Note: This is the latest post in my series about the ABCs of buying, selling and investing in Real Estate. Each post, I select a letter (W this month) and write up a fictional advice column around it. The story is fake, but the story is real(ty).
This post continues the story found in Three Weird Things Sellers Do When Selling Their Home.
Winston and I sat comfortably waiting for our spa appointment to start. Winston had been going to this spa for years and invited me to join him for a relaxing bath and massage. I needed some stress relief so I accepted his invitation eagerly. As we waited, I asked Winston how his home repairs were progressing. Winston had decided to sell his house after living in it most of his adult life. He had come to me after his wife passed to find out what needed to be done to sell the house. After looking over the property with him, I told him it needed a lot of work before it was ready to be put on the market. While we waited, he replied that the contractor said it would be done by the end of the month. It had taken longer than he thought it would and he was not sure about the next steps. What was left to make the house presentable for selling purposes? Winston was not one to do things halfway and since he wanted top price for the home, he wanted to make sure he had done all he could be to make the home attractive to buyers. He wanted to be sure to cover all the bases including the outside. What would be his last three steps in the process.
This is what I told Winston…..
I told Winston that it was good he asked me. I told him. “The last bit of work one needs to do on a home to get it ready to sell is often the steps most often over looked by sellers. Buyers, as one would expect, are very picky in their properties. They will notice things that a seller might not even realize about their properties. It is for this reason that you can’t leave anything out when make the home as presentable to buyers as possible. Repairs to major systems in the home is always a good first step (within your budget, of course). You want to make sure all the structural systems are solid such as foundation, roof, plumbing and electrical. Roofs should always be insurable as they will kill a sell very quickly. If you have not had your roof replaced in the last 15 years, it might be time to look into replacing it. Once the structure of the home is as it should be, start to examine each room for anything that might need done to the walls and floors. If all else fails, a good fresh paint job and fresh floors will do more to make a house attractive than anything else. You have to also check the curb appeal of the home. If it does not make a good first impression, you might want to hire a landscape company to help improve its look.” Winston said he planned to finish all of this up soon. He just needed to know the last few steps to getting a home up to speed for showings. What could he do to make it shine above all the rest of the properties on the market? I told Winston about three last steps he could take to make sure the property is as good as it can be for buyers when selling your home.
- Deep Clean – You have to make sure the home is as clean as you would make it if you mother came to visit. Homes that smell or look dirty hardly ever sell quickly, or at all. Buyers don’t want to deal with a dirty home when there is another home on the market that is clean and smells nice. If your budget allows, bring in a cleaning company to do a “deep clean”, which will cost you more, but will do wonders to make the home inviting and appealing. Once the cleaning company is finished, walk around the home and see if they got all the smells and stains around the home. If you see stains, you might need to replace whatever was still stained after a deep clean. With smells, find the source and make sure it is eliminated. Smells do more to kill a sell than a dirty house. Don’t forget the yards or the garage as buyers will also look over these areas during showings. Your goal is for the buyer to walk into the home and not comment any on the cleanliness of the home. If all else fails, invite someone over to give you an objective review of the house for cleanliness.
- Make Clutter Disappear – When selling your home, you do not want to have clutter littering anywhere in the house. There is nothing worse to me than showing a perfectly good house but the buyers can’t see past the clutter to what is good about the property. You will need to be sure that you do not leave clutter in any of the rooms including the garage (if it can be avoided). Do not leave packing boxes laying around if you are already getting ready to move. Nothing kills a space more than a bunch of boxes taking all the room. Clutter also includes any family knick knacks that might be lying around. if the item adds to the overall presentation of the home, you can leave it, but most buyers will not be impressed by seeing a lot of personal items just lying around the house. If anything, it will distract them from looking at the house and the clutter will be the only thing they remember about visiting the house.
- Stage your house – No I don’t mean that you have spend a few thousand on hiring a professional stager (although if your budget allows, this would be a great to do!). Instead, I mean you need to set up each room like you are showing off the space. Don’t have over-sized furniture in the rooms, and use the space in a way where buyers can truly see the space for what it really is. If you have a bedroom, you need to make it a bedroom, or a living room needs to look like a living room. The exception is if you have a flex room that could serve many different purposes. In this case, you need to stage the room with the function that makes the most sense for the house. For example, if you already have a dining area in the home, you might not need to make your flex room a second dining area. Staging homes work and homes often sell 90 times faster when staging. It is not something to overlook when trying to make your home as attractive as possible for buyers.
Winston took all the things I said in stride. He said he was already planning on getting a cleaning company out to the house to do a deep clean. He will need to walk around the home to find out what clutter needs to go and be taken out of the house. He was unsure about his ability to stage the home himself so he said he would look me up when it came time to stage the home so I could give him recommendations for professional stagers. I thanked him for keeping me in the process and he smiled. it was our time for a massage.