By Amanda Ventura

Selling a home is similar to selling a car.

Before you exchange the keys and title, you get the car washed, waxed and maybe even vacuumed. Similar care needs to be done for a home before putting it up for sale. For many first-time home sellers, who make up about two-thirds of the market, the costs associated with making their home “show ready” can be a surprise.

Americans spend an average of $15,000 to make their home ready to sell, according to Zillow. That can seem like a huge hidden cost.

“If you have an experienced Realtor on your side, you shouldn’t have any hidden costs,” says HomeSmart Realtor Neil Brooks. “The Realtor will evaluate the home prior to listing it and advise which cosmetic or mechanical repairs will provide the most return on investment.”

Brooks has sold more than 620 homes, which allows him to be extremely accurate when advising his clients on what it will take to get the most profit on the sale. Brooks says the average home in Phoenix costs closer to $2,500 to $3,500 to make it “show ready” — not $15,000.

Other than the costs of getting the home “show ready” there are two other “unknown” costs sellers don’t anticipate – the appraisal and repairs. When a home goes under contract and the buyer is getting a mortgage, the bank will require an appraisal for value on the home.
“We have a high number of homes where the deals fall apart because sellers are feeling confident and pricing their homes way above what they will actually appraise for,” Brooks says. “When a home fails to appraise, the seller will have to agree to sell the home for the appraised value – not what was agreed to on the contract. The difference can be thousands, and, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars.”

Brooks’ best advice to sellers is to:
• Once the home goes under contract, don’t go back to living your “normal” lifestyle. You must keep the home in the same “show ready” condition it was in when selling it, especially when the appraiser comes out.

• Conduct a professional home inspection of the property. That report can be used as leverage in negotiating the repairs requested by a buyer.