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How to Prepare Your Home for Sale in the Washington D.C. Market

Real Estate Education Fleur Howgill October 3, 2023

Getting ready to list your Washington, D.C. house on the market? That means it’s time to prepare your home for sale.

We’ve already covered some home improvement projects that have a great return on investment, but even if you aren’t planning on tackling a major project, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of attracting a solid offer once your home hits the market.

From cleaning and decluttering to staging your home’s living spaces, investing some time and effort to prepare your house for sale can make a big difference in how quickly it sells – and for how much.

How Do You Prepare Your Washington, D.C. Home for Sale?

Find a great real estate agent -- Before you start working on the house itself, it’s a good idea to meet with a trusted, experienced real estate agent. Working with a real estate agent to list your house is the best way to get your home sold for the best price promptly.

A listing agent will represent you throughout the buying process, from determining the best listing price for your market and neighborhood to negotiating with buyers and closing the deal. The agent will also suggest or hire a photographer, market the property, coordinate open houses, and provide guidance on staging and any remodeling projects your home might need before it’s ready to be listed.

Identify and Make Repairs -- Chances are some minor repairs need to be done throughout the house. Go through each room of the house and look for items that need to be replaced or repaired – things like leaky faucets or fixtures, running toilets, peeling caulk around showers, tubs, and sinks, cracked or broken windows, broken tiles, peeling paint or cracks on the walls, broken tile or cracked floors. All cabinets and drawers, as well as all appliances, should be in working order.

The same goes for the exterior – make sure gutters are cleaned and attached; the siding and roofing are in good shape; fences, patios, and decks are in good condition; and trees and bushes have been trimmed and lawns mowed. Replace or repair any window screens that are bent or have holes in them.

Keep in mind that these small things can put off a prospective buyer. Making these repairs can increase the likelihood of a quick sale.

Remove Personal Items -- Home buyers want to be able to see their family in your home, so make your home a blank canvas for potential buyers. Remove personal items such as family photos and mementos, diplomas and certificates, collectibles, or religious items. Now is not the time to show off your collection of ceramic frogs or that 5,000-piece puzzle you’ve been working on.

Declutter and Deep Clean -- Now is the time to purge your house of unwanted and unnecessary items. Not only will it make your move to your new house easier, but it will make the house you want to sell look larger and create less visual clutter for prospective buyers.

Gather items to donate to charity or neighborhood "buy nothing" groups. For items that cannot be donated, check your local government’s website to find out when they may be willing to pick up and haul away large items or if they provide suggested drop-off spots to dispose of such items.

Also: Organize your closets, cabinets, and drawers so that when a potential buyer opens up a closet or cabinet to see the storage space inside, they aren’t met with a deluge of clutter. All of these tasks will make your house seem larger and brighter.

Finally, deep clean your house, paying special attention to kitchens, bathrooms, windows (inside and out), baseboards, and doors (frame and door itself). Think of it as a spruced-up spring cleaning. You could also hire a professional cleaner for this task.

Paint -- The number one recommended home project for sellers is painting. And, as a rule, that paint should always be a neutral color. For many of the same reasons as above, painting a room a neutral color will allow potential buyers to better imagine what the home will look like with their own furniture and accessories in place.

In addition, a uniform, neutral color can make a space feel larger and brighter. If you can’t paint your entire house, focus on painting the main living spaces or any spaces that currently have non-neutral colors.

Spruce Up the Curb Appeal -- Give your front door a new coat of paint, add some potted flowers or bushes, make sure there are fresh flowers in any planter or window boxes, and add new, highly visible house numbers or a new mailbox. Make sure any outdoor lighting is working and replace any bulbs that have gone out. If you have a porch, deck, or patio, make sure it’s staged with outdoor furniture and bright pillows.

Staging -- Speaking of staging, having your home professionally staged can help sell a home faster than those that are not staged. Your real estate agent can recommend a professional stager if you want to go that route.

Even if you don’t go with a professional, focus on adding some design elements such as fresh flowers, books, mirrors, pillows, and throws to the living rooms and bedrooms. Remove any small appliances from the kitchen counters and add a bowl of fruit or some plants. Consider staging one of the bedrooms or an unused nook as an at-home office, with a desk and chair so potential buyers can imagine the possibilities. Appeal to potential parent buyers by staging one of the bedrooms as a children’s room or nursery.

Keep it Clean – If you are still living in your house throughout the sales process, this might be the most challenging tip of them all. Don’t let clutter pile up again, keep up with the staging, wipe counters and surfaces every day, stay on top of trash receptacles, and keep the floors free of debris and dust. You never know how long your home will remain on the market and an agent could bring potential buyers to the house for a showing without a lot of lead time.

Prepping Your Washington D.C. House for a Quicker Sell

With just a little time and investment, there are several small projects that homeowners need to undertake when it comes time to list their homes on the Washington D.C. market. The goal is to get the very best price in the quickest amount of time, so making your home the most attractive, maintenance-free option can have a major influence on today’s buyers.

If you are unsure where to start, talk to an experienced real estate professional. Fleur and Veronique know exactly what buyers in the Washington D.C. metro area are looking for. Contact Fleur or Veronique to get started.

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Fleur and Veronique's passion for travel has significantly enriched their understanding of diverse cultures and unique requirements. Their personal experience as expatriates further enhances their ability to cater to the needs of an international clientele seeking insight into life in Washington DC. Fleur's remarkable history of achievements serves as a testament to her expertise. Don't hesitate to contact Fleur's team to discover more about how they can assist you!