Getting your home to sell for top dollar can be a lot of work for everyone involved. If you want to take the headache out of home selling, it helps tremendously to be extremely organized, to have a plan, and to start early.
How early should you begin preparing to sell your home?
The more “lead time” you have, the better, as there are things to be done on multiple fronts. If you are a highly seasoned mover, with a number of relocations under your belt, the odds are good that you don’t have excess clutter and buying, selling, and moving are just a process you have down. For everyone else, for whom moving every 10 years or more is the situation, the tasks ahead may seem almost insurmountable. For most of us, a year is really not too soon.
Six months to two years before you put your home on the market
- It’s never too early to de-clutter the storage spaces (closets, garage, a basement, storage shed) for items that haven’t been used in years, no longer fit, are out of style, or otherwise fall into the category of “I should have gotten rid of that years ago”.
- Start a file or group of files for home selling. Start to organize your list of repairs and alterations and improvements to your home, as all of these will be relevant for disclosures. If you have permits and finals for work done, it is good to get copies of them put into the file with your list of work that’s been done. Some sellers believe that if they have fixed something, it does not need to be disclosed, but that’s not the case. The history of the property also includes past issues, how addressed, and of course any current issues.
- If you have the disclosures and inspections from when you purchased the home, it would be useful to have them handy.
- Are the county records for your home accurate? If not, reach out to the county tax assessor’s office to see what must be done to get them corrected. (Wrong info will confuse home buyers and can potentially cause problems.)
- Create a list of things that need touch up paint, stain removal, replacements or repairs and start to tackle them. Make sure that ordinary maintenance, such as cleaning out the gutters and replacing batteries in smoke detectors, stays on course.
- Look for safety hazards such as concrete walkways or sidewalks that may have tripping hazards. If you live in the City of San Jose, you are supposed to get permits and finals for work on sidewalks – and the city can be slow in approving your request. Beginning this months in advance or more is a good idea.
- Are you in or near a hilly area such as Almaden, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, or Saratoga? Find out if you have moisture in your crawlspace and do your best to make sure that the grading around your house is sloped to carry any water away from it. Get your downspouts extended so that the water flows several feet away from your structure. This is very important to protect the foundation of your home.
- Check all of the locks for your house and garage and make sure that you have keys for each one. When you sell your property, a key for each lock will be required (per the California Association of Realtors contract). Got an abandoned lock? Either remove it or get a key to make it functioning again. To make it easy on yourself, I suggest labeling each key and put one set of everything aside for your future buyer, as sometimes when a home gets packed up the rarely use key goes into a mystery storage box.
Within six months or so of when you’d like to sell
By this point, you have probably done 90% of your decluttering or more. For most people, that is the biggest task. What’s still in your home and easy to reach are things you will need and use for the upcoming half year only. (more…)