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How To Stand Out When Selling Your House
In today’s volatile economy, selling a home is probably going to be stressful. Make the process easier to bear by knowing that your house will be in the best condition it can be. Before listings and putting ‘for-sale’ signs up, make necessary improvements and enhance the beauty of the home. In this market, nothing will help a seller more than paying attention to the details. Going the extra mile to entice potential buyers will definitely help your home stand out from the rest of the pack.
The one thing you should remember: you could indeed end up spending a good amount preparing the house. But, on the other hand, the better the house looks, the greater the value. So if you end up redoing the bathroom tiles or repainting the entire home, that price tag can be added to the sale price.
Things to Consider…
It’s not impossible to find a dream home. What’s rare is finding the perfect home, i.e., a property that will need absolutely no work. Buyers can understand a property may need a little tinkering. Still, the seller should follow a general rule: the less the better. If the home requires any painting, construction or woodwork, get it done. Any undone work can decrease the value of the home when it’s inspected. It certainly won’t look good when showcasing the property. The last thing you or your realtor should ever say to a buyer is something to the effect of That’s easy to fix. (And you’d be surprised how many have no problem making that kind of statement.)
Leaving out cookies and milk, filling the air with the most sweetly scented candles and making the windows so clear you could accidentally put your head through them are only last minute enhancements. A home on the market shouldn’t only be structurally sound. Both interior and exterior environments will need to be in the best condition possible. Don’t hesitate to get advice from a realtor, a contractor or landscaper on what needs to be done to make the property as appealing as it can get.
Be objective when looking at your home. Just because you’ve accepted certain things doesn’t mean others should too. A broken banister that you’ve grown to accept as part of the charm needs to be repaired promptly. Pay close attention to the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom. Face it, those rooms mattered when you were looking at homes. That hasn’t changed.
The First Steps are on the Outside
The front of the house should be immaculate. That first impression definitely applies here. From the curb to the door should be sharpened to the smallest detail. If it needs fresh paint, get it. Neaten the grounds, trim trees and shrubs, replace the mailbox and house numbers. Use your best curtains on the front windows. Put a shine to the wood and fiberglass on the door. Give everything an exciting, new look.
If you don’t need to repaint, wash it down with a power washer, or use a hose, broom and dishwashing cleanser. Remove lawn ornaments because not everyone will appreciate swans or leprechauns.
The grass has to exude perfection. Trust in this: nothing is more demoralising to a buyer than an unkempt lawn. It’s all about pride. If you can’t demonstrate any in your own home, you’ll never inspire it in others. Pride in appearance is the best way to hook potential buyers before they even get out the car. It heightens anticipation for what’s next.
As much energy as you’ve put into the front, do the same with any visible sides of the home and the backyard. If you can’t tuck the garbage cans out of sight, at least make sure they’re empty and odor free. Repair any significant cracks in the ground. If you have anything like a barbeque or even a small pool for the kids, make sure it’s out and looking pristine. The furniture must be comfortable and inviting. There should be lanterns or candles. The yard should be presented as an extensive of the indoors. You want potential buyers to see that this will be a great place for a family weekend.
If the garage is part of the showcase, it needs to be as well detailed as any other part of the house.
Time to Go Inside
Walk through the house and take careful notes of what needs to be done to every room. Broken tiles, stains, clutter. Review magazines and real estate listings. See what those homes have in common and try to replicate it. Pay particular attention to the kitchen, the bathroom and master bedroom. The kitchen and bathroom are always the most interesting rooms in the home, the ones that impress us the most.
If the furnishings and appliances are older models, shine them to the best of your ability. Minimise content on countertops. Just enough to look lived in but not so much that it looks crowded. The trick is not giving a potential buyer any visual distractions that take away from the overall beauty of the home. No dirty bars of soap or caked in soap dishes. Towels should match and be neatly folded on the rack. If not, remove them. Linens should always be fresh, the beds made. Need we even say there should be no dirty dishes? The floors, whether timber flooring, stone or ceramic, should have a nice sheen throughout. If you have pets, put their dishes and litter boxes out of sight. Windows, blinds and curtains need to be spotless. Shelves and fan blades have to be dust free.
Trust that no matter how many couples and families come to see the home, the one that does the majority of the cooking is going to take interest in the kitchen. With a refrigerator, stove, microwave and the usual accoutrements, the kitchen is usually the greatest investment. Touch it up to the best of your ability. No peeling laminates, no grease on the stove, no knobs missing on the drawers or cabinets. Add a new backsplash and a fresh coat of paint.
Speaking of paint, consider repainting the entire house. Definitely paint rooms that need it, but there’s a little trick that most homeowners aren’t aware of. A single, neutral color throughout the house can actually make it look larger. This includes the ceiling. Don’t use white. Use an off-white or egg shell. White can come across as unfinished leaving the impression the house needs painting.
Below is a brief list of things that can be done that’s part of home staging. That’s when rooms in the home are deliberately and specifically rearranged to be more aesthetically pleasing. Furniture may be moved out, new furniture brought in, etc. This is actually a technique used in sales of high end homes where the sellers can afford to hire firms to spruce things up.
• Give every room a centerpiece, a focal point, and make sure that stands out. In some cases it will be obvious. In the master bedroom, it should be the bed. In the kitchen, it could be the stove or the countertops. There should be a piece in every room that draws the eye visually.
• Browse the photos in any décor periodical. See how they sprinkle plants in all the rooms? It’s because they’re attractive, catch the eye and enhance any view. A few real or silk plants or flowers will do wonders in the living room, kitchen and bedrooms.
• As odd as it may seem, set the dining room table with good china. If asked about it, tell the buyers you wanted to give them an idea of how it looks. It will definitely present a sense of warmth and luxury.
• If your closets are stuffed, clean them out. When a perspective buyer looks in any closet, it’s more appealing if they see ample space. If the closets look stuffed, it leaves the impression there isn’t enough space. So remove clothes (and extra hangers), that pile of shoes on the floor, boxes, etc. and get them out of sight.
• If you have the space in the living room, pull furniture away from the walls. Like your closets, if you have too much furniture, pare that down. Try to create a comfortable, conversational atmosphere in the living room because that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be.
The Internet has changed the way buyers look for homes. The pictures you take will have a huge impact on buyer perception. It will be the first impression AND it will have to compete with what could be hundreds of listings in some areas. The idea of blurry, poorly lit images shouldn’t even be a topic.
For the exterior, you only need the front of the house. If you have a magnificent yard, you may want to show it off as well.
Take many pictures of the primary rooms. Get as much of the area as you can into at least one of the pictures. For the kitchen, bathroom and living room, get different angles that highlight what you think will be most appealing. If someone else is taking the pictures, like your realtor, don’t assume they know what they’re doing. Approve every single shot that’s going in the listing.
Best in Show
Make sure the house is aired out nicely without being too cool or too warm. If you have air conditioning, take a fabric softener sheet and tuck it behind the (cleaned) filter. That will give the rooms a fresh feel.
Lighting is everything! If it’s within your control, show the house during daylight hours. Open up windows, blinds and curtains. Sunlight is incredibly attractive and creates wondrous atmospheres in a natural way. It’s also the best way to show off the home because every home is lit differently. At night, stark fluorescents or dark, inadequate lighting can diminish the settings. If you’re showing at night, use energy efficient bulbs throughout the house. They’re inexpensive and closely resemble natural light.
A good idea might be to put together a list of features you want any buyers to know about the house. Print up copies and leave them at the front door. The list could consist of 10 to 20 great things about the property. It shouldn’t be more than two pages long with a few photos. The realtor and buyers will have that list as they move through the house. Buyers can take it home with them. This would certainly be ideal if you’re not going to be there. It’s also excellent for the realtor because he can now focus on those things you want him to. You can even let prospective buyers explore the house alone with your list, informing them if they have questions you’ll be in the kitchen or wherever. Buyers are a lot more comfortable assessing the home amongst themselves when the seller isn’t standing in the room.
Making your house stand out is going to require time and money. If you really want to sell that house in today’s market, you will need to put the effort in. If it means hiring a handyman or landscaper, it might be prudent to do it. In the long run, it’s going to be worth it. The better the home looks, the more the property’s going to be worth. Adding your expenses to the overall cost of the house shouldn’t be an issue as long as you’re not pricing yourself out of the market.
Remember, before anyone buys your house, it will need an inspection. If the house is in the best possible condition, the inspector will have to attest that it’s worth every penny you’re asking for. Even a broken handrail can alter their opinion. There are some that would say you shouldn’t go overboard. They would be wrong. Try and get the same reaction you’d get walking into an impressive villa or hotel for a vacation on the beach. Fluffed pillows, pulled down comforters, spotless floors and more should be the norm. People are extremely observant and it’s your job to make sure everything they see is positive.