Ten Tips for Selling Your Home
March 13, 2012
It seems it’s “tips” week here at CG and today we’re talking about some general suggestions for selling your home. When I say “we” I mean I’ve invited Matt to share some tips with you since he’s the guy with all the knowledge on this subject – he’s a real estate appraiser and broker (yep both!) with over 25 years experience. I asked him to contribute some of his knowledge so he was kind enough to write up this article for you today. Matt’s taking the helm here to share his ten best suggestions for selling your home quickly and achieving top dollar at the same time. Here he is:
“Kate asked me to share some of my suggestions for maximizing the value of your home when you decide to put it on the market (and she’s going to add some pictures to illustrate too.) First know that these recommendations depend on a variety of factors such as price range, time of year, region, and location, and this list is by no means all inclusive.
For first timers, the process of selling a home can be stressful, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the anxiety of the sale and secure the best sales price too. Most people buy the home they feel the most emotionally connected with – the one they can envision living in. Your goal as the seller is to give that feeling to the best of your ability to any potential buyer that comes through your door.
Ten Tips for Selling Your Home
1. First Impressions Matter. The exterior of your home gives potential buyers the first impression and you want it to be looking its very best. Start by power washing your home to get rid of any cobwebs, dirt, or grime. Rid your driveway of any oil stains and move any old cars off the property. Focus attention on an attractive and inviting entry with a new welcome mat, potted plants, and flowers. If your front porch light is old and/or broken spend $30 and give it a facelift with a new fixture. Spruce up the landscaping, mow the grass, prune the trees and shrubs, and replace or replant where needed.
2. Inspect the Exterior and Make Obvious Repairs. Repair any peeling exterior paint or damaged siding, especially in the front of the home. Make sure the front door hinges and hardware work perfectly, and the doorbell too since one of the worst first impressions is a non-working doorbell. If for some reason you can’t get it to work, place a note over the doorbell that reads “Please Knock”. Sliders and doors all need to be oiled and working smoothly including the sliding screen doors too. You want that smooth transition from room to room and from indoor to outdoor living.
3. Get a Pest Inspection. This next suggestion is optional but is proven to prevent future headaches with the sale of your home. I recommend hiring a pest inspector to examine your home for termites and water damage and provide you with a report of any active problems with the property. Any future buyer will want the property inspected and you may end up with an inflated estimate for repairs from a potential buyer’s inspector so spend the money to hire your your own inspector.
Once you have your report, clear all (Section 1) problems that are actively causing any problems. Hire a contractor or professional to make the repairs if necessary and have the inspector return to clear the problems in the report. This inspection can be given to any buyer who makes an offer on your home.
4. Empty the Garage. This is my favorite recommendation for sellers because it’s one of the best tips for selling your home much quicker. A garage is typically the man’s space, but both guys and gals always want to see if they have room to store their stuff and they will always look in the garage. A clean and empty garage is always attractive to future buyers, so rent a storage unit and take everything in the garage and put it in storage for a month or two. You can also use the storage unit for the decluttering, which is the next step.
5. Clear Out the Clutter. Difficult as it may be for any homeowner, it’s very important to declutter and depersonalize the entire house. Buyers need to be able to visualize their furniture and their possessions in your home and if you have too much of your stuff hanging around they won’t be able to do this. Less of your stuff in your house makes the room cleaner and larger and everything seems much calmer. A staged home is a good example of how much of your personalized possessions should be present – which is not much, especially in the main living areas. Less clutter enhances the architectural details or unique accents in your home too.
6. Interior Sprucing. Fresh paint on the walls is probably the best thing you can do to add appeal to the interior of the house for future buyers. Saturated colors on walls are less attractive than neutrals so as much as you love your lime green bedroom, consider painting it a gray, tan, or white so future buyers can envision their own color and art on the walls. Touch up the baseboards and trim too since dirty trim and scuffed up baseboards make a home look dingy.
Clean the whole house including the windows and the carpets to rid the home of dust and odors and keep them fresh and clean until escrow closes. Hire a professional window washer or carpet cleaner if necessary.
7. Price it Right. Resist the urge to overprice your home especially in the current real estate market. Your personal attachment to your home may cause you to list the home for more than it’s worth, but you must be realistic about its true value. The ideal time for an offer is within the first 30 days, so setting the right price is key. If it’s priced too high, the home may not get showings, and you’ll be forced to reduce the price to leave buyers wondering what is wrong with your home.
The best way to obtain the true market value of your home is to hire a real estate appraiser who can give you a good idea of a listing price based on comparable sales in your area, and they may know even more about the real value of your home than your agent or broker.
8. Hire the Right Agent. Find a real estate listing agent or broker who has experience in your market, who responds to your calls right away and communicates with you in a trustworthy manner. Once you have selected your agent, make sure that he or she is aware of all the selling points of your home such as upgraded appliances, air conditioning, new fixtures, modern technology, home alarms, etc. Your agent should also be aware of details about your specific neighborhood, including the schools, parks, and proximity to public services for marketing purposes. Be sure to indicate the best time of day for showing the home as well.
9. Insist on Good Marketing Photos. To be frank, most real estate agents and brokers underestimate the importance of good marketing images of a home. Good images will attract more buyers, poor images have the opposite effect. The pictures of your home don’t need to be magazine quality, just bright enough to show off your home at its best. Go over the photos with the agent and make sure they look how you want them to look and are taken from the best angles. Raise all the blinds, turn on the lights, and don’t be afraid to retake the photos several times to get them right.
10. Show It Well (No Pets or Bad Odors) Having a pet in the home isn’t always the best idea when showing the house to new buyers since they can be distracting. You want your buyers looking at the home and not worrying if it’s okay if the cat goes outside or if the dog is friendly or not. Pets need to be kept away from the showing, whether you take them on a walk, place them in a room away from buyers, or take them to a friend’s house while your home is on the market.
Also be sure your house doesn’t smell like your pets either. Clean surfaces and carpets are important and air fresheners are always a good idea. Fresh flowers on the dining room table or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen make your home’s living spaces feel fresher and more appealing.
Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to minimize anxiety in the process, reduce your home’s time on the market, and secure the best sales price too.
All the best in the sale of your home,
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