CHICAGO, April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Homes are sold every day – lots of them. Last year 5.26 million existing homes were sold in the United States, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. There's a difference, however, between just selling a home and selling it quickly and for top dollar.
"Proper preparation plays a significant role in achieving a fast sale and one that maximizes the sales price," said Jack Kreider, executive vice president and regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois. "No single formula works for all homes, but there are a few general rules that apply to almost every property when it comes to preparing it for sale."
1. Assess Your Market: The best way to gauge the level of preparation your home might need, according to Tom Hanigan of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago, is to look at interior photos of comparable properties in your area that sold recently.
"By doing that, sellers come to understand the relationship between the appearance of a home and the price for which it sold. I want sellers to understand that what they'll get for a home depends to some extent on how well they prepare it," he said.
2. Good Photographs Are Vital: Twenty years ago, most homes were sold with very little preparation, recalled Karen Lippoldt of RE/MAX Suburban in Glen Ellyn, Ill.
"Now, preparation is much more important because the home must look good in the photos that buyers view online. If a listing doesn't have attractive photos, many people won't consider it," she said. "HGTV is also a factor. Some of what you see there about how to show a home is exaggerated, but it has raised expectations.
"You want the home to look as good as it can. On the other hand, you must balance the cost of any work with the benefit it will deliver to the sales price. I never ask people to invest in preparation if it won't help the price. If sellers invest $2,000 and do it strategically, they will usually get back double their investment."
3. Depersonalize and Declutter: Experienced brokers agree that a home overstuffed with furnishings and lined with memorabilia and family photos, won't appeal strongly to many buyers.
"The main thing I stress to sellers is to declutter their home," said Carol O'Neill of RE/MAX Synergy in Frankfort, Ill. "I'll urge them to clean off the counters and table tops, get rid of personal photos on walls and fridge. I want buyers to picture themselves in the home, not the sellers' family. A key objective of the decluttering process is to make each room look as large as possible. Many rooms can benefit when some of the furniture is removed."
4. Emphasize Cosmetic Improvements: Fresh paint is the most cost-effective improvement a seller can make, contends Hanigan, but he points to other low-cost steps that can help a home look its best.
"After painting the walls, I urge sellers to focus on the floors, which might involve new carpeting, refinishing of wood floors or re-grouting tile floors," he explained. "Finally, the home should get a deep cleaning, which means not only cleaning all visible surfaces and the windows, but getting under everything."
5. Don't Let Your Prep Work Cause You to Miss the Market: Timing the preparation process properly is another important element in a successful sale, according to Bryan Mercado of RE/MAX Properties Northwest in Park Ridge, Ill.
"You don't want preparations to take so long that you miss the most active period in the local market. Here in Park Ridge, for example, the spring market tends to kickoff in late February and run until school ends. Then it ratchets up again when the kids go back to school until the holidays. In other markets, the timing can be different, but planning is the key."
The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of more than 2,250 sales associates and 106 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. It is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 104,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
SOURCE RE/MAX Northern Illinois