Sep 14, 2016

9 Tips for Making your For Sale Property more Appealing

By Griff Christensen

Price it right

There are certain things that will immediately turn off a buyer from a home.  Black mold, leaky roofs, and a price that’s unreasonably high, are a few prime examples. 

When listing your home, finding the listing price that’s in that sweet spot is very important because you want buyer interest to be high without leaving money on the table.  If in doubt, going a little lower than the competition, has, in many instances, proven to be a great strategy as multiple offers allows you to move the price up to a price point you’re happy with.

Tackle minor repairs

Every home, in the course of being lived in, accumulates small breaks and defects.  These can range from small things like a window that’s stuck, a toilet that leaks, or a door that’s slightly sagging all the way to some big things like a leaky roof, failing electrical, or cracked foundation.

Buyers are aware that if the homeowner has regularly put off maintenance of their home, there’s a potential high cost risk to the new owner who may have to spend a lot to get the home to its original condition.  So by taking care of the small, easy to fix and easily noticed repairs, you show the potential buyer that you have stayed up on the maintenance of the home and they are far less likely to be sticklers on inspecting every nook and cranny of the house.

Curb Appeal

It’s hard to overstate the importance of curb appeal. 

Every potential buyer will make a snap judgment of how interested they are in a house based on their first view of it.  This is a judgment they carry through the entire walkthrough and it can be hard for them to overcome. 

So it’s important they like what they see when they first glimpse your house. 

The Front Door

This is likely the first thing a potential buyer will touch and if it’s in good condition it tells the buyer the home has been cared for.

If your door and the molding around it is weathered, repaint or re-varnish it.  Replace or polish the hardware.  Sweep the cobwebs, remove the clutter.  You get the point.  Make the entry to your home shine.

Pressure Wash Hard Surfaces

Rent a pressure washer from your local hardware store for the day and pressure wash your walkways.  Remove any oil stains in the driveway.  If your fence is looking weathered and beaten down, pressure wash it to.  You’re bound to get drenched but it’s amazing the difference a pressure washer can make on the front yard by cleaning all your hard surfaces.

Tidy Front Lawn

It always interests me how much stock potential buyers put in the upkeep of the yard and there's no doubt a nicely maintained yard will sell a home more quickly and at a better price than an equally nice home with a poorly maintained yard.  

Whether you have a rock-scape or a landscape with a lot of green lawn with full flowerbeds, this principle is the same.  Give everything it’s place and make sure it’s where it should be.  This includes keeping wood chips in the flowerbeds, keeping grass from growing into walkways, and making sure the hose is neatly rolled or in its spool.

If the front is looking a little worn, it’s money and time well spent to repaint the mailbox, add mulch to the beds, buy new house numbers, or trim the bushes back.  Look at your landscape from a buyers’ perspective and you’ll quickly get an idea of what needs to be done.

Emphasize living space

Roomy living spaces are very appealing to potential buyers. 

Perspective is an interesting thing.  Small rooms can be made to feel big and big rooms can have a cramped and tight feeling.  One awesome way to emphasize the living space in each room, and give it an open inviting air, is to remove the clutter. 

Another common problem is furniture.  Too much furniture and things on the walls can make living spaces feel cramped.  Removing the excess furniture, even if it means you have to rent a storage unit for a couple months, is worth it. 

Another example of emphasizing the living space by taking away clutter is removing at least half of the things in your closet and boxing them up.  You want the buyer to focus on all the storage space, not all the stuff. 

Make it feel less lived in

Moving to a new house, with a new yard, new neighbors, new schools, new parks, new church, new everything, gives buyers a feeling of starting over.   A fresh start with a clean slate.  This feeling is often accompanied by a need to emotionally connect with the house they select for this new beginning.

To help the buyer visualize themselves living in the home, you need to take some of yourself out of it.  I’m not saying to make the home look barren, but it’s a good idea to take down, move out, or paint over, some of the things that make the home “you”.  This would include a crazy paint color or mural on a wall, some of the family photos on the walls, dressers and shelves, as well as living spaces that have been changed from their designed function to something specific to you, such as a living room that is functioning as your hunting museum.  

Other things you can do that will help potential buyers envision themselves living in your home is:

Remove the pets

You don’t know which potential buyers are animal lovers so it’s a good idea to send the pets to a friend or neighbors house during showings.  Wash their bedding, cage and toys to remove pet smells before putting them away and remember to remove the feeding bowls. 

Manage odors

Odor is strongly connected to our emotion.  Studies show people associate smells with certain times and events in their life.  With something that can powerfully affect your buyers’ emotion, it’s important the odors are pleasant and happy.

Eliminating pet odors, and smoke odors if someone in the house smokes, is a great first step.  From there, do things to make sure the home smells good on showing days.  You can accomplish this by starting a load in the dryer or throwing some chocolate chip cookies in the oven.   

Make the home shine

One way to remove part of yourself and help the home feel less lived in is by thoroughly cleaning the home, paying special attention to floors, bathrooms and the kitchen. 

It’s hard to keep the home spotless, ready to be shown at a moments notice.  Really hard.  It can be draining which is why it’s good to get the home sold quickly by following all these pointers!

It’s also worth considering painting over loud walls and replacing colorful carpet.

Stage it

Staging your home means getting it ready to sell by making it appealing to the most possible potential buyers.  This helps the home sell quickly and for more money. 

A few staging tips:

Furniture placement

Less is more.  Overcrowding a room with furniture can make the rooms function confusing to buyers. 

Pull the furniture away from the wall and put it in a conversational arrangement, with love seats, couches and chairs facing each other rather than arranged in an L-shape or centered around the TV.

Accessorize

After you have taken out all the clutter, come back through and add splashes of color.  Cushions on the love seats, interesting accessories for the book shelves, and investing in high quality fake plants, all help bring rooms to life without making them too personalized. 

Brighten things up

Bright rooms sell homes.  Every single buyer is attracted to rooms with light wall coloring, mid to light carpet, and good lighting, so it’s time and money very well spent to paint dark rooms a light tan, off white, or light gray.    

Before a showing, go through your house and allow as much light in as possible by opening all the shutters and blinds and turning on all the lights.

Update the kitchen

People love sayings and many have popped up when discussing renovations and prepping a home to be appealing to prospective buyers.  One I like is “Only spend a nickel if you’ll get a dime out.”  Another is “Put your money where your mouth is” (yes, the kitchen). 

While I like both, the second one is worth discussing here.  A nice kitchen excites potential buyers so if you have a budget for minor renovations to make your home more appealing, the kitchen is a place where you can definitely put in a nickle and get a dime out. 

Look at your kitchen and determine what will make the biggest bang for the buck.  Some ideas are:

  • New backsplash
  • Fresh coat of paint on walls and, potentially, the cabinets
  • Updating light fixtures
  • Tearing the peeling laminate out and putting in hardwood or tile
  • Re-grouting the tile or refinishing the wood flooring
  • Replace a dishwasher that’s on it’s last leg
  • Fix the door to the oven that hasn’t closed properly since your son used it as a stepping stone to get to the cookie jar etc.

And some things that don’t take money while making the home more appealing:

  • Clearing cluttered counter tops
  • Taking a toothbrush to the grout along the edges of the sink and countertops
  • Setting the table before a showing
  • Keeping the kitchen shiny clean

Sweeten the deal

I don’t know a single person that doesn’t adore getting something with high perceived value for free or for a discount.  Working off this reality, it’s worth considering raising your sales price slightly and then offering to pay a portion of the closing costs. 

Or you could spend several hundred dollars and buy a transferable home warranty on all the kitchen appliances and include it in the sale.  The knowledge that all the appliances are guaranteed to work for the next year is a huge value for most prospective buyers! 

Put some thought into things you can do to sweeten the deal and differentiate yourself from other homes on the market in your area.  Some things don’t cost you a thing like being willing to close fast.

Seek knowledgeable help

There are some things in life where the knowledge of an expert saves you a lot of time, money, hassle, and pain.  Every new business owner works (or should work) with a lawyer and accountant and you would never try to stitch a gash on your own arm.

Likewise, gaining the help of a quality real estate agent is a no brainer.  Piggy backing off their experience and advice for everything we’ve discussed above will save you tremendous amounts of energy you can take and transfer to making your home appealing to a buyer.   

Final Thoughts

Getting a home ready for sale is not easy and it does take some time and effort, and more than likely a little bit of money.  By going through the hassle however, you will be more than satisfied with a quicker sale and a higher price tag.  It’s all worth it.  Let me know if I can answer any questions or be of help.  Good luck!

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