Musings from a life of chances and changes
So, you're ready to put your house up for sale? When you are fully committed to the process, these are the top 5 tricks and treats to sell your home without going batty.
1. DON'T LOOK THROUGH ROSE COLORED GLASSES.
Look at every aspect of your home with an objective eye. If you can't get past the emotional aspect of selling your home, you are destined to sabatoge the process. It's a common conflict when selling, Most importantly, you need to present the property in its best condition. Obvious issues should be fixed before your house goes on the market. One trick is to hire an inspector to go through the home so that you know the issues beforehand. Taking the trick to the next level, get estimates on the cost to repair or replace these items on the inspector's report. You will then be able to negotiate more clearly and quickly. One drawback to this approach is that you now know the defects that may be hidden, and you cannot claim you did not know they exist.
2. CLEAN OUT THE COBWEBS.
Suffice it to say that your house needs to be clean. But, the trick is to go beyond vacuuming and dusting. Darkness does not sell homes. Lightbulbs should not be burnt out. Clutter is not just a stack of old magazines, mail overloading a kitchen counter, bottles waiting to be refrigerated, or toys that have no place but the floor. Consider that clutter may be your favorite collection of nik-naks. Many of your personal treasures are better off not displayed. Closets should be neat and not filled to the max. You may need to put items in storage or have a garage sale, just understand that "less is more." Even more specifically, remove the towels hanging from the hooks after your morning shower or on your bathroom counters. Laundry needs to be out of sight. If you are lucky enough to have wood flooring, which typically buyers prefer over carpeting, no dust bunnies should live under any piece of furniture. In fact, no bunnies should live in your house at all; sorry bunny lovers. Any smell from any animal is a turn-off, not to mention possible allergies, and the house will be viewed as unclean by many. I remember a specific house in the 60203 area which was up for sale for quite a long time. Everyone that stepped inside the empty house to see why it didn't sell was immediately repulsed by the smell of cats. It became known as the "cat house." The house sold eventually for a lower price than similar homes in the area, and it was torn down.
3. YOU CAN'T SELL A DREAM TO SOMEONE WHO THINKS THEY'VE WALKED INTO A NIGHTMARE.
Do not put your house on the market if it's scary in any way. Now my idea and your idea of scary may be totally different things. I may unnerved walking into a room with the "cool" collection of fright masks which stand out because they're plastered onto a black wall. Picture a basement with obvious signs of asbestos, water damage, broken floor tiles and cardboard used to repair cracked windows. Clearly broken items will either need to be fixed or a credit should be given on the sales price. But if things are not broken, and you just need to make your house less scary, one of the best tricks to is to paint. Yes, it is a cheap way to get rid of scary. But be careful. Painting is also in the eye of the beholder. So paint in neutral shades that don't show your personality.
4. BE BEAUTIFUL OUTSIDE AND IN.
If you understand the importance of curb appeal, your house has an edge over the competition. The trick again is to de-clutter, repair, replace. An easy trick is to take a picture of your house from different perspectives and see it as a potential buyer would see it. Does it need to be painted? Is the siding warped? Is the outdoor lighting ancient or not in keeping with the style of the house? How many times have you seen an "Arts and Crafts" or "Prarie" style light fixture on a colonial or modern home? The answer is too many times! Can you read your home's address easily and is it neat and clean signage or falling off rotten wood? Is the roof missing shingles? Are there signs that the house needs to be tuckpointed or has cracks? Is the lawn yellow or weedy? When was the last time the bushes or trees were trimmed? One of the easiest fixes is to get rid of old scraggly bushes which were trendy 50 years ago. Sometimes these old bushes get completely out of control and hide the beauty of your home. Old landscaping also dates your house and can be a hiding place for unwanted wildlife, (think skunks.) Landscaping only needs to be minimal, not overwhelming. A neutral colored mulch, (someone needs to ban red mulch) and some easily maintained plants are sufficient. Also, make sure that the planting accents and does not detract from the house. Flowers should not be dead - seems obvious. Don't miss an opportunity to make your deck or patio look ready for relaxing. This provides valuable extra space. Consider another bang for your buck and an easy trick to make the exterior better looking...power wash.
5. TREATS AREN'T JUST FOR KIDS.
Once you have your house in shape to sell, make sure you work on those extra treats that make your house special. Baking something and being the house with the home baked cookies will set the tone for your property. Fresh flowers are a treat both in sight and smell. Setting the stage if there's a Sunday football game may be a subliminal but worthwhile treat. Set out a tray with popcorn and snacks and make sure the TV is set to the best game. Treats can be the smallest thing but reap the biggest rewards.
Beware of the traps of thinking you only need a sign on your lawn to sell your house. A real estate professional will give you an objective opinion based upon the marketplace as to the asking price, advertising strategies, social media exposure, and the stamina to negotiate your best result. Don't be tricked by the notion that your house is going to appeal to everyone, because that's not reality. Don't be tricked by the idea that the value of all of your improvements will be returned, or increase the sales price of your home. In the end, the current market will dictate the sales price of your home. Contact me to successfuly sell your home for the best possible price. Then you will be ready for the treats on your next journey.
Judi Berger is an attorney and real estate broker who is blogging as she begins a new chapter in her life.