Getting Your Property Ready to Put on the Market and Ready to Show
In any type of market your home is competing with other homes for buyers but even more so in a "buyer's market". It will pay dividends to spend some time, effort, and money so that your home outshines the rest.
There is a big difference between getting your property ready to put on the market and getting your home ready to show. The first can take days, weeks, or months while the later should take a few minutes to an hour. We will discuss both briefly.
Getting Ready to "Be On The Market"
This is one of those decisions where you can do just the basic minimum yourself in a few days or go all out, hire contractors, and take weeks or months to do some major preparatory work.
The basic minimum:
1. Deep Cleaning – detail your home including light switches, base boards, windows, screens, floors, sliding door tracks, floors, carpet, etc. Detail the front porch – no dust, webs, etc. Detail all bathrooms - remove all soap scum, lime, rust, etc. Clean, trim, and manicure the yards front, back, and sides. Add color to your yards. Make it sparkle!
2. De-clutter – to much “stuff” makes your home feel crowded and smaller. Many people can’t visualize your rooms devoid of clutter - their eyes stop at the clutter. If need be rent storage space or use a section in your garage to box up and empty any overcrowded rooms or closets. If you use the garage for storage drape a couple of sheets over it. Remove clutter from your yards and side yards as well. Hide stacks of newspapers, magazines, mail, etc. If you work from home and really need to leave your work spread out put a sheet over your desk if it’s really unsightly or if you do not want to disturb your desk and need privacy. The best approach is to rubber band your work piles and put them in a box and put it in your car.
3. Pleasant Fragrance – even if you don’t have pets, smokers in your home, or have strong cooking odors present use fragrance candles, or plug-in devices to create a nice smelling home. Vanilla is a nice clean smell that most people will enjoy. “Linen” is a nice fragrance for baths and laundry rooms from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. We have even baked a batch of cookies or brownies to create that homey smell during Open Houses or Broker’s Previews.
4. Music – put on some smooth jazz such as 94.7, “The Wave”, upstairs and down.
5. Make it Bright – turn on lots of lights, open shutters, drapes, blinds, etc. If you have overgrown shrubbery blocking light trim it back. If you have a lot of low wattage and/or fluorescent bulbs think about swapping them with brighter stronger bulbs while you are showing your property. A well lit home is more inviting and cheerful feeling. A dark or dimly lit home is gloomy and dreary to home shoppers. Some showings may be on grey days or in the evenings. Brighten things up if you can - it will pay off.
6. Little Touches – Put away personal items such as hair dryers, curling irons, tooth brushes, and wet bath towels. Dirty clothes should not be visible - even in the laundry room if possible. Close toilet lids, replace or remove soiled rugs, etc.
7. Pets – Be aware that some people are afraid of all dogs and cats. I have had people refuse to come into a home where a dog or cat was loose. Think about crating them, putting them in the garage, or taking them with you during showings. Most agents work well with pets so talk to us about the appropriate approach to showing your property with pets. I actually asked my sellers to “introduce” me to his two vicious sounding Rotweilers so I could put them in the garage for showings and then let them back out in the yard afterwards.
Taking it to the Next Level
Depending on your time and budget here are some things to consider that will enhance the appearance of your property and should bring you more and better offers quicker.
When you look at little things every day you begin to stop seeing these little things at all. So the first step is to try to put on a buyer’s hat and really look at your whole property with a new critical eye. The goal to keep in mind is that you want to create several good first impressions: when they first drive up, when they first walk up, when they walk in, when they view your “presentation rooms” for the first time, and when they first view your backyard. You can literally lose some buyers before they enter your home with poor first impressions. If the buyer’s first impressions are poor many buyers will then likely be subconsciously looking for more reasons to eliminate your property from further consideration. Conversely, if the buyer’s first impressions are good then many buyers will more readily overlook faults and find ways to “make it work” once they have a good feeling about your property.
If your property is not exactly in the condition you would prefer all is not lost. Some buyers are looking for the “diamond in the rough” or “fixer” property that they can improve to their taste. As you can imagine, these are usually not the buyers that will pay top dollar. Therefore, the best approach is to spend the time, effort, and money to get your property as ready as you can. I will try to list this in what, in my opinion, will give you the biggest “bang for your buck”.
1. Curb Appeal – Green up your lawn, plant some color, trim any overgrown or overcrowded softscape, especially if it blocks any nice features of your home. Repair any deferred maintenance issues such as cracked/peeling paint on the front of your home. Your front door and hardware should not look shabby and aged. Ask Joanne or I for handyman referrals if necessary. The buyers should be thinking “this is a clean and well kept home” before they even cross your threshold.
2. Presentation Rooms – These are your Entry Foyer, Living Room, Dining Room, Family Room, Kitchen, Guest Bath, and Master Suite and Master Bath. These are the 8 areas inside your home that matter the most to most buyers. Some buyers have the Guest Bedroom and Laundry Room high on the list as well.
3. Painting – Without a doubt, painting gives you a great “bang for the buck” if your walls are currently white or of too many different colors or the “wrong” colors for the majority of buyers. Ask your agent for their candid opinion on the “right” colors for selling. Depending on the size of your property this will typically cost $3,000 to $6,000 for the walls and ceilings.
4. Moldings – This follows paint on the “bang for the buck scale”. A nice 6.5” crown will cost about $6.00 to $7.00 per linear foot including paint. We always recommend white for selling. This really dresses up your property especially if you are painting the walls and ceilings in contrasting tans or browns. Your crown, door, window, and base moldings will now really “pop” giving your property a whole different feel.
5. Hard Flooring – Your floors are the first thing the buyers looks at when they enter your home. Flooring is very important and expensive to replace. If you currently have nice flooring make sure it is very clean. If your flooring is dated speak with us to get an opinion on the best approach. Some people like hardwood and some like stone such as travertine. Offering a credit or "Decorator Allowance" may be the best solution. Stone typically nets about $8.00/SF installed and hardwood $8.00 to 20.00/SF installed. Don’t have too many different types of flooring going on in your home.
6. Carpeting – If your carpet really detracts from your home replace it. Please speak with us about a good "resale" color.
7. New Countertops – The Kitchen, Guest Bath, and Master Bath are the usual suspects and usually in this order of importance. Granite countertop work has become extremely competitive. You would be very surprised to find out how economically feasible this type of remodel has become. Ask us for our recommended contractor.
8. New or Refinished Cabinets - This is rarely considered for readying a property for resale. A very good cabinet cleaning with an oil-soap and/or just changing the hardware will often brighten things up a lot. If it is really needed consider new cabinet doors with modern hidden hinges. This will make a big improvement while avoiding a major cabinet job. We have done this before with great results for a reasonable expenditure.
Getting Your Home Ready for a Showing – Some Tips
After you have done the really time consuming jobs such as deep cleaning and de-cluttering you are now ready for the showing drill. We are appealing to the basic senses of sight, smell, and sound, and perhaps touch when they grab your front door handle or knob and your sliders or back doors. Think of this as you would about getting ready for a party in which your guests will be going through every room of your home. We know this does not sound pleasant but this is the drill. Get things picked up, the lights, music, and fountains on, and the fragrance going. Open the blinds, shutters, and curtains. You want it Light & Bright.
These last little touches are important. When we know someone is coming back for a second or third time we will go and get everything ready for you and shut everything down afterward if you need the help with this.
Call on Us For Help
We are often called upon to come out and visit a potential seller's home to give them our opinion on what we feel will help prepare their home for sale. We often will provide referrals for reliable and reasonable people to do this prep work. We are always happy to do this.