Home stagers can help with this process if it seems overwhelming to you.
With my listing package I offer free home staging from a professional home stager.
Step #2: Get Rid Of Your Pets and Kids…Sort Of
To sell your home quickly and for the most money, you’ll want to appeal to every possible buyer. Not everyone is a fan of kids and pets. Your house may be the perfect layout, price, and design, but if it smells like animals or has toys stuffed in every corner, you may lose buyers.
Ever buyers who have kids and pets. It’s strange, people want to potentially live there with their pets and kids, BUT they don’t want evidence of YOUR pets and kids.
People are funny.
Some home buyers won’t even finish walking through a house if there is evidence of animals. Sometimes they’ll rule out a place based on seeing a litter box or a dog bed in the listing photos.
Get multiple people, including a real estate agent to smell your home and if there’s an aroma of pets, get red of it.
Austin is probably the most pet-friendly city on the planet. Sometimes I feel like Austinites like dogs more than people!
If you want to possibly put some extra money in your pocket, take your time to appeal to ALL people and the way to do that is provide a clean slate.
A home that children have ravaged can be equally unappealing. Be sure that your kid’s presence in your home is kept to a minimum before listing your home for sale.
Step #3: Replace Outdated Fixtures
There are few things that can make a huge impact on the presentation of your home and replacing outdated fixtures is one of those things.
Brass door handles, chandeliers, worn out cabinet hardware, etc…you should replace them. It’s an easy, inexpensive fix that gives potential homebuyers a great impression.
Home buyers want to move in and not deal with too much, it’s stressful enough as it is, so anything you can do to make them feel less stressed the better.
You can buy a contractor pack of brushed nickel door handles for $5 at home improvement stores. If you are appealing to high-end buyers, spend some money on designer door handles. If you have old light switch covers, replace them all as well. You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes.
And while you’re at replace dirty or dingy electrical and switch plates.
Spend some time walking through your home and identify every fixture that reveals the property’s date. Replace as many outdated items as possible before selling your home.
A good listing agent will suggest this AND mention these updates in the MLS (agent remarks) and strategically in the listing description.
To recap, replace door hardware, light fixtures, wall plates, and cabinet hardware.
Step #4: Get a Storage Unit
As you declutter, get rid of toys, dog accessories, and more, you don’t want to fill up your closet or garage.
You’re going to need to rent a storage unit.
If you live in your house as most people do, your closets are full, and your garage is packed from floor to ceiling. This is normal.
Many homes you will be competing with are either vacant, almost vacant, professionally staged. These homes will show great because the buyers can visualize themselves moving in much quicker.
It is wise to rent a storage unit to fully de-cluttered and stay competitive. Start loading the storage unit with everything you will not need while your house is on the market.
The more you put in storage, the better. If you have to question, “Should I store this?” the answer is: “Yes!”.
Start packing as though your house already sold.
The more you put in storage, the less you will need because your home will sell much faster! Buyers love homes that appear move-in-ready.
And in this market buyers want to be in ASAP and you are probably ready to start looking for your next house and since you can’t have a contingency in place, you’ll be in storage either way.
Step #5: Replace Carpets With Hardwood
”Should I replace the carpet before selling my house?” This is one of the most common questions that home sellers ask Realtors.
In a normal market, hardwood will net you more money on your house. In this ULTRA sellers market you really don’t have to do much other than list your price to get a great price.
However, houses with hardwood will almost ALWAYS net you more money. Replacing high-traffic areas with hardwood floors is another option that can increase your home’s value.
The next best thing is CLEAN carpets.
Houses with carpet are harder to sell
Carpets show more damage than almost any part of your home. If you have carpeting in your home, it’s probably going to be a problem. If the carpets are not stained and are newer, you might get away with hiring a professional carpet cleaning company. If cleaning does not restore them, you’ll need to replace them.
Carpets hold a lot of dirt and odor. They must look and smell clean for your showings. If carpets cannot be restored to their original condition, measure the square foot of your home and get an estimate of what the new carpet will cost.
New floors can make a huge impact on your net profits.
Step #6: Touch Up or Re-Paint
A good touch up can do wonders for an impression of your home.
As you declutter your home, move things out, take pictures or mirrors down, and getting your home ready to sell, you’re going to want to deal with nail holes, dings, cracks, and scuffs.
Touching up existing paint is very easy and makes your home look new again. If you do not have extra touch-up paint, you can try to peel off existing paint or cut a small section of sheetrock (which you can repair later). Please do this in an area where it’s not very noticeable, like in a closet or behind a door.
Home Depot, Lowes, Sherman Williams can all do a pretty good job of matching paint. You might need to repeat to get the color just right or you’ll end up needing to re-paint the entire house, which isn’t a terrible idea!
If you have intense colors in your house (purple, burgundy, lime green, etc.), it would be wise to paint them with a neutral color.
One of the most important things to remember, is to not take things personally. Not everyone shares the same tastes in your style, colors, etc…
Remember, there are many different types of people, and you’re trying to appeal to as many as possible. Neutral colors are the primary way to appeal to the most significant amount of buyers.
Paint makes a home smell new. People love new. If you have door trim with oil-based paint, find a match to that paint and keep it handy. Before a showing, dab a little bit of paint on top of the door trim where no one would place their hands during a showing.
The smell from the paint makes the home smell fresh and new. Oil-based paint has a strong odor, so only use it a little bit and do it three or four places throughout the home.
If you have exterior paint that needs restoration, take the time to work outside of your home. This step includes mailbox posts, fences, sheds, house siding, and trim work. The exterior of your home needs to look well maintained to encourage a substantial offer from a buyer.
Step #7: Give Your House A Deep Clean
My clean is different than my wife’s clean. Everyone’s level of “clean is different.
When you’re listing your house for sale, you need to get your home as clean as possible.
Potential buyers expect the house they buy to be cleaner than the one they currently own. Pretend every potential buyer is a germaphobe.
Pretend that you’re selling your house to a germaphobe. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning crew to spend a day performing a deep clean. It’s well worth the money. When a house is slightly dirty, it can be difficult for homebuyers to emotionally attach to it, even if they are not clean people themselves.
It’s an interesting irony that many home buyers expect the house they buy to be cleaner than the one they currently own. This truth is a reality that must be accounted for. A clean house gives the impression that the property has been well maintained and is a unique home that is better than the others available today. Clean everything thoroughly before selling your home.
Step #8 Freshen Up Landscaping
Statistically, landscaping is the biggest bang for your buck when listing your home for sale. We’ve all heard about the importance of “curb appeal,” and we know that first impressions are HUGE in real estate.
The fastest way to freshen up your landscaping is with new mulch.
Spread a fresh layer of it throughout your landscaped areas. This step is inexpensive and requires very little time commitment.
If you’d like to make an even better first impression, plant some colorful flowers, making your new mulch stand out even more. Trim any overgrown plants and bushes and clean up your outdoor spaces to look new again. This step is likely to significantly impact your buyer’s first impression and positively influence their purchasing decision.
If you’re selling in the winter or early spring, plant some Winter Rye (if your lawn needs serious help) to freshen up your lawn.
Step #9: Get A Great A Photographer
Homes that use a professional photographer for their listing on average sell $11,000 over market value and sell 50% faster than homes with standard photos. Studies have shown that 98% of homebuyers judge whether or not to walk through a property by first seeing the listing photos online.
Now that we have some stats showing that professional photography gets results, let’s take a closer to look as to why that is.
Redfin had created a report showing that homes with professional real estate photography get on average $11,000 over market value.
Adding drone photography can add more value to the home for a few reasons. It’s a more prestigious look for a home and is expected when a listing is more high-end. You can also easily show off amenities around the community that will add more perceived value to the home and make the asking price not seem like a factor when making a buying decision.
Twilight shots are more expected with high-end luxury listings that are over a million dollars in asking price. When you use this technique, even with homes around the $300k range, you can expect heads to turn and more showings because they’re higher end.
Adding drone and twilight images to your listing may not even cost as much as you may think when it comes to creating marketable content for you seller and your business.
If the homes look great, then the perceived value of the buyer goes up which makes the home more in demand. As economics would put it, low supply and high demand means an increase in price.
With great photos your home will sell faster by having attractive photography and media content from those photos will create a need for people to come and visit the property.
The more foot-traffic you get means more chances of your home getting sold. Get more traffic through the doors in a short amount of time and your home will naturally sell quicker. By creating an online presence of your property through social media, you increase the audience reach of your listing to get in front of more people other than through just word of mouth.
Your home will likely also receive more offers. It goes without saying that awesome photos will not work if the home is priced incorrectly, not photo-ready, and doesn’t have a strong marketing campaign behind it.
If your listing is overpriced, you won’t get offers. If your listing looks inhabitable or where people cannot picture themselves living in the home, it will take more time to sell your home. If you don’t market your home to get in front of a lot eye balls, then no one will see and come to your listing.
In order for you hit a grand slam every time with your listings, you need to do proper comparative market analysis (CMA) to price the home correctly, help the sellers know what they need to do to make the home photo-ready, and you’ll need a strong marketing plan to know how and where you’ll market your listing.
In other words, you’ll have to rely heavily on the listing photos. If you don’t have good and professional photos, it will take a lot longer in selling your home—which may even mean price reductions or retaking photos—so do it right the first time.
Get the home in front of the right people—marketing, priced right, and photo ready, the photos will become an asset that will create attraction and self promotion opportunities to get more people submitting offers into your listing.
Step #10: Hire An Experienced Realtor
Every property is different and will have unique and specific areas to address.
Buyer’s agents look at dozens of homes throughout the week. When real estate agents walk through your house at a listing appointment, they have buyer’s voices in our heads calling out objections. Their experience is invaluable when preparing your home for sale.
Realtors know what buyers want because they tell us every day. Every market is different, and there are other tactics for each area. An experienced Realtor will point out all of the objections you can expect to hear from your potential buyers. There will always be Sellers that don’t want to listen to it, but this is valuable information, so be sure to take advantage of their knowledge early on in the listing process.
Some people will try to sell their home for sale by owner. They do this to avoid paying real estate commissions to Realtors.
These homes often never make it to the local multiple listing service (MLS), so they get less foot traffic. They are less likely to experience multiple offers and likely to get up to 20% less than a house marketed and negotiated with a real estate agent.
Give me a call to talk about selling your home for top dollar, 512-799-7950
Final Thoughts On Selling Your Home In Austin, TX
As you read through the list above, don’t be intimidated if the list seems long and expensive. Make a list of things that you feel are important for your home sale, and then plan accordingly. Tackle one item at a time, and before you know it, your list is complete.
Connect with a great real estate agent and maybe get some advice on what the most important things are.
Once your house is ready to put on the market, it will most likely get an offer before your competition does. Many sellers will try to avoid some of the steps mentioned above. If you take the time and expense to tackle these issues, your house should outshine the others and sell for the highest sales price possible.
When it comes to selling your home, the adage “you get out what you put in” rings true. Your efforts will be well rewarded.
Even the most trivial of things can net you more money!
Talk to you soon!