PRIOR TO LISTING
This part of the seller’s guide contains ideas for ways that you can prepare your property to be on the market. If you are moving as a part of the process as well, there are a few things to consider about how to orchestrate everything.
What is listed here is optional, but this list was created to highlight the easier, less expensive actions you can take, and informing you about the actions and upgrades which rarely offer a return on your time and financial investment.
In general, CONDITION MATTERS, Sellers often joke that their house never looks as good as it does for the photo shoot to list it for sale! The way to make your property stand out is to make it as clean, clutter-free, and well-maintained as possible. It’s also true that vacant properties show well, but staged properties sell better. As your listing agentS, we will happily walk through your house with you and create an optional list of ways to make your home more marketable. Read on for specific ideas about how you can get top dollar for your property.
WHAT DOESN’T OFFER A GOOD RETURN, CONSIDERING MAJOR RENOVATIONS/REMODELS
First, let’s go over the things that don’t actually make financial sense. Many remodels and renovations cost more than you can recoup during the sale, and simply aren’t worth it.
According to Remodeling Magazine, who has been tracking the national average of cost and return on remodels prior to selling a home, the top offenders are: Bathroom and Kitchen remodels or additions, Master Suite Additions, and Backyard Patios. Depending on the materials, these projects typically only offer about 50-60% return on your money.
There are a few times when this general rule might not be true. For example, if the remodel might uncover and fix a major condition issue, such as water damage, an active leak, or some kind of other pest infestation. Another example is if you or someone you know can do the work for free or reduced cost. Still, it’s important to really weigh out the costs/benefits before starting any major projects.
Personalization of a property can also be it’s downfall when it comes to selling. Putting money into changes that reflect your personality or that focus on unique or trending decorative techniques can be off-putting for lots of buyers. Even certain paint colors can actually make the difference in whether or not buyers will be interested in your house.
Conversely, a very plain, very standard cookie-cutter home is isn’t necessarily attractive to buyers either. There is a fine line between over-personalized and boring and bland.
If your goal is to sell your property, consider giving us a call for a free consultation prior to beginning any major projects!
WHAT BUYERS WANT
It’s important to think about and think like your potential and eventual buyers. Every property and transaction are unique but the things that get houses sold are known quantities. It might seem mysterious, but in reality, it’s just about how much time and money you want to spend creating a product that is what the local buyers want. Keep in mind that according to statistics, your buyer creates their initial/first impression in about 60 seconds!
- MOVE-IN READY does not mean that there aren’t still some projects to do, or maintenance to take care of, but having a home that can buyers can live in immediately is at the top of 76% of younger buyer’s minds.
- CERTAIN ROOMS are more important to buyers, and often times these are the very rooms that are disregarded by the seller! For example, 32% of buyers said that the garage is one of the most important rooms in a house! Focus on the Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage/Laundry areas.
- REASONABLE PRICE is a big factor when attracting buyers to your property. Please refer to the Pricing Your Property section of this guide for LOTS more details on that!
- WELL MAINTAINED PROPERTY is much more attractive to buyers because it can represent pride of ownership. This topic is covered in much more detail below.
- GOOD BONES is a phrase often used to describe the most important, working parts of a property – Electrical, Plumbing, Roof, Heating/Insulation. If any of these systems are actively in need of attention, that is a deal breaker for many buyers because of potential, hidden costs.
- CHARM/CHARACTER is hard to pinpoint and hard to create where it doesn’t exist, but it’s still something that buyers are actively looking for!
- UPGRADES and the buyers that want them vary by individual. Some generally identified amenities that buyers love are:
RENOVATION PROJECTS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are a handful of small, meaningful renovations and upgrades that you can make to your property that can offer a good return.
REPAIRING WEAR AND TEAR
General Maintenance is a great, low cost way to attract buyers. Doing a critical walkthrough and creating a list is a good idea to see which projects you want to tackle. The following checklist can be of help:
Lighting – Do all of the light switches work? Are any bulbs burnt out? Are there Wiring issues that need addressing?
Plumbing – Are all faucets working, without leaks, drips, issues with drainage or water pressure?
Appliances – Do all of the large and small appliances function as needed? Are there any missing parts needing to be replaced? Do they need any servicing or cleaning?
Walls – What is the condition of the walls/basebords? Are there chips or scratches in the paint? Or does the paint have any stains, fading, cracking or peeling? Are other wall treatments, such as tile, in good shape, without cracks or leaks or stains?
Flooring – Is the floor covering in good shape? Are there any holes, stains, excessive scratches or areas needing to be refinished?
Yard/Landscaping – Does the Lawn need to be mowed? Are the shrubs touching the side of the house? Are there dangerous tree situations? Is there trash or clutter that needs to be removed? Do any areas need mulch? Is the fence and gate in good working order? Is there standing water anywhere?
Physical Exterior – Is there any chipped or peeling paint? Is the siding all in tact and without any rot or damage? Is the porch clean and free of clutter? Do all exterior lights work? Are walkways/driveways in good shape without access issues or dangerous elements? Are the gutters clear and functioning? Do the downspouts drain away from the house? Are there any missing window screens, or screens with tears?
When people are walking through a property, they are looking for a place to call their own. If your belongings are everywhere (including on the walls), it makes it difficult for buyers to imagine the house as theirs. Since you are likely planning on moving anyway, beginning the process by decluttering your home is a great first step. Even items that you know you will be keeping can be boxed up and set aside. Be aware that stuffing everything into a closet or cabinet doesn’t actually accomplish much, since buyers will be opening doors and looking around. Furthermore, when organizing your boxes of goods, take care not to block off access to a room or even the garage. Finding an off-site location is best.
It’s not just the small things, it’s the furniture too. Too many furnishings can make a house look extra small or cramped. Ideally, a home ready for walk-throughs would be pared down to some basic furniture, standard amenities and well-placed, tasteful decorations.
Along with decluttering, actually organizing your possessions is helpful as well. Bookshelves or kid’s rooms should look attractive and inviting, not messy. Even straightening the shoes on the closet floor helps! Remember, as your listing agents, we will provide you with 2 extra hours of organizational help!
Keeping a home organized while you are having showings can be difficult if you lead a busy life, or have children. The goal is to have it ready at the outset so that the offers come in immediately!
Once you’ve dealt with any clutter, taking the next step to deep clean will be much easier. It cannot be emphasized enough that deep cleaning your house and surrounding property will make a huge difference in the likelihood of it selling quickly.
It is amazing how many times we’ve seen buyers walk through a property and only notice and comment on the personal possessions or piles of dishes in the sink – missing the features of the actual house entirely. It’s hard for buyers to look past a dirty bathroom or overflowing garbage bin.
Look for a deep clean checklist online as a guide, or just consider actually wiping everything down from the ceiling to the floor… It makes a bigger difference than you would imagine!
Don’t forget that ‘cleaning’ applies to the exterior as well. Power washing is a great idea for updating a property’s appearance.
Consider hiring a cleaning service to do the deep clean or to come in weekly to maintain things if this part of selling your home seems overwhelming to you. We can help find and schedule someone for you, or be present at your home during the deep clean.
CONSIDERING PROFESSIONAL STAGING OR STAGING FOR YOURSELF
Staging a home is when a seller hires a company to come into a vacant property and place furniture and amenities appropriately so as to highlight the features of the house. These companies will stage part or all of the house for you, even to the extent that they will add towels and shower curtains! Sometimes staging can make a huge difference, especially if any rooms in the house are an awkward shape, or appear smaller than they actually are.
National Association of Realtors statistics say that staged homes sell, on average, 88% faster and for 20% than nonstaged homes. The cost of staging is typically $1.00 per square foot of the house or room, with national averages running around $400. Be aware that local staging companies sometimes have long wait lists as well.
If you are planning on living in the house while you sell it, or aren’t interested in hiring someone to stage for you, there are many aspects to how staging works that can help you in preparing your home for sale.
For example, sellers can hire a professional interior designer/decorator for consultation to help with rearranging existing furnishings to make the house as appealing to buyers as possible. Sometimes just having a few friends or family over and asking them how they would rearrange or decorate can give you a lot of ideas for how to improve the visual appearance of your home – fresh eyes are the key!
You can definitely use your own belongings to stage your home yourself! It might mean that your “staged” home isn’t as comfortable to live in during the selling process, but it can drastically help get it sold. Simple tips, such as focusing on good lighting, neutral colors, and little details will make a difference.
The view from the entry, and the entry itself may be the most important area of the home to declutter, clean and stage. According to the “Psychology of House Hunting Report by BMO Financial Group, 80% of potential buyers know if a home is right for them within seconds of going inside!
Your property should look and feel more like a vacation rental than an actual family home. During our 2 hours of organizational help, please feel free to ask for specific staging tips to get your home ready to sell!
OTHER EASY/ LESS EXPENSIVE UPGRADES
Changing out fixtures such as door knobs/handles, kitchen knobs, switch plates, faucets, lighting
If you don’t have the budget to repaint the entire house, consider repainting just the exterior trim and doors, or adding new crown molding or baseboards inside.
Give the porch a facelift. Add a pot of flowers to the porch, or refresh garden beds with some annual color plants, and a new welcome mat.
Give the Garage an upgrade. Finish and paint the walls, install shelving and clean or Enamel paint the floor.
If your rooms seem small or tight, consider buying a few large mirrors to hang, which can open up the space.
Take a note from professional stagers, and buy some new things like Shower Curtains, Towels, Toilet Seats, Kitchen Towels and Sponges.
If it’s in your budget, upgrading toward “smart” features, USB ports in electrical sockets, Wireless home security cameras, Nest thermostat, LED smart lights, etc.