Tips for Sellers
by Maria Figliolia
1.The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.
Make the House Sparkle!
- Wash windows inside and out.
- Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.
- Clean out cobwebs.
- Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.
- Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
- Clean out the refrigerator.
- Vacuum daily.
- Wax floors.
- Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.
- Bleach dingy grout.
- Replace worn rugs.
- Hang up fresh towels.
- Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.
- Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.
Check Curb Appeal.
If a buyer won’t get out of her agent’s car because she doesn’t like the exterior of your home, you’ll never get her inside.
- Keep the sidewalks cleared.
- Mow the lawn.
- Paint faded window trim.
- Plant yellow flowers or group flowerpots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.
- Trim your bushes.
- Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.
- Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.
- The kitchen comes firstYou’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.
- Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to remove your personality. Potential buyers have a hard time imagining themselves living there when all they see are your personal artifacts. These items are distracting. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Considerhiring a home stagerto maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space. You want potential buyers to see themselves living there, not wondering what kind of people live in the home.
- Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar.
- Replace cracked floor, counter tiles and clean grout.
- Patch holes in walls.
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Fix doors that don’t close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.
- Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.
(Don’t give buyers any reason to remember your home as “the house with the orange bathroom.”)
- Replace burned-out light bulbs.
- Replace worn bedspreads, curtains, door handles, cabinet hardware
- Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.
- Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.
- Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.
- Half-empty closets and De-clutter
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of.
Buyers love to snoopand will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:
- Alphabetize spice jars.
- Neatly stack dishes.
- Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.
- Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize the rest
- Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
- Line up shoes.
- If you don’t need it, why not donate it or throw it away?
- Remove all books from bookcases.
- Pack up those knickknacks.
- Clean off everything on kitchen counters.
- Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.
- Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.
Rent a Storage Unit.
Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room’s purpose and plenty of room to move around.
Remove/Replace Favorite Items.
If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won’t want it. Once you tell a buyer she can’t have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.
- Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market.