An inside look at Chicago real estate

Five Things You Can Start Doing Now to Sell Next Year

kristine.menas By
Kristine M. Daley
   | Home Ownership, Selling


Embracing spontaneity may be good for last minute Blackhawks tickets or an evening out with friends, but preparing your home to sell on the fly—not so much. Springtime is generally one of the most active times for the Chicago real estate market. And by spring, real estate brokers often mean as early as January and certainly after Super Bowl, which happens to fall during the first week of February in 2019. With the holidays around the corner, spring will be here sooner than you realize.

Preparing your home to sell for top dollar may take a little more time and effort than you may expect. If you parse it out before the spring, it’s certainly more manageable. This is an especially good idea if you want to focus on finding your next home rather than preparing your current home to sell. Here are my top 5 things you can start working on now to get your home ready to sell next year.

Moving can be expensive, and it doesn’t make sense to pack and move items that have sat untouched for an extended period of time into your new home. Start by going through your closets, sorting items into ‘donate’ and ‘sell’ piles. Donate anything you truly won’t go through the extra effort to sell—you may even be able to get a tax write off on certain items! Your chosen charity will benefit from the items you’ve donated, and may even be able to offer direct pickup. Need another good reason to complete this task before the end of the year? The deduction may ease your tax responsibilities; learn more by chatting with a trusted accountant or tax professional. If you’re not sure where to donate your gently used goods, visit for a comprehensive look at local charities and acceptable donations.

Use the DIY approach or consider hiring a professional—it may be well worth it. Think behind the fridge, inside appliances, under the couch, fan blades, blinds, cleaning windowsills and descaling showerheads—all areas of your home that you’ve just gotten used to. Buyers with a fresh set of eyes might see these forgotten areas as a sign the home isn’t well-maintained. Doing a thorough and deep clean allows you to get into maintenance mode, which leads to less work on a weekly basis. This is also the perfect time to get your HVAC unit serviced and cleaned.

Chances are it’s been a while since you’ve had a home inspection. Be proactive and hire a licensed home inspector to go through your property and provide a report. This report will give you a better understanding of any necessary repairs and allow you to address them prior to going on the market. This is also helpful if you’re considering selling as-is and provide potential buyers with an updated report on the status of the property. Sharing this information with a buyer goes a long way in establishing trust and transparency, which can make buyers feel more comfortable putting an offer on your home.

Now is the time to fix anything you know isn’t working properly. If there are larger issues that came to light during your home inspection, like electric or plumbing matters, seek the aid of a professional. Smaller items like a misaligned door latch or loose cabinet knobs are easily repaired the DIY way. Have a longer list of small repairs? Consider hiring a handyman to take care of everything at once—it may be money well-spent.

Undoubtedly, there’s always a list of improvements you intended to do after you moved in but never got around to. Maybe it’s adding backsplash to your kitchen or replacing your carpet. Freshening up your home keeps it looking its best, and is a low-impact way to get show-ready. If you’re entertaining for the holidays, this is also a nice opportunity to enjoy the updates before you sell.

Following these tips now can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or trying to take everything on at once. Focus on your goals—the next move.

This post was written by Dream Town broker Kristine M. Daley.

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