Ready, Set, Sell!

Thinking about putting your house on the market but not sure what to do to prepare your home?  Then you’re in the right place!  A quick Google search will give you hundreds of articles and websites with advice on how to prepare your house for the market.  It’s definitely not rocket science, yet there are some things that people don’t think about when preparing their house for sale.  Although there’s no golden ticket that guarantees a quick sale for maximum price, hopefully I’ll be able to pass along a nugget or two from my years of experience that will help you get ready to sell your home.

It’s a daunting task, no doubt, to even begin thinking about putting your home on the market.  I always tell clients that you have to think of it as transitioning from being a home owner to home seller while your house is on the market.  Yes, you still live there (unless you move out before your home is sold), but most of the time you have to modify the way you live in your home.  For example, if your habit is to leave the day’s dirty dishes in the sink or in the dishwasher until after dinner, you may want to re-think that habit and put dirty dishes in the sink and run the dishwasher, then empty it promptly!  Maybe you have a habit of leaving laundry on the bedroom floor or by the washing machine.  Again, you’ll be better off if you wash, dry, and put them away promptly!  If you’re not used to consistently cleaning and/or putting things away, it will definitely be an adjustment.  However, giving attention to the details of your home’s appearance will pay big rewards!

It’s in your best interest to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and look at your home with an objective eye as much as possible.  Try to imagine walking into your home as a buyer.  What would you see?  What would your impression be?  A clean home not only makes a good first impression, but puts the buyer at ease as they tour your home.  They leave with the impression that if the seller has kept the home clean and well-maintained, then they have likely addressed any issues that have come up during their ownership.

That brings me to my next point.  Are there any nagging issues that you keep telling yourself you’ll get to?  Does the kitchen or bathroom sinks drip or have leaks?  Do the toilets flush properly?  Does the roof leak?  Are there stains in the carpet?  Are the appliances working normally?  When was the last time the oven was cleaned?  Is any of the outside trim rotting or in need of paint?  There are a lot of things to consider when preparing to market your home.  Walking around the outside and inside of your home while seeing it through the eyes of a buyer, will help you recognize what needs to be addressed.

8 Things to do Before Listing Your Home

Make repairs ahead of listing your home.  Making minor repairs and updates will get  you a better return on your investment than doing major projects. A long list of repairs often turns off potential buyers.  Do as many repairs as you can yourself and hire a professional to do the rest.  Just a note here, waiting to do repairs after the home inspection will require licensed contractors so if there’s something you can repair correctly now, do it before you list the house.

Clean and tidy up!  Thoroughly cleaning and tidying up the inside and outside of your house will pay off with a higher sales price, potentially competing bids, and shorter time on the market.  Sparkling kitchen and bathrooms make the most impact along with shiny floors and vacuumed carpets.  Remember to clean up the yards, decks, and porches; consider power washing the deck, siding, and porch.  Fresh flowers inside and out welcome buyers.

Let your light shine.  Make the most of the light in your home.   Clean drapes or consider replacing heavy drapes with shear curtains.  Clean windows, change lampshades, increase light bulb wattage, and consider turning on lights, open shades, blinds, and curtains to let in more natural light for showings.

Clean out the closets.  Storage space is a premium asset.  Reduce your closets by half and organize what’s left. You’re moving, so go ahead and begin packing items you don’t use regularly!

Depersonalize your home.  The less personal items you have in your home, the more a buyer will visualize themselves living in it. Put a third of your things in storage including
family photos, memorabilia collections, and keepsakes. Think about it — you’ll be ahead of the game when you accept an offer and you’ve already packed up lots of stuff! Also, consider having your home professionally staged to maximize it’s full potential.

Care and plan for your fur-babies.  Our pets are family members but unfortunately, PetProtectionnot all buyers see them that way.  Buyers don’t want to see pet food, litter boxes, or find fur on their clothing after they leave your house.  Also, have a strategy for your fur-babies during showings and open houses for the safety and comfort of your pets and the buyers.

Small touches that make a big impact.  Replace worn or outdated doorknobs, cabinet hardware, switch plates and light fixtures.  Buy new towels for the bathrooms (keep the ones you use regularly out of sight), and replace old shower curtains with updated new curtains and liners.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression.  I’ve had buyers decide not to even go inside a house once we got there because of the condition or look of the outside.  You can typically get a 100% return on the money you put towards curb appeal. Spruce up the exterior with fresh flowers, trimmed bushes, clean walkways, and a new welcome mat. Pay attention to your entryway too. Replace your coats and keys with an uncluttered table with fresh flowers.

If you’re still wanting more tips about getting your house ready to sell, read this article about 10 best kept secrets here!

Consider doing these low-cost upgrades to your home:

  • Install a new mailbox
  • Upgrade outdoor lighting
  • Replace old doormats
  • Plant annual flowers
  • Buy new pillows for sofas
  • Display lightly scented potpourri or candles
  • Replace torn window screens
  • Polish or replace your old address plaque
  • Fix or replace leaky or outdated faucets
  • Buy organizational systems to reduce clutter
  • Re-caulk sinks and bathtubs
  • Place centerpieces on large counters and tables

The right touches and improvements can excite buyers.  Showcasing your home’s finest features and presenting them in the best light possible will optimize your home’s time on the market.

Joyce Wilson | RE/MAX Regency | Warrenton VA | Licensed in VA

I Want to Buy a Home — Now What?

Welcome to my blog!  This is a new experience for me, but I hope you’ll find my posts informative and useful.  I’ve been a licensed Realtor since 2001 (yikes–trying not to feel old!) and have had the pleasure of helping hundreds of clients buy, sell, lease, and rent properties.  My husband and I have also recently embarked on the adventure of building spec homes!  I’m combining both of these areas, real estate and new construction, and blogging about each of them.  I’ll be posting stories and pics of our first spec home along the way!  I’d love to be able to pass on my experiences and knowledge to anyone interested in the craziness of real estate! Please feel free to let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d find interesting or want to know more about and I’ll do my best to write about it!

What’s this blog about anyway?

My idea for this blog is to have information related to real estate; specifically issues that relate to buyers, sellers, and new construction.  I think we can all agree that buying or selling a house can be really scary and intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before.  And if you’re thinking about building your own house–wow, that’ll ramp up the stress even more!  Hopefully, I can reduce the stress and fear level a bit and give you practical tips to help the process go smoothly; whether you’re in the middle of it now, are thinking about jumping into the world of home ownership, or considering selling your home in the future.

So you’ve decided to buy a house, now what?

Today, I want to talk about the first step in the path of home ownership.  You’ve decided you’re tired of renting or living with your parents or for whatever reason, you want to buy a home.  It might be a single family home, a condo, or townhouse — whatever type of home you want, you just know NOW is the time!

The first thing I ask every buyer is, “have you spoken with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage?”.  The answers vary; some have gotten pre-approved online (which I would not recommend), some have spoken with a lender who they may or may not even remember their name, and many have not and maybe didn’t even think about this crucial step.


Any realtor worth their salt, will be able to refer you to a competent mortgage loan officer that they have most likely referred many clients to in the past and have confidence in their abilities and knowledge.   Unless you have a trusted relationship with a mortgage loan officer, I recommend that you reach out to the person your realtor referred you to.

You may ask, why do I need to do that first?  I really want to get started looking at all the pretty houses I see online!!  Well, looking at houses is the fun part, but it’s vitally important that you know how much you can afford and how much your payment will be BEFORE you go looking at houses.  I always tell my clients that I don’t want to show them a house that ends up being out of their price range and then every house they see after that, that is in their price range won’t compare and they’ll be disappointed every time. Knowledge is power, right?  Once you know what your qualified for and what your payment will be, you can confidently begin house hunting and feel good about what you are seeing and the choices you have!

On the other end of the spectrum, you may actually qualify for more than what you feel comfortable spending!  Great problem to have!!  Part of the financing step is to nail down how much you qualify for, how much you want to spend or can spend monthly, how much down payment you’ll need and lastly how much your closing costs will be!  Whew, that’s a lot to consider!  If you do qualify for me than you were expecting, you need to make sure you are comfortable with how much you’re spending and how much your payment will be.  This is something you definitely want to discuss with your lender so that they know what your limits are if you qualify for more than you want to spend!

Another reason to be pre-approved before beginning your new home search, is you will be ready to submit an offer as soon as you find your dream home!  You won’t have to delay submitting an offer because you still need to get your financing lined up!  If you are well prepared you don’t risk losing out on a home to another purchaser because you weren’t ready! Lastly, you definitely don’t want to be disappointed to discover that you actually can’t afford that home you have just fallen in love with!

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Check out some other great tips for new buyers here! 

My goal today is to let buyers know the first step in the home-buying process is to simply contact a local, trusted, loan officer and get pre-approved for your mortgage!  Remember—knowledge is power!

Action Steps!  Let’s get Started!!

Contact me for a lender referral to get you started on the path to home-ownership!!  I’ve got great lenders in the northern Virginia and New River Valley areas of Virginia that are ready to help you get started!  They’ll be contributing to future posts!

Thanks for sticking with me and reading to the end of my very first blog post!  I hope it’s been beneficial!  Feel free to comment or share!


Joyce Wilson | RE/MAX Regency | Warrenton, VA | Licensed in VA