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Before you sell your home, here are local realtors' best tips

It can be a daunting task to put a house on the market, but small repairs and staging can go a long way.

For sale sign
(Photo courtesy of thinkstock.com)
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WORTHINGTON — While existing-home sales have continued to decline at the national level, dropping another 5.9% in August, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors, here in Worthington, the local real estate market still favors the seller.

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“Anytime is good (to sell),” said Staci Murphy with Edina Realty. “There's people just waiting for the right property to come up…So there's never a bad time to put your house on the market here.”

But, for prospective sellers, Murphy has a few tips of the trade to help out in the process of putting a house on the market — including having a market analysis done and not simply trying to price a home themselves.

“Have a professional come in and do the whole process,” Murphy said as her number one piece of advice, especially for those selling a home for the first time.

Minor home repairs that sellers can do themselves can go a long way as well, Murphy noted. When prospective buyers walk through a home and see those minor things — for instance, a hole in a window screen or a loose railing — it detracts from the price they have in their head, even though those repairs have likely already been factored into the cost.

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Toni Brouillet and Holly Sieve of Johnson Builders and Realty agree, stating that they often recommend paint touch-ups or floor coverings prior to a showing — small things that buyers might think will cost a lot, but are pretty simple to take care of in reality.

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A staged living room put together by Edina Realty.
Edina Realty

It’s a fine line to walk, Brouillet noted. She advises sellers to try and take down personal things if they can, and do some packing if they’re preparing to move. Making a space feel homey is great, but making sure buyers can visualize themselves in that space is important too.

Personal touches aside, though, checking off things like smoke detectors in the bedrooms, carbon monoxide detectors on each floor, and necessary handrails in place is critical.

“Those little things need to be done for first-time homebuyers anyway,” said Murphy, “and they probably should be done for safety issues for the sellers themselves.”

As important as it is to make sure the inside of your home is safe and presentable, Genny McCuen with RE/MAX Premier Realty cautioned against forgetting outside presentation. Outdoor spaces became a major bonus for potential buyers during COVID, McCuen stated and making sure that very first impression is a good one can only help people looking to sell.

McCuen recommended making sure the front outdoor space is clean and groomed, and even doing a bit of staging if the space allows. Fresh flowers and seasonal decorations are always a bonus that can make your home feel more welcoming, and, of course, making sure the front door and windows are clean is a must.

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Realtor Genny McCuen advises not to forget outdoor spaces when preparing your home for market.
Edina Realty

“I think that's very important because people do enjoy that,” McCuen said. “The look of the front of their houses and the curb appeal is extremely important to many buyers.”

As for the inside, getting rid of odors — particularly pet odors — is something that McCuen recommends. Having a professional come in to clean or even remove carpet that has been soiled, and removing things like litterboxes prior to showings can really help.

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“One of the biggest turnoffs to buyers is definitely negative smells in a home,” McCuen noted.

And if you’re looking to go that extra mile to make your house smell good, McCuen recommends going with wax melts over air fresheners, which can make it seem like sellers are attempting to mask a smell.

“Buyers each have their own sensitivities, so you have to be careful,” she said, “but I tend to lean towards something like…a fresh citrus scent or cinnamon. Something along those lines versus a very floral scent.”

While the process of getting a house ready for market can be daunting, taking it one step at a time is important, and talking to a realtor can be a great help.

“Sellers a lot of the time ask ‘what more can I do?’” said Brouillet, “and we’re happy to make suggestions. That’s what we’re there for…to put sellers in the best position to sell their homes.”

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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