Deciding whether or not to sell your home is a big decision and, once you finally do decide, you may wonder what to do next.
When you have questions it’s always good to check with the experts, so we recently reached out to Realtor Aaron Ouska with Edina Realty and asked if he would be willing to do a Q & A with us to provide some insight on the topic.
He obliged with some good tips and insight on what it really takes to sell your home. Here’s what he had to say:
How to Sell Your Home
Q. What is the first step once you’ve decided you want to sell your home?
An initial walk-through with your realtor is a good first step.
One of the things I do at this appointment is to identify the things that would need to be taken care of prior to selling – bigger things like fixing broken windows or a hole in the drywall from the kids hockey stick, removing wallpaper, painting, or changing out light fixtures.
Q. Curb appeal. Are there any specific suggestions you have for that?
First impressions are important and since one of the first things you see is the front door, I always suggest that sellers have a nice, fresh, clean front door and porch. That’s the buyer’s first impression of the home and you want to make sure it’s a good one.
Details like flowerpots and landscaping also make a difference. That may be tough during a Minnesota winter, but there are other things, like door wreaths, etc. that you can use to dress up the house.
Q. Does it pay to make upgrades prior to selling?
There are certain basic things that you have to do to make a home market ready. Aside from that, there are additional upgrades you can make once you’ve decided to sell, but if you put a nickel in you need to get a dime out. It doesn’t make sense to throw money at something if you’re not going to get it back out.
There are all kinds of suggestions that I usually go through, it just depends on the type of home and the condition. For example, if you can replace the carpet, not only will it smell and look better, it will put more money in your pocket than you would have gotten with the original carpet.
Q. How important is it to declutter prior to putting your home on the market?
Very. The home just won’t show well with a bunch of stuff, and most of us have all kinds of “stuff”.
Sometimes it can mean the seller renting a POD just to get rid of all of their clutter.
Q. Do I need to clean my cupboards and closets?
Yes. It’s a good idea because people look in there! If they are a mess, it says to the buyer “this is the way they lived in the house” vs. nice, clean, organized cupboards and closets that say “we took extra special care of this home”.
Q. Do you feel that sellers need to depersonalize their space?
The rationale for depersonalizing is that buyers want to be able to see themselves in the house and personalization interferes with that. There’s some truth to that, but it can also be refreshing for buyers to see that there’s somebody that enjoyed the home just as much as they might.
Of course it’s one thing if there’s 150 pictures on the stairway or something – that starts to get a little busy and a bit much. But I’m not one to say that there absolutely can’t be any identity of the owner. Just minimize it – for example, if there’s usually four items on a counter there should only be one.
Q. What about staging?
We live in a home one way and we sell it another, so properly staging the home makes the features and the layout of the home the most appealing to a buyer.
Reposition furniture to make the home both look and function better. (For example, positioning a couch somewhere other than in front of the window allows you to walk up to the window and look out.) Hang some artwork where walls might be bare. Remove the chest in the dining room so that the room feels much larger. Little things that don’t become apparent until it’s time to sell.
Q. When it comes to what furniture to stage with do you recommend using existing, buying new, or renting?
I have different stagers that I work with and most of the time we can use the furniture of the homeowner, but there are times when it makes sense to rent or buy new furniture.
For example, new furniture makes any room stand out, and if you can buy the new furniture that you plan to use at the next house and use it to sell the old house, it can be a win-win situation.
Q. How important is a neutral color palette in attracting buyers?
It’s very important, as it can make or break the feeling in the home.
Q. If there are several homes for sale in my neighborhood, how do I make my home stand out?
I like to emphasize and showcase something that’s a little different in the home so when buyers are comparing five different homes not only are they seeing something different but it stands out.
For example, replacing the carpet and staging the family room in a neighborhood where some of the other homes may not have a main floor family room really makes that difference apparent to the buyer.
Q. What are some simple little things that will make a difference during showings?
There are little things that will make an obvious difference when one is showing a home, like having all of the lights on, cracking the windows open to get air coming through (depending on the weather), taking out the garbage, baking some cookies, and turning on a few TVs or speakers.
Q. What about pets?
Have them move out the first couple weeks that the house is on the market. After that, remove them during showing. We all love our pets, just not when looking at homes.
Q. It can be difficult to keep your home “ready to show” while you’re living there. Any suggestions or tips for that?
Yes. Move out. :-) No, but this is probably the most challenging part about putting your home on the market. It always needs to be in showing condition and not many people live that way.
Q. What is the best time of year to sell your home? I would assume spring?
I personally prefer earlier in the spring. The misconception is to wait until the flowers are ready and the yard looks immaculate, but that’s kind of when everyone goes on the market.
I usually like to get things ready in February/March because the buyers are already out – there’s much less competition (like we usually see towards the beginning of May).
Q. What is the worst time of year to sell your home?
From the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Homes still sell – people are still relocating and things happen – but most of the time people’s heads are elsewhere.
Thank you Aaron! Great tips and advice!
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