For most home sales, getting your home in order is one of the most important things you can do. Doing so will help quickly increase perceived value and ensure you get fair-priced offers. Accomplishing this goal starts with taking the time to define a home sale preparation plan. As is often said, first impressions are everything. Thus, you want to put your home in the best possible light and amaze anyone who comes to an open house or private showing.
Before you focus on the finishing touches, you’ll need to deal with the basic aspects of home sale preparation. The scope of this prep will be individual to each property. Factors such as the property condition, existing furnishings and issues discovered during the home pre-listing audit all play a large role in what needs to be done.
Additionally, your goal as a seller is pertinent. Is your home in great condition and needs to compete against others in the luxury coastal market? Are you looking to sell a distressed home as-is, opting for a quick sale before a max purchase price? Different scenarios call for different plans of attack.
To make this more visual, let’s discuss various types of properties and outline a typical plan for each. This will allow us to see the similarities and differences between each approach. As you will see, outlining the ideal buyer for each property is important. Ultimately, it will guide the decisions you make about how to present your home.
The Starter Home Sale Preparation Strategy
First, let’s cover a typical starter home; a 3 bedroom, 2-3 bathroom, single family residence. You’ll find these types of homes throughout Costa Mesa, Irvine and surrounding cities. For most first-time home buyers, a starter home is not going to be their ultimate dream home.
In other words, they’re not necessarily looking for the most modern, cutting-edge amenities. They don’t demand super intricate finishings, or a crazy Vegas-style pool in the backyard. Instead, these buyers often simply want a place that has more room for their growing family, with its own yard. They are likely moving from a rental or their parents’ home, and want to begin building equity.
Since these home buyers aren’t looking for top of the line features, there’s no reason to spend time and money adding them. Wiring the place for smart devices, if it doesn’t already have it, would be a waste. Likewise, as long as the kitchen isn’t falling apart, it’s probably safe to leave it as-is, even if it’s a bit outdated.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a shed in the backyard that’s falling apart, it might make sense to demo the structure and haul it away. After all, what parent would want their young children playing near a bunch of rotting wood and exposed nails?
Prioritizing safety by removing or fixing dangerous elements should be the primary focus. This includes deteriorating structures, broken outlets and cabinets, and other measures along these lines. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that the condition of each room and yard is presentable as a minimum standard.
If you’ve already moved out and there’s no furniture, it’s very important that you stage this type of home. Without furniture, potential buyers will have trouble imagining themselves living in the home. These first-time buyers will need all the help you can offer to show how livable their new home will be.
Even if the home is still furnished with your stuff, it’s important to make sure it’s all presentable. You should remove ugly couches or tables and replace broken furniture with something functional. Depending on the surrounding homes, you may want to professionally stage your home regardless and remove all of your furniture.
The Luxury Home Sale Preparation Strategy
Next, let’s discuss a high-end home that sits in an exclusive neighborhood. Newport Beach and surrounding coastal communities have some of the most expensive homes in the country. Therefore, it’s safe to say that any seller looking for top dollar needs their home to stand out.
Most luxury buyers are looking for a dream home. They are often very busy professionals or older buyers with neither the time nor the desire to perform renovation projects. They’re looking for something that is move-in ready and provides a high level of comfort and amenities.
In a market as hot as coastal Southern California, there’s a relatively high level of expectations compared to elsewhere. Buyers want things like smart home wiring, charging for electric vehicles in the garage, network-enabled appliances, zone-controlled heating and cooling systems, beautiful landscaping, and lots of areas for entertaining.
Obviously, not every luxury home will have all of these elements. Nor, do you absolutely need to add them before listing the home. Still, you should be aware of their effect (if any) on the value of your home. You can then decide if it’s worth the time and expense to address whatever features you’re considering.
You’ll need to address any serious faults with the property if you’re looking for top dollar in the luxury market. Again, home buyers in this category aren’t typically interested in putting down big sums of money to purchase the house, only to have to fund costly (and messy) repairs the moment they get the keys.
As far as staging is concerned, you will almost certainly want to get the entire home professionally staged. You’re really looking for that “wow” factor when it comes to selling a luxury home. Having a designer do your interior will go a long way towards that goal.
The Distressed Home Sale Preparation Strategy
Finally, let’s take a look at a distressed home sale strategy. This action plan will vary greatly from the previous two examples. The goal for most distressed property owners is to get rid of the property as quickly as possible. This usually comes ahead of trying to maximize the profits (not a guarantee) at the expense of time (a guarantee).
The term “distressed property” can mean any number of different things. In this context, let’s define it as a property with a delinquent mortgage that’s in poor condition. Perhaps there’s drywall damage from a leaky roof. Maybe the yard is unkempt and there are weeds and trash all over the place. Perhaps the home hasn’t been remodeled in 30+ years and is just really outdated.
Whatever the issues, if the goal is a quick sale, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend any time or money addressing most of them. Buyers for these properties are typically investors looking to flip or rehab and rent out the home.
Therefore, they’re looking for the best deal price-wise. For the most part they don’t care about features or issues. They’re going to be tearing most of the home apart and rebuilding it anyway. Plus, many of these buyers purchase in all-cash. This means that even serious issues that would cause a home appraisal to fail may not need to be addressed.
Staging is also pretty much pointless for this type of property. Investors are likely going to change the layout, and just don’t need to visualize living there, because they won’t be.
The focus for this type of property should be to first determine the market value for a similar home in good condition. Then you should offer an aggressive discount to get as much interest in the property as quickly as possible. More interest means more offers. Hopefully one of the offers will have few or no contingencies, and be all cash with a quick closing.
If you’re lucky and price it well enough, you may even start a bidding war. This can sometimes net a higher winning offer than you would have gotten otherwise.
Creating Your Own Unique Plan
The above three examples hardly encompass every property or buyer type out there. Your home may fall somewhere in the middle of two or more of the above examples for instance. As mentioned, every home is unique and will require its own preparation strategy.
Regardless of your individual circumstances, it will greatly behoove you to understand your primary goal as the home seller. Likewise, you should outline your ideal home buyer, and compare your property to others in your area. Doing so will give you a clearer picture of what it will takes to get your home in presentable condition.