10/15/09

Top Ten Thursday

Welcome to the first Top Ten Thursday!

Top Ten Tips for Selling Your House

  1. Paint. Any room where the walls look marked up, beaten on, or dingy, needs to be painted. If the outside of the house hasn’t been painted in 3-5 years, paint it. While we’re talking about paint, think about color. Any rooms with a wild, wacky color—repaint. But, if you think the color looks good, feel free to leave it as is. It would help to let your real estate agent know you’d be willing to paint over the color if buyer so desires.
  2. Kitchens! If you have any funds to remodel/redecorate, kitchens are your best bet. Put most of your money into making your kitchen the best it can be.
  3. And Bathrooms! The second best place to put money is into bathroom remodels—add a bathroom if you don’t have very many, or remodel bathrooms if you have the spare cash. If nothing else, ALWAYS make certain your bathrooms are sparkling clean—that includes the insides of toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. Vinegar works wonders on fixtures.
  4. Clutter. As in, DE-clutter and clean the whole house. Rent a short term storage facility (or find someone willing to store your stuff) and remove all clutter, including excess appliances on the kitchen counter, magnets/papers/whatever on the fridge, piles of anything in the house, etc. If you want to see an example of what your house SHOULD look like before you show it to potential buyers, go to some open model homes in your area. You’ll notice they have NO CLUTTER. Don’t forget the storage areas of your home! If a storage area will be seen during showing, make it neat! This includes pantries, garages, storage sheds, basements, laundry rooms, etc. A neatly organized space will always look as if it has more room than if it is messy or cluttered. Also clean carpets and floors. Do the best you can to make them look nice. Get rid of stains, if you can, cover up bad spots if you cannot get rid of them. In general you should shampoo your carpets before you start showing your house, and vacuum them before every showing. Consider replacing carpet if you have the funds for it—new carpet is a nice selling point.
  5. Related to de-cluttering is staging the home. Staging is where you actively rearrange and decorate your home to present it at its best. Many homes that sell quickly have been staged—how much you stage is up to you and your pocketbook. This does not mean buying ALL new stuff, but it does mean consciously thinking about what to do with a room. Example: When we sold our old home, I knew the curtains in the living room were dated, so I took them down and bought new ones that matched the other d├ęcor. The new curtains didn’t stay with the house (I was explicit about this in our selling contract) but they did make that room look spiffy for showing. We sold our old home in 3 weeks! It’s all about first impressions. Another part of staging is removing personal effects. Get rid of pictures of family, artwork from your kids; anything that marks the house as belonging to your family should be put into storage or at least put away where it won’t be seen during showing. The idea is that when someone sees your home it is inviting enough that they think “Wow, I could live here”. When they see personal effects, it detracts from that feeling. It’s a psychological thing.
  6. Curb appeal. Go outside your house, stand on the sidewalk across the street and look critically at the impression your home conveys as people will drive by. Think about what could be better, prettier, more appealing. Are there bare spots in the garden? Do you need mulch? Is your unsightly garbage can visible from the street? There is a lot that goes into curb appeal, but basically you want to honestly assess the look of your home and yard, then think, “Would someone want to stop and see the inside?” If the answer is no, then you need to spend some time (and likely money) fixing up your curb appeal. With our old house, this involved buying some bushes and mulch for the garden, hiring someone to paint the wood siding, keeping the lawn mowed, and getting the sidewalk level.
  7. Smells. Make sure the only smells in your home during showings are pleasant ones. First, that means getting rid of any nasty pet smells—if you have pets, ask a friend who doesn’t have pets to come into your home and let you know honestly if it smells (this is more for dog-owners as I’ve noticed they tend to not notice the smell of their dogs). The best way to get rid of pet smells is to give the pet a vacation at a friend or family member’s house. Send the cats to grandmas or board the dogs if you can afford it. Whether or not you remove the animals, use some odor-removing products to make your house smell nice. I always had a scented jar candle burning on the stove, and I always went through every room just before leaving the house and sprayed Febreze around, to freshen everything up before a showing.
  8. Extras. If you have plenty of cash, replacing old appliances and features can be a nice selling point. You will not necessarily “get your money back”, but replacing these things can get your house sold faster: windows, rooftops, kitchen appliances, furnace and a/c, ceiling fans, light fixtures, squeaky or sticking doors.
  9. Price your home appropriately. If you have a real estate agent they can offer advice on this—but you should price your home using 3 guidelines: (1) the prices of other on-the-market homes similar to yours, (2) the prices of on-the-market homes in your area, and (3) how long those homes have been on the market. Case in point: We live in a small town about 10 miles away from a small-sized city; at least one home in our neighborhood has been priced according to what that size of house would get in the city—which is not wise. Other homes in our area have either sold for much less, or they’ve been on the market for YEARS because they were priced according to the city values. If your house doesn’t sell quickly, look critically at the price, and be willing to lower the price or accept a lower offering price. Know ahead of time what the minimum you are willing to accept will be.
  10. Last tip, and this is a biggie. Provided you can afford it, get everything in your house “up to code”. This is especially if you are selling an older home where things may not be in accordance with regulations. If something is not done properly and potential buyers notice that, it makes them wonder what ELSE hasn’t been done right. Maybe they’ll just make you fix stuff before closing—or maybe they’ll decide it’s too stressful to worry about it and move on to the next home. You really want them to WANT your home, and very few people want to buy a home that might have botched, out-of-code fixit jobs to do.
Join us tomorrow for Family Friday, where I will post pictures and news about Caleb, Noah, Mark, and myself (mostly about Caleb and Noah, since they are who ya'll want to hear about, right?)

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