Selling this spring? Prepare your home like a pro (Part 1)


What homeowner does not want to fetch top dollar for their house when they sell? Over the past 25 years, I have sold a great variety of homes each with a specific location, floorplan, and starting condition. Not one home is exactly like another, so no one recipe will apply in every circumstance. What I am going to share with you are the guiding principles that will help any seller boost their bottom line. In this first article in a two-part series, I will explain why the time and trouble is well worth the investment and I will outline the hidden costs associated with rushing a house to market.

The ultimate purpose of pre-sale preparations is to enhance the buyer’s showing experience while communicating the home’s unique attributes and illustrating a compelling value proposition. Sellers are wise to focus on proper preparation since it greatly influences how quickly a contract is secured, if multiple contracts are submitted, and how high the offers come in.

Preparation involves creating curb appeal, making repairs, adding a fresh coat of paint, completing budget-friendly cosmetic projects, cleaning, detailing, decluttering, depersonalizing and staging a home to maximize its appeal. The aim is to increase demand and generate the highest price for the seller in the least amount of time on market.

While putting a home up for sale as soon as possible might initially sound appealing, you may encounter these hidden costs if your home does not sell as quickly as anticipated. These are recurring on a monthly basis for as long as you own the house:

• Monthly carrying costs: mortgage, property taxes, insurance, association fees

• Property maintenance costs: lawn care, snow removal roof repair/replacement, pest control, security monitoring fees

• Cleaning charges

• Utility bills

• Interim property management fees

As days on market increases, so do the risks of major system failure, property damage and vacancy — if you need to move before your house is sold:

• Failing mechanicals such as furnaces, hot water heaters, central air conditioners

• Disaster repair/restoration for burst pipes, backed up sewer lines

• Weather damage from wind, fire, water

• Vacant insurance can increase premiums, after 30 days

When I serve as project manager and listing agent for an out-of-town seller, it is not unusual to have a failed furnace or a flooded basement. Sellers need to consider that a vacant home is unmonitored much of the time, especially if the house is not being shown by agents who can report a problem. Expenses related to mechanical failures or weather damage can be minimized with a timely sale.

There is another reason to aim for a quick sale. Buyers devalue a house when it lingers on the market for months; they sense that other buyers did not like the house and wonder if there is something wrong with it. This perception pushes prices down. When a house doesn’t sell quickly, buyers do not see the need to submit offers close to the list price.

When a house is properly prepared, and priced within the proven market range, it will sell for more money in less time. The seller will not need to reduce the price of the house and stands to attract multiple offers, increasing the likelihood of receiving their asking price and their terms, such as preferred closing date and post-closing occupancy time. I’ve even had competing buyers offer my sellers free rent for two months!
In my next article, I will detail the top budget-friendly projects that will yield up to 250% return on investment and I will give you my top tips for creating curb appeal and setting the stage for spectacular showings.


Tracy Wick, SRES, MUP is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist in Michigan with over 25 years of experience as a real estate agent and client advocate. Tracy is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams and she can help guide you through the process of preparing your home for market to ensure you optimize the outcome. Find more articles on home buying, selling, elder transition and estate settlement at or contact her directly at 248-912-7407 or