How to prepare a home for a quicker sale
As a real estate agent, I am always running across homes that need basic makeovers. I know it is difficult to visualize a home as a first time visitor, or buyer, but there are important strategies that must be addressed prior to putting your home on the market. Here are a few tips that should be common knowledge for any home sale preparation, although they are sometimes overlooked:
- Yard- Always keep your yard well-manicured during the time that it is open to buyers. Curb appeal is the best solution to getting people in your home. Ask your real estate or Realtor for a lawn maintenance professional to keep up with your yard so it is always presentable. A nice yard positively reinforces interest about your home and is certainly the first thing that a buyer sees.
- Entryway- Most buyers make up their mind if they want the house in the first few seconds of entering the home. If the front porch and foyer are welcoming, then they are more likely to want to continue browsing through your home. Try a few planters flanking the entry door with some colorful, aromic plants. Smells, sound and appearance are very important. If you live by a noisy street or highway, consider a water feature to drown out the sound of street noise.
- Keys-Make sure you can use one key to get into your home and it opens easily. Having to jiggle the lock or sort through several keys can be frustrating for the buyer and the buyer's agent. This also another crucial time for a first impression of your home to the buyer. You want them to know that your house is well maintained.
- Cleanliness-When putting your home on the market, make sure it is always presentable. Keeping the bathrooms, kitchen and dining areas clean is very important because it makes for a welcoming atmosphere.
- Unnecessary Clutter-Try to remove anything that causes clutter on tables, desktops, countertops and mantles. A good rule of thumb is to place vases, lamps or books in a series of threes. For instance, if you have a lamp, a clock, a phone and a book on your nightstand, try removing one of them. It is more pleasing to the eye and appears to look less cluttered and more organized. Use the drawers in your nightstand if necessary.
- Remove personal photos-This is probably the most important tip that I can give. When a potential buyer walks into a home, they are imagining how their furniture and personal belongings will look in your space. A family picture is the most personal item in a home. Although most of the time unintentional, it clearly establishes ownership of the home to a buyer. Make sure all items are taken off of refrigerators to accent clean lines.
- Artwork-Place local artwork in the home. The last thing you want a buyer to see is a picture of a tropical island in your Columbia, SC home. This basically tells the buyer "I would rather be here...and so should you". Local landmarks are great subject matter to place on your walls. It reinforces the buyer that your home is in a great city with local attractions. If nothing else try to mix some local art with your collection.
- Pets- Believe it or not, some people are not fond of animals and are immediately turned away from homes with indoor pets. Consider keeping water bowls and/or feeders in the garage or away from living areas. The worst experience for a buyer is to walk into a kitchen and smell cat litter. Prepare your pets for visitors. For dogs, you may want to invest in a small kennel to put in the backyard so your pet won't annoy house hunters.
- Closets and storage-Another great real estate tip is to simplify your closets and furniture. Keep everything off of the floor that is not furniture and consider renting a storage unit for off-season clothing. You may want to go ahead and clean out those clothes you no longer wear prior to opening your house to potential buyers. A cluttered closet can appear small even if is spacious. If nothing else, put your things in a storage bin and place it in an attic or outbuilding.
- Get Out!- Don't wait around while your agent shows your home. It is very uncomfortable walking through someone's home while you know they are waiting for you to leave. Whenever I show a home while a seller is present, I just want to move on to the next home so I can speak freely about the likes and dislikes with my client.
- Open House- Consider having an open house and a yard sale together. This will keep you out of the house and bring in non-traditional home seekers. It will also help you get rid of the clutter I mentioned earlier. Agent open houses seem to be very popular also.
- Lighting- Open shades, blinds and curtains to let in natural light and bring the outdoors in. It sets a positive mood unlike a dark room that can be depressing and even creepy. Indoor plants near windows and doors also help create a smooth transition of space
- Flyers-Remember to leave flyers so that a potential buyer has something to take with them when they leave your home. Rarely will a buyer visit less than three homes in a single outing. A nice flyer will keep your house in their mind for hours, days and even weeks. Who knows, maybe their friends, co-workers, or family members will see it and ask about your house? You never know who is looking and where that flyer will turn up.
- Required documents - Have all of the informative and required documents ready for a buyer.
- Accessibility-Another frustration that agents and buyers have is obstacles to enter a home for sale. Allow your home to be ready to show within an hour. Suggestive time frames and appointments to show your home can interfere with a buyer's schedule. You must be flexible to show your home on short notice. Sometimes buyers are only available in short increments and while your house is not available, they may decide on another home rather than yours. After all, you are trying to sell your home. Imagine if you needed an appointment to go to your local grocery store and they wouldn't allow you to walk in at your convenience. You'd probably end up going to another store that is open at your convenience and no appointment is necessary, right?
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