Six Simple Steps to Preparing Your Home for Sale

Now is the time to get your house ready with spring fast approaching.


Published:

Timothy Ambrose

Photo by Darryl Barnes

When Lynn Signorelli sold her Berkeley home in 2015, she removed the tiles in the entryway, exposing the hardwood flooring beneath — and immediately added an estimated $5,000 to the price of the house.

Signorelli, who has since become a real estate agent, knew that taking the right steps when preparing to sell a home can add tens of thousands of dollars to its value. With spring approaching, now is a good time for sellers to prepare their homes, according to Signorelli and other East Bay real estate agents. Inspecting, decluttering, painting, deep cleaning, staging, and kitchen fixes can add value.

“I encourage my sellers to get a roof inspection, a termite inspection, and a home inspection,” said Timothy Ambrose, president of the Bay East Association of Realtors, an East Bay professional organization representing more than 5,000 real estate agents and brokers.

“You don’t want to put your house on the market and then have the buyer find out there are problems and negotiate the price down,” said Ambrose, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Any problems the seller doesn’t want to fix should be disclosed to buyers, he said.

“Provide estimates for the repair work,” added Ira Serkes, a longtime East Bay real estate agent with Pacific Union International.

Agent Ann Arriola Plant recommends that sellers walk the house and make a to-do list. The list shouldn’t be too long — just the major areas, said Plant, who partners with Signorelli at Marvin Gardens Real Estate in the East Bay.

Next, let the decluttering begin. It’s important to store or toss such things as family photos and knickknacks so potential buyers can imagine themselves living in the house.

“Invest in cosmetic and moderate updates so your home appeals to a wide range of buyers,” Serkes said.

Nothing makes a house sparkle like a new coat of paint, Plant said. “If you don’t paint, you might not attract as many offers or as high a final price.”

Some rooms can likely slide by with a coat of paint and a thorough cleaning. But the kitchen should look good, agents said. Fixing up a kitchen is not as expensive and labor-intensive as it might seem, according to Plant.

“One client’s kitchen had dark brown cabinets, bad lighting. It was just too dark,” Plant said. “We painted the kitchen, added molding, refinished the floor and countertops, and painted the dark brown cabinets and put in one new light.” The project, accomplished several years ago, cost around $8,000 in today’s dollars.

“When we’re ready to put the house on the market, we have the house and the windows thoroughly cleaned. The last piece is to stage the property,” Plant said.

“Stagers are really good at knowing how to place furniture, where to put a mirror to make a room look larger, how to make a house look good,” Ambrose said. “The whole objective is to get lots of buyers interested so you get multiple offers and the highest and best price.” 

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