What's the secret of selling your home fast, and for top dollar? Keeping your house looking fantastic, of course! To achieve that, most successful home sellers have certain key habits in common, whether it's clearing out their mail pile every day or doing a monthly deep clean.
So if you've resolved to sell your home this year, listen up: Here are the best habits you can adopt to proactively maintain your home all the way to a successful sale.
Daily: Tidy up
When your home is on the market, it's best to always have it “show-ready,” which means in tiptop shape, since buyers love an impeccably clean house.
"I recommend my clients create a daily checklist of what to quickly tidy up before they leave for the day, so they can be prepared for last-minute showings," says Jessica Creel, a real estate professional in Phoenix. The checklist will help you get into the habit of making sure beds are made, clutter is put away, countertops are wiped down, blinds are left open, and fliers are left on the table.
Daily: Respond to offers
Successful sellers are in the habit of responding to offers quickly. "It's very important to strike when the iron is hot," says Bruce Ailion, a real estate professional at Atlanta's Re/Max Town and Country. "Buyers get antsy when their offer isn't responded to and begin to doubt it, because so much of real estate is emotional."
Prepare yourself by figuring out in advance what you will and won't accept. This includes the lowest offer you will take and what contingencies you'll allow.
Weekly: Build buzz
Make it your mission to broadcast to friends far and wide that your home is for sale. This means promoting your listing on social media—not just once, but every week—and through good, old-fashioned gabbing. After all, you never know which friend of a friend is looking for a new home.
Weekly: Do a deep clean inside and out
Pick a day each week to do a deep clean of your home, to keep the daily maintenance to a minimum. If you have a pet, this might include a weekly refreshing of carpets and upholstery that may harbor unpleasant smells.
Monthly: Purge your closets and cabinets
"When a client approaches me about wanting to list their home, the first thing I tell them to do is go through closets and get in the habit of donating unwanted items every month," says Beverly Burris at William Means Real Estate in Charleston, SC. "Closet and storage space is extremely important to buyers, and a seller needs to make them look as spacious as possible." Getting into the habit of eliminating clutter will make it easier for you to keep your closets show-ready.
Monthly: Maintain your exterior
Establish the routine of ensuring your home's stellar appearance by replacing outdoor light bulbs and cleaning the front porch. Freshen up exterior paint, get a professional window-cleaning and plant new landscaping if needed. "Most buyers fall in love with a house before they even enter," says Molly Lasater, an agent in Midland, Texas, at soldwithmolly.com, so this area is especially important to maintain on a regular basis.
Monthly: Sit down with your REALTOR®
Even though you'll regularly be in touch with your real estate professional on the progress of your home sale, get in the habit of having a monthly review. You'll want a breakdown of the activity going on in your neighborhood and on your property in particular. This will keep you alert to anything that needs to be recalibrated, such as changing the price or marketing if you aren't seeing the results that you would like, says Burris. The routine of checking in can also help drive an overall strategy to sell your home.
Annually: Make sure your home is in good repair
Once you know a sale is in your future, it's time to get a presale home inspection, so you can get in the habit of keeping your property in shape until you list it. An inspection will allow you time to make any major repairs, meaning that you'll be able to keep the negotiation power on your side instead of the buyer's, says Shawn Breyer of Atlanta's Breyer Home Buyers.
If you choose to forgo an inspection, a good rule of thumb is to replace mechanicals if they have reached 75% of their life expectancy. For example, if your water heater’s life expectancy is 10 years, you should replace it if it’s seven years or older.
All these habits add up to one thing—demonstrating pride of ownership. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.