As a professional realtor, I note things that get folks in trouble when they go to sell their homes. Crazy mindset is one. They think that since they paid a whopping price for their house (in a froth market,) others should, too. That’s never going to happen. Instead, accurate pricing is critical. But you probably know that…
Furthermore, “what do you do?” if you want to sell but you’ve got a house that needs a boatload of work but you have limited funds? Well, it helps to consider how buyers act in home-purchase mode.
First, buyers note outward appearance, and if the outside of your home’s a mess, they suspect bigger problems inside. If they don’t want to “go there,” it’s understandable: There’s a ton of inventory out there…Why should they take on tasks you never completed?
I’ve had buyer-clients tell me, upon pulling up to a home, “We’re not going in.” Even more damaging, they give their realtor a black eye for including this house on the list, wasting their valuable time. That realtor will then pass the poor reaction of his buyers to other realtors, further damaging that house’s possibility of sale.
With that in mind, I offer the following for sellers of difficult homes, telling you things you probably won’t want to hear:
#1–Outside appearance is critical and unforgiving (if bad.)
I’ve told my sellers “Take down the Christmas lights” strung up along the eves…repair gutters and carports, de-clutter the yard and trim everything back, clean windows, paint trim (f you’re not painting entirety.) The outside is your home’s face to the world; if corrective surgery is necessary, do it; otherwise, buyers will never step foot in your home.
#2–Inside the home, spend money judiciously. That means: Lay out cash on things that will deliver. A costly kitchen repair isn’t wise. Instead, if the kitchen is truly ‘awful,’ put new facades on kitchen cabinets and new cabinet pulls to give the illusion of ‘new.’
Inexpensive flooring and new countertops will improve appearances but avoid over-the-top choices. For instance, seasoned realtors refer to installing granite countertops in an ugly kitchen as “Putting lipstick on a pig.” No one buys that maneuvering.
#3–New carpeting is a wise investment—all the more necessary if your household’s been beaten up with kids and pets. Pick a neutral shade that’s resistant to soil. For Open Houses, lay down a footpath of paper that construction folks staple onto carpeting of houses that are ready for customer visits (buy at Home Depot, Lowe’s etc.) It’s inexpensive and you can pull it up after showings, thus protecting that new carpeting.
#4–All clutter should be removed (tabletops cleared), toys stored in bins, preferably out of sight, all the more important if you have a small house. Install inexpensive closet doors, put in shelving with doors in small places, such as laundry rooms, to give illusion house has more space. You want horizontal lines of your home clean and clutter-free.
#5–Finally, your home’s smell is critical. This is the #1 overlooked aspect that can ditch a home sale, and the homeowner often never suspects his house suffers from this (it’s like bad breath that way.)
I once had a client whose home smelled of the pungent food he cooked every Sunday before his work week. Despite numerous showings of a condo that looked beautiful, we couldn’t sell…
Oh, he’d followed my advice when he ripped up old carpeting (smells linger there) and installed new; he’d painted walls a fresh, neutral color; he’d replaced the small, mottled bathroom mirror with a large new one, trimmed in wood (from TJ Maxx); and he’d swapped out old toilets with new.
Still, the smell remained. How’d we fix? We sniff-tested the whole place, finally realizing the stove hood was the culprit (the most obvious place cooking odors lodge, but we’d missed that elephant in the room.)
Upshot? When he replaced it, we sold his condo in a record two weeks, at almost-full price.
He’d listened to me, his realtor and did his homework.
Finally, sellers: Skip the room fresheners and candles. Savvy buyers suspect them, just as they do outside disrepair. They wisely believe candles and fresheners cover up more serious problems.
To sell a tough house in a tough market, you’ve got to be a warrior…a well-prepared one, at that. Start suiting up.
***Now, are you selling a home soon or know others who are? Do them a favor and send this post to them (e-mail buttons to the side.) Some of the above topics even their realtors won’t tell them…Why? It’s like bad breath…No one wants to tell the person that has it.
Finally, if your plan is to sell in a couple of years, start working on that check-list of fix-up’s, now, so it’s not overwhelming when you do go on market…