By Greg Perry
Your best opportunity for selling your property is within the first seven weeks. There are many studies that show that the longer a property remains on the market, the less the Seller will net. Here are 5 CRITICAL AREAS to look at to accomplish the goal.
Critical Area #1 Curb Appeal
If a Buyer doesn't like what they see on the outside, they will not go inside. Clean away all clutter. Trim overgrown trees bushes away from the house, and especially open up the windows! Walkways, driveways and sidewalks should be pressure washed. People love their yards, so make sure the grass is mowed and edged. Clean away all debris and remove parked cars. Paint your front door. Put on new door hardware if it's old and worn and lay out a new "welcome" mat! The icing on the cake is clean flower beds free of weeds, with a fresh layer of bark or compost, and beautiful blooming flowers. You never get a second chance for a first impression!
Critical Area #2 Clean and Clutter
Once you get your Buyer into your house, they can be turned off be even the smallest amount odor or uncleanliness. You'll be able to net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more if your house is squeaky clean!
Eliminate the clutter. You're going to move anyway so why not move out the excess now to open up your spaces so your house looks larger? Many Sellers will arrange temporary storage for their excess. Eliminate just about everything from your kitchen and bath counters. Excess also means furniture. Most people live with too many furniture items which tends to make rooms look smaller. Remember you want your closets to look spacious, so remove the unnecessary and organize them. Remove about 3/4 of those knick knacks you love and completely remove collections, ie. doll collections, train collections, etc. We offer staging advice to our clients. Some clients are well served hiring a professional stager.
Depersonalize your environment. You love your family and wedding pictures lining your hallways, but your Buyer needs to visualize them or their family living there.
Kitchen and bath areas especially need to sparkle and be deep cleaned inside and out. In the bath, it's time to take the soap scum off the shower door and refresh the caulking. If you use a shower curtain, it might be a good time to replace it. Replace the toilet seat if necessary. In the kitchen, pay special attention to range hoods to remove grease from surfaces. Clean the vent filter in the dishwasher.
Check the windows sills and clean to make sure there's no mold and water stains. Window glass needs to sparkle inside and out. Consider hiring a professional window cleaner.
A pet peeve of mine is dirty light fixtures and fixture glass. Speaking of fixtures, make sure you remove all the fluorescent energy saver lights to take them with you (we like them because they save energy but conventional bulbs give a better lighting quality). Replace them with conventional bulbs. Use clear bulbs in clear glass, frosted in opaque. Buy a wattage size that is one size higher then normal to give your house exceptional lighting. If your fixtures are dated, one of the highest bang-for-the buck things you can do is to upgrade and replace them.
Clean your moldings and mill-work. Check the tops of your baseboards. Dust often collects there as well as the ridges on door panels.
Clean and organize laundry areas. Pay attention to odors.
Don't forget the garage!
Now a word about odors......you don't always notice them but your Buyer will. The fresher your home smells, the more appealing to your Buyer. If you have small children in diapers, deep fry or use strong spices in cooking, smoke or own pets you must be sure all odors are gone. If your carpets are holding odor, try sprinkling baking soda into them overnight and vacuuming it out. In tough odor areas, you may consider renting a ozone machine, which will remove organic odors. I advise against using plug-in room freshers as they often overpower an environment. Never try to mask over an odor with room fresheners as it becomes noxious! One of the most pleasing aromas to the Buyer is citrus. Dropping a few drops orange oil in heat ducts and the garbage disposer will give your home a pleasant smell. Odors are a sensitive issue and many agents are reluctant to address odor issues.
Critical Area #3 Paint and Floors
If you want your biggest bang for your money, paint! Nothing tells the Buyer that a home as been well cared for better than new paint. It freshens the environment both to the eye....and the Buyer thinks it smells clean. You don't want your home on the market with chipped paint, exposed wood or faded and dirty walls. Be aware of consumer trends in colors and paint for the next Buyer's taste, not yours! We can assist you with colors to sell!
Floors are another big area that Buyers rate your home on. Replace worn, dirty, dated or unusually colored carpets and vinyl. Don't try to sell your house with broken tiles or hardwoods that are in a worn, sorry state. Speaking of hardwood floors, homeowners are pulling carpets and installing hardwoods at record rates. A huge draw for a buyer is expansive hardwood floors. If you are lucky enough to have original hardwoods underneath a carpet, expose and refinish them! Bad flooring is often is a show stopper. Many Sellers think that a credit will solve the problem. Credits don't usually work well. If they don't like your floors, they simply buy elsewhere.
Critical Area #4 Easy Access
Top-Selling agents will not show your house if it's hard to get in to. They don't have time to run around picking up and dropping off keys. Your house has to have an available key! We use a secure lockbox that is issued through the MLS. Access is controlled and we have computer records of everyone who enters your house. through the lockbox. Try to be as flexible as you can to allow as many showings as possible.
When your house is being shown, leave! Sellers often think that they need to hang around to "sell" the features on their homes. The Buyer's agent wants to sell homes, and knows how to work with their Buyers when they're showing. If the Buyer show high interest, the Buyer's agent will contact the Listing agent to get answers for their questions. Buyer's will emotionally bond to a home more quickly when they are at ease. During the showing:
- Keep all lights on.
- Keep all drapes and blinds open.
- Keep interior doors open and unlocked.
- Leave soft music playing.
- Take a walk or a drive to the park with children and pets.
Critical Area #5 Price it Right
This is the most important area of all! It is very important to price your home at a competitive value when you list it. Markets are so competitive that over pricing by only a few thousand dollars could mean that your house will not sell. It's been my experience that the Seller's first offer is their best offer. Pricing your home right from the beginning will net your more in the end!
An overpriced home:
- Lowers showings
- Brings lower offers
- Lowers agent response
- Limits financing
- Limits qualified buyers
- Nets less for the Seller.
If you are unwilling to price at current market value, you would be better off not putting it on the market at this time.