You may be unaware of this, but when considering selling your home there are a plethora of prudent steps you absolutely MUST do BEFORE putting your home up for sale. You can’t just decide one day you want to sell it, take some photos, hire an agent and then put it on the market and expect to get top dollar and a quick sale in most markets and especially in South Carolina. I hear the same thing out of sellers ALL the time, “we will just take some money off the asking price if there are things they don’t like that need fixing”. HUGE mistake!!. Ask yourself, do you want to buy a house and know as soon as you take ownership you have to start fixing and improving things? Secondly, as soon as a prospective buyer walks up the front stairs, if they see unsightly, un-maintained, or broken problems their first instant thought in their mind is “I don’t trust it”, “what else could be wrong that I don’t see”?
Here are the ten most crucial things you have to take care of before you even think of calling your agent to list your home for sale on MLS. You might be asking yourself why should I do these things? Many of them will be common sense and likely will apply to most of the country and/or the east coast not just SC. However, they should be taken seriously by all sellers and agents. If you’re in no mood to do these steps yourself, then you can call your preferred Realtor and ask them to go through these with you, or hire someone to help you. The list of 10 things to get your home ready to sell below are written for the average non-investor developer flipper type buyer, but for primary and second home sellers. It doesn’t mean that the list won’t apply to those properties as well, but for instance, if you have an old outdated or dilapidated structure that you know needs to be gutted, have a new roof, or totally renovated then doing the things below are pointless.
- GET YOUR YARD RIGHT – When prospective buyers pull up to the home and see a lawn that is nothing but dirt, weeds and/or dead grass you’ve already told them your house likely wasn’t cared for. A well-maintained lawn and landscape instantly tells buyers that you’ve loved and cared for your home if your landscape is this nice. It is literally the first thing they will see and your first chance to grab their attention. Not to mention it makes the home look that much better if you have think green mowed grass, nice mulch beds, and flowers with color. People want to envision pulling into the driveway of a gorgeous home with beautiful landscaping. Blade & Petal Landscaping is who our agents send our clients to for landscaping services in Columbia SC.
- PAINT – I know this one seems obvious, and it is. However, it can’t be stressed enough. Nothing is worse than walking into a home with buyers and seeing scuffs, chips, and marks on the interior walls. Especially, the exterior as well. For just the same reasons as the landscaping. It is the FIRST thing the buyers see when entering the home, they look at the yard and landscaping, and as they enter the home they will take note of how bad or good the paint is (or exterior) if the home has stone or brick. Here in S.C where the salt air on the coast, humidity, and excessive heat of South Carolina is extra brutal protection from the elements is very important so keeping your house painted will also protect it better. Have the entire house painted if you know it looks bad, and if aren’t sure call an agent or a friend and ask them to be honest. For residential home painting in Charleston SC our agents have many options for referrals to our clients.
- PRESSURE WASH – Just like painting is important for protection and making the home look clean and well cared for. Pressure washing is also very important in establishing the same mindset to the buyers as they look at the exterior of the home. You need to have the stone, brick, driveway, porches, decks, and gutters pressure washed before putting your home on the market for sale. These are not things people want to have to do before they move in or after they have moved in, and you’ll get more money for your house the nicer and cleaner it looks.
- DE-CLUTTER – Most everyone has little “knick-knacks”, small furniture pieces, figurines, kitchen appliances, and thing all over. It is your home why not have it the way YOU want, but remember we want buyers to envision their stuff in the home, and you want the home to look large. If you have a smaller home (1500 sq ft or below) you’ll want to definitely remove anything you can that will help make the rooms feel bigger. Take unnecessary furniture or decor out of the home so people can easily walk around without impediment. If you’re someone who likes plants and you have a lot of pots with plants in them, get rid of them, most buyers do not like to come into a home with 57 potted plants all over the place. Some nicely staged, properly proportioned plants in the home is ok, as long as you don’t have to walk around them as you make your way through the home, and the same applies to furniture. This is where a good experienced agent will help. Let a REALTOR® walk the home and give you advice on how to de-clutter your house.
- STAGING – if you have a vacant home, and sometimes not even an empty home it is wise to stage the house because most buyers can’t envision the rooms, furniture arrangement, how to maximize the space or decorate to detract from the negatives. Professional stagers are worth money and a real estate agent in South Carolina with years of experience can sometimes also help if you can’t afford a professional staging company. Your SC real estate agent with years of experience will be able to tell you what the negatives and positives of your home are and how to capitalize on the positives and detract from the negatives using staging be moving furniture and decor around.
- DEPERSONALIZE – Similar to De-cluttering, de-personalizing is removing all the personal family photos, and your taste decor. Where de-cluttering is a generic term for removing extra unnecessary furniture and decor items within the home, de-personalizing is removing things that are personal to you. Buyers again, need to be able to mentally see their stuff in the home, their personal items, their family photos, so having yours up just makes that harder.
- FIX THE PROBLEMS & BROKEN THINGS – This one is VERY important! The other ones are sort of common sense for most people, but this one isn’t and I can not for the life of me understand it. Many sellers in SC will think I’ll just give the buyer a credit to fix this or that, or I’ll just take a few grand off to compensate for the buyer having to fix, update this or that, or “I am giving a home warranty” – NO!!!! This is the same concept as “YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION”. This is bad for SO many reasons. Buyers that will walk through the home with their agent usually will notice (as will a good agent), the small broken thing, or thing that’s dirty or falling down. If you have broken door trim, window trim, chipped this or that, or something hasn’t been working for a while, whatever it is. Get it fixed FIRST! A buyer’s and their agent’s thoughts will be that you haven’t taken care of your home so what else could be wrong. Make sure your pool is clean and has no problems. (Charleston SC swimming pool Services) Not to mention, a smart buyer will get the home inspected anyway and a good home inspector will find it and report to the buyer. * In South Carolina we have two contract offer options: Due Diligence procedure & standard repair procedure. If you or your agent chooses the Due Diligence method, you have an allotted amount of days agreed upon by both parties where the buyer can get the home inspected by whomever they want, and after that amount of time, may request repairs. With Due Diligence the buyer can get out of the contract for any reason they choose within that allotted amount of time and get their earnest money back, but after that time has expired the buyer can no longer “walk from the deal” without repercussions. When using the repair procedure option, the buyer has an agreed upon number of days to get inspections done, and can request repairs, but doesn’t have the ability to “walk from the deal” necessarily, without losing their earnest money or potential law suit unless the seller doesn’t fix certain SC real estate contract requirements. That said, the seller would be required to fix anything that pertains to 5 major categories, but small non-structure related items a seller is NOT required to fix in either of the options.
- RENTAL INCOME/EXPENSE INFO – This really mostly applies to the coastal towns & beaches of South Carolina like Charleston SC beaches, Edisto, Myrtle Beach market, Hilton Head, Pawleys Island etc. where many of the homes for sale are second homes where owners also rent them to tourists. Nothing makes me and my agents more furious than when we have a prospective buyer call us about a beachfront house, resort property, or oceanfront condo wanting to know about their potential rental income and expenses, but when I look on MLS to find it, there is nothing there. IF you’re going to sell your vacation rental investment property make sure your agent has ALL the last two years’ rental income figures, detailed expenses, and property management summaries so they can give them to buyers. Many of the buyers looking at vacation / second / investment properties are doing so on impulse because they enjoyed their visit. So if you don’t have all the info readily available at hand you’re giving potential buyers time to go home and think about if they want to do it.
- INSURANCE DOCS – Here in SC, especially for those who live on the coast hurricanes and floods are an ever-present threat to life and property. People looking to move to the area and relocate for good or buyers looking for a second / vacation home may not be aware of the additional high expense of insurances here in South Carolina. All of the coastal towns are mostly all in a flood zone of some sort, and wind & hail (i.e hurricane coverage) is also a must. So having your insurance costs ready to provide and share with possible buyers is always a great idea so people can accurately take into account what their insurance costs might be.
- HOA & COMMUNITY DOCS & HOME INFO – Most of all neighborhoods nowadays are built in a PUD that has an HOA, especially the developments that are condos, villas, or townhomes. They will most certainly have an HOA with regime and community fees, especially those in gated resorts like Kiawah, Seabrook, Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, Litchfield By The Sea in Pawley’s Island, or Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms. Having all your neighborhood’s covenants & restrictions, community by-laws, HOA contacts, fees, and building rules will make your potential buyers feel that much more comfortable about buying in the subdivision and that you cared about the home. Also, keep documents that pertain to additional features, repairs & upgrades you’ve added to the home since you’ve owned it. For instance, sellers might have a generator or water softening system, and having the brochures handy with the specs of the units would be a nice thing to promote why your house is better than the one 3 doors down.