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MIKE HOLMES: The case for taking your time before listing your home

Unless you absolutely need to list the home tomorrow (due to a job relocation or other personal circumstances), slow down and take your time.
Unless you absolutely need to list the home tomorrow (due to a job relocation or other personal circumstances), slow down and take your time. - 123RF Stock Photo

Eventually, after a few years, or a few decades — our homes are going to change ownership. Some homeowners might only do this once, while others may find themselves going through the buy-sell cycle a few times before they settle into a forever home. When it’s time to say goodbye to your current home, how can you make the process go smoothly for you and the new owners? Here’s how you sell it right.

Take your time

Unless you absolutely need to list the home tomorrow (due to a job relocation or other personal circumstances), slow down and take your time. This will give you the chance to properly declutter  and make any necessary repairs to the home. Decluttering should come first, then deal with any needed repairs. It’ll be much easier for your contractor and their team if they don’t have to work around a bunch of furniture that’s going to end up tossed when you sell.

If you’ve been in the home for decades, the decluttering process can seem overwhelming, and so often, I see people rush it, tossing a bunch of good things in a dumpster and calling it a day. With the right planning, and enough time, you can go through things bit by bit and figure out what’s being given to family members, what’s in good shape and worth donating, and what needs to be tossed. If your goal is downsizing, give yourself a few years to work through this process, instead of trying to fit it all into a short few months. You’ll breathe easier.

Clean up to prepare for potential viewers. - 123RF
Clean up to prepare for potential viewers. - 123RF


I’m a big believer in reusing things — so for any furniture that is still in good shape, but won’t fit in your new home, donate it or repurpose it. The same goes for any cabinetry that you’re replacing. Research your local furniture banks and find someone who will help distribute it to people who could really use it. Whenever we work on a kitchen renovation, we do our best to save those big-ticket items that still have a shelf life.

Once the home is relatively clear, it’s a good time to address those renovations you need to make the house market-ready. Depending on how well-maintained the home has been, this could be a big undertaking, or it may be something as small as adding some fresh paint, or upgraded fixtures.

Here’s something every homeowner should do. When you’re having a renovation done, take photos of the project before, during, and after. Put it all in an album to hand over to the new homeowners when you sell. This allows them to see beyond the “lipstick and mascara” of the home, down to the bones. Knowing that you’ve properly insulated the home, or upgraded that old knob and tube wiring might help motivate a buyer to make an offer.

Get a home inspection

Buying a home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make — and it can be an incredibly stressful process. How can a buyer know if the home was properly built and maintained? Having a home inspection report available for potential buyers can show that you’re serious about selling and have taken the time to properly care for the home in the years you lived there.

This is especially important if you don’t live in a seller’s market. Place two identical houses on the market, where one has an inspection report that details the state of the roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrical system and more, while the other doesn’t. Which one do you think would be more likely to generate good, competitive offers?

I always recommend potential buyers spend the few hundred dollars to have an inspection performed, so as a homeowner, why would you want to bother with one? An inspection can also help alert you to any big red flags in the home that are in need of repair. Knowing about these issues before you list means you can address them ahead of time, protecting the value of your listing price.

If the home is deemed to be in good shape, the inspection report can help reduce the time the house spends on the market, and keep price negotiations to a minimum.


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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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