Tips for Selling Your Home
When selling your home, you ordinarily want to sell for the best possible price in the shortest possible time. There are many things you can do as a seller to help achieve this goal. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is this:
You will never sell your HOME... just your HOUSE!
The truth is, buyers are looking for THEIR new home, not your old one. So the first thing for you, as a seller to do is to de-personalize your home, and think of it as a marketable commodity! With that in mind, let's get your "house" (not "home") ready to sell!
1) Make Your Home Anonymous
Potential buyers walk through your home "trying it on for size" as their own. Too much of your own individuality on display only interferes with this process.
Check out model homes; you'll notice they try to create "personality" without individuality, and you should aim to do the same. For example, decorating a second bedroom in a baseball motif, complete with bat and catcher's mitt hanging on the wall, is fine, but pack away your son's collection of little league trophies and the photos of Johnny pitching!
Pack away most of your personal photos, awards, knick-knacks and mementos. Don't just move them to a closet or garage; it's important to de-clutter the entire house.
2) Get Rid of Clutter
In living in a house, we all accumulate clutter: items that collect on shelves and countertops, and in drawers and closets.
Clutter makes every room and surface seem smaller, and every storage space look inadequate. Particularly in the kitchen, the toasters, mixers and coffeemakers on the counter, and the overflowing cabinets and pantry make a poor impression.
Clear counters and shelves of all but a few decorative items. Clear closets, drawers and cabinets of everything that you don't need on a daily basis, and pack the stuff away for your future move.
3) Unfurnish Your House
Once again, note how model home designers keep furniture to a minimum to make rooms look larger.
Generally, they'll have only a bed and small nightstand, or perhaps a single dresser in a bedroom, while to really live in a house, we tend to add bookcases, rocking chairs, recliners, entertainment centers, gym equipment, and more to our bedroom space.
Try to move out and store all but the most essential pieces of furniture in each room. That way your house will seem to "live" much larger than its actual square footage.
4) Fix The Small Things
Buyers are rightly wary of houses where the doorknobs come off in their hands, light switches don't work, and faucets drip constantly.
These kinds of minor and very inexpensive items can create an impression in the buyer's mind that your house has lots of deferred maintenance, and make them worry that other, more important items will be similarly non-functional.
So replace those light bulbs, fix the switches, and repair the leaky faucets, and make sure all bathroom and kitchen fixtures sparkle. If necessary, buy new faucets; they're not costly and can save you a bundle the price you get for your house.
5) Paint and Flooring
Unless you have repainted fairly recently, fresh paint will usually pay off. If walls area smudged and dirty, or paint colors are out-of style, adding a fresh coat of neutral paint will make the house seems much newer and better maintained.
Wallpaper is fine if it is in good condition and still in style. Old, peeling, outdated papers should be stripped, and the walls either re-papered or painted.Floor coverings often need attention also. Even newer carpeting should be freshly steam-cleaned, and carpet or vinyl that is old, worn, or outdated should be replaced.
Get those walls, ceilings and floors looking sharp, by cleaning or replacing. It will pay off in the price you get for the house.
6) When It's Not the Odor of Sancitity...
It's a sensitive topic, but odors definitely affect the saleability of a property, and many times those living in the house are so accustomed to it that they aren't aware it exists.
Smokers may not be aware of how negatively the smell of cigarette smoke affects many buyers; in fact, they may not even realize it exists. But the odor lingers in carpets, drapes, and furniture, even when no one is actively smoking. Likewise, an owner may not notice the cat or dog smell in the house, yet buyers may be turned off.
If possible, don't smoke indoors, and have carpets, drapes, and furniture thoroughly cleaned to remove old cigarette odor. Empty litter boxes daily, and use plenty of baking soda. If Fifi or Fido are not well house-broken, conside keeping them outdoors or in the garage when you can't supervise them.
7) Curb Appeal
"Curb Appeal" refers to the first impression buyers have of your house as the drive up, and it is crucial. If a house has poor curb appeal, buyers will often refuse to even go in, so make sure you spiff up the appearance of you house from the street.
Make sure you pull the weeds, rake the leaves, and maybe plant some flowers. Keep the lawn green and the shrubs pruned. If you have no landscaping, consider laying some sod, or adding some xeriscaping. Paint the exterior as needed, or consider a new color-coat if your stucco is cracked and peeling. Naturally, tidy up the yards and keep them that way; having potential buyers step on a rake or sip on a skateboard will not improve their impression of your property!
Put a little time, elbow grease, and money, if necessary, into creating a great first impression as buyers approach your door.
8) What About Price?
With the volatile real estate market we have had in the past few years, it can be difficult for a seller to guess how much their home is really worth. Both overpricing and underpricing will cost you money.
Contact three reputable real estate agents who work in your area and ask them for a "CMA," or certified market analysis. Beware of the agent who wants to "buy the listing" by quoting you a value much higher than everyone else. Overpricing to begin with, and then droppping the price little by little ususally results in a lower net for the seller than pricing it realistically to begin with.
Make sure that the price you settle on is well supported by "comparables," or actual sales prices for homes similar to yours, in your neighborhood, that have closed in recent months.