Preparing Your Home for Sale
First impressions matter. This truism applies not just to people, but to houses. A potential buyer forms an opinion about a house the minute they pull up in a car. They form another opinion – or cement their existing one – the moment they enter the front door. So why gamble? Follow these tips to make sure a buyer’s first impression doesn’t prevent them from seeing the true value of your house.
Simplify your Home and Surroundings
When buyers tour a house, they mentally attempt to make the house their own. They can often be overheard saying where they will place a couch or a framed work of art. The homeowners’ personal possessions, unfortunately, can interfere with this process. Nobody expects a seller to pack all of their stuff before selling the house – after all, they have to live there for a little while longer. But wouldn’t it be easier to get a head start? Removing clutter and simplifying the décor will not only enable buyers to see themselves in your home, but will also make your life easier on moving day.
Stage the Home
Staging is the art of carefully decorating a vacant or occupied house in such a way that it feels neither empty and cold, nor cluttered and messy. As previously stated, homeowners can begin by packing some of their possessions. After doing this, however, they should take care to make everything look natural again – not as if the packing is only half-finished. Just as a lived-in home can feel too “busy,” vacant homes can sometimes appear too plain and sterile. Staging helps to stimulate the buyer’s imagination.
Hiring a professional stager can be a wise investment that will ultimately save the seller money by facilitating a quicker sale. The pros understand how interior decoration influences buyer psychology, and they can provide nice furnishings for a minimal cost. Sellers who don’t have the cash to invest up front can also do their own research on staging, consult with their real estate agent, and use their own furnishings. Ask friends and neighbors for a critique to hone in the right look.
Keep the House Clean and Tidy – Always
Raise your hand if you enjoy cleaning up after yourself and mowing the lawn… For those of you who didn’t raise your hand, now is the time to embrace this new hobby. Don’t worry – you can go back to your old ways once you’ve sold the house.
Consider this: Buyers might schedule a showing through their agent at any time with minimal notice, and sellers won’t always have the time to rush home for a quick sweep. If a perpetually clean house and constantly clipped lawn sounds too daunting, hire a professional (or the neighbor’s kid). Again, consider this an investment that will save you from extra mortgage payments, utilities and taxes, as well as prevent stress and inevitable price reductions.
Be Proactive on Home Repairs
Nearly every sale involves two main stages of negotiation – first over the contract, then over the home repairs. The latter stage doesn’t arrive until after the buyer obtains a home inspection. Often, the issues that arise from this inspection catch the seller by surprise. By then, the homeowner might be inclined to perform repairs at the request of the buyer simply to keep the deal from falling apart. Wouldn’t it be nice to eliminate these surprises?
Sellers can, with a pre-inspection. Obtaining a home inspection prior to putting a home on the market has several benefits:
- The seller can choose to either make repairs in advance or disclose the problems in advance, thereby neutralizing future repair negotiations.
- The asking price can be adjusted (upward or downward) to reflect the condition.
- A pre-inspection puts many buyers’ minds at ease, because buyers don’t like surprises, either. That’s one more thing to make a house stand apart from the competition.
About the Author - Mark Vanderhoff
Mark Vanderhoff is a real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty. He helps sellers stand out among the competition and helps buyers take advantage of the opportunities. He also devotes himself to consumer education through his writings in various publications and holds free first-time homebuyer seminars.
Mark offers buyer and seller consultations at no cost and no obligation. He is also a certified Environmental Consultant who specializes in green building.
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