Report # 6 - Condition of your Home and "prep"
it for Quick Sale to get Top Dollar!
The physical condition and appearance of your home are the factors over which you have the greatest control. They can also make a difference in thousands of dollars in your pocket at the time of the sale.
There are dozens of do's and don'ts associated with this rule. We'll discuss them below: Repair, Cleaning, Design, and Finishing Touch.
REPAIRS . . . If it needs repair. FIX IT! Put yourself in the shoes of your buyers. You wouldn't want to purchase a home that has a lot of little things wrong with it, would you? A poorly maintained home will rattle the confidence of your buyers. After all, if the little things aren't taken car of, what about the furnace or the roof. You'll also be giving them ammunition to ask for a lower price?
If there are major problems, they must be disclosed to the buyer. Either fix them in advance of listing the property or leave an allowance for the repair if you can't afford to do it before the sale. Keep in mind that the allowance you leave will probably have to be greater than the actual cost of doing the repair yourself. What ever you do, DON'T try to sneak something by.
The devil is in the details. Check walls for loose wall paper, peeling paint, stains or signs of damage and touch them up. Make sure all systems, (heating/cooling, central vacuum, etc.), electrical switches, appliances, and pluming fixtures are in good working condition, too. Following is a home inspection checklist. These are the things a potential buyer and professional home inspector will be looking for.
Home Inspection Checklist
Foundation - any holes, cracks, etc.
Rain Gutters and down-spouts - gaps, sags
Siding - warp or weather damage
Paint - blistering, peeling
Doors & windows - fit, cracks, loose caulk
Roof - leaks, worn spots, age, guarantee
Chimney - alignment, loose bricks
Driveway, sidewalks - overall condition, cracks, holes, sagging
Landscaping - proper grading, overall condition and appearance
Floors & stairs - squeaks, stability, bows
Plumbing - general condition, clogs, leaks
Heat/cooling - capacity, condition
Electrical system - age, condition, outlets, grounding, etc.
Insulation - adequacy, efficiency
Walls - cracks, loose plaster, leakage
Kitchen - appliances, plumbing, condition of linoleum or tile
CLEANING - This may seem obvious, but it's often overlooked. If you want top dollar, presentation is everything. Make your home sparkle. Windows should be spotless, inside and out. Carpet should be thoroughly cleaned as should all tile, linoleum, and wooden floors. Built-in cabinets and lighting fixtures should also be cleaned and looking their best. Make sure there's no dust or cobwebs hanging around.
DESIGN - "NEUTRALIZE" Here's where many people get tripped up over personal taste. When selling a home, your objective is to make it appeal to the broadest cross-section of potential buyers. If they can't get past the green carpet and floral wall paper to see themselves and their furnishings in the home, you've lost them. Ask yourself how many potential buyers could move in with their furniture without having to repaint the walls or replace the carpeting. Neutrality is the key. Consider repainting rooms that sport bold or unusual colors in white or more neutral tones. Replace old, worn, or dated carpet if possible, or make allowance in your pricing for the buyer to do so after the sale.
PRESENTATION - How you present your home when buyers come to view it will have more impact on the sale than you know. A cluttered, dark, or unkempt home is like distracting noise that prevents buyers from seeing and experiencing your home's most desirable features. Consider all the senses and create an atmosphere of warmth, comfort, and cleanliness. Here are some suggestions as to how to keep your home at it's best for buyers:
SPACE - The more spacious your home feels, the better.
Use lighting to your advantage. Drapes should be open and blinds up for daytime showings. Turn on lights to create an open spacious feeling. This includes closets and storage areas. Add a lamp if necessary in an area that's not well-lit.
Arrange furniture to give a sense of openness. Consider removing some furniture if necessary.
Shelves and walls should be tastefully filled but not cluttered. Remove or dispose of the excess.
Pick up shoes, clothing, toys, and other personal items before showing the home
Remove off-season clothing from closets leaving as few items on shelves and floor as possible
Aroma - Offensive odors can destroy the appeal of an otherwise attractive home while pleasant scents can enhance that emotional tug.
If you have a smoker in the family, have them smoke outside while the house is being shown. Have carpets furniture and drapes cleaned if smoking or cooking odors permeate your home.
Pet odors are particularly damaging. Don't hesitate to replace carpeting that bears the smell of pet urine if it threatens the sale of your home.
To prevent the smell of mildew, don't let damp towels or dirty laundry accumulate in closets or hampers.
Once you've eliminated any problem smells, you can add some appealing ones like fresh flowers, baking bread, or a potpourri of lavender, cedar or cinnamon. A bowl of fresh fruit on a kitchen table in summer can create a strong visual as well as aromatic appeal.
Marketing Extras - The right "staging" can make your home more inviting. Here are a few suggestions. Home and garden magazines and furniture showrooms are great sources for other good ideas. Use your imagination and have fun!
Place a vase of flowers and an open book or magazine on a coffee table
Use bright pillows or a throw blanket to add a dash of color to an otherwise drab or lifeless room.
A basket of cut logs by the fireplace adds a touch of warmth
Hang a wreath of dried flowers on the front door for a winter showing
A hanging basket of flowers outside the door can make an entry more inviting.
Set the dining room or kitchen table with attractive, colorful place settings consistent with the decor and style of your furniture.
Fresh flowers, a silk plant, or fruit bowl make excellent centerpieces.
An open cookbook and mixing bowl on the counter top can breathe life into the kitchen, especially if complimented by the aroma of baked goods in the oven
Neatly made beds with coordinated covers and curtains and perhaps a bouquet of fresh cut flowers on the dresser will make the bedrooms feel extra comfortable
Dress up the bathrooms with your best guest towels and perfumed individual hand soaps. Replace filmy or dirty shower curtains. A clean, well organized garage that's well lit seems larger. Make sure the floor is clean and swept. Best to park the car outside.
Make sure the grass is cut and green if it's in season. Edges should be trimmed and neat, driveway clean and INCLUDED of weeds, flowers blooming.
When presenting your home, take care to eliminate any unnecessary distractions. The thermostat should be set a comfortable 70-72 degrees. The TV should be turned off however some light music in the background might be appropriate. Children and pets should definitely not be present and ideally, neither should you. Then, let your home sell itself.
DON'T - Settle for a Passive Marketing Approach
Too many REALTOR®s depend on the same old tired methods of advertising to reach potential home buyers. The main stays are yard signs, open houses, and conventional ads. In the 90's, these methods account for less than 20% of direct home sales combined.
Advertising that sports glossy pictures of the agent(s) full of brags about millions of dollars of properties sold may impress other REALTOR®s or even some sellers, but they leave buyers cold. Look for editorial-style advertising that promises benefits to the home buyer and is designed to elicit a specific response. It should have a bold, compelling headlines like the one on the cover of this report and an offer that asks the reader to take specific action such as: "Call today for your INCLUDED report titled 'Home buying secrets every first-time home buyer must know before you even start looking.'"
Look for an agent that employs a variety of vigorous outbound marketing strategies to draw potential buyers into the market and follows through methodically once any interest is shown.
DO - Consider a Homeowners Association of America (HAA) Warranty
An HAA warranty protects you from the costs of unexpected repairs on major systems and appliances during the marketing period and up to one full year after title transfer. This translates to complete peace of mind for both you and the buyer and gives you a competitive advantage. With an HAA warranty in place, prospective buyers will not feel compelled to hold back cash for unexpected repairs.
Here are the items covered by an HAA Warranty: Oven/Range Microwave (Built-in) Dishwasher (Built-in) Washer/Dryer Trash Compactor (Built-in) Refrigerator Door Bell Chime Hot Water Heater Garbage Disposal Central Vacuum Electrical System Ceiling (Paddle) Fans Garage Door Opener Faucets Plumbing System Air Conditioning Heating System Water Softener HAA is backed by one of America's largest warranty companies and is available through some 20,000 member locations across the country. Claims can be placed with a simple toll INCLUDED phone call and a local participating contractor will be dispatched to service your repair. Some limitations apply so be sure to familiarize yourself fully with the program before you sign anything. Your real estate agent should be able to put you in touch with HAA.