Time to Sell with ListingSpark

Get Your Home Ready to Sell in 2019

2019 Is The Year to Sell

It’s nearly 2019 and that means one thing: if you’re thinking of selling your home, the clock is ticking. According to Zillow, the best time to sell your home is in the spring – early May, to be exact. That’s when people come out of hibernation and are ready to start their search, often with tax refund cash burning a hole in their pockets. Spring gives families time to look for a home, make an offer, go through the inspection and financing process and close the deal before another school year begins.

You’ve got another thing on your side: interest rates. Freddie Mac reports the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate was down 12 basis points and nearing its lowest since September. Home buyers have the incentive to close on those mortgages sooner than later before rates are potentially raised.

Related: Home Seller Checklist

Whether you’re a homeowner or an investor looking to flip a house or two, winter is your prime opportunity to get your property ready to sell. Before 2019 begins, we wanted to put together a quick list of the steps you can take over the coming weeks so your home is ready to hit the market come springtime.

1. Take A Drive

When was the last time you drove through your neighborhood to look at the houses? Your goal is to get a good feel for the types and conditions of the homes around you. Now, this could be a good thing or one that gets your attention. If you notice your home is nicer than most, in better condition, on a more desirable lot, etc., you may be in a good position than others when you place it on the market. But, if you drive around and realize your home is outdated or in need of a little TLC compared to many of those around you, you likely have some work to do if you want to sell in 2019 for the most money possible.

Go online and print a list of area houses currently on the market or recently sold. Drive to those houses. You’ll likely see a pattern where houses that sell for more money look a certain way. They may have a larger lot, a view or are on a quiet street. They may have nice landscaping, fresh paint and curb appeal. Make notes of what you see.

2. Do Some Market Analysis

Now that you know what’s in your hood, check out your home’s estimated value online. Keep in mind, online market analysis sites, such as Zillow, aren’t always accurate. They all use their own algorithms to crunch the numbers. It’s simply an estimate based on basic features of your home compared to others in your area that have sold.

Home comparisons are always a challenge. It’s all based on homes that have sold your neighborhood and if nothing has sold in a while, there’s less data to compare. It’s also difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison and what’s valuable to one person may not be of value to another. Maybe your large lot isn’t appealing to someone who doesn’t want to maintain a yard and pay for the higher property tax. A family with small kids, however, may be looking specifically for a home with a large yard. Computer estimates simply can’t put an accurate value on issues such as these.

Still, it’s a good idea to see what your home may be worth. Keep in mind, you’ll have it appraised and if the bank believes your home is worth less than what you were hoping to ask, you may have to either lower the price or hope you get a buyer who’s willing to fork over more cash at closing.

3. Visit Some Open Houses

You’ve driven through the neighborhood. You’ve taken your notes. You’ve done some market analysis. Great job. Now’s it’s time to go a little deeper, if you can. Open houses can be a great way to get a feel for what you may be competing with on the inside of the house. You can compare the asking price to the interior features and conditions. Are you seeing houses in this price range all have updated kitchens and bathrooms? Hardwoods? Home offices?

Compare these homes to the current state of your home. How does yours stack up, particularly in light of what you were hoping to ask for it? Take notes.

4. Make Some Minor Improvements

Read through all of your notes. What needs to be done to get your home up to par with others in your neighborhood? Focus on the highest return improvements, such as the kitchen and master bathroom. Those rooms get anywhere from 87 percent to 102 percent return.

You don’t always have to sink a lot of cash into improvement projects, either. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, inside and out. Nothing says “worn” than peeling or chipped paint on walls, baseboards and cabinets. Upgrade faucets, modernize light fixtures and clean the windows. Decide where you can afford to bring your house up to standard.

5. Clean Out The Clutter

We (and virtually every other real estate professional) always say, “Get rid of the clutter.” If you haven’t used it in 2018, you likely won’t need it in 2019. Winter is the perfect time of year to go through closets, basements, attics, cabinets and garage to donate or toss unneeded items. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Just ask Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing phenom who is proving an uncluttered space can “transform your life.”

A tip for decluttering is to ask yourself, “If my home were a retail store, would I buy this item right now?” And when getting your home ready to sell in 2019, ask yourself, “Does this item add or remove value in the eyes of a buyer?” You want your home to be a clean slate, not a museum of your family’s artifacts.

6. Stage It to Sell

Part of decluttering is getting rid of larger items as well as small ones. Large pieces of furniture that take up space without adding much function aren’t needed when you’re selling your home. Awkward furniture layouts, furniture that’s too large or small for the space, poor lighting and outdated items make your home seem, well, used.

Related: Selling Your Own Home? Stage It Right to Sell

Buyers know they’re buying a used home, but they don’t want it to look like it. They want a fresh, clean, open, spacious place in which they can easily see their own things. They want a home that is well-appointed and well cared for. Hire a professional stager or reference home magazines to see how rooms are staged. It’s worth your effort: 60 percent of real estate agents said staging decreased the amount of time a home sat on the market and 50 percent said it increases the home sale price by up to 10 percent.

7. Determine How You’ll Sell

The last thing you need to consider when getting your home ready to sell in 2019 is how you’re going to sell. There are, of course, full-service real estate agents you can pay, but with so many resources now at your fingertips, selling your own home is easier than ever.

If you’re going the For Sale by Owner (FSBO) route to keep more of your money, how much time do you have to commit to it? Do you have all of the resources you need to do it right? You can try to do it completely on your own, hire a discount broker, a flat-fee agent or, try a hybrid approach.

Related: Real Estate Lingo: Traditional, Discount, Flat Fee and Hybrid

If you want to keep more money and sell your home quickly but would like a little help doing it, consider a pay-per-day hybrid model where you pay only for the days your home is on the market. You get access to the MLS to list your home, plus the same technology and resources real estate agents use, such as market data, an online dashboard to keep track of things, a professional photographer, a yard sign, a key lockbox and an agent standing by to answer questions. In this way, you get the benefits of FSBO with the inexpensive support of professionals.

There’s reason to believe this next year will be great for home sellers and buyers alike. Don’t let spring catch you off guard. Start planning now to get your home ready to sell in 2019.

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