If for some reason you find yourself in a very big hurry to get your Silicon Valley home on the market, you may not know where to begin or how to get it done. Today I’ll give you a quick list of the best things to do, and in order, too!
First, hire a great, full time real estate professional. This Realtor or other sales person will be your partner from the beginning and can give you insight and advice on the best place to spend your time and money for the best return on investment – and which items are the most important in your house or condo’s particular case, given the time restrictions. Your Realtor can also help you with time lines, managing pre-sale inspections (worst case, they can happen after your home is on the MLS), etc. Sometimes home owners begin on their own and make less than ideal choices when choosing paint colors and so on. Since part of the service provided when you sign a listing agreement is good advice, do hire first!
Second, think clean, uncluttered, and “good working order”. The rest of the tips all fall under the broad umbrella of staging – mostly de-cluttering, cleaning, and making sure that things work as intended. Perhaps you won’t be able to make everything immaculate and perfect, but in many cases, with even a few days you can hit the biggest areas fast.
Make a list of everything that needs some kind of minor repair or adjustment. Getting those items fixed will send a message to home buyers that your house or condo is turnkey and not a “fixer”. It may not be conscious, but if home buyers find doors that squeak loudly, doorbells or lights that don’t work, they begin to wonder if there are any big ticket items that are in need of repair or replacement, too. Hire a handyman or contractor as needed so that your home gives the right first impression.
Moving at lightening speed, with the listing signed today and the home on the MLS tomorrow? This isn’t fun, but I’ve done it with sellers at times. In those cases, you may have one frantic 24 hour period. Think of it like you do when entertaining relatives who may go anywhere in your home…
What would you do if you had one hour’s notice before company would be arriving at your doorstep? Here are some quick fixes for the hurry up sale:
- Be armed with large boxes or laundry baskets so you can begin to collect things where are where they do not belong and get them at least generally to where they do.
- Get the floors, counter tops and surfaces almost completely clear. If it’s newspapers, throw them out (show no mercy!). Have a box or basket for each bedroom or room of the house and put the items into the correct basket as you go through the house. For example, you could have one box for the garage, another for the master bedroom, another for the hall bath, etc. Bring all boxes into each room that you are “clearing” and take just one room or area on at a time. You may be moving 6 or 8 boxes or baskets from one room to the next, but it’s a faster way to sort and move things.
- If there’s no time to actually put all of these items away, do what most of us did in college: put the basket or box in the closet. And then close the door. No, it’s not ideal. It’s a quick fix and it will do the job 90-95% of the way. If you’re in a rush, it’s got to be good enough. Ditto that with the garage. If all else fails, put things into the garage. Some buyers may chuckle, but yours will most certainly not be the only house where they see this happen. If you have a truly excessive amount of stuff, get a pod or use a service such as Door to Door, where they bring a container to your driveway, you load it, they then take it away and you get it back when you’re ready to move.
- Vacuum, dust, wipe down all surfaces inside. If you can spare a day to wash the carpets and another for them to dry, that’s usually a good idea. Hire cleaners if needed. It’s a bare minimum that the house be clean!
- If there are any problems with odors, address them with cleaning products or whatever it takes. Cigarette or other smoke, incense, cooking odors, and pet smells will all make home selling extremely difficult.
- Happily, in San Jose, Los Gatos and nearby, our yards can look good year round. It’s key to have good “curb appeal” as this is the first impression that buyers will have of your home (and they will probably get it online). Cut the front and back grass, declutter the yard (roll up hose, etc.), power wash or hose off the house (get rid of dust, cobwebs), wash the windows, clean front door, and add colorful annuals near the front door.
It will be necessary to understand the buyer’s probable value and price aggressively. Also, your agent needs a little time to have good professional photos (do not use cell phone images, that is a costly mistake!) and ideal exposure with the MLS and websites. Your agent may suggest moving furniture around, depersonalizing and removing some photos from the walls etc. – hire a good Realtor and then take this advice to heart, even if some of it may rub you a little bit the wrong way. The idea is to make your home less about you and more about the buyer – so we must depersonalize it some.
All of this can happen in under a week for most people if they can take a couple of days off from work to do it and coordinate things like carpet cleaners or pod delivery and pick up.
Ideally, most home sellers in the Bay Area would prefer to have a month or two or more to prepare. That’s preferable, of course. But if for some reason, your time is limited like crazy, you can do most of what needs to be done in a big hurry – as long as you attack the most important items first.