The Seller Side


How to get ready now!

If you plan to sell this spring, the time to prepare is now! There are a number of things that you can do this winter to get your home ready. Don’t let yourself fall behind the eight ball. Snow days are a great time to declutter rooms and get organized. The more time you give yourself to prepare, the less chance for delays due to unfinished projects and tasks required to get the house on the market in its best showing condition. The homes that buyers fall in love with are the ones that “shine.” They show a pride of ownership, are free of clutter and in good repair. They are in move-in ready condition.

Here’s a suggested plan of attack:

Start (4-8 weeks out)

1. Evaluate/Establish Game Plan. Your first step is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the property, a thorough walk-thru of the exterior and the interior to evaluate its condition, identify and prioritize any repairs or improvements. This analysis includes the identification of repairs or upgrades such as painting, carpet or flooring and basics such as lightbulbs, doorknobs, and caulking. You will need to inspect the property to ensure that appliances are fully operational and that there are no electrical, plumbing, or roofing issues that need to be addressed.

2. Clean, De-Clutter & Organize. After discussing the nuts and bolts of the home, you’ll also need to take a closer look at the current living condition of the home. There is a guaranteed increase in the perceived value of a property when buyers walk through a clean, uncluttered home. It assures the buyer that the home is well-maintained and makes it even more attractive. Buyers want to concentrate on what it would be like to live in the home rather than whether the people in the house ever clean up or get rid of anything. Winter is the perfect time to start sorting and packing your personal items, and to reorganize the remaining items in drawers, shelves & closets. Storage options in the home are also a key selling point. Where does the seller store holiday decorations, extra serving dishes, recreational items, summer clothes, etc.? You’ll need to have a plan to declutter and depersonalize the home, remove excess furniture, deep clean and freshen it up. If you’re a pack rat, move your excess items to a temporary storage unit.

3. Price to Sell. Your agent will conduct a market assessment or CMA to determine how best to position and price your home. They will review current competition as well as recent sales and trending data. If you don’t have as many upgrades or improvements, your home shouldn’t be priced above comps that reflect higher prices for premium features. The structural components of your home e.g. number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garage size, etc., will be taken into account when a buyer considers their offer price. The recommended list price for your property will be based on its condition and features as compared to its comparables. Your agent can then give you a price range and prepare a seller net sheet so that you can review your selling expenses and determine your net proceeds from the sale. The list price should be reevaluated and adjusted before the listing is activated in the event market conditions have changed.

4. Marketing Moves. At the conclusion of all the preparatory tasks, you should be ready for photographs. Your agent will arrange for a photography session once all items have been completed and review all the details on the property highlighting the key selling points that will be used to promote the property. Pre-marketing announcements and notifications may then be initiated to build momentum before the property goes “live” and is available to show. An intensive effort should be made to attract attention to your home to maximize showings in the first two weeks out of the gate and to ensure that the property is visible online since 92% of all buyers use the Internet in some way to look for homes and 74% use a real estate agent. Several tactics such as public and broker open houses, brochures, signage, Internet & Social Media distribution channels, and buyer agent announcements and timely response to inquiries will be critical in maximizing the exposure of your property.

What is the current condition of the exterior of the house and the yard? Depending on the season or weather conditions, the trim may need painting, the fence repaired or the yard spruced up to improve curb appeal. Your real estate representative can usually help you identify handymen or contractors that can handle all of the recommended repairs and improvements. We will meet to assess requirements, put together a plan and timeline, and identify any additional resources needed

Many of my clients rely on me to help coordinate some of these efforts for them and some handle everything on their own. It’s important to communicate up front how much support will be needed to help you.

This is also a great time to engage a staging professional for assistance.. I invite my clients to utilize the services of my staging and organizing partner, B & B Designs (FB @bandbdecorating), for a free one-hour consultation on preparing their home for sale. They can subsequently be hired to help get your house picture perfect and buyer ready.

Kicking off the preparation for the sale of your property during the winter months will put you ahead of the rest of the pack that is scrambling to get ready but delayed because they did not prepare. Your ideal selling condition is when there is pent up demand and fewer buyer options available when the spring market hits. Make your call today!

Lorrie Penn Hunter is an Associate Broker/Realtor and owner of The Dukes Group LLC at RE/MAX Gateway. She is licensed to provide real estate services in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. For general information or to sell or purchase a home, call 703.622.9046 or email