Prepping Your Home For Sale

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The good news is housing inventory in Chicago is down 40 percent from last year with prices up for the first time since the housing bubble burst. Most home values dropped 35-40 percent from the market highs and are quickly gaining value. Real estate is poised for a major comeback with many experts predicting that we are in for a huge recovery in the upcoming months. There are limited places to invest with the stock market peaking at new all-time highs, leaving real estate as the next haven for investment.

As a home seller, how do you take advantage of this upcoming trend to get the best value for your home?

I spoke with veteran real estate broker, Leslie Bodell of the Prudential Rubloff  Michigan Avenue office about what she recommends to best showcase a home and prepare it for sale. A long-time resident of the Chicago Gold Coast, she’s seen the market through its ups and downs and has weathered the storm.

Ms. Bodell offered these tips for selling your property:

CLEAN. Not just the usual floors, counter tops, bathroom. Clean and organize all closets. Get the multilayers of dust off your lampshades and window treatments. Shine those windows and mirrors. Make sure your oven is spotless (yes, buyers will peak inside). Clean out the refrigerator. Why? Because the age and condition of your appliances is a factor when buyers think about what they may need to consider replacing and translates to money to their offer. Also, take a good look at your paint and make the investment to re-freshen rooms that need it. Sometimes just a new coat of white or off-white paint on the trim and doors can make a big difference. Buy a new set of towels for the bathroom(s) and put them out for showings. If you have pets, make sure they are clean and smell good, too! You don’t want your home to smell like a dirty dog.

DON’T FORGET LIGHTING. Ideally, you should have multiple levels of lighting in all rooms. Ceiling and eye level minimally. Your switches should all have dimmers; this is not an expensive thing to do. Bright rooms offset a not so good view to a prospective buyer. Buy some art lighting to highlight some of your art even if you don’t own a Renoir. Be sure your light bulbs are of an ample wattage.

EDIT. Take those 20 beloved photos sitting on your mantle, pick out one or two that you can’t live without and stash the rest. Look closely at every table top, shelf and counter; unless you are already a minimalist, reduce the clutter by at least half. Buyers want to envision themselves (and their things) in your space, so don’t distract them by having too much of your stuff in the way. Make sure whatever is left out on display is clean and polished. Remove everything from your refrigerator door and keep just a few appliances on the kitchen counter.

STAGE. Sometimes it’s just a matter of removing or adding artwork/mirrors and rearranging your furniture. Other times you may want to hire a professional staging company to come in with their own items to update your look and make it current. It can’t be emphasized enough the importance of great staging in a home prior to showing. Put aside your sentimental feelings about your grandmother’s quilt or beloved family heirloom. The proper staging makes a huge difference in the perceived value of your property. Don’t feel insulted if your Realtor tells you need to makes changes in your décor and be open to suggestions. The goal is to sell your property for top dollar.

For more information on the current real estate housing market or to list or buy a home, contact Leslie Bodell at lbodell@rubloff.com or 312.268.0631.

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About Terri Lee Ryan

Terri Lee Ryan is a former Chicago commercial real estate broker, marketing consultant and hotel developer. An avid writer, she is the author of Life Is One Big To-Do List. In “People, Places and Property” she dishes on leaders in real estate, new places in your neighborhood and deals being done in Chicago.