Selling your home is a process that requires attention to many details. Most home sellers have one prominent concern—What is My Home Worth in the Marketplace Today? We will address that further down in this article—let’s begin at the beginning:
WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP FOR ME, THE SELLER, IN PUTTING MY HOME UP FOR SALE?
Ask yourself if you are truly ready to let go of your home, the memories it holds and your attachment to it. It will be necessary to remove all emotion from the equation. Once you decide to put your home up for sale it becomes a marketable commodity. Your task is to allow potential buyers to see your home as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make a decision to let go, a situation may be created where it takes your home much longer to sell. Once you feel clear of any attachment, the next step is to de-personalize your home.
HOW DO I DE-PERSONALIZE MY HOME?
Visit a model home in a new development, if one exists near you. You will find a beautiful, sparsely furnished home that anyone could live in. Visit a hotel suite and you will find the same aesthetic, a beautifully but sparsely furnished suite that is comfortable for you to step in and call your own. These places have an anonymous feeling to them. You will not find any family photos, personal objects or collections. You may find a nice piece of art on the wall, a carpet on the floor and a couple pieces of furniture. There may be a personality, but it is not personal.
You want to make your home anonymous because your goal is to have a potential buyer view it as their potential home. When a potential homebuyer enters your home and finds and array of family photos or personal objects, it puts your mark on the home and may shatter their illusions about living in the house themselves. This is a subtle reaction, but a real one. Any real estate agent can tell you what happens when a house is cluttered with personal objects…..a buyer feels they are intruding and doesn’t really take the time to look at the home. They cannot see it as their potential home when it is clearly displayed as your private space.
Take the family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, souvenirs, knick-knacks and mementos and put them in boxes. Rent a storage area for a few months as the safe place for all your extra items. If you are prepared to sell your home, you will be moving these things out anyway, and it’s a good start for what will happen—the sale of your home. If boxes can be neatly stacked in the corner of a garage, this could also work.
HOW DO I UNCLUTTER THE HOUSE?
This is a difficult task for some homeowners because they are emotionally attached to everything in their house. Years of living in the same home can create clutter to collect in a way that may not be evident to the homeowner, who is so accustomed to living with it.
Drawers, closets, garages, basements, attics, shelves and counter tops are some of the places clutter collects. You want to create as much clear and open space as possible—so every little thing needs to be cleared away. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and take a look around. Allow a friend or your real estate agent help point out areas of clutter. Accept their views without getting defensive—they are allies who want you to succeed in the sale of your home.
THE TASK LOOKS MONUMENTAL, WHERE SHOULD I START?
- Begin in the kitchen—it is an easy place to start and it is the most important room in the home. Yes, it is. Remove everything from the counters. Everything—even the toaster. Put the toaster or any other small appliances in a cabinet and take it out when you use it. Store everything in cabinets and drawers.
- Clean out cabinets and drawers to make space. Box up dishes, pots and pans and any items you rarely use and put the box in storage.
- Homebuyers will open your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen—they want to be sure there is enough room for their “stuff.” A jammed full look in these areas sends a negative message—it tells them there is not enough storage space in the kitchen. You want the buyer to feel there is plenty of room and storage. Create as much “empty space” as you can. Again, it’s that look in a model home or hotel suite.
- Are there large amounts of foodstuffs in the pantry or on your shelves? If so, begin to use them. Prepare your menus so that you do not have to move these heavy items….especially canned goods.
- Make sure the area beneath the sink is as empty as possible, removing all extra cleaning supplies. Scrub the area. Notice if there are any signs of water leaks…and if so get this attended to immediately.
- You may not think of your extra clothes, shoes, coats and the like as clutter, but they are. Things you cannot bear to part with but rarely use should be boxed and stored. Get your closets to look as empty as possible, neat and generous. Those closets that seem to be the place where you put everything you don’t have a real place for—box everything up and store it…having an empty closet is not a bad thing.
- Do you have more furniture than you need for your personal living needs? Each piece of furniture you remove helps to give the illusion of more space in the house. Homebuyers like to feel there is plenty of space. Refer to the look of that model home or hotel suite again. Sparse but adequate….anonymous.
- Attics, basements, garages, closets, sheds are repositories for not only clutter, but junk. Empty these areas so a buyer can imagine how they might use these spaces. Remove everything that is not essential, take it to storage
- This is a great solution for all those things you know you will not be carting along to your new home. If you are downsizing, this is a great solution. Do this before listing you home for sale, if possible.
SHOULD I HIRE A HOME INSPECTOR BEFORE LISTING MY HOME?
Once you accept an offer on your home, the buyer will hire a home inspector to go though the home and give a full report on any items needing attention. If you are proactive, you can catch these things and have them repaired before the inspection, thereby eliminating any unexpected expenses. Repairs to the home, getting it ready for the marketplace, are of great value to you in the long term.
- One easy thing you can do is be sure there are no leaks at faucets and replace any old tired fixtures with nice shiny ones. All sink fixtures benefit from looking new and shiny. This gives a good appearance with little cost. Remove any stains from tubs and sinks that may have accrued due to dripping water. (Soak in vinegar for several days and the stain will come right out)
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
- Look for water stains on the ceilings. Whether the leak has been caused by plumbing or faulty roof, find the leak and repair it. Any leaks of this kind will be called out on an inspection report. Should a water stain remain after a repair (like on a roof) has taken place, do the cosmetic work necessary…painting…to improve desirability of your home.
- Painting can be an excellent investment when selling a home. It is relatively inexpensive and removes the potential for a buyer’s objection having to do with outdated color schemes or the need of fresh paint. Choose colors based on what would appeal to the widest number of buyers—this is usually a neutral tone or white or beige. A clean, freshly painted home impresses the buyer that care has been taken.
Carpet and Flooring
- If your carpet is old, worn or of an outdated style, you might consider replacing it with a neutral color carpet. Otherwise, the work of a good carpet cleaner can do wonders—leaving the carpet fresh and new looking.
- Repair or replace any broken tiles but be sure not to get into a home decorating project. Remember—you are not fixing your home up for yourself but rather to remove any negative impressions upon the potential buyers of your home.
Windows and Doors
- All your windows should open and close easily—check to see. A spray of WD40 can assist to make them work fine. Replace any cracked windowpanes.
- Make sure all doors open and close properly and without creaking. Again, WD40 to the rescue—apply to hinges. Doorknobs should turn easily and be clean and polished to look sharp. The prospective buyer’s attention goes to those things they must touch—like a doorknob to open a door. Make a positive impression.
- If you are a smoker and have been smoking in the home, it may be a good idea to have the carpets, drapes and upholstery professionally cleaned. Then, smoke outdoors for the remainder of the time your home is on the market. This is a big turnoff to buyers….since they will have to get the home professionally cleaned to remove the odor if you do not. Some buyers will turn on their heel at the front door if they are greeted by the odor of cigarette smoke.
- Pet owners—be sure to empty kitty litter daily and use baking soda to control odors. Keep your dog outdoors during showings. A carpet freshener applied on a periodic basis can help to keep down pet odors.
Exterior of the Home – Curb Appeal
- The look of the exterior of your home is the most important consideration. Your prospective buyer will see your home from the real estate agent’s car. This first impression is most important and is known as “curb appeal.”
- Curb appeal should welcome the potential buyer into the home, giving the impression of a well cared for property. This might include nicely trimmed landscaping, beautiful colorful flowers, and the exterior condition of the home.
- Should you paint the exterior of your home? Stand across the street and determine whether your home looks fresh and clean—or does it have a tired and faded look. A paint job may be in order and it is generally a good investment. Choose a color that fits with our neighborhood or area, not one that stands out.
- If your roof leaks, repair it. If your home needs a new roof, know that this will be something a buyer will calculate into their expense of buying the home.
- Buy a few bushes and plant them, if needed. Do not put in mature trees, they are expensive and you will not get your investment back.
- A splash of vibrantly colored flowers creates a favorable impression. Bulbs and seeds take too long to mature, just buy the flowers already blooming…and those who have a long bloom.
- Rake up any loose leaves or cuttings so the front of the home is clean and sparkling like the inside.
Front Entry to the Home
- Stepping over the threshold of the home is an important moment for a prospective home buyer. Polish the front door fixture so it gleams. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, do it. Remove any plaques with your family name. Get a plush doormat – you can take it with you when you move. Make sure your lock works perfectly. When you home is shown, a real estate agent will get a key from the lockbox to open the door. If time has to be spent fumbling with the lock it leaves a negative first impression with the prospective buyer.
HOW ABOUT THE PRICE OF MY HOME?
Once you have decided to sell your home, you may call in three agents for a listing presentation. You have a good idea of what you believe your home is worth. Each agent will appear with a Comparative Market Analysis and each will recommend a sales price which may be lower than you expected. Although the agents show you data reflecting recent sales in your area for comparable homes, you believe your home is worth more than the others.
One of the agents recommends a sales price that is higher than the others and more in line with what you feel your home may be worth. It may even be a higher than anticipated price. You become a very excited home seller—but be careful…
“BUYING A LISTING”
- If you are like most people, you will choose the realtor who tells you your home is worth more than what the market dictates. This agent is willing to work with you, listen to your opinions and wants to put the maximum amount of cash in your pocket. They are willing to list the home at your price and if you need to drop the price later—that will be easy.
- You have just met an agent using a questionable sales practice called “buying a listing.” The listing was “bought” by the agent suggesting you might be able to get a higher sales price than the other agents recommended. Most likely, S/he is quite doubtful your home will actually demand such a price in the marketplace. The intention here is to eventually talk you into lowering the price.
- This practice is not to your advantage as a seller. Your home will be known as “overpriced” by other realtors, and you may get many less showings. As you house lingers on the market, it may not get shown at all since there is no way for another agent to support the sales price to their client.
- Once the price is reduced to reflect the market, some months down the road, you may have missed a very active market and find yourself in one that is more restricted. You have been poised at the starting gate waiting to get to your next episode in life, while your home has no possibility of selling at that very attractive price the agent recommended.
- Your home is presented via the MLS to other local agents working with homebuyers in the area. This dramatically increases your sales force. During the first couple weeks you may get a flurry of activity with Buyer Brokers coming to your home with clients – if the price is right.
- Go with someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about the market. Find someone who is truthful and will not tell you what you want to hear to get the listing. Of course you want the highest price for your home—it’s human nature. When you choose an agent who tells you what you want to hear, it may lead to lots of stress and frustration. It will take longer to sell your home and you might possibly end up selling for less than the price originally suggested by the other two agents who could support the market price with statistics.
WHAT IS THE JOB OF THE LISTING AGENT?
- Sellers imagine that homes are marketing through newspaper ads and other media to the general public. In truth, any advertising of that kind is likely to bring buyers to the agent who may have no interest at all in your home. It advertises them, the agent.
- Open Houses also are perceived a being a great sales tool the listing agent can use. Surveys by the National Association of Realtors show that only 3 to 7 percent of homes are sold by open houses. .The truth is that the open house is usually held by a new agent hoping to acquire clients. The people that walk in are prospects to them. The number of homes actually sold from an open house is staggeringly small, less than ten percent. Open houses are an opportunity for the agent to meet clients using your home as the prop.
- The real work of the listing agent is to market your home to other agents in the area. They should schedule a Realtor Open House to show your home to other agents who may have clients. Agents visiting your home will keep it in mind for their current clients and clients to come. The listing agent networks with other agents, letting them know about your home. Sometimes they send flyers to the other agents to keep the house in their awareness.
SHOWING THE HOUSE
Although it may be inconvenient for you, your home should always be ready and available to show. A lockbox in a convenient place makes it easy for other agents to show your home. Agents will schedule appointments with you for showings. If you are out of town and/or the house is vacant, this leaves the house ready at any time, and you will receive more showings. You can anticipate a couple hours notice for showings.
Plan to be Out of the House During Showings
- The potential home buyer will feel like an intruder if you are at home and will not take time to look at the home. Visit the local coffee shop, take a walk—whatever, but do not be at home. If you cannot be out of the home, go out on the deck or into the yard, or confine yourself to one room. Do not volunteer any information but do answer any questions an agent may ask you. Keep a very low profile if you must be in the home.
- Turn on ALL the indoor and outdoor lights, even during the day. A lit house gives a homey and cheerful impression.
- Scented sprays should not be used to prepare for visitors. It is overwhelmingly obvious, can be offensive and some people are highly allergic. A pleasant aroma in your house can be created by turning on the stove burner or oven for a moment. Then put a drop of vanilla extract on the heated surface. A fresh potpourri can be nice too.
- If you have pets on the premises be sure your listing agent makes note of this in your listing with MLS. Give instructions about entering the home. Having your pet running out the door or getting lost is not what we want. If you know someone is coming, it is best to take the pets with you while the homebuyers take a look at your home. If you cannot do that, it would be good to keep dogs in a penned are confined area or in the yard. Keep cats in a specific room with a note on the door that a cat is present. Take care to protect your animals and make sure everyone entering the home knows how that will be accomplished.
- Empty the trash every time you have a showing, even if trash is kept under the kitchen sink. You may end up using more trash bags than usual, but the positive message sent to the buyer will be worth it.
Tidy the Home
- Keep your home tidy and clean. Develop the habit of making the bed every day; pick up papers, clothing, empty glasses and the like. Dust and vacuum all areas. Remember—you want to maintain the look of a model home….a place with furniture but nobody really lives there.
WHAT GOES WITH THE HOME WHEN IT IS SOLD?
During your listing appointment, be sure to go around with your agent and create a clear list of what is to stay and what is to go. Generally, anything affixed stays. However, if you have that special chandelier you want to take—great. Get the chandelier down and store it. Replace it with something simple so there is no confusion. Your agent will be able to instruct you about real property vs. personal property.
THE LISTING APPOINTMENT
At Luminous Realty, the listing appointment happens in three steps.
- A visit to your home is scheduled. We will meet with you and look the home over carefully, inside and out. We will sit together and talk about the home—I will gather information. I may take a few photos for reference in my further research.
- A second visit to your home is scheduled. Our aim is to sell your home at the highest possible price, in the least amount of time and to create a win-win transaction for everyone involved.
On this visit, we will present to your how your home looks in the marketplace. We share statistics and other up to the minute information about the market. We will discuss the marketability and potential listing price of the home. If we are in agreement with the terms and conditions, it is at this time we sign the necessary paperwork to list your home.
AFTER I LIST THE HOME WITH LUMINOUS REALTY, WHAT HAPPENS?
We assist you to get your home ready for the marketplace by making specific recommendations. If necessary, we help coordinate service providers to assist in preparing your home for its absolute best presentation.
We decide on a launch date for the listing. After the listing is on MLS, we set up a Broker Open House to show the other realtors your home. Other realtors have many buyers and they are the absolute best resource for selling you home. It is to them that we market your home.