Though these rules seem to be obvious, it is amazing how often they are not followed. Doing these basic things can be the difference in receiving a good offer or receiving an offer at all. Unfortunately, I think too many Brokers are not comfortable suggesting to a home owner the need to clean up their homes or spend money to improve its salability. When most Seller's would rather know before they put their home on the market what needs to be done to recieve the best price for their home instead of explaining to them later why it didn't.
I have said many times, candor is your best friend. People hire professionals to give them candid advice on what is needed to get the job done. Not provide excuses later why they couldn't perform.
1. Flower up curb appeal. Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Could it use more? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks? Does it smell like blooms or manure as you approach the front door? Are the windows clean? Is the paint peeling? Is the grass healthy? Weeds are green, too, you know, so by healthy I not only mean green, but I also mean no weeds. Does your front door have a fresh coat of stain or paint? Curb appeal can be a chore or a fun family event. Either way, it has to happen before the sign goes in the yard! And, by the way, continue it 'til the closing. It's just the right thing to do.
2. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive. An inspector will give you a good indication of what will stand out to potential buyers. Plus, it is highly likely the buyer will hire one themselves and why not eliminate everything he would otherwise report? You'll be able to make repairs before buyers start charging you 10 times the price in the low offers they would bring unmaintained or before their inspector gets there and the repair requests start flying in like rockets. The best way to avoid insulting low offers or nagging repair requests is look like a million bucks to begin with -- get things done before-hand.
3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof, old foggy windows or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don't plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and will be handy when negotiations begin. Don't play poker. They will see your foggy window and raise you ten.
4. Find warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
5. Organize and clean. De-clutter! Items like kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment need to GO. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in storage areas. Clean windows, floors, fixtures, walls and baseboards to make the interior shine.
Sellers, the beauty of a tough economy is a lot of homes are neglected, abandoned, abused or otherwise show like poo. This is your chance to shine! Plus, none of the recommendations above are bank busters.