I am so excited to be kicking off this series, So You Want to Sell Your House, a collaboration with the genuinely stellar folks at Element Real Estate. We have both bought and sold a home with Element, and the experience was really unlike anything we have heard friends or family describe when they have worked with other realtors. They have been so helpful to us that I have been thinking for nearly a year about collaborating on this project and bringing their wisdom to you here on Hey Jillian.
We found and fell in love with our current home before we had even put our last house on the market, so we had to work fast and furiously to get our home ready for sale. The first thing we did was call Jess and Dan, the owners of Element Real Estate, and they helped us create a roadmap of how to get our home ready to hit the market running. It wasn't easy, but it was made so much more comfortable with the advice and legwork the team at Element provided. Our house went under contract in one weekend, but we had to spend several weeks before listing it getting ready for its big debut.
We don't intend to sell our current home anytime soon, but when we sold our last house and implemented the suggestions Jess gave to us as our seller's agent, both my husband and I couldn't believe our house could look so lovely! Now we want to use that same expertise to improve our current home, so we can feel as good about it as we did our last home when it was ready to sell. Here are Jess's top three tips for getting the outside of your home picture perfect, so buyers make it in the door.
Tip #1: Maximize curb appeal by season: The exterior is the first impression a buyer will have of your home - and you don't get a second chance! Keeping things well manicured is always the best practice. In VT we only get so much summer, and yard in full bloom is rarely the case, so accentuate the positives!
Winter: Keep driveways walkways shoveled and clear of ice (to the best of your ability). You don't want buyers to be more focused on getting from the car to the house in one piece than they are on the house itself. If you use holiday lights, keep those neat, too. Buyers like things to be orderly. It provides a sense that you have kept the home well cared for.
Spring: Spring cleaning is not just for the interior! Hosing off or power washing the siding, cleaning the gutters and washing the exterior of the windows is critical. Also, a spring clean-up of the yard is essential. It's a great time to cut back (or limb up) any trees or shrubs that are in contact with the house or roof.
Summer: Keep the lawn mowed and your garden beds neat and free of weeds. Paint anything that needs it: exterior doors and screen doors, shutters and trim. These are the gateways to your home, and they will set the tone for the rest of the showing.
Fall: Do your best to keep paths and stairs clear of leaves - even if you don't rake all of them. Perform a fall yard clean up, cut back your perennials and clean your gutters out! Clean cobwebs from the eaves and soffits, too. It's best to do a final exterior window clean, also, because it can be tough to wash them in the winter.
Tip #2: Don't overspend or go overboard with exterior improvements. You are moving, yes? So don't overspend on extensive landscaping or hardscaping. Remember, your preferences may not be the same as those of the people buying your home, so simple is best. If too much yard work feels overwhelming, call a professional.
Tip #3: Focus on easy high impact visual improvements, and take care of any eyesores or damage that may scare buyers away. Mulch is your friend, and it's also relatively inexpensive. It immediately adds a manicured look to your garden beds, and mulch rings around trees are a great way to add a bit of sophistication to a yard that has minimal landscaping. Potted flowers or hanging baskets are great for adding a pop of color where you need it - but stay up on the watering. Nothing will backfire faster than a hanging basket that resembles a tumbleweed.
If you are going to plant in your garden beds, try ornamental grasses. They look great immediately, they create uniformity and are low maintenance. Grasses add a modern and intentional feel but aren't stuffy or meant to look perfect. They are also available in a variety of sizes, so they are great for just about anywhere.
It's best to address any damage or severe wear such as peeling paint, rotted window sills, and rotted trim. Most of these items will come up in the inspection, and it's mostly low hanging fruit. Also - this is the perfect time to declutter, your yard, your shed, your garage - everything. You are moving so purge what you don't want to move and pack what you plan to take! The bottom line is don't overspend, but don't expect buyers to overlook small repairs and a lack of tidiness. A little elbow grease goes a long way.
Here's the before and afters of our house getting ready for sale. We punched up the door color, replaced our house numbers with modern ones, added some plantings and mulch, planted flowers in the window boxes (the tulips bloomed just in time for showings,) and touched up any flaking and worn trim paint:
So now how do we apply this to our current property? The outside of our house is pretty blah looking, but it's just waiting to shine like the cute little midcentury ranch that it is. We will be following Jess's advice and adding a mulch ring around the tree, replacing the rotting fence with a new minimalist one and accenting it with some ornamental grasses, pressure washing the house to give it an all over lift, and repainting the trim a brighter, more appealing color.
I can't wait to share pictures later this summer after we get this work done, but I even just having a plan makes it all feel so much more do-able. When you are only thinking in general terms like "make the outside of the house look nice" a task like that can seem insurmountable, but now with our three part plan I can see how our curb appeal tune up will fit in our budget and schedule.
Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, Big Fixes, which will focus on taking care of any red flags your house may have, before they get in the way of a sale.
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