Things to do NOW to sell your Oro Valley home this winter (and 1 thing NOT to do!)

Thinking about selling your Oro Valley home but not ready yet? Waiting for the winter visitors or for other reasons? There are some things you should do right now to be in the best position selling this winter or early spring. The following are important first steps to take!

#1 — Interview and select your Oro Valley listing agent

This is a biggie, and you should do it as soon as possible. Firstly, by engaging an agent early, they can give you a jump start in specific things you may need to do to get ready to sell, including sending out a photographer before winter to take shots of the outdoor spaces. (See tip #5!)

Let’s talk for a moment about the elephant in the room— I know that there are still many companies right now that are offering to buy homes directly. If you decide to look into one of these companies, it is in your best interests to get a full run down of their fees and what is expected of you. Ask to see their contracts and read the fine print, especially regarding repairs (many deduct the cost of repairs from the final price, while some want you to do them upfront), as well as what happens if the iBuyer decides to not buy your property after it is agreed to. (There was a lot of this at the start of the pandemic, and many home sellers were left in a lurch as spooked iBuyer investors cancelled contracts and pulled back on purchasing. Since then, some of the larger ones have shut operations or vastly scaled back.). You may find that not only are you going to receive less money for your home, but the iBuyer process may not be as convenient or headache-free as their slick marketing campaigns purport them to be. It is worth noting that many real estate agents (including ourselves) may be able to connect you with the right all cash investor if this is the route you decide to take.

When interviewing real estate agents, be certain to ask where geographically they specialize and what their production levels are. Do they offer professional photography? (Ask to see examples of the photographers work and make sure they use the same photographer for all their listings.) Do they offer 360 tours? (These are a must-have!) What about staging?  Do your due diligence, read reviews and ask for references. Ask about their commission and have them create an estimated cost sheet to see what you could potentially net at different sale prices. Go over the comparable properties that they show you to ensure they are comparing your home to other realistically similar properties when determining a list price.

Please don’t just hire an agent solely because they are a friend or relative. This almost always backfires and can not only jeopardize the transaction, but the relationship as well.  Selecting an agent based on their merits and experience is a much better plan of action.

#2 — Get with your agent and make a plan —

 Chances are, there will be things that you should do to your property if you want to sell for the best price you can in a short amount of time. We’ll talk about what your needs are—timeline, concerns, etc. While we walk through your home together, I will be taking photos for my reference only. I will use these photos in planning — I will send you a PDF of the photos and instructions (suggestions! 😉 ) on what you should do to get ready for our staging appointment and the photo shoot. I also use these photos to plan what we need to bring to the staging appointment. (Towels, duvet covers, new shower curtains, art, etc.)

#3 — Start decluttering

You can never start this task early enough! Buyers will look EVERYWHERE when they are interested in a home. If your house is jam-packed, their immediate impression will be that the home doesn’t have enough space. Are your kitchen cabinets and drawers crammed with items you never use (I’m looking at you, food processor) or junk like disposable utensils from ordering out? What about your bathroom cabinets? Closets that you can’t see the floor or the shelves in is a turn off (one of our buyers opened a closet in a listing we were showing and literally an avalanche of clothes and toys came cascading out on her). Take the months leading up to listing time to slowly and methodically go through all your things. I personally love organization guru Marie Kondo’s attitude about clearing clutter—only keep what “sparks joy”. This is a great time to really think about what you want to take to your new home. After selling hundreds of homes, we can honesty say that only a handful of people over the years didn’t need to declutter. Fall and winter are great times to have a garage sale, or you can donate items to a number of local organizations, such as the Golden Goose in Catalina (a fave of ours), Goodwill or other thrift stores.

#4 — Strategic planting —

Are your neighbors trash cans in the direct line of sight out your dining room window? Is your backyard a bit of a fish bowl with zero privacy? Here is one we see often—do you look out windows in your home and see the cinderblock dividing wall between you and your neighbor? The Alcatraz prison look is not particularly inviting or restful, guys.  Walk around inside and outside and be observant as to what you are seeing through windows and from your outdoor spaces. All of the above example problems could be fixed with strategic planting! However, plants are living things that time some time to take hold and flourish, so to try and stick some in the ground the week before your home goes on the market will probably do you very little good. Get a head start and plant now! Look for plantings that are green year-round and fast growing. Any local nursery will be able to point you in the right direction. (Before you list, also decide if your property could benefit from some strategic trimming as well. Some homes has spectacular views that are obstructed by plants or trees in desperate need of a haircut. Views add BIG $$$ to your property’s value—make sure you are capitalizing on them!)

#5 — Have photos of the outdoor spaces taken —

While there are plenty of local buyers in our market, we definitely have an influx of out-of-state buyers coming to the Tucson area to purchase property (especially during the winter months). Let’s face it—while our winters are quite mild, many plants and trees die off starting around mid-November, and don’t recover until April-ish. Your property should appear at its absolute best for the listing photos—and clumps of dead bougainvillea or skeleton looking mesquite trees simply don’t fit into that equation. Having professional photos taken of the outdoor spaces right during and just after monsoon is MUCH better than having them taken in January or February and will give you a leg up on the competition. Many times we will send our photographer out to capture the outdoor shots, and then return to do the interior photos closer to list time when our client is ready. Yes, it costs us a little more to send him out twice—but it is completely worth it to have photos of lush outdoor spaces come market time.

#6 — Schedule needed repairs/services—

Thanks to our growing city, especially certain areas of it, contractors and service providers are swamped these days. Leading up to the holidays this demand will increase even more. If you need work on your home done, call and book your appointments now.   The last thing you want is to wait until a few weeks before your home goes on the market and find that you can’t get an appointment. Even some window washers are booking several months out and housecleaners are always swamped around the holidays.

#7 — Skip over-the-top seasonal and holiday decorations— 

Please do not put up any seasonal or holiday decorations (Halloween, Christmas, fall decor, etc.) before the photo shoot. After the photo shoot and when the home is on the market it is ok, but pack stuff away after the holiday has passed—no Christmas trees come mid-January, please 😮 . If you do decorate, please keep it at a minimum, making sure it doesn’t block view windows or overwhelm the interior or exterior in a way that obstructs a potential buyer from getting a good look at the place. This is not the year to bust out the inflatable Santa and reindeer for the front yard that is depressingly deflated all day and makes your home look like Macy’s Parade all night. (Sorry, everyone—but you are going to get unfiltered honesty from us. I promise we are not trying to Grinches!)


And now— the number one thing NOT to do!

While there are some things to do before selling that have a great return on investment (such as painting, regrouting stained or damaged grout, fixing door handles, swapping out dated lighting fixtures, etc.), this is NOT the time to do major expensive remodeling that is customized to your tastes, at least not without consulting your real estate agent for their professional opinion first. You may not recoup the cost—and what you select may not necessarily suit the current buyer pool for your home. Your real estate agent can go through your home with you and let you know what is worth it to tackle, and what is best just left alone.

We hope you have found these tips for selling your Oro Valley home helpful, and Jay and I would love to help you get your home ready to sell! 🙂 Please feel free to contact us anytime for all your real estate needs.



About the Author

HILARY BACKLUND Hilary is an Associate Broker, holds her GRI (Graduate, REALTOR ® Institute, held by roughly only 20% of REALTORS®), an e-Pro designation (marketing through technology), and the National Organization Of REALTORS® GREEN designation. She has completed the education requirements for the Accredited Luxury Homes Specialist certification. She also held the Fine Homes and Estates certification at her previous brokerage, and has a strong marketing background. MY DESIGNATIONS Associate Broker E-Pro GREEN GRI MY SPECIALTIES Listings Marketing Staging MY SERVICE AREAS Marana Oro Valley SaddleBrooke Tucson