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Preparing Your Home for Market: The Ultimate Home Selling Guide

Last updated on December 23rd, 2021 at 01:49 pm

Ready to sell your house? Don’t miss these seven critical stages in the home selling process to be aware of before listing your home. Many Ottawa home sellers may not realize this, but most home buyers decide whether they like a home or not within the first several seconds of seeing it. That’s why it’s critically important that your home is in top condition before any prospective buyers see it.

Below, you’ll find tips on how to prepare your home for showings. We’ll cover what you absolutely should do, must avoid, and extra steps that can further improve your selling experience – and that of the buyer!

Must-Dos

Must-Dos when selling a home

Here are several crucial steps you should always take as a seller:

Hire a Listing Agent

Selling your home on your own can be a big mistake. Without a background in real estate, it’s likely that you will miss some important steps and struggle with the contracts. To avoid any costly blunders, we recommend hiring an agent to give you the upper hand. A listing agent will represent you through the entire process, negotiate on your behalf, and get you the best price possible.

Determine the Value of Your Home

One of the most significant missteps you can make when selling your home is to price your home too high or too low. That’s why it is crucial to have an appropriate market report that outlines the comparable sales, how long the average house has been on the market in your area, and the average asking vs. sale price so that you can price accordingly. If you’re not familiar with market reports, your real estate agent can help you understand all the data and price your home correctly.

Get Your Home Prepared

If you want to sell your home fast and at the best possible value, you need to repair broken items, declutter your space, and then stage your property. Buyers need to envision themselves living in the home, and this won’t happen if your place is filled with your belongings. Instead, captivate buyers by clearing out the junk and staging your home. If this isn’t your forte, you can hire a professional staging company or ask your agent for help.

Market Your Home

One of the most important stages in the home selling process is marketing. People need to know that your home is for sale. Putting a small ad in the paper won’t cut it these days. You need brochures and online ads that have professional photos and copywriting content that will make your homes stand out amongst the rest.

Make Minor Repairs

In order to ensure that you get the best price for your home in as little time as possible, you’re going to want to make sure your home is in pristine condition. Thus, before you start having any showings, give your home a mini makeover. This may include fixing a leaky faucet, replacing a burnt-out light bulb or repairing the crack in your bathroom tile.

De-Clutter

There are a few reasons why you want to get rid of all the clutter in your home. First of all, too many things in a room can take the attention away from its beautiful design and layout. And since you’re selling your home and not your furniture, you want to make sure the room’s layout takes center stage. Also, less clutter makes a room look bigger. A cluttered house sends a subtle message to the buyer that you may not have taken good care of the rest of the home and that is a doubt you don’t want lingering in a home buyer’s mind.

Organize Your Cabinets and Closets

Home sellers should do this for the same reasons they de-clutter the home; it is also a quick fix that doesn’t necessarily require a lot of work at all. For instance, making sure that your clothes are all hanging in the same way can make a world of difference on the overall impression a buyer gets from your home. Any items that can be put in the attic will make a world of difference in showing off true storage space in your home.

Show Your Home

Once your home is on the market, it’s then time to show it off to prospective buyers. This involves arranging and marketing the open house, walking people through your home, and collecting feedback. Because you only get one chance to make a lasting impression, we recommend leaving this step to the pros who specialize in selling and know how to present your home in the best light.

Accept or Decline Offers

Putting the contracts together and negotiating the terms is an important piece of the puzzle. You should always use an approved real estate association Standard Purchase and Sale Agreement, unless you have an agent or lawyer on your side. If your home is priced right, be prepared to receive multiple offers and contract conditions.

Finalize The Sale

Once you have accepted an offer, there will be a number of critical steps you will need to take to finalize the sale. Some of these include arranging a home inspection, organizing a statement of adjustments, and arranging the deed. The transaction process is very detailed and specific, so it’s wise to let a professional take care of this step when possible.

Gather All of the Documents Related to the Sale of Your Home and Keep Them Safe

This includes your executed seller disclosers, purchase contract and addendums and more. You never know when you may need them again.

Clean the House

Wipe down cabinets, vacuum the carpet one last time, and take care of other cleaning steps. This will undoubtedly leave the home buyer happy, and at this critical stage right before closing, that’s more important than ever.

Turn Off Your Home’s Shut-Off Valves

Many homeowners will actually shut off all water sources in the home, including toilets, dish washers. This is to prevent any water damage between the time you’ve vacated the home and the new buyer moves in. Be sure to let the buyer know you’ve turned off all the shut-off valves so they know why their water isn’t running the first day they move in.

Cancel Utilities and Any Subscriptions

Since you won’t be living at that address anymore, you’ll want to transfer these services to your new home. Coordinate the transfer of utilities with the new buyer so that service is not turned off.

Cancel Your Insurance Policy

Do this only after you know that the title transfer has been complete. Once you do this, you may receive a refund on your homeowner’s insurance from your prepaid premium.

Give the Buyer All the Keys that Come with the House

This includes house keys, mailbox keys, gate keys and remotes.

Give Your Home One Last Look-Over

Check the cabinets, closets, attic, and other places for any personal items you may have forgotten about when packing. And don’t let yourself be sad – it’s time for a new adventure in a beautiful new home, and you can always cherish the memories made in your old one!

Secure the House One Final Time

Turn off the lights, close the blinds, and lock the doors. By doing these things, you’re making the home less appealing for burglars and leaving it secure for the new home buyers.

Do-Nots

Mold in Home

Here are some problems that home buyers will be looking for, so don’t leave them unresolved:

Roof Issues

This is perhaps one of the biggest areas of concern for buyers. That’s because a problematic roof can be both costly and extremely damaging. More often than not, home buyers are looking for deteriorated shingles as well as rotting material underneath them. Pay to have these issues replaced before a buyer makes an offer on your home.

Plumbing Problems

Home inspectors employ a variety of strategies to locate potential leaks, such as running the dishwasher and checking bathroom water pressure. They’re also likely to inspect the septic system. Such plumbing issues can scare away home buyers because everyone knows how much damage leakage issues can cause a home. So, be sure to get these problems addressed promptly.

Using Powerful-Smelling Air Fresheners

Not only could some home buyers be allergic to the scent you’re using but others may find the smell downright repulsive. Instead, consider opening the windows for a fresh breeze, weather permitting.

Mold and Mildew

This is another major area of concern for residents, mostly because of the health issues associated with mold and mildew. Fix this issue early.

Overly Moist Basements and Crawlspaces

The smell of mildew in one of these parts of the house is usually a dead giveaway that your home has water control issues. You may consider covering any areas of exposed ground with plastic in order to lower moisture levels in the air. Faulty drainage systems can also contribute to this issue.

Electrical Issues

Make sure all electrical panels and circuit breaker configurations are in proper working order and fully functioning. Also be certain that all outlets are grounded properly.

Heating and Air Conditioning Problems

No buyer wants to deal with heater problems during Ottawa’s winters or no AC during the middle of the summer. And they certainly don’t want to have to pay to replace these appliances if they’re no longer working. So, make sure to address any issues associated with the heating and are conditioning systems before a buyer finds these problems.

Unwelcoming (or Unnerving) Curb Appeal

If the lawn has been ignored, the flowerbeds are brimming with weeds, the shrubs are untrimmed and the grease-stained driveway is cluttered with toys, prospective buyers will keep on driving; many won’t even bother to take a look inside. To the average Ottawa real estate buyer, it’s apparent these owners are not serious about selling their home anytime soon, and even if they are, it appears from the looks of the outside that the inside will be just as uncared for as well. If the yard is in this state, one can only imagine the condition of the interior of the home.

Other Things to Consider

Home Tour

Make the Home Buyer Feel Welcome

You don’t want the buyer to feel like a guest in the house, you want them to feel at home there. Help them feel comfortable by leaving before any showings start and not pressuring the buyer to hurry.

Light Up Your House

Do this with both natural and artificial light. The more the better, since light tends to make rooms feel more open, spacious, and inviting. Use energy-efficient bulbs so you don’t have to stress over the hydro bill spiking.

Consider Leaving Some Food Out for Home Buyers

Nothing makes home buyers feel more at home and more inclined to stay than warm cookies fresh out of the oven or another savory snack. Just don’t overdo it as it could otherwise come across as a bribe.

Allow – and Even Encourage – Home Buyer Feedback

Entice buyers to leave a few comments about what they thought of your house by leaving blank notepads or questionnaires by the door. Don’t forget to include some pens! Even if the home buyer doesn’t end up purchasing the house, these comment cards will give you a good idea of what buyers are noticing about your Ottawa area home.

Get Your Home Inspected!

All sellers should pay for an inspection before they ever find an interested home buyer. While this may cost some money upfront, the benefits outweigh the costs. Home inspectors can be invaluable because they are skilled at searching for costly and dangerous problems with your home; if they find one, it could mean the end of a possible real estate deal. After all, a pre-emptive home inspection will allow you as the home seller to identify potentially deal-breaking problems with you home before an Ottawa real estate buyer does.

Your Contract Can Save You a Lot of Grief

Here’s one final piece of advice for home sellers regarding home inspections: make sure you check your contract before you hire a home inspector. The contract will typically tell you which systems the buyer expects to be in good condition at closing time. This will help you feel even more confident about acing a home buyer inspection when the time comes!

Think About What Buyers Want to See

Here is what buyers expect to see the moment they enter any Ottawa property for sale:

  • They expect the porch and entryway to be warm, gracious, and inviting. Anything less begs the buyer to have a difficult time “seeing” the remaining positive features of the home.
  • A property that sparkles. From the windows to the floors, Ottawa home buyers expect the home to be “spic-and-span clean.”
  • Highly organized homes are a must. Buyers also expect to be able to open any built-in drawer or closet and see possibilities for maximized storage.
  • Buyers have little patience with cluttered homes. Plus, it makes it difficult for them to envision their belongings in the home.
  • Ottawa home buyers should be able to preview homes free of “personalized” clutter including family portraits, heirlooms, and collectibles.
  • Barking dogs, squawking birds, and cats under foot are opportunities for U-turns. Buyers may quickly leave the property!
  • Buyers are all about the “Less is More” mantra, so take note, Ottawa home sellers – store the massive furniture and show off your home’s space!

Don’t get stuck with costly errors when selling your home. Have a real estate agent that you can trust on your side. At Geoff & Bobbie McGowan, our agents have expert market knowledge, an exceptional track record, sound negotiation skills, and a list of potential buyers in play. Contact us today!