As much as you love your home, it’s important to remember that you are selling a product, not all of the memories that you’ve created in your home. It’s no secret that homes sell faster and for more money when they are staged properly. This means you need to disassociate yourself from your home to the extent that all the different types of buyers walking through it will visualize their families there, not yours. Below are some tips to follow that will help you put your home’s “best foot forward” to potential buyers as well as some important things you shouldn’t do.
1. Depersonalize every room. Pack away family photos and heir looms. You don’t want the buyers focusing on who you are. You want them focusing on “I can see myself living here.” Even if you think your photos are adorable, you don’t want to distract your buyers from thinking about making a life in your home.
2. Declutter. Work one room at a time to make this step less overwhelming. Get rid of knick knacks, collections of books gathering dust, and those extra pieces of furniture that make the room look smaller than it is. Clear off all countertops in bathrooms and kitchens. Yes, it may make living a bit less convenient when you have to pull out your stuff every day for your personal use. But consider the bigger picture. Clear and clean spaces create a more attractive view of two of the most important types of rooms in your home.
3. Organize closets and cabinets. Buyers want to see how much storage space they are getting behind those doors…and they might enjoy a touch of snooping as well. Give them a nice, neat impression in the kitchen with mug handles facing the same direction. And in the bedroom closet, face your shoes the same way and organize clothing by color. Donate and trash items that you no longer need so that you aren’t crowding up your storage areas.
4. Remove and replace favorite items. If you want to keep your dining room chandelier and those exotic curtains you bought on another continent, remove and replace them before letting buyers in your home. Even if you specify that certain coveted items stay, buyers may fall in love with something and make it a deal breaker if you don’t let them have it.
5. Make minor repairs. Patch up holes in the wall. Fix doors and drawers that don’t close properly. Replace burned out lightbulbs. Fix leaky faucets and hissing toilets. Consider painting that room that your daughter had to have in fuchsia a more neutral color.
6. Clean from top to bottom. Make all windows sparkle inside and out. Keep all surfaces clear of dust and free of cob webs. Vaccuum daily. Re-caulk tubs, showers, and sinks. Bleach dingy grout. Make the house shine! Hang up fresh hand towels in kitchens and bathrooms, and use clean, well-maintained spreads on beds.
1. Don’t get emotionally involved. Once your house is on the market, think of yourself as a person in a business transaction, not just a homeowner. Distance yourself from the emotional attachments to your home and focus on the financial perspective. Many buyers will be emotional about their purchase, naturally, so you need to keep a rational mind about what is important in a negotiation and what isn’t.
2. Don’t set an unrealistic price. Your real estate agent should have done a thorough comparative market analysis of your home before putting it on the market. Savvy buyers viewing your home will have done the same homework on homes in your area, so you aren’t doing yourself any favors by overpricing your house. Homes that are priced right the first time sell faster and usually for higher amounts than homes that started too high and had to drop the price several times. Buyers perceive too many drops in price as if something is wrong with the house—so they either ignore the house or present lowball offers.
3. Don’t expect to get full price for your home. Most sellers will leave some breathing room in the price for negotiations. This helps buyers feel that they have gotten a better value and sellers are happy they got what they needed from the sale. (The exception, of course, is when you live in a particularly coveted neighborhood, where you might very well get asking price or higher.)
4. Don’t settle for poor photography. Most buyers will view your home online before making the decision to visit in person. Your home’s first impression is critical at this stage so the photography must be excellent. Rooms should have plenty of natural light and should of course be clear of all clutter. The photos should be crisp, clear, and plentiful. There are so many poorly done photos online that this simple but significant step will help set you apart from the competition.
5. Don’t try to hide significant problems. The buyer’s home inspection will likely uncover whatever you might be hiding and then you are in a lousy position for price negotiations. There are three typical options to consider regarding a significant issue with your home (1) fix the problem before putting your home on the market; (2) price the property below market value to account for the problem; (3) price your home at market value but offer a monetary credit for the problem. You risk turning away buyers who want a turnkey home if you don’t fix the problem, but you might still find buyers who are willing to do the repair themselves if they feel the price or credit adequately compensates for this.
6. Don’t make showings hard to schedule. It can sometimes be inconvenient to get your house ready in time for a requested showing. Resist the urge to reschedule showings. Oftentimes buyers are on tight schedules and will skip your house altogether if you don’t make it available. They have to see it to buy it. Be accommodating as often as possible. Your goal is to sell.