While personal items can detract, other small touches can help make your house a home to buyers. A well-placed vase of flowers, accent pieces of sculpture, potpourri in the bathroom—all can enhance the attractiveness of your home in a subtle, soft-spoken way. Try perusing any of the home magazines for tips.
This may sound cold but think about it…when you toured other people’s homes, you may have felt some discomfort. This probably occurred because you saw, heard or otherwise sensed something that made you feel as if you were intruding into someone’s life.
The last thing you want others to feel in visiting your home is that same sense of discomfort. Avoid this by making your home as neutral as possible. Anything that interferes with a prospective buyers’ ability to see themselves living in your home must be eliminated. A few carefully chosen knickknacks and family portraits may add warmth and character to the home, too many are a distraction. Avoid unique or trendy color schemes—paint and carpet in neutral shades of white or beige.
The step that squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, the hairline crack in the bathroom mirror—they might be minor annoyances to you, but they can also be deal-killers. The problem is that you never know what will turn a buyer off. And even something minor that’s gone unattended can suggest that perhaps there are bigger, less visible problems present as well.
Pick up, straighten, unclutter, scrub, scour, dust…well, you get the idea. If your living room feels crowded, take out every piece of furniture you can get away with. If your home still isn’t ready to appear in House Beautiful, then clean some more. Remember, you’re not just competing with other people’s homes—you’re going up against brand-new homes as well. And then after you think your house looks perfect, ask you Realtor if there is anything more you need to do.
The key to effective marketing is knowing your product’s good and bad points. In the case of your home, accentuating the good can mean a faster sale for more money; failing to deal with the bad can mean months on the market and a lower-than-desired sales price.
The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgement. Remember this is your home, a place of fond memories. There are bound to be emotional issues that can impair your ability to make an honest assessment of your home’s strengths and weaknesses.
In evaluating what improvements you can make, don’t be shy about asking others for their opinions. But make sure you’re getting an honest answer; some may try to spare your feelings, just what you don’t need. Fortunately, your Realtor® won’t be shy in discussing what should be done to make a home more marketable.
Each year, corporate North America spends billions of dollars on product and packaging design. The lesson here is that appearance is critical—and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your home. You may not be able to change your home’s location or its floor plan, but you can do a lot to improve its appearance. And you should. The look and “feel” of your home generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. You may price your home to sell, but a prospective buyer reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell.
Make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. If what you ask for is unacceptable to the buyer, and their first offer is unacceptable to you, then you better make sure you have someplace to go that is acceptable to you.
Start with the absolute minimum price you would accept, then pick the price you’d get if the world were perfect. This gives you your range to keep in mind when working with your Realtor® to negotiate the sale.
In setting your asking price, review your priorities. Do you want to maximize your profit or sell quickly? You’ll price high for the former and closer to market value if the latter is the case.
Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own home say they wouldn’t do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of Realtors®. Sellers surveyed point to difficulties in setting a price, marketing handicaps and liability concerns among the primary reasons they would turn to a Realtor® next time. And selling a home yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect.
Once you understand how much work it will be to sell it yourself, talk to a Realtor® you trust even if you decide to strike out on your own. Many top professionals are more than willing to help do-it-yourself sellers with the paperwork, contracts, etc. Plus you’ll have a relationship with an agent if problems do arise that require professional help.
If you decide to work with a Realtor,® contact four or five—you probably met a few that you liked during your open house tour. Explain to each that you’re thinking about putting your home on the market and you’d like to meet to talk about pricing and marketing. By having this group “evaluation” done, you should end up with a fairly tight price range to help guide your decision. Any Realtor® who is substantially higher or lower than the group should be able to justify their estimate. Just as you should be concerned with too low of a price, beware of an agent who gives you the highest price—they may be trying to buy your listing.
A good Realtor® knows the market and your neighborhood in particular. They will supply you with information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, something on their own background, and references from past clients. Take the time to carefully evaluate candidates on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm, and personality. Most importantly, make sure you choose someone who is going to put in a lot of hard work on your behalf.
Some people look to tax assessments to assign a value. The problem here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria unrelated to property values, so they often don’t necessarily reflect the true value of your home. Have you ever heard of two identical homes in the same neighborhood with dramatically different assessed values because one was purchased more recently than the other? Well, it happens quite often.
Sometimes you can use a good appraisal to your benefit in marketing your home. And if you get a VA or FHA appraisal, you can use it to let prospective buyers know that your home can be financed. However, an appraisal costs money. It also has a limited life. And you may not like the figure you hear.