During my 25 years as a Realtor, I’ve seen sellers make some big mistakes in preparing — or not preparing — their home for sale. This article is a public service that will alert you to some of the most common errors, give you some ways to help your home shine in a buyer’s eyes, and furnish you with a free customized computer report of homes presently For Sale and homes that have recently Sold in your neighborhood.
A mistake I see sellers make often is failing to do the simple things that cost almost no money, yet always make homes sell for thousands of dollars more. If your home is logically a good value, but buyers don’t feel warm and emotionally attracted to the home, you will receive lower offers. That’s because buying a home is an emotional decision on the part of the buyer. Often the buyer doesn’t even consciously know why they like one home more than another… they just do. Decisions are made on a deep subconscious level tied into what makes them feel comfortable, safe and secure. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your home looks, feels and smells its best.
Remember that you’re competing with many other homes For Sale in your price range. Since buyers buy on emotion… let’s look at how your home can be the cleanest, freshest and cheeriest. This will lead you to a much faster sale… at a higher price. Here are some simple tips and tricks to make your home more appealing to buyers and entice them to want to pay more for it:
Make a Great First Impression
It is estimated that more than half of all homes are sold before the buyers even get out of their cars. A visually pleasing and well-cared-for exterior invites inspection of the interior, since your care of your front yard reflects the inside condition of your house. This may be as easy as making certain that trees are trimmed away from the roof and the grass is mowed and edged. Rake leaves. Plant flowers. Blow walkways. Clean away debris. Wash windows. Pressure washing can do wonders for brightening up the appearance of your home, walkways, and driveway. Remove parked cars. This all adds to curb appeal. If a buyer doesn’t get a warm, welcoming feeling at first glance, they will be less likely to view the inside in a positive light.
Get it Sparkling Clean
This may sound obvious, but it’s an easy fix that can be overlooked. Sellers lose thousands of dollars because they do not adequately clean. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell your home faster and net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more because most people are turned off by even the smallest amount of uncleanliness or odor when buying a home. Scrub stains out of the carpet, vacuum behind couches and under the bed, wash windows inside and out. Dust ceiling fans and baseboards, and polish metal surfaces. Have a friend come over and perform a white glove — and sniff — test. You may be so used to your cat’s litter box, the diaper pail, or cigarette smoke in your upholstery that you don’t even notice the smell, but a buyer will.
Conquer the Clutter
The less stuff that you have, the more roomy the home will seem, so go room by room and purge. Take all but the most essential items from counter tops and shelves to help them appear more spacious. Remove personal items such as family photos, collections, college banners, kids’ trophies. “You want people to feel like they’re walking into a house that could be theirs” explains Tanya Memme, host of Sell this House on A&E.
While now is the perfect time to toss out the ‘junk’ you are already planning to get rid of before you move, for the collectibles and other items you truly can’t part with, rent a storage space and visit your Precious Moments collection there. Don’t fill up your closets with boxes — buyers will open overstuffed closets and quickly get the impression that the home doesn’t have enough storage space. Reserve drawers and cabinets for items you use every day like toothbrushes, cookware and cleaning supplies.
Lots of furnishings can make a room look much smaller than it actually is. See if you can pare down to half the furniture in each room. Think about the visual weight of furniture as well. Big furnishings can make a room look smaller too; a solid wood table seems larger than a glass-top table.
Pay Attention to the Details
Replace burned out light bulbs, patch holes in the walls, and fix leaky faucets. Put out fresh new towels and empty the wastebaskets. Organize your kitchen cabinets, and line up the clothes and shoes in your closet. Play up the zones in your garage; designate one area for sporting goods, another for lawn care, and one for seasonal decorations, etc. “Organization helps sell a home,” says Lisa LaPorta, the designer on HGTV’s Designed to Sell.
Cover Up with Paint
Tasteful and up-to-date decor is your best investment for getting a greater return on your money. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and neat, and can help with odors. Faded walls and worn woodwork detract from your home’s appeal. Choose neutral colors like warm tans, honeys, taupes and sage. Remember, right now you want your home’s decor to promote its sale, not to show off your favorite colors. You may love your bright purple walls, but a potential buyer might remember your house as ‘the one with the awful purple family room’.
Don’t tell a buyer how your home can be made to look, show them by making it look great. A quicker sale at a higher price will result. Generally, you can expect to receive three to five dollars back for every dollar you invest in tasteful décor.
Keep it Light and Bright
For maximum visual effect while your home is being shown, turn every light on, even on a sunny day. Light creates a warm, safe feeling. Open all blinds and curtains, and make sure your windows are spotless. Let the sun in and keep those lights on. Leaving all your lights on for two hours costs only about 23 cents, and makes your home look larger and more spacious.
For even more advice on staging your home to sell for the highest price, please view the online videos on our Home Staging Tips page.
Maximize Accessibility and Minimize Distractions
Buyers and Realtors are busy. They’re looking not only at your home, but fitting your home into a schedule that allows them to look at other properties as well. The more flexible you are with your showing schedule, the more buyers will look at your home.
Do everything you can to minimize distractions for the buyer while they are viewing your home. Turn the TV and the loud music off. Leave soft music playing. If at all possible, make arrangements for the whole family (including children and pets) to be out of the house during showings. Consider taking a walk around the block with kids and pets while the prospective buyer views your property, or simply take them outside.
For more tips on presenting your home For Sale in its best light, check out the online videos on our And finally, remember that once you put a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of your house, you also need to emotionally detach from your house. “It’s not about how you live or what your taste is,’ says Lisa LaPorta, the designer on HGTV’s Designed to Sell. “It’s about appealing to a wide range of tastes.”
These factors play a significant role in helping your home sell for the best price. However, there is one, final, most important factor to consider… and that is your competition. People don’t look at just one house and then buy. They look at 15, 25 or 50 homes before making their decision. How does your home stack up against the competition?
You can now obtain an up-to-date report, customized to your size and style of home, of all houses presently for sale in your neighborhood, as well as a list of all homes that have sold in your neighborhood over the past six months. This gives you insight into your competition, and a snapshot of what buyers are willing to pay.
To obtain this report, just email me at David@DavidGallup.com
or call my office at 407.571.3676 with the following information about your home:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Square footage (under air/heat)
- Whether your home has a pool
- Whether your home has water frontage or water access
- Name of neighborhood
- Email address, fax number, or mailing address where you would like to receive the report
- I’ll program our computers to search your competition – the recent sales of similar homes – and e-mail it, fax it, or put it in the mail to you. This is a free, no-obligation service that I provide to home sellers.
Best wishes on the sale of your home!