(You Won’t Learn From HGTV!)
Every time I work with sellers, their first question is always “Do I need to take down my personal photos?” I think HGTV has embedded that notion into every home seller’s minds, and to be honest it’s not the #1 thing I have sellers focus on. I am in the process of preparing my own home for sale this Spring, and let me tell you I am eating a HUGE piece of Humble Pie right now as I try to follow my own advice! Sure de-personalizing is important, but more importantly, will it bring you additional value? Because value, i.e. what you NET in your pocket at the end of the sale, is a seller’s priority.
Here are the Top Priorities I recommend to sellers who are looking to lock in the most Bang for their Buck!
1 – Up-size!
Forget de-cluttering…UP-SIZE! What adds value to a home is square footage. Actual, tangible, measurable square footage. Look at de-cluttering less as removing your personal footprint, and more as offering extra visual space for the buyer. Stuff takes up space! Remove all small appliances from the kitchen counters, so that the buyer can visually see how much counter space there ?is. Take down all fridge magnets, toiletries and other décor on all flat surfaces in the home. Roll up rugs so buyers can see your gorgeous flooring. Show them what they’re buying – the rest you’re taking with you. Let in the natural sunlight – remove heavy draperies and either replace with bright white if you need privacy, or simply leave the windows bare if not. Let the home breathe.
2 – Give it the Hospitality treatment
Your home should look and feel like a model suite, or a luxury hotel. Buyers get it – they know that you live there and that you have graciously allowed them to come into your home… but all of the things that go along with that – your toothbrushes, laundry detergents, etc., make the home feel very personalized to you. Clean, fresh, white linens and draperies? Yes. Liquor bottles in plain sight? No. Your home will be known as the “Bachelor pad house”, and that doesn’t evoke a desire to buy. (Little known fact: buyers often give nicknames to homes to help them remember their distinguishable qualities!)
3 – Fresh eyes on the prize
Fix the little stuff – the things that you’ve lived with for years because you grew used to them. The things your eyes don’t even see anymore. Buyers spend 20 minutes in your home, and that’s if they like it! As a buyer agent we search for clues; if the little things aren’t taken care of – things like loose doorknobs, a cracked window, pet odors or even a bad paint job – we wonder what else hasn’t been cared for. Ask your REALTOR® or a friend for their objective opinion. Out of an average of 20 homes a buyer in today’s Fredericton Buyer’s Market will see – do what you can to be the house that leaves nothing for the buyer to do but sign on the dotted line ?
4 – Rearrange furniture
A bit of insight into the buying process – showings almost definitely involve a minimum of 3 people; the REALTOR® and the buyers. Add in the buyer’s parents / trusted friend and 2.5 kids, and you’ve got a swarm of people shuffling from room to room in a very short period of time, in your home. If you have to walk around furniture in your existing layout, then to your buyers (and their army) it’s going to feel extra snug. Remove absolutely everything from your entryway, as this is where everyone will congregate to remove their footwear. Cozy up your furnishings so that there are defined spaces for people to walk without any obstructions. Ensure every room has a clear purpose. Too much stuff? A storage unit will pay you back in dividends.
5 – What’s on the outside counts too!
First impressions truly are everything. Sure some flower baskets would look great, but first and foremost – make sure your outdoor space is clean and well-maintained. If you don’t have a garage and your gardening tools, snow shovel and kids toys are outside, it will only draw attention to the fact that there is no alternate space for these things. Put them away, sweep off the porch, invest in a clean new ‘Welcome’ mat, pull any weeds, and rent a pressure washer to wash the deck, front porch, and siding.
6 – Professional grade cleaning
Windows first – natural sunlight sells houses and it’s amazing how much more light comes in through a clean window! A clean home – and I mean eat-off-the-floor-I-didn’t-even-realize-dirt-could-grow-there type of clean – tells a buyer how much you’ve loved and cared for the home in its entirety. I know it sounds cliché, but it is absolutely the case that when strong scents are used in a home, a buyer asks themselves, “what are they trying to cover up?” BUT the smell of Mr Clean or Windex almost always evokes that “ahhhhhh, it smells so clean!” reaction. Go for the latter ?
7 – Do your homework
Receipts for work done – upgrades, general maintenance and servicing – literally add $$$ back in your pockets. Document everything including names of service providers and month/year completed. This should form part of your listing package that’s presented to buyers. Disclose any issues you’ve had and what steps you’ve taken to rectify them. Buying a home is a very important – and expensive – decision for any buyer. Full disclosure gives them the confidence they need in order to take the next step.
8 – A picture’s worth $1000’s in your pocket!
Photos are your greatest marketing strategy, second only to price. Work with a REALTOR® whose marketing plan includes professional photos. Don’t rush – if your home hasn’t been staged, then it’s not ready to hit the market. Your first 2-3 weeks on the market are crucial, and potential buyers will make a lot of decisions about your house based on the photos they see online, without even setting foot in your home.
Selling a home is a lot of work. But even harder, is having a home on the market for months or even years, and accommodating showing after showing with nothing to show for it but a lot of grey hairs and a history of price reductions. A home loses value as it sits on the Real Estate market. If there’s one take-away I like to leave with sellers it’s this – Don’t let the home sit. Come up with a strategy that makes sense out of the gate, and out of all of your competition, be the better house. Price well, show well and offer value to your buyer. You’ll sell faster and closer to asking price by offering value, netting you more in your pocket.
Happy Spring, Happy Staging and for all of your Real Estate needs, we are here to help!
Your Real Estate team,
Karen Syroid and Liz McCleave
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