Selling Your Home? 10 Low Cost Tips That Really Help….And Other Things
Getting ready to sell your home? These 10 easy projects will maximize your selling price and will help sell your home faster. All sellers have a common goal…to sell their home quickly and at the highest possible price. Now, most people will say this is the sole job of the Realtor. Although this is true, keep in mind the Realtor is not a miracle worker. The sale is really a team effort between you and the Realtor. The Realtor requires your participation so that the property can be presented in the best possible manner.
When a Realtor lists a property, they quite often encounter varying shades of two types of sellers. One seller feels that they should renovate the whole house to make it presentable, and the other type feels that they really do not have to do anything. Both would be wrong.
Regarding renovating. It is impossible to know each buyers particular taste etc. The renovations you do may turn out to work against you rather than for you. The money you put into that new renovation may not give you back what you spent. This is not to say that some “strategic” renovations are not required. Certain renovations can pay for themselves several times over. Talk to your Realtor and have her or him candidly advise you what they feel should be considered. Regarding doing nothing. Pride of ownership most definitely shows in a home. An “unkept” house usually indicates that normal maintenance has been ignored as well. Some homes require very little work, and some…..well let’s just say require a little more attention.
To really understand the importance of the following tips, consider this in terms of buying a used car. You are viewing two cars, both identical year, model, options and price. One car is a neutral color, the owner has had the interior professionally cleaned, the outside washed, waxed and paint touch ups done, the trunk and engine compartments have been cleaned and the owner has removed all of their personal items. The other owner has done nothing but given the outside of his car a quick wash, the interior a quick vacuum, but has left the naked girl air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror, the empty MacDonalds happy meal bags on the back seat, the 3 empty windshield washer jugs in the trunk along with the bumper sticker “don’t laugh its paid for” on. Quick, which car are you buying?? This is exactly how people will be comparing your house to the one down the street!!!
Here are your tips:
Dollar for dollar, a fresh coat of paint is one of your best investments. Even if you have repainted in the last couple years, applying another coat will cover up those small scuffs and wear marks. Watch what color you use though. Any color other than a neutral one could actually defeat the purpose. Everyone has an idea of what color walls they want in their home, and the color you choose could very well be the one a potential buyer hates. Some sellers say things like, “I like my hot pink bedroom color, if the buyer wants, they can change the color if they don’t like it”. Although this is true, if you were the buyer would you want to? Or would you just pick the house down the street that does not have the hot pink walls? Remember, the buyer has all the power of their choice, you will want to minimize their reasons “not” to choose your home.
It is very important that your home look bright and cheery. Replace any burnt out bulbs, especially in track lighting. If a bathroom has a strip of bulbs above the mirror, make sure that all the bulbs match in look and in wattage. Nothing looks worse than a bathroom with half the bulbs burnt out or unevenly lit. If the light fixtures in your home are dated such as 70’s fake antique bronze or 80’s bright brass, you might want to change them out for new ones. You can find relatively cheap fixtures at stores such as Home Depot, Home Hardware, etc. When you have a showing, turn on “all” the lights in the house. Do not leave this to the Realtor to do. The house needs to be bright and cheery when the Realtor enters with the potential buyers. The Realtor will be busy talking with the buyers and should not have the distraction of finding light switches etc. If you like, the realtor will turn them all off when they leave.
Strategically placed mirrors can make a small room appear brighter and larger. There are many attractive wall mirrors in varying sizes for relatively low cost. You don’t have to go crazy and buy a mirror for every room but problem areas such as a small entryway can be made to feel more airy with one.
Lets face it, we have enough trouble dealing with our own dirt than someone elses. More than any other reason, I have had clients walk out of a perfectly good house because the seller felt that a clean home was not real important. Remember the clean car, dirty car example? Cleaning is one of the simplest, most effective sales tools there is. Just before putting your house on the market, gather the family together and have a good old cleaning bee. Break out the mops, brooms, floor cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, windex, and C.L.R.
Scrub your floors, shampoo your carpets, wash the walls, clean your windows in and out, clean your mirrors, wipe the dust and cob webs off the ceiling fans, clean your switch plates (be careful you don’t electrocute yourself), wash your doors in and out, make your appliances gleam……are you getting the picture? Other than the obvious, if the cleanliness of a sellers home is neglected, so is the maintenance.
Think about it, the reason you have listed your house is because you want to move, right? Well then, start packing! Pack everything that is not essential for normal everyday living and get it out of the house. If it is summer, pack your winter clothes, vice versa if it is winter. This will make your closets appear bigger. Take down the family pictures. A “home” is a very personal thing. The buyer needs to be able to picture themselves living there. It is very hard doing this when the children, grampa, grandma and you, are staring at them from the walls. Replace the pictures with some inexpensive paintings (landscapes not nudes!). If you are a hunter, get the animal heads off the walls!! Your potential buyer could be a member of PETA for all you know. Unless you have a dedicated exercise room, get your exercise equipment out of the house. You want to make your rooms look large, a treadmill in your bedroom is a huge no, no! I will say it again…you are moving, start packing.
Behind kitchens, bathrooms are the second most important room in the house. A bathroom renovation would be an investment that would pay for itself. Most bathrooms do not require a renovation though. A fresh coat of paint and an extreme scrubbing of tile, shower doors, toilet, sinks, mirrors etc. will usually be enough. Make it Gleam! If you have shower curtains, buy a new one. Buy new bath mats. De-clutter under the sink and medicine cabinet (yes, buyers look there). If your sink has had any leaks in the past, make sure to paint or repair the damaged wood underneath.
7) Window Treatments.
If your drapes are old and rotted by the sun or if you have blinds that have been bent by the kids or animals, replace them. If you do not want to replace them, then just remove them. You want the potential buyers eye to be drawn to the good things about your house, not the bad things such as ratty blinds or drapes hanging in the window. Unless the view is terrible, make sure that all blinds and drapes are open during showings. Remember, you want the house bright and cheery.
Make sure your basement receives as much attention as the main floor. At times people will tend to give the basement a light going over thinking “it is just the basement”. I once had a client that while viewing the main floor said “wow, I think this could be the one”, then said “nope” after viewing the basement. It wasn’t so much that the basement was terrible, it was because the sellers did not give it the same attention of cleaning, painting, repairing etc. that they gave the main floor. Traditionally, basements tend to be darker and lower on the priority list than the upper floors. Make sure to do as much cleaning painting etc. as the main floor. Replace any broken baseboards, door trim, and ceiling tiles. One room that seldom gets any attention is the furnace room. Make sure to replace the furnace filter if required, vacuum and wipe down the floor, furnace, hot water heater etc. Make sure the light bulb works. The buyer is always concerned about the mechanics of the house as well as the look.
The outside of your house and yard are the first things that a potential buyer sees when they come to your home. What will their first impression be? Is the house siding dirty?, are the windows dirty?, is the grass cut?, are the hedges overgrown and messy?, is there dog poop all over?….etc, etc. The saying is true…you only have one chance to make a first impression. The potential buyer should be saying “wow nice place” when they pull into your driveway, not “wow, there is lots of work to be done”.
First and foremost, not everyone loves your pets as much as you do. It is extremely important that there be no sign of your pets when a potential buyer is viewing your home. You do not want your potential buyer having to dodge dog droppings in the yard or the smell of a litter box in the house. Remove their food dishes, litter boxes, droppings etc. from the house and yard when you have a viewing. Also, the pets should not be present when you have a showing, take Rover with you when you leave. Because you do not know if the potential buyer is a pet lover or not, why take the chance. I have had showings where the buyer would not get out of the vehicle because the “friendly” dog was barking and snarling in the yard. Even if they are in a pen or tied up, a barking dog is a major distraction to a viewing.
In summary, to get a quick sale and maximize the selling price of your home, you need to change it from being your “family home”, to a “show home” that you are marketing to potential buyers. Nowadays, the television is filled with home buying/selling and renovation shows. The buying public has become very educated in what they should be looking for when buying a property. When selling your home you need to take off the “homeowner rose colored glasses” and put on the “home buyers glasses”. Because the buyer has all the power of choice, you will need to make your home as presentable as it can be. This is done by removing anything that could be a potential “turn off”. Even an older, dated home can be made desirable by being extremely clean, tidy and in good repair.
Regarding your Realtor. You have hired a Realtor for a reason, to give you advice and to sell your home. If you are ignoring the Realtors advice of things you need to do to make your house marketable, including pricing, why did you hire him or her? If you have hired a Realtor for nothing more than putting an advertisement in the paper, then you are not seeing the whole picture. Your Realtor deals in the business of buying and selling homes every day. They know the market, what your house is worth, and what makes a house sell. Why would you ignore their professional advice and think that you know better? Is your Realtor correct all of the time, no. But they know their business.
Regarding choosing a Realtor. A good Realtor will tell you the truth about your property. If the Realtor is agreeing with everything you say you might have the wrong person. A Realtors job is to tell you the things you need to know, good “or” bad.
Quite often the biggest challenge is pricing your home. Everyone has an idea of what their home is worth, innocently, this is usually an inflated figure. Everyone’s property is usually worth more to them than someone else. If your Realtor is doing his/her job, they will be presenting you with figures of the actual selling price that homes in your area have recently sold for. From these figures, you and the Realtor will be able to come up with a reasonable asking price for your property.
For your own sake, do not fall into the trap of going with a certain Realtor just because he or she agreed with the price “you” think your home is worth. You see these homes all the time, they are usually the ones that sit on the market forever. The Realtor, and subsequent Realtors, (because the homeowner thinks the first Realtor did not do their job) will agree to the sellers inflated asking price just to get the business. The house will sit on the market until the homeowner finally agrees to lower the price to where it should have been in the first place or, quite often, even lower. A house that has been on the market a long time becomes stigmatized. People start to think that something must be wrong with it, otherwise why would it not sell? A “stigmatized” home statistically sells for less than what it would have if it had been priced correctly from the beginning.
Ultimately, when interviewing Realtors, you will want to choose the one that presents facts, critiques your home, and will challenge some of your thoughts. This Realtor is doing their job correctly.
If you and your Realtor work as a team, you are going to be very happy with the results…..get packing!
Copyright Kevin Quintal February 1, 2015