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Preparing Your Home to List in this Changing Market

A few months ago, homes were flying off the market within days (sometimes even HOURS), even when they were not presented as "move-in ready". In the past few weeks, we have seen quite a shift in the market. Homes are still selling, but they are starting to sit longer, experience fewer showings, and see lower offers, than they were before this change. Now more than ever, preparing your home BEFORE putting it on the market is a key component to selling it FAST and for the HIGHEST VALUE.

The goal in this process is to create a space that is warm, inviting, and neutral - so that as many potential buyers as possible can envision themselves in the space you have created. The following are some tips to help you accomplish those goals.

1. Consider home improvements that will make the biggest impression for minimal cost.

The TWO MOST BENEFICIAL improvements we have seen in our experience are PAINT & FLOORING (particularly when there is currently carpet in the home). You may have a gorgeous mural painted in a room or bright colored accent walls that YOU love, but this may be a turn off to potential buyers. Putting on a fresh coat of a neutral-colored paint throughout the house can do wonders for the first impression your home makes. New flooring is another incredibly beneficial improvement. Most of us are fairly hard on our floors (between wear and tear, kids, and pets) and potential buyers can often smell odors that we no longer detect because we have become desensitized. Replacing flooring not only has the potential to modernize the look of your home, but the new carpet smell creates a “new home” sensation that is highly desirable to many buyers. If you are planning to complete any larger scale renovations, the next two projects that make the most difference in how "updated" a home feels, are kitchens and bathrooms. These are typically much more expensive than paint and flooring, but if these areas are dated in your home, improving them can create a significant increase in the interest level of buyers.

2. Prepack. Clear as many surfaces as possible, leaving only items that are necessary or that enhance the visual appeal of a room. In kitchens, remove appliances from countertops before listing photos are taken and before home showings. In bathrooms, remove ALL personal hygiene items (such as toothbrushes, razors, hair products, bar soap, etc.) In other rooms, clear all surfaces leaving only items such as plants, neutral artwork, lamps, etc. Purchase matching, stackable (opaque) bins to store items you do not want out in the open during the listing period. This is a great time to purge and rehome items that you do not use and also gives you a head start on packing for your upcoming move. Do not overfill closets or the garage, as this will give prospective buyers the impression that there is not enough storage room in the home. If you need to rent a storage unit for a short period of time to store unused items while your home is listed, many storage facilities give a great deal for the first month and are month-to-month contracts so this can be a wonderful and inexpensive option.

3. Depersonalize & decorate with simple, modern touches.

You want home buyers to see this as THEIR home, not yours. This can be an emotional process for sellers, but it is important to have a mindset that you are handing this home over to people who will make it a part of their personal story, just as you have. After decluttering and depersonalizing, you want to create a warm, inviting space with modern, clean, and simple design that is welcoming to potential buyers. Your buyers are likely to be in a similar life stage/age range as you were when you bought this home, so updating spaces to appeal to buyers in that category can be very helpful. Here in Hawaii, modern coastal vibes, with cool colors such as blues, grays, and greens are often very desirable to a very broad range of buyers. Using light, airy colors and textures, such as lots of white accents and sheer curtains will help to brighten your space and make it feel larger rather than closed in.

4. Have your home professionally cleaned. (We can’t stress this one enough!) A home that does not feel or smell fresh and clean can be a pretty big turn-off to potential buyers. It is very easy to get desensitized to how our home smells or looks, because we LIVE in it, and it is not practical to constantly have a perfectly clean house in the midst of busy lives. BUT, during your listing period, you want it to be as clean as possible at all times, so starting off with a deep clean by a professional cleaner can give you a head start on getting (and keeping) it looking spotless! Keep Clorox wipes or other quick touchup cleaner solutions handy, so that you can get it back in shape in a hurry if a showing gets scheduled.

5. Don’t forget about outdoor spaces. Many people have different priorities in a home. For many buyers in Hawaii, outdoor spaces are incredibly important. We live in a state that has amazing views and weather and we like to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with our friends and family. Make sure you capitalize on any outdoor spaces you have available by adding seating/dining areas and installing and/or maintaining clean, simple landscaping that enhances your space! Powerwash your exterior and sidewalks, add pops of color with plants and black mulch, keep lawn trimmed nicely, and store toys or lawn equipment, so that the yard looks like an oasis buyers would love to relax in after a long day of work!

6. Get a second set of eyes. Having someone such as your realtor or a professional home stager (or both) come and give a second opinion on your home and any potential concerns is incredibly important. It’s not always easy to hear someone critique your home (especially when you have worked really hard to get it “perfect”) but a second set of eyes can often shed light on a few blind spots that have been missed. Make a checklist together of the projects that need to be done before you can list and assign timeframes for completion. This will help you to make sure you have completed them all before listing day. Remember, those first two weeks on the market are crucial… you never get to make a second first impression, so make sure you are ready to WOW every buyer that walks through your door. Getting your home ready to make the absolute BEST first impression when it hits the market takes a lot of work but can be incredibly worth it in the long run.

Good luck and we wish you a quick and successful sale!

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