Like any endeavor, proper planning and preparation are needed to successfully sell a home. Interest rates are still relatively low, and many buyers are wanting to lock-in their home purchases before the expected 2019 interest rate hikes hit. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 is to sell your home, don’t wait to take advantage of the favorable market conditions.

Baby steps are sometimes needed when taking on such a monumental task as selling a home, purchasing a new one, and coordinating a move. Here are some bite-sized New Year’s resolutions that can help you get closer to your goal of selling your Northern Virginia home in 2019.

1. Choose a date 

If you are like many people, having a deadline to work towards sometimes helps provide the necessary motivation to keep moving. Procrastination is what keeps many people from realizing their dreams of selling their home and taking the next steps in their journey. So choose a date. Then follow a plan that will help you get your home ready for sale by the date you have chosen.

2. Hire a good REALTOR® 

We aren’t kidding here. A good Realtor will not only help you sell your home for the best possible price, but they will also peel you off the ceiling when you get frustrated, guide you through the entire process, and negotiate on your behalf with buyers’ agents. One of the biggest mistakes many for-sale-by-owners make is not pricing their home correctly. Price too high, and your home won’t show up in the searches of likely buyers; price to low, and you leave money on the table. So do yourself a favor and save some hassle…interview several Realtors and choose the one that not only knows your neighborhood and has a strong track record of success, but who will also give you the focus and attention you deserve.

3. Fix the little things 

Look at your home with a critical eye. Now is not the time for ego. You may have a kitchen worthy of  a famous New York chef, but if you have dirty carpets, peeling paint, or burned out light bulbs, prospective buyers may not even make it to the kitchen. There are numerous little things you can do that won’t break the bank, but will have a huge impact when you are ready to put your home on the market. A fresh coat of paint, clean carpets, a pleasing entry way and curb appeal can go a long way to improve your prospects of selling your home at top dollar.

A word of caution: Some DIY sites suggest getting a home inspection before you put your home on the market. This can provide valuable information, and can clue you in to any major defects or needed repairs before you list your home. However, every inspector is different, and with two different inspections, you may get two different results. This could lead you to spend money on major repairs that may or may not be necessary. Talk to your Realtor about getting a pre-inspection, and let them help you figure out what makes sense to fix now or negotiate later.

4. Declutter

You have probably heard the “declutter” mantra before, but we can’t emphasize the importance of decluttering enough. You want prospective buyers to see your home, not your “stuff”. Decluttering is an emotional, and sometimes lengthy process, so start early and give yourself plenty of time. Go a room at a time if you need to. It helps to give yourself some guidelines for how you will decide what to keep, donate, or trash. For instance:

  • If it hasn’t seen the light of day in a year, donate it.
  • If it has sentimental value and brings beauty to your home, keep it.
  • If you use it all the time, keep it.
  • If it doesn’t work, trash it.

It may be tempting to keep that vintage bike (insert also: old computers, abandoned projects, or anything else that is non-operational in your home) because you think you make fix it up one day. 98% of people who think that won’t actually do it. So why move it to your new place? Start your new home with no clutter, don’t bring the clutter with you!

Another tip: Once you’ve decided to donate or trash something, do it right away. Don’t let it sit, or you’ll start changing your mind. Commit and rip that band aid off!

Here are some other great tips for getting through the decluttering process with your sanity intact.

5. Get the Comps on your Home 

Since you already have selected your Realtor, now is the time to get comps on your home. You don’t want to do this too early, because you want the freshest data when you and your Realtor sit down to determine the listing price. Your Realtor will provide you with a market analysis that will include homes like yours that have sold recently and the selling price. Keep in mind that just because the house next door sold for $600,000, doesn’t mean that yours will. Many factors go into pricing, including recent updates, general condition, size and features of the home, etc. Trust your Realtor’s advice on pricing, as they should be experts in considering all the variables. They don’t make any money if your home doesn’t sell, so they want you to get the best possible price you can.

6. Stage your home 

If you have been following the other Resolutions leading up to this one, then you will have already decluttered your home and performed much of the maintenance and refreshening needed. Now is the time to get your home ready for potential buyers to start touring. You will want to move some of your belongings that you have decided to keep into storage, so that your home does not look cluttered with too much furniture. Personal items such as photos and collectibles should also go into storage. Your Realtor can advise you on the key pieces of furniture you want to keep in the home, and may provide a professional stager to rearrange furniture or add some pizzazz with simple style changes. You may also want to consider some potted flowers for the porch to make the entryway colorful and inviting.

See also: Staging Your Home for Maximum Appeal and  Top-Notch Home Staging Tips

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northern Virginia, we are always here to help with all your real estate needs! If you are unsure of your home’s value or if you are thinking about buying or selling, contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.