Before Listing Your DC Home

Author: Susan Isaacs | The Isaacs Team

Thinking about listing your DC home for sale, but unsure of the steps to take and in which order? To avoid unnecessary spending and effort, follow our guide.

Will I recoup my Expenses On Resale?

It’s a valid concern. The potential costs of updating a DC home are often higher than anticipated–but returns on the right investments can pleasantly surprise you.

Compare the estimated cost of repairs and updates to projected return on investment (ROI). You’ll typically net a good deal more for an updated home than one that buyers perceive as dated and worn. Buyers often guesstimate costs far in excess of actual costs, but sellers rarely hear that conversation. Instead, buyers move on to a turnkey property, leaving sellers to wonder why their interest waned.

We’ve been packaging properties successfully in the DCMA for nearly two decades. Let’s talk it through.

Where Should I Start?

Start with a phone call to us!  Your first impulse might be to dive into your long-ignored ‘to do’ list before contacting a real estate agent. That would be a mistake 100% of the time. Why? Because you may max out your budget on work that won’t provide the highest return on investment, forego addressing issues that would make your home more valuable, and make choices that appeal to you, but may not strike the right note with potential buyers.

Preparing a home for sale is literally the process of packaging a personal living space into a marketable product. It’s what we do. Let us advise you.

What can you do now? Here’s a list:

Take Note

  • Consult your real estate agent first
  • Get a free home evaluation

Caren Says

“While other ​agents said, “​T​his is what you need to do;” The Isaacs Team said, “​W​e can do this for you!” Our process was smooth and quick, and they designed a strategy and negotiated a sale well above our asking price; and a purchase price below asking – both in the same market.”

Repairs, Organization, Decluttering And Cleaning

Preparing a home for sale is literally a process of packaging a living space into a product. It’s what we do. Let us. What can you do now? Here’s a list:Most homes will need at least some of these steps, many will require all of them. Along with location and attributes, a key factor in maximizing the profit on your home will be its condition.

Get estimates for repairs in order to factor the cost into your listing price. Big-ticket items which are worn, dated or non-functional (carpeting or hardwood flooring, HVAC units, roofing, windows, appliances) are best addressed prior to listing, and having bids and a short list of vendors will speed things along when the time comes to get the work done. Estimates will also serve as guide for your budget. 

  • Organize your garage, storage spaces, attic and other areas of the home where sorting and decluttering will take place.
  • Declutter the entire home. When its time to sell, you’ll be asked to remove your ‘personality’ from the property to make way for the staged version created for your target buyer.
  • Clean the house from top to bottom. Nooks, crannies, baseboards to ceilings, light fixtures, hardware–all of it.
This video from Design Time lays out the basics of prepping your home before you put it on the market.

Assemble Paperwork

Compile a folder of receipts, warranties and documentation for title insurance, significant past repairs or additions, warranties, monthly and annual maintenance contracts, etc.

If your home was purchased within the past ten years, your buyer may qualify for a reissue rate on title insurance. Your title policy will be required to facilitate this discount, and you can expect the buyer to include this request as a term of the purchase contract.

  • Do you have a home warranty that is transferrable? If so, make that information easily accessible to the buyer when they go under contract.
  • Are any of the home’s major components still under warranty? HVAC, roof, plumbing, major repairs—all receipts and warranties will help.
  • Have you retained receipts from contractors or other service providers? Include those, along with user manuals for appliances and electronics that will stay with the home should also be included.
  • Floor plans, blueprints and other architectural or historic designation documents are a boon to buyers and should be made available.

Make sure you create an electronic copy of key items like floor plans for your real estate agent. You’ll be asked for them at several points during the transaction and need some in order to complete your DC Seller Property Disclosure when listing.

Other items to assemble are keys, codes, door/gate openers and fobs. Your agent will need two sets of keys for your listing; one for the lockbox and an emergency set for the agent. Other access devices and codes should be provided to your agent as needed, and ready to transfer to the buyer at closing.

Condos, Co-Ops and Townhomes

If you’re selling a condo, townhouse or co-op, some steos differ slightly from those recommended for single family homes.

Even though you’re not permitted to make changes to the exterior of the premises, there are things you can do inside and to personal outdoor space to help your home sell quickly and at a good price.

  • Submit a request 30-90 days in advance of listing to your association/management company to have scuffed hallways touched up, hallway & entrance flooring cleaned, common area wall nicks and scrapes repaired, dim or expired light bulbs replaced, ask to have your front door painted/repaired/replaced if it is peeling, chipped or warped and make sure locks work smoothly
  • Create an inviting space on your patio or balcony if you have one, by decluttering, cleaning stains and algae, light fixtures and rails
  • Townhome owners can correct or replace warped or weather-damaged deck boards, repair fences and gates if HOA documents list these as owner maintained.

Condo and townhome owners should request the following information from the association:

  • Copy of rules and regulations
  • Advice on whether or not ‘for sale’ signs are allowed on the grounds (if so, where)
  • Ask for the current investor ratio, FHA and VA status, rental rules and restriction details, pet restrictions and smoking restrictions.



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NW DC 20005

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