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Times Are Changing: How Home Preparation is Key to Seller’s in Today’s Market

The weather is changing, pumpkin spice has hit the shelves, and it's getting darker quicker. That means that the fall/winter home market has arrived. Sellers may be wondering about unique ways of getting their properties to stand out, and one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to prepare your home correctly.


Carlee Hjelm is a Tumwater High graduate. Before attending and graduating from Washington State University, she set out to experience the big city of Seattle, working in the real estate industry. After graduating college, Hjelm obtained her real estate license and has experience working within title and escrow. She recently teamed up with her family to give clients enhanced accessibility and diligent service.

"I grew up in the real estate lifestyle and love being a broker,” she says. “I'm not surprised it's in my blood.”

She prides herself on tailoring the home-selling experience to the needs of each individual client. This level of care has led her to help dozens of clients sell their homes using strategies like hosting open houses.

So, what does she recommend for sellers in preparation for this slowing market?




Q: What does it mean to stage your home for selling?

A: Naturally, we always want to put our best foot forward. We have a goal in mind of selling your house and getting a good price for it. With that said, we are going to have to do a little bit more leg work as a seller. Eight months ago, I was telling my sellers they didn't even need to mow their front lawns. But things are a little different now. I've been in a buyer's market, and it's leveling out.

Q: When people work on staging their home, what are they doing, and why is it important?

A: Our goal is to maximize the house, and that can be. It's all in the way it shows. We're not always going to knock everybody's socks off, but we need to do our best at the end of the day, knowing that we did everything we could to present it. It's all about attraction, really. It’s about maximizing some areas and toning down some areas. There is a level of discernment when it comes to getting homes ready and prepped for the market. It isn't a size fits.

These showings are bringing in serious buyers. They're taking time out of their day, meeting up with their realtor, and there is a cause and effect behind those showings. But again, we're not going to appeal to everybody. But most people who have seen the photos online are interested enough to take time out of their day and have an intimate viewing with it.




Q: What are some areas sellers should concentrate on when preparing their homes?

A: Every home has its own character. You would be surprised how subjective cleanliness can be. I guess the simplest way to say it is if you have your house on the market and want to get some showings, make your beds minimally.

Also, not everybody's into pets. I love pets personally, but not everybody likes pets. People have allergies, people have fears. Sometimes the condition of the home can be judged harshly when people have big animals in the home. Nobody wants to step into a litter box while walking around your home.

The front yard is also very important. I tell my buyers if they're interested in the neighborhood, location, or exterior, to do a drive-by. If they don't like the drive-by, they're not going to make the scheduled showing most often.

Traditionally, kitchens are an important place to concentrate on. Those seem to be big hangout spots. I personally am not a huge cook, but I still love my kitchen. I'm hanging out in my kitchen and working in my kitchen, just moving around in my kitchen. It is the focal point of the house. I would also say the primary bedroom is well. Obviously, communal living spaces, like living rooms, family rooms, flex bonus rooms, and offices, are big now too.

I usually tell sellers to pack their closets. Just make sure stuff is not going to fall out on people when they open it. I'm probably not going to take a photo of your garage, so pack it to the ceiling. I'd rather have the inside of the house showable and buttoned up and the garage packed as long as I can get to the furnace, electrical panel, hot water tanks in there, water filtration system, and whatever may be in there. 

Preparing your home for selling is another tool in a seller’s toolbox

In the end, Carlee thinks that a changing market means changing expectations for sellers.

“Economically, things have shifted, and it's becoming more balanced,” she says. “That means we must put our best foot forward, and we can't fight reality. We are where we are. And I just think there is no longer comparing what happened to your neighbor or what the last five recent sales that happened in your neighborhood are. Those are no longer where we are right now. That makes preparing your home incredibly important.”


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