9 Steps to Prepping Your Home to Sell
Your home is your castle, as the saying goes. You spent time and money, goodness knows, to make it just right. And now you’re moving on. What’s the first step?
Pulling up roots and planting a For Sale sign in the yard can challenge even the least sentimental among us. So making a mental and emotional adjustment may be the first step. You look around and see your family everywhere in your house. Even the trees in the yard have become personal!
Plan ahead to help smooth the course of change. Keep your focus on your new and exciting goal. Decide on the terms you want. Selling your house is the end of one journey and the beginning of the next.
Ask yourself: Does your house invite buyers to imagine themselves living in it? Bear in mind, finding a new home is not unlike falling in love. Buyers want to be swept away at first sight. And at some point, one will step through your doorway, take a look around, and hear bells ring.
But first, they will analyze your decor, criticize your wall color, and judge your housecleaning skills. Buyers are discerning, and well they should be. They are about to make the investment of a lifetime. What impression will your house make?
Take these steps to prepping your house to sell:
1. Make it sparkle. Clean and polish everything, inside and out. Go beyond surface cleaning. Deep cleaning has never been so crucial. People will open your closets, peek inside your pantry, and pull out your drawers. They will eye every nook and cranny. Empty everything so the buyer can contemplate what they would put there.
2. De-clutter. Clear surfaces such as countertops, desks, and tables. Scrutinize all storage spaces and donate, recycle, or toss unused items. Clutter is a buzz-kill. Don’t empty your closets only to fill the garage with boxes—buyers will wonder if the house lacks enough storage space. Rent a POD or find temporary storage in friend’s basement for items you want to keep. Sweep the floors in the garage, attic, and basement
3. Make small repairs. Fix bent or torn window screens. Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Replace every lightbulb in the house. Buyers turn on lights, and the brighter the better. Call a handyman if needed, to repair plumbing or electrical issues.
4. Paint and clean the exterior. If you don’t plan to paint the whole house, at least give the front door a fresh coat. Choose a bright contrast to the main color. Clean out and repair roof gutters. Pressure wash the driveway and siding. Put out a new welcome mat.
5. Freshen interior walls. Putty nail holes, sand rough spots on interior walls. Spot-cleaning and touching up is more likely to highlight spots. Paint the entire wall for an even, clean look. Choose grays and milky whites. As much as you enjoy the orange wall in the study, a neutral palette reflects light and will open up the space, giving the appearance of more space.
6. Remove personal items.The family photos in the hall help make your house a home—for you. Now is the time to store them. Personal items distract. Allow the buyer to imagine her own family living there. How good are you at viewing things objectively? Most of us grow used to our surroundings and blind to what a buyer would see.
7. Banish odors. What odors, you say? Wash the dog’s bedding, and anywhere else she sleeps. Your nose may not detect it anymore, but other noses will. Wash bed clothes, and sprinkle baking soda over carpets and rugs before vacuuming to freshen daily. Freshen the air naturally, by rubbing a few drops of orange, eucalyptus, or juniper essential oil inside the vacuum cleaner.
8. Curb appeal. First impressions count, and for not a lot of money, your entryway can be a pleasing invitation to step inside and see what else the house has to offer. Trim and tidy bushes and trees, and keep the lawn mowed. Look at Pinterest and the cover of home and garden magazines for ideas. Heed the best advice when designing a fresh look: Keep it simple.
9. Interview real estate agents. An agent can give you helpful feedback about your property. Ask questions—we see all sorts of properties and can offer a practical sounding board for your concerns. You might set up a schedule for discussing finances, home repairs, and opening your house to buyers. An agent can help you manage the process of selling in your preferred timeframe.
You have some control over the way buyers perceive your home. Take the buyer’s perspective, and it will be a win-win. The buyer gets their castle, and you stand a good chance of selling on your terms.
Written by Suzanne Arthur, Broker, REALTOR. Connect with Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can make selling your home easier for you. To keep up with all of Asheville’s local happenings follow @suzannearthur_realtor on Instagram and check out her website suzannearthurrealtor.com.
Helpful Tips for a Successful Move
When we learned we’d be moving to Asheville, our daughter, Helen, received a book from her babysitter… who also happened to be her kindred spirit. The book was the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” Like most of the Seuss reads, it’s just as relevant to adults as it is to kids. Although it’s not a book about moving per se, it does lay out all the thoughts that can come to mind when considering a move.
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to great heights.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you
So how do you move your family (including the four legged members), and all your belongings without having a bang-up or a hang-up… and maintaining your sense of calm through the process?
Yes, that’s the ticket. Physical preparation – boxing everything up in a labeled box – is an obvious one, but getting mentally prepared is just as important. One great way to stay on track is making a Moving Checklist. As soon as you know that a move is on the horizon, start a folder of things that will need to be done. These list items can be everything from address changes for bills to acquiring boxes and packing supplies. Realsimple.com offers an interactive checklist for a two month timeline and a quick search yields several other great resources on the web.
If you’ll be using a professional moving service, start researching now. We found out the hard way that many of the expenses and pricing aren’t so straightforward. For example, movers either charge by weight or cubic feet of space in a truck. There are pros and cons to both methods. We chose a company that charged by weight because that seemed to be what most companies in our area were doing. Two different companies quoted around 7 to 9 thousand pounds of ‘stuff’ in our house. Who knew we had so much junk! And as it turned out, even that was grossly underestimated. We had closer to 14 thousand pounds of ‘stuff,’ which in turn almost doubled our quote. We learned several important lessons from this experience:
- Be prepared for additional costs
- Don’t have so much stuff – Now is the time to purge!
If after going through your checklist, you’ve decided you’ll be doing all the packing, you’ll need lots and lots of boxes. Probably more than you’d imagine! Boxes can be expensive if you’re buying them new from a moving supply or retail company. Prices vary, but can range from $3 to $12 each. However, if you’re up for doing a little research, you can find plenty of boxes for free. Start by checking with neighbors and friends, neighborhood social groups like Nextdoor and Facebook, or grocery and retail stores. Some recycling centers also offer free boxes, or will sell them for pennies, and perhaps now might be the perfect time to meet the new neighbors that just moved in and take advantage of all their boxes. Just remember, no matter how you got the boxes, label it with the contents AND where that box may go in your new home!
Kids, Pets and Plants
We made our move with a toddler, two cats, two dogs and a dozen plants. It may not be apparent at first, but the stress of a move is tough on everyone on this list, too. So, don’t let moving day creep up without getting everyone ready.
Our daughter was almost two at the time of our move and was generally into everything, so we gave her jobs to do. We would make daily piles of things we wanted to donate or give away and let her pack (and repeatedly unpack) those items , complete with her own roll of tape and crayons for “labeling.” She really enjoyed being able to “help.”
The four-legged family members need to be prepped for moving day, too. My wife is a veterinarian, and she’ll tell you that when pets’ routines are disturbed, they can become stressed just like us humans. If you plan on moving them in crates, make sure they are comfortable and used to them well before moving day. If they will be in your home when the movers arrive, move them to a room that is already cleaned out and has a way to be closed off. This will relieve some of their stress (and yours) and is a great way to make sure no one escapes out of an open door.
As for plants, ours were small enough to take in our cars without much preparation. If you have large plants or too many to take in your own vehicle, make sure to check with your moving company ahead of time. Many times, movers are not allowed to have plants in the cargo area of the trucks, especially if the move is across state lines. If you do have a significant number of plants, Atlas Van Lines offers a more specific list of tips on how to move them that you can find here.
Seek Help When Needed
With all these many things to keep up with for a move, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Our move was an excellent opportunity for our parents to spend time with our daughter and help when and where they could. We also created opportunities for willing friends that could help. We treated them to dinner or offered to watch their children when we got settled into our new home, and if you have the luxury of help and the time, get any painting done while the slate is clean. You’ll be glad you did.
When the moving truck finally arrives try to stand at the doorway when the movers start bringing everything in. You’ll be glad you labeled which room the boxes will be going in. If you labeled them well enough, the movers can start taking them to the appropriate rooms, or at least you can direct them easily.
Continuing on the preparedness theme, have a travel bag or suitcase with a few necessities that will go in your car. Think about what you might take on an overnight trip. I say this because our movers’ truck broke down on the way to our new home from another state, so our delivery was delayed until the next day. Luckily we had an air mattress and few items to get us through the night. Although it was a setback, it was sort of nice to sleep on the floor in our new, empty, home!
If I can leave you with any takeaways…
- Get prepared with your check list
- Label the contents of every box AND where it goes (kitchen, basement, etc.)
- Research your moving company
- Give your kids a chore to help
- Label your boxes!
- Get your pets prepped
- Ask for help
- Enjoy your new home! (And label your boxes!!)
Broker Jeff Farmer moved to Asheville from Tennessee with his wife, Sara, their daughter Helen, two cats and two dogs. Jeff offers the lessons he learned from this move and from assisting buyers and sellers to help you make the transition to a new home as seamless as possible. Jeff can be reached at email@example.com.
3 Simple Steps to Hiring the Best Moving Company
Hiring a mover can be a daunting experience especially when simultaneously trying to organize the other aspects of moving to a new home. After more than a decade of experience coordinating cross-country relocations and helping folks with local moves, I’ve developed a list of tips and interview questions to help you find the most professional mover so you have the best moving experience.
1. Decide what type of move you need.
Intrastate or Local
For intrastate moves (moves within the same state) visit your state’s website for a list of licensed and insured movers. In North Carolina, you can find carriers who are in compliance with the state’s regulations here.
Interstate or International
For moves across state lines (interstate) or internationally you can search carriers using the federal motor carrier safety administration’s site.
2. Determine how much assistance you want with your move.
There are a few different levels of service and pros and cons to each depending on the specifics of your move.
Full Service Move
Choose this option when you want the moving company to safely pack every item in your home, supply all the boxes, bubble wrap and packing paper, pad and shrink-wrap all furniture, load, move, unload the truck and unpack as many of the boxes as you want, wherever you want.
This is the most commonly requested service. You pack and box your belongings. They pad and shrink wrap your furniture, load, move and unload the truck at the desired location.
Load & Unload Only
Movers can help you to load or unload your rental truck, storage pod, ABF truck, storage unit or garage. This option is most useful to people who are able to drive a rental truck or who want to use a freight service. While you can save money using this option, you take on the responsibility for your belongings while they are being moved. The moving company, truck rental or Freight Company will not be responsible for any damage while in transit.
Some companies will recycle boxes and packing materials after use. They can help you to obtain free, clean, sturdy and inspected recycled boxes or plastic bins to help lessen your move’s impact on the environment and your wallet. Some moving company’s trucks also run on bio-diesel to reduce emissions.
3. Interview Your Mover.
Once you have determined the type of move you need and the service level you desire, there are a few questions to ask each mover you interview to ensure everyone is on the same page.
“Do you work for the mover or are you a broker?”
Brokers play an important role in helping customers match up with moving companies. Keep in mind, however, that a broker cannot give you a binding estimate and a broker is not responsible for loss or damage.
“Do you give binding quotes?”
A mover or broker may give you a quote over the phone, but those are generally not binding. Upon reviewing your items in person, a mover might then give a binding or “not to exceed” quote. However, brokers don’t typically give binding quotes.
“Does the quote include extra charges?”
For example – flight charges, long carry charges, appliance charges, parking charges, storage charges, fuel charges, awkward objects, etc. If you have a piano, you should let them know up front. Ask them if they have equipment to help with heavy and awkward items.
“Will my items be transferred?”
Long distance moves can sometimes require your items be transferred to another truck. This extra handling increases the chance that damage may occur.
“What forms of payment do you accept and on what terms?”
I do not recommend you hire a mover if they only accept cash. Be sure you are clear about the amount that is due on delivery versus the deposit amount, and whether deposits are refundable. Most companies that have a merchant account will accept credit cards, so be sure to ask if credit cards are an option.
“What type of insurance is included in your quote? What else is available to me?”
Basic coverage is 60 cents per pound but your moving company may offer an upgrade at a reasonable price. You can also work with third party insurance providers to cover the move.
“What is the process if something were to break or is missing? Who’s responsible?”
This is a follow-up to the previous question that clearly breaks down who is responsible for what. If you’re discussing a self-service move, you may not get reimbursed for something that you packed poorly. Wherever the responsibility lies, it’s better to know in advance.
No matter which type of move you are facing, a little planning and preparation can go a long way to reducing stress. Whether you are planning a local move or a long-distance move, using an independent local moving company, a national carrier or going DIY, these tips can make your move a smarter, safer and smoother experience!
Written by Jen Woodward, Broker, REALTOR with special thanks to Sean Lallouz, owner of Dry Ridge Moving and Transportation LLC. With more than a decade working in real estate and relocation, Jen utilizes her personal and professional moving experience to assist buyers and sellers in the Asheville market and beyond.
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