Showing Your Home – 25 Step Plan to Get Your Home Ready for Buyers

Ready to Show

You have your house on the market. You’re minding your own business when suddenly, you get a phone call. Someone wants to come show your house to a potential buyer, but your home is a little (or a lot) messy. What should you do?

Here’s is a 25 step checklist to help you make sure that your home is presentable and will create the right impression for your potential buyer.

Before you get the call, set yourself up with a plan for success

• Have a laundry basket or two handy. You can use it gather and remove clutter, and take it in your car with you as you leave.
• Have a set of “show towels” for the kitchen and bathroom that you only bring out for a showing
• Keep the show towels and cleaning supplies in the laundry basket. When you get a showing, take the laundry basket from room to room. Gather clutter and clothes and put them in the basket as you tidy up.
• Plan on leaving during the showing, and take the pets with you as you go
• Keep a short list of places for you to go during the showing… shopping, coffee, running errands, etc.
• Lock up your cash, guns, jewelry, and medications
• Always lock your doors on the way out

If you only have 30 minutes or less to prepare for a showing

• Take the laundry basket from room to room and pick up the clutter
• Make the beds, smooth the bedspreads, and fluff the pillows
• Wipe the counters and sinks with a damp cloth
• Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher
• Put out the “show towels” in the kitchen and bathrooms
• Put toiletries and shower items away
• Close the toilet lids
• Close the clothes hampers or cover them with a cloth
• Close closet doors
• Stuff your bills and personal papers in a drawer or take them with you
• Empty all of the garbage cans
• Turn on all of the lights
• Open curtains and blinds and let in some light
• Freshen the air, if needed

If you have more than 30 minutes to prepare for a showing

Do everything in the list above, and:
• Vacuum the carpets and rugs
• Sweep the floors
• Clean the toilet and shower
• Sweep the front porch

Here is a printable PDF version: How to Prepare Your Home for a Showing

With a plan like this, and a little advance notice on your showing appointments, you don’t have to worry about keeping your house squeaky clean all the time. It’s your home… live in it as you wish. Have a plan for getting the house ready for showings and set your self up for success. When the call comes, execute the plan. It’s a lot of hard work in a short period of time, but it is crucial that your home looks great for potential buyers.

Be sure to declutter your home before you put it on the market.

Seller Disclosure Statement – What does a seller need to know?

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Washington law says that when you sell your home, you must fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement (also known as Form 17). You must tell the buyer any problems with the property that you know about.

Download a Seller Disclosure Statement.

Do I have to do a disclosure statement when I sell my home?

Probably. Almost every real estate seller in Washington state has to fill out a Seller Disclosure Statement, but there are some exceptions. If you fall into one of these categories, then you don’t have to do it. The exemptions listed below can be found in RCW 64.06.010:

  • If the transfer is a foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, meaning that the transfer is from the borrower to the borrower’s lender. This exemption doesn’t apply when you buy a foreclosure property from a bank, or sell a property that you bought at a foreclosure auction.
  • Gift or transfer between family members, such as a parent, child, spouse, domestic partner, etc.
  • Transfers between spouses and domestic partners in connection with a divorce or dissolution
  • Transfers where the buyer had an ownership interest in the property in the past two years
  • Transfers that are less than fee simple and don’t include full ownership rights in the property (such as a life estate or lease)
  • Transfers made by the personal representative of an estate or a bankruptcy trustee
  • When the buyer has waived the right to receive the Seller Disclosure Statement

What do I have to disclose?

You have to disclose any material facts that you are aware of that affect the property. A material fact is something that affects the title (ownership) of the property or the physical condition. Some common examples include:

  • Leaky roof
  • Electrical issues
  • Problems with the septic system

Generally you don’t need to disclose things that are not material facts, such as:

  • Whether a death, murder, or suicide occurred in the house
  • Political or religious activity
  • Whether there are sex offenders nearby

You also aren’t liable for things that you don’t have actual knowledge of.

Tips for filling out the disclosure statement

  • The “Don’t know” box is your friend! If you’re not sure about an answer, it’s better to be honest about that then to make a bad guess.
  • Be honest. Don’t downplay problems.
  • Imagine that you are buying the property, and ask which things you would want to know about. When in doubt, disclose it.
  • Attach explanations. You can attach additional pages to the Seller Disclosure Statement. These can be explanations of a particular issue, details of how it was repaired, or even a copy of a repair invoice.
  • When in doubt, disclose it! This is the safest choice.

When do I have to give a Seller Disclosure Statement to the buyer?

RCW 64.06.030 says that the seller must deliver the Seller Disclosure Statement within five business days of mutual acceptance of a purchase and sale agreement. The buyer has three days from when they receive the disclosures to either cancel the purchase and sale agreement or accept the disclosures.

If the buyer doesn’t respond within three days of delivery of the Seller Disclosure Statement, then the buyer has “accepted” it.

What if I don’t give a Seller Disclosure Statement?

If you fail to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement, and you don’t meet one of the exemptions listed above, then the buyer has a right of rescission that lasts until three days after closing! This means that even if the sale has closed and recorded and the buyer has taken possession of the property, the buyer can unwind or cancel the sale within three days.

Be sure to deliver a Seller Disclosure Statement so that you don’t face any unexpected surprises!

This is not legal advice

Please note that this general information is provided for educational purposes, and is not legal advice. Everyone’s situation is different. If you need legal advice, please contact a real estate attorney.

 

Declutter your home for a faster sale

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Though we’re getting better at keeping our personal things organized, no amount of Ikea furniture hacking can hide that fact that we all have too much stuff. Most of us have every nook and cranny of our homes bulging with clothes, linens, toys, tools, books, household goods, and a dish for every special occasion under the sun.

Too much stuff can make it harder to sell your home. If you want to sell your home, and sell your home fast, then you need to lose some of the stuff.

The buyer must envision their stuff in the space, not your stuff

A house generally consists of four walls, a floor, and a roof. Inside this structure is what is commonly referred to as “space”. What we call “home” is the way that we use the space inside our house with our stuff. But if your stuff is everywhere, it will prevent the buyer from seeing their own stuff there.

Here’s what’s going to happen when a buyer comes to look at your home. One of them is going to look in cabinets, closets, and drawers. The other will check out the garage. They will both be thinking of how their own stuff will fill the space inside and outside the house to make it a home.

Will they be able to picture their own stuff in the same living room as your bulging three piece sectional sofa? Probably not!

If the space is filled with your stuff, it’s harder for them to see their stuff in it

In order to imagine your house as their home, the buyer needs to see where they can fit their stuff. They need to have the vision of where everything is going to go and how they are going to live in the space. This will help it feel like home to them.

Too much of your stuff will prevent the buyers from seeing their stuff in the space. It will remind them that your house is not their home. They need to be able to see past that.

Here are some ideas to help you declutter and depersonalize your home….

How to Declutter

  • Clean out the pantry: This will make your pantry seem larger. You should donate food that is still good, but won’t be eaten. Try the Thurston County Food Bank.
  • Clean up the bathroom: Try not to leave your toothbrushes, deodorant, and beauty products on the counter.
  • Garage sale: This is a time-tested way to get rid of that stuff you don’t need anymore or never use.
  • Storage: If you have a lot of stuff that you don’t want to get rid of, consider placing it in temporary storage until after you move. If you can’t afford storage, try to make some room in the garage.
  • Donation: Give your stuff to an organization that helps people in need, such as the Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.
  • 2Good2Toss: Sell, exchange, or give things away online.

How to De-personalize

  • Remove pictures and mementos from walls. Pictures are distracting and draw attention away from the features of your house. This can be a tough one, but think about it. If the buyer sees your family and friends all over the place, it’s not going to feel like home. It will remind them that this is your house, not theirs. You don’t have to remove every picture, but try to limit it to one or two items per room. 
  • Cut back on the knick-knacks, trinkets, tchotchke, and collections. We’ve seen homes that had so many knick knacks, souvenirs, and trinkets on the walls that you could not see the walls! This presents a real challenge for potential buyers. Not only does it prevent them from seeing their stuff in the space, but it also makes the house feel smaller.
  • Remove or reduce items that are blatantly political or religious. Though these things may be very important to you, a potential buyer might strongly disagree with your point of view. Some people just can’t look past this kind of thing, and you don’t want them to form their opinion of your home based on a negative association.
  • Use neutral colors. We once had a room that had blue and red walls, and another room with purple and some sort of nuclear yellow. Don’t make the same mistake we did! It only reminded buyers that it was our home, not theirs, and if they wanted to buy it someone was going to have to paint. If you have some colorful craziness going on like we did, consider painting over it with a neutral color. 
  • Be scent-neutral. Try to get rid of any odor issues in your home. Common sources of odors are garbage cans, shoes, pets, perfumes and colognes, strong smelling foods, and smoking. If your home has an odor issue, it will smack people in the face as soon as they walk in the door. It makes a terrible first impression. Masking the odor with scented air fresheners can make it worse, because some buyers are very sensitive to scent.
  • More fresh air! Whether your home has a scent issue or not, fresh air is always good. Crack some windows and let the house air out, especially before a showing or open house. Consider using window fans to circulate air quickly when you know someone is coming to take a look.

Bonus Tip

Decluttering and depersonalizing your home can be a real challenge. It feels like you are dismantling your home’s identity, or even your own! As you put your stuff away, try to flip this feeling around by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I have this thing?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • What would happen if it was gone?
  • Do I really need to keep it?

If you ask these questions as you put stuff away, you might realize that you don’t really need so much stuff after all.

Do you have more questions about preparing your home for sale? If so, click this link and we’ll answer it!

 

Is it time to sell your home? Find out by answering these three questions

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You’ve wanted to sell your home for quite a while now. Perhaps you’ve outgrown your current one, or maybe you’ve decided to downsize and go minimalist. Whatever the reason, you’re feeling ready to make a move.

But the market just hasn’t been on your side. You’ve waited years for the market to pick up, and you’re getting tired of waiting. Well, you don’t have to wait any longer.

It’s a seller’s market! A seller’s market is when there are more people looking to buy a home than there are homes for sale. A seller’s market is a great time to sell your home. Homes generally sell faster and for more money, and you might even end up with multiple offers from competing buyers. If you’re a seller right now, the market is on your side.

First things first: start with the why

There are several things to consider when deciding whether now is the time to sell. But first you need to answer the most important question: Why?

Why? You’ve got to have a goal, and asking why will help you decide what it is. Selling your home is a means to an end. What do you want to accomplish by selling your home? What is your goal, and what does success look like to you?

Some reasons that people sell their home include:

  • Current home too small
  • Move closer to friends and family
  • Job relocation
  • Current home too large
  • Changes in family situation

The reason why you want to sell your home will determine the goal that you want to accomplish and the path that you take to get there. 

Then look at your finances

You need to answer two financial questions:

  • How much cash do I need to accomplish my goal?
  • Will the cash I get from the sale of my home be greater than the cash I need to accomplish my goal?

How much money do you need to accomplish your goal? This depends on what your goal is and what you will be using the money for.

Will you be buying another home after you sell? If so, you need an estimate of how much the new home will cost, and how much money you need for a down payment. You can use the cash you get when you sell your current home as a down payment on a new home. Will this be enough? Do you need money left over for other reasons like paying down debt or starting a new business? Add those amounts to the total.

The amount of money you receive when you sell your home, after expenses, will help determine your budget for making your next move. To know whether you can sell your home for enough money to allow you to accomplish your goal, you need to know how much your home is worth and how much cash will be in your pocket after the sale.

Step three: How much is your home worth, and how much cash is in your pocket after the sale?

You can use a website like Zillow, which uses data to create an automated estimate of your home, to get a rough idea of your home’s value. The problem with automated estimates is that there isn’t a real person on the other end making adjustments for when the data program diverges from reality. The results can be inconsistent. And Zillow can’t tell you how much cash is in your pocket after the sale.

An honest and competent real estate broker is the best resource for step three. A real estate broker will tell you how much your home is worth. They can also estimate your selling costs and help you find out how much cash is in your pocket after the sale. 

You need to work with someone you can trust, someone who will be completely open and honest with you about your situation. You don’t want to be pressured into listing your home for sale, and you don’t want to be pushed into making an uncertain decision. You need someone who can help you figure out whether your goal is realistic and attainable, before you list your home for sale. Someone who can help you develop a plan of action.

That’s what we do.

Free Home Value Report

Using a custom-developed formula, we leverage the technology of data driven value estimates with human intuition. Then we personally comb through the MLS to find comparable sales that bring clarity and accuracy to the value estimate. By combining the latest technology with a personal touch, we provide an accurate and well informed estimate of the market value of your home.

We can tell you

  • How much your home is worth
  • How much cash will be in your pocket after a sale
  • Tips and tricks to sell your home faster and for more money

This free service includes a professionally designed report. You choose how you want to receive the information. Most people prefer to receive the report by email. We can discuss it by phone, email, in person, or via Skype. Your choice. Once you receive it, you decide where to go from there. 

Why do we do this for free? What’s the catch?

We look at this as an audition, a chance for us to earn your trust and, eventually, your business. If you like the report and you like working with us, then maybe you’ll list your home with us some day. Or maybe you’ll tell one of your friends about us. Even if we never list your home for sale, this service helps us learn more about the market and perfect our craft. 

When we do good things for people, good things tend to come back to us. We promise you this: We will give you competent, honest, responsive service that puts your interests first. No hype, no pressure, and no bull. If this describes what you need, then let’s get started.

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1. Fill out this form

2. Take the survey on the next page

3. We'll send you a custom market analysis of your home

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