When Selling, Don’t Overlook the Details

There are so many things to do when you are selling you home: making sure the house is clean all the time; making sure you answer all the calls from agents wanting to show it to prospective buyers; finding somewhere to go when showings take place; and so on and so on.

A very important part of the marketing process (a detail), is the listing itself. Don’t forget to ask your agent (hopefully me) to show you the listing submitted to the Multiple Listing Service. I’ve noticed that some agents take tons of pictures and many of them do not show the best features of your home. A townhouse listing I was looking at had ten pictures of the outside stairways, the front door, and even a picture of a neighbor’s dumpster! It’s not the number of pictures, it’s the pictures themselves. Also, we are able to label the pictures, and they should all be labeled. If your property has a view of the ocean, coastline or city lights, there should be good photos of the view, not extensive verbiage about how spectacular the view is. If the listing reads, “spectacular, panoramic views of the ocean and coastline”, and a prospect sees the home and notices that there is only that view if you are out on a deck with a telescope, he may be so disappointed that he will pass on your home. However, if the description is accurate, or maybe even under-played a little, the prospect may just fall in love with the view, and the offer to purchase will be put on the table. Unless your bathrooms are simply spectacular, there should not be pictures of them. If you have a large yard, as long as it is well kept, include pictures that show how large it is.

If the showing appointment times are limited and your home is difficult to show, it will be difficult to sell. Perhaps asking for offers “subject to inspection” may be an option.

I’m sure I haven’t covered all the little details, but remember that “the devil’s in them”.

Some Little Tips for Selling Your Home

 

1. Pricing it right: Find out what your house is worth and work with your agent (hopefully me!) to establish a price that will bring buyers with offers.

2. Half-empty closets: Storage is something a buyer is looking for and never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets, then neatly organize what is left. Be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

3. Light it up: Maximize the light in your home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, and increase the wattage of your light bulbs.

4. Conceal your pets: Not everyone is a dog or cat lover. The bowl of dog food, the smell of the litter box, tufts of pet hair may give buyers the impression that your house is not clean.

5. Do not over upgrade: Quick fixes before selling should pay off, but major makeovers may not. Do updates that that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls (I have a great painter, if you need one), replace door handles and cabinet knobs, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout (a toothbrush with cleanser works),

6. Depersonalize: The more personal items in your house, the less potential buyers can visualize themselves living there. Also, I have had buyers who looked at personal items so much that they really did not see the features of the home.

Is Your Home Ready to Sell?

You waited all winter to sell your home just in time to move during the summer.  You put in the extra work to make your house stand out from all the rest on the market, right?  No matter where you are in the process, review the list below to help you determine what buyers really want and do not want in their future home.

The top three must-haves:

1.  Curb Appeal:  You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Your home should sell to the buyer from the curb.   Buyers should be so impressed that they want to leap out of the car and run inside.

How do you create curb appeal? Show attention to detail.  Your home has to be prettier, cleaner and in better condition than its neighbors.  Start with sweeping the drive, walkways and porch or entry of dirt and debris.  Get rid of leggy bushes, wilted flowers and broken tree limbs and plant fresh flowers in the front garden.  Power-wash the exterior and hand wash the windows and touch up paint around the windows, if needed.  I have trusted tradesmen who can do these things for you, if you prefer.  Replace the door hardware and porch sconces.

2.  Space: The number one reason why people buy homes is to have more room.  Whether they are moving from an apartment or moving up from the home they have, they want to have plenty of space.

If you have a large home, you are golden, but that does not mean you have it made.  You can ruin a buyer’s first impression with too much clutter, so make sure to keep your home picked up so your buyer can see your home’s features clearly and easily.

What if you do not have a lot of space?  Plan to do some storing and staging.  Rent a storage unit and put away all out-of-season clothes, toys, home decorations and accessories.  Clean off all tables and counter tops so you have only the minimum of things you need to operate your home.  Empty closets of anything that is stored and move it to the storage unit.  The small expense you will pay in storage fees you will more than make back from a good offer to purchase your home.

3.  Updates: First-time buyers and single people tend to buy older homes because they are more affordable than buying new.  So unless the buyer is a building contractor, chances are he will want a home that is as updated as possible.

Concentrate on the kitchen and bathrooms.  Replace the most dated features such as counter tops, cabinet pulls and appliances.  Bathrooms are so personal that they can easily turn buyers off.  Invest in new towels and bathmats  (use your old ones and replace them with the new ones when you have an appointment to view your home or for an open house).  Throw out slimy soaps and limp ragged bath sponges.  Replace with liquid shower and bath products.  You can take all the newly purchased items to your next home.

Painting is expected by buyers, but do not repaint the same colors that you chose ten years ago.  Pick an updated neutral like a warm gray instead of beige.  Be sure to choose a color that will complement the architecture and flooring in your home.

The typical home purchased in 2013 had 1860 square feet of living space and was built in 1996, so home buyers are not expecting your home to be a mansion, nor do they expect it to be new, but they do expect to see pride of ownership.  The more updates and repairs that you perform, the more confident the buyers will be that they are choosing the right home.

The top five have-nots:

Make sure your home is free and clear of the following items (instant turn-offs).

1.  Overpricing your home: If you have listed your home at a higher price than recommended you will get negative feedback from buyers.  The worst feedback is silence that could include no showings and no offers.  The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home will not see it because they are shopping in a lower price range.  The buyers who do see your home will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.

2.  Smells: Smells can come from a number of sources-pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage and much more.  You may not even notice it, but your agent may tell you something has to be done.  There is not a buyer in the world who will buy a home that smells unless they are investors looking for a bargain.

3. Clutter:  If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail and drinking glasses, buyers’ attention is going to be more focused on breezing through your living room without breaking any glass figurines than in considering your home for purchase.  Too much furniture confuses the eye and makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of the rooms.  If they can not see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

4.  Deferred maintenance:  Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart.  Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home.  Things wear out, break and weather and it is your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.  Buyers really want a home that has been well-maintained.  They do not want to wonder what needs to be fixed next or how much it will cost.

5.  Dated Decor:  People want your neighborhood, but that does not mean they want a dated-looking home.  Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it is from a different era.

Though I am in the business of selling houses, I know it is no easy task to move.  You will receive daily calls from agents to show your home, you will be asked to leave your home during open houses; you will really have to “put your life on hold” until it is sold.  The objective should be to limit the marketing time by making sure your home is the best it can be.

Wait! Don’t Do That to Your Home!

Everyone should be able to make their homes an environment they will enjoy; it is one of the best things about homeownership.  Be careful, though.  When I purchase a home, remodel a home, or re-decorate a home, I always think, “Would a buyer like this?”  Here are a few of the things you probably should NOT do.   1.  Don’t convert your garage into living space; most home buyers like the ability to park their cars in a garage, even if they often do not.  If you go ahead, though, make sure it can easily be converted back.  2.  If you have a one-level home and need to add more space, try keeping it a one level instead of adding a second story.  The reason for this advice is that one-level homes appeal to a larger number of buyers, especially to senior citizens and young families.  3.  Resist the temptation of adding anything that takes up yard space; many people dream of a large, flat back yard.  4.  If you have a view, do not obstruct it with landscaping.  5.  Never create a floorplan that requires going through one bedroom to go into another bedroom.  6.  Resist using the latest styles of carpets, tiles and appliances, as chances are they will “date” your home when you go to sell it.  7.  Don’t plant too many shrubs and trees at the front of the house.  8.  Don’t panel your family room.  9.  Don’t put an ugly mailbox in front of your house; it is often the first thing someone will notice.  10.  If you have open beam ceilings, do not paint the beams a dark brown.  11.  Don’t texture the plaster of ceilings or walls.  12.  If at all possible, avoid decorating with wallpaper.  12.  Don’t put your laundry area in the kitchen; if it’s already there (as in many older homes), try to move it to the garage or some other part of the house.  13.  Don’t add on a pre-fabricated covered patio.  14.  Never, never have a chain-link fence.  15.  Never go ahead with an addition or improvement without checking with the city in which you reside and any kind of architectural review authority that you may have to assure that everything you are doing is up to code. 

I am sure I haven’t covered everything, so I will be sure to update this in future posts.