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A real estate agent may recommend certain repairs that have a high return on investment, such as home improvements that generate significant curb appeal. When you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need to decide on what fixes make sense based on their ROI and what you can do yourself, as opposed to hiring a professional.

Common repairs that sellers often opt to make before selling include:

  • Make sure all kitchen appliances are working correctly
  • All doors, drawers, and cabinets should all open and shut smoothly
  • Replace missing boards on the exterior fence
  • All sink faucets and showerheads should work without leaking. This would be a good time to double-check the water heater as well
  • Repair all holes in the drywall from hanging photos, the TV, etc
  • If the foundation is damaged that will need to be repaired or reported as well
  • Ensure heat and AC are working correctly
  • Repainting to a neutral color is recommended, as this helps the home show well. At a minimum, paint over bright colors or hues that wouldn’t have a universal appeal, such as a lavender bedroom. You would be surprised how much better a home looks with a simple coat of paint to brighten things up.

After the home is clean, start to declutter and pack. Homes show best when they’re free of personal artifacts, such as family photos or special collections. Buyers want to see themselves in the home, which they can’t do with personal possessions in every room. After the home is clean and decluttered, stage each room to suggest how it will be used. Either use the furniture you own or rent furniture (for instance, when you’re selling a home that was rented to tenants, who removed all their possessions at move-out). Set up the furniture so it tells a story. Consider a dining table set with placemats and colorful napkins, with a bowl of fruit in the center of the table. Don’t forget to stage the outside of the home with small improvements that boost curb appeal. For instance, mow the lawn, trim the hedges, and set a pot with cheery flowers on the front stairs.

Once the home is staged, take photos. If you’re not handy with a camera, bring in a real estate photographer who can use a wide-angle camera to get great shots of each room. According to FitSmallBusiness, real estate photography typically costs between $95-$300. This pricing is generally based on a 3,000 square foot home and includes 10-25 MLS ready images. If you’re doing it yourself, shoot photos on a sunny day when the home is filled with natural light. Use a tripod to steady the camera and take shots of each room from different angles, so you can select the best photos to advertise your listing. A newer phone should be able to capture your home fine if used properly, but not all phones are created equal. If you don’t have access to a more powerful camera phone, such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel – it may make sense to go with a professional photographer.

Create a shot list

  • 2 wide-angle shots of each bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room
  • 1 photo of the bathroom, unless it’s especially appealing or roomy
  • 1-3 photos of the backyard unless it has some unique features. And then 1-2 shots of the front of the home to show off the ‘curb appeal’
  • 1 shot each of features such as laundry room, garage, and pantry

Tips for getting excellent photos of your home

  • Declutter and stage the home for the photoshoot
  • Shoot the photos from about eye level and keep the camera straight. This will ensure your photos look natural and keep from distorting too much
  • Depending on the exterior light coming in that day, you may want to leave the lights on or off. Circumstances may be different from one house to the next, so the best thing to do is take a few photos with the lights off and with lights on to see what looks best on your home. White balance can be fixed in post-editing, which we will cover below
  • Improve the photos in post (editing). There are a number of edits you can make to ensure your photos look as good as possible, but one of the most important is white balance. More tech-savvy sellers may be familiar with Adobe Lightroom – this is one of the best options for white balancing your photos. Take a look at this tutorial for step by step visual instructions on getting the most from your photos

Cash for home buyers

Since cash buyers take the home in as-is condition, there is little you need to do to prepare your home for a cash buyer. Simply call a cash buyer and wait for them to inspect the home and give you an offer. If you’d like to clean the house, you can, but it isn’t necessary. When considering if your home is market-ready, it’s important to consider why buyers may be looking to move on from there current living conditions. According to a study from NAR, 38% of buyers are selling to avoid renovations or problems with plumbing or electricity. So it would make sense that they don’t want to bother with those same problems in their new home. Cash buyers don’t mind the clutter or repairs and companies like HomeGo even offer to haul your junk away after the purchase. Having this option makes the preparation process of selling your house a breeze. No cleaning, no repairs, no contractors, and no photos.