Preparing Your House for Sale: Six Months Out

As the Tri-City real estate market begins to heat up, more and more homeowners are considering putting their homes on the market.  Many are looking at Spring 2010, but have a relatively simplistic view of what is involved in preparing their home for sale. 

In today’s market, a market influenced by buyers who have neither the time nor the interest in fixing up a home, just adjusting the price to reflect condition doesn’t make sense.  In fact, if your house needs $30,000 worth of work to put it in good shape and you price it “discounted” by that amount, most buyers will estimate the cost to cure those defects at three times that amount.  At $90,000, you’re already $60,000 apart before they even see it!

In a series of blog entries, I will lay out a strategy for what it takes to prepare your home for sale.  It can take as long as six months to do those things that will make your property scream “buy me” to the buyer, unless you’ve been fastidious in how you keep the home.  There are several stages, and the first is potentially the most expensive:  the exterior, including landscaping and the building envelope.

Curb appeal is the buzz phrase for the exterior, but that’s a small part of the whole picture.  Let’s take a look at landscaping first.

Six months before your anticipated listing date, spend an hour or two walking about the outside of your house.  Landscaping is intended to be a setting for the house–not camouflage.  It should not be so overgrown as to cover windows, nor so close to the house that you can’t walk between the shrubs and house without difficulty.  Many shrubs take well to pruning and a well-manicured appearance can make a big difference.  Clear a path around your house and lower the shrubs that obscure the windows.  Be sure to notice trees that have shoots (called suckers, because they can suck the life out of a tree) protruding from the trunk and remove them.  Also, trim low hanging branches below six or seven feet–prospective buyers should be able to walk beneath a tree (non-weeping variety) without incurring lacerations.  

What about your lawn?  Does it look like a dried out rugby field or a putting green?  There are many products available to improve the appearance of your lawn and, of course, there are lawn services that can put your yard in top-notch shape.  Like landscaping, the lawn is the setting for the home and it is the first thing buyers see when they approach the house. 

So, start working on your lawn and landscaping now, so it will be in good shape by the time you are ready to put your home on the market come Spring.   The next step is to walk around the house and evaluate the building envelope.  And, that’s my next installment.  Stay turned… 

Submitted by:

Your Canyon Lakes Realtor

Sharon Sasser Warren, Realtor                         
   8022 W. Grandridge Blvd.
   Kennewick, WA  99336

   Direct:   (509) 551-4393                  
   Office:   (509) 783-1431
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