The idea is to hit the ground running. When you go “active” on the MLS, the first visitors to your home should see it in the best shape possible. Buyers have already seen all the other homes in their price range and now you are the new kid on the block. The old adage is true: you only get one chance to make a first impression.
We go through our client’s homes room by room with them and offer suggestions that will increase the odds of them receiving better offers in a shorter amount of time. Note that each sale is different and we are sensitive and flexible. Not every seller wants to or can afford to make every improvement possible. We get it.
For starters, light and bright, neutral and de-cluttered sells real estate. Light and bright because it makes your home look larger and more cheerful. We have a lot of sunny days, but we get our share of gloomy ones too. If all the shades are drawn the house isn’t welcoming.
We say neutral because real estate is a numbers game. If you get enough purchasers into your home, the odds of it being “the one” for someone increase. It may be boring, but everyone’s furniture goes with eggshell white, but not with pink walls or carpet. Right now up to 90% of buyers begin their search online. If every room is painted bright orange or has boldly patterned wallpaper, you may lose some valuable traffic to those who feel they would have to do too much work to make things to their liking.
So, paint and carpet are the two things that earn sellers more of a return on their investment than anything else. As buyers go through your home on line and in person they form opinions in their mind as to what they would have to do and spend in order to make the house livable for them. They usually overestimate the cost of paint and carpet. So we see purchase offers come in less on homes that require a lot of cosmetic work.
Doing a good job of de-cluttering is another thing that is worth big money to sellers. You want buyers to look at the rooms and space, not all of your things. The appearance of photos online with lots of clutter and without are night and day.
Here are some other ideas of things that may help in displaying your home in it’s best light:
Exterior of house
- Rake leaves, mow lawn and keep edges neat. Lawns and flowers should be weeded regularly. Trees and shrubs should be pruned and trimmed.
- Hoses should be coiled or placed inconspicuously when not being used.
- Fix the garage door so it opens and closes. House and garage doors should be free of finger marks. Wood surfaces should be painted, oiled or stained.
- Remove newspapers from driveway.
- If your deck furniture is broken, or there are dead plants/flowers in pots, or disabled autos, remove them.
- Keep garbage cans out of sight.
- Keep gates, fences, walls and outer buildings repaired and painted.
- Make sure door knobs and keys work smoothly and that door hardware is attractive.
- The front door is the thing all buyers see as they enter. If it needs a fresh coat of paint, that will help make a positive impression.
Interior of house
- Open all drapes, pull up shades, and let the sun shine in. It’s all about making your house look light and bright.
- Get all bugs and flies out of all light fixtures. Wash the fixtures.
- If the lighting is not enough, put in higher wattage bulbs.
- Remove shoes, coats, throw rugs, and hide them in the closet.
- Have all the appliances clean. Some buyers look at them.
- Make sure faucets don’t drip and toilets flush properly.
- Adjust all doors so that they open and close properly. You might as well do it now, because it will come up on the home inspection.
- Replace broken tiles, on walls or floors and repaste loose or dangling wallpaper.
- Secure all banisters and handrails.
- Realize that almost 90% of buyers begin their home search online. You may love your colors, but if every photo they see is chartreuse, tangerine, purple, orange or really dark, a significant number of buyers will not include your home in their tour. They often think the home would be too much of a “project”. It may sound boring, but when selling a home, neutral sells.
- Make the beds and keep all clothes out of sight.
- Keep kitchen countertops clean and clear.
- Hide garbage can and pet food dishes.
- Remove magnets and items on refrigerator.
- If the dining room is small, remove extra leaves from the table to make it look larger.
- If possible, send all cats, dogs, parrots, hamsters, and pet monkeys to your brother-in-law from the day the house goes on the market until the day it is sold and get rid of the odors that are left behind. Over fifty percent of home buyers are either allergic to, or afraid of animals. Now, seriously, we know there’s no way sellers will just have their beloved pets move away for a while. We just want you to get the most for your house, and it’s true that strong odors are a problem, as are restricted showing hours because of a large pet. We just need to coordinate on these issues and do the best we can.
- If your carpet is looking bad, replace it if possible. Paint and carpet are the two things that give sellers the most bang for the buck. Buyers walk through properties and estimate in their minds what it would cost to get the place in the shape they would want it in. They usually overestimate the costs of painting and carpeting and their offers are less for houses that don’t show well. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, that’s ok, just get estimates from contractors so we know what it would cost when it’s time to negotiate a contract.