Getting your home ready for market

If you're encouraged by the "pending" signs around your neighborhood and want to put your home on the market, you first need to get it sale-ready. That requires a strategy because, depending on the upgrades your home needs, it might be a time-consuming task.

We're not talking major overhauls, like redoing bathrooms and kitchens. But there are changes you can make that will give a good return on your real-estate investment. The most productive changes include updating the flooring, adding a fresh coat of paint, decluttering and cleaning like there's no tomorrow.

Timing your

timetable

Start by choosing the desired listing date, then work backward.

Allow six weeks to have flooring completed.

Set a two- to four-week period before flooring completion for painting.

Allow several days to declutter and clean.

You'll likely stage your furniture just before showing, but consult with your real-estate agent for guidance.

These sound easy but actually getting them done is another matter.

Begin by assessing the updates and setting an action plan that's six to eight weeks before listing your home. And consult with your real-estate agent and seek his or her advice on considering a professional home stager.

Here are some tips:

Updating wood floors

If sanding will do the trick, allow time to schedule professionals' visits and estimates. For partial or complete replacements, visit home-improvement stores or flooring specialists to see samples. Allow time for measuring, choosing flooring and getting written quotes for cost-comparison. Flooring professionals need lead time to order products and book their service crew. Some will book you within a couple of weeks while others will need more time.

Recarpeting

Hardwood flooring appeals to buyers, but replacing existing carpeting is less costly than laying hardwood. A carpet professional can help you choose something current, inexpensive and suitable for showcasing your home.

Painting

If hiring a professional, allow time for estimates. Color selection takes time, especially when trying to find a happy medium between neutralizing your home's colors, keeping them modern and complementing existing or new furniture and fixtures.

Choose colors, then bring home samples and apply to the walls so you can make a more informed decision. If you're doing the painting, plan time for removing and repainting floorboards, repairing cracks, applying drywall tape, priming and repainting ceilings.

Declutter

Once the walls are painted and flooring laid, you will need a day or two to declutter closets, the garage and so forth. You may want to rent a portable storage unit to temporarily remove items from view. You'll need a day's or even a week's lead time for delivery of the bin, a day or two to load it and another appointment to have it taken away to the storage facility.

Extreme cleaning

The more you can clean, the better. To save time and energy, hire a cleaning service to thoroughly clean the kitchen, appliances and bathrooms. Hiring a professional window washer who cleans both indoors and outdoors ensures extra sparkle.


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