To get your home sold, you have to tackle a rather long to-do list. Some of these tasks are well-known, and some are just good ol’ common sense—like finding a real estate agent and spreading the word that your house is up for grabs. But some other steps in the home-selling process aren’t quite so obvious.
So to keep these less apparent home-selling tactics from falling through the cracks, here we’ve highlighted five things you may not even realize you have to do. Just in time to start prepping for the busy fall selling season!
1. Reach millennial home buyers
In 2017, for the fifth year in a row, Americans aged 20 to 37 were the largest group of home buyers—at 36%, according to the annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors®. So get smart: Find ways to appeal to this (huge) generation when marketing your home.
These tips will help you attract younger home buyers:
- Promote your listing on social media. As digital natives, many of these would-be buyers are glued to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media networks. Make sure your real estate agent is marketing your listing on these platforms.
- Showcase your smart home technology. Millennials love smart home devices—and they’re looking for these products when searching for homes. In a recent Coldwell Banker survey, more than half of homeowners (54%) said they would purchase or install smart home devices if they were selling their homes. Of that group, 72% said they would be willing to pay $1,500 more for a home that was “smart.”
- Make your house more energy-efficient. Making even small changes to your house (e.g., installing a programmable thermostat, adding attic insulation, or plugging air leaks around doors and windows) can make your home more appealing to Gen Y buyers. In fact, 84% of millennials say they’re willing to pay up to 2% to 3% more for an energy-efficient home, according to a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders.
- Show off eco-friendly features. It’s no secret that this generation is environmentally aware, but you don’t have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on solar paneling to make your home green. Strategically planting trees around your home can reduce your air-conditioning costs by 15% to 50%, according to Energy.gov. They look nice, too.
2. Make your home move-in ready
Unless you’re selling a teardown, you need to do whatever it takes to make your home move-in ready for buyers.
This means tackling not only large home repairs but also small ones like replacing ripped screens, fixing leaky faucets, unclogging gutters, and mending damaged shingles.
Pro tip: If your house is in lousy shape, consider ordering a pre-inspection, where an inspector scrutinizes your property for problems before you put it on the market. This would give you the ability to fix problems ahead of time—while also presenting buyers with a clean bill of health on the property. Buyers love it, and a home inspection costs only about $200 to $500.
3. Order professional listing photos
If you have a good eye and a good camera, you might be tempted to take your own listing photos. But we’re not talking about selfies here. If you’re looking to sell your home quickly, using an experienced professional photographer is a must.
There’s proof. In one case study, real estate photography company IMOTO compared 350 listings using its professional photography with 350 similar listings without professionally done photos in the same ZIP code. According to the company’s data, listings using the professional photography sold 50% faster and 39% closer to the original listing price than those that didn’t.
4. Prepare for open houses
Your agent is hosting the open house, so it’s her job to make sure your house is ready for the big event, right? Wrong! It’s your responsibility to prep your home before strangers show up at the door.
Here’s a handy checklist to get your home ready for an open house:
- Remove all prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet. This includes even the ones you think are harmless. After all, “you don’t want people knowing your identity. Also, you don’t want people stealing your meds,” says home stager Alice T. Chan.
- Tidy up. Clear clutter, take out the trash, and do a thorough clean. Don’t have time to get these things done? Hire a professional cleaning service, which costs $90 to $150 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.com. It’s money well spent.
- Organize closets. Overstuffed closets can make your home appear to have insufficient storage space.
- Protect yourself from theft. Secure jewelry, art, heirlooms, and other valuables. (You knew this one already, right?)
- Open curtains and blinds. Letting natural light in will not only brighten up the space, but it can also make rooms appear larger.
- Hide family photos. Buyers need to see a neutral field where they can put down their roots. Having your family photos on display can make that a challenge.
- Prepare refreshments. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but buyers love being greeted with a warm cookie or a cold bottle of water. It’s a home-selling cliché because it actually works.
5. Pet-proof your home
If you have pets, be warned—their presence can be a huge turnoff to some home buyers, says Diane Saatchi, an East Hampton, NY, real estate broker with Saunders & Associates. So, take these steps to make sure your furry family members don’t hinder your sale:
- Clean the yard. Be prepared for buyers to walk around your yard—a stroll that will be ruined if they step in poop.
- Remove odors. To banish traces of cat or dog urine from carpets or rugs, try a bacteria-eating pet odor remover. If the odor lingers, you might have to hire a professional cleaning service.
- Vacuum up hair. Pet hair can trigger allergies and send potential buyers sneezing and wheezing out the door. So, vacuum and dust to remove any settled hair or dander around the house.
- Remove pet paraphernalia. Before showings, tuck away any leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, and food.