We’ve written a lot about steps to take before putting your home on the market. And we’ve written about how seasons affect home buying. One thing we haven’t covered is how those two elements should be timed relative to each other.
Begin by choosing the month in which you want to sell. Let’s choose June for example. In a typical year, about 40 percent of all home sales in the Midwest occur between May and August. That means you’ll have a good chance of selling it quickly.
Now project the time it will take to do the following:
Analyze your local market. What’s trending in homes in your area? What’s fetching higher offers? This step—and, frankly, all the others—can go a lot faster and more easily if you have a good Realtor. It’s their job to monitor the market, and they work in it every day. They can help you assess local trends and identify steps you can take to make your home command top dollar. Plan two weeks for this.
Get a presale home inspection. To ensure you don’t miss anything that may open the door for tough negotiations from buyers—or worse, scare away one who’s interested—we recommend getting a presale inspection. Taking care of repairs up front allows you to roll the costs into the price of your home. Plan two weeks.
Invest in structural repairs. This is the time to tend to deferred maintenance to make your home move-in ready. It may mean tightening screws on kitchen cupboards, replacing broken tiles or changing the filter in your furnace/air conditioning unit, but it may mean more substantial repairs depending on what’s found in the presale home inspection. Plan six weeks for this.
Improve the cosmetics. Again, thinking June here, you may want to stain the deck, power wash your home, paint bedrooms, update cabinetry or countertops, clean spring debris and maybe plant some flowers. See “Top 5 Home Improvements that Pay Back When You Sell” for inspiration. The length of time it will take depends on the extent of improvements, but the cosmetic improvements can be underway even as the structural repairs are happening. Plan six weeks for this.
Stage your home. Your objective here is to remove anything that stands in the way of a prospective buyer picturing themselves living there. Now is the time to declutter, organize and move superfluous décor into storage. Studies have shown that staging a home increases the dollar value offered and decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market. Plan two weeks for this.
List your home and market your property. In today’s seller’s market, this won’t take long for most middle-range homes. If you live in a luxury home, however, you’ll be appealing to a smaller pool of buyers and should plan on it taking several weeks. Plan four to eight weeks.
All this taken together, means that if you want to sell your home in June, you should take your first step well before the snow melts as your timeline will look something like this:
February—hire a Realtor to assess your property and complete your pre-sale inspection
March-mid-April—complete structural repairs and improve cosmetics
Last half of April—stage your home
May—list your home and market your property
Of course, you can complete these steps in a tighter timeframe, but when your schedule allows, this approach can help manage your expectations about the process and alleviate a lot of the stress throughout.