One of the hardest things for a seller to do is to transform the home that they have taken years building full of treasures, keepsakes and memories and change it into a product.
When Tommy fell and chipped his tooth on that cracked floor tile, that tile became a memory, not a faulty piece of flooring. When Suzie colored on the guest bathroom wall, that wall became a shrine to the little girl that is now in Kuwait with the Peace Corps. The love of our families can put blinders on our home. We only see the memories, not the flaws. Remember, those chipped tiles and crayon colored walls are not endearing to buyers, they represent work. Buyers need to build their own memories and your things only clutter their mind and get in the way of visualizing living in the home.
A buyer must be able to envision themselves living there before they will ever make an offer. As a Realtor® for 24 years, I recognize the body language of buyers. If they sit down, they are trying to picture themselves sitting there, looking out the window, entertaining their friends or relaxing from a stressful day at work. Women especially, but not exclusively, will wander about the kitchen opening cabinets, gazing into the pantry or the sink. They are not looking at your dishes. They are picturing their own things behind those doors.
Keep in mind that if you spent $500 ten years ago to upgrade an appliance, time might have flown by for you and you think of that refrigerator as new – your buyer thinks it is OLD. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a seller say to me, “but I just replaced that”, but when I pressed for a date, it was 5, 10 maybe even 20 years ago. Every single upgrade in your home loses value beginning the very first day. Just like a brand new car, the minute you drive it off the lot, it begins to depreciate. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades hold their value the best, but only if they are current to the style of today. Yes, homes follow trends and fashions just like your clothes and cars.
If you are serious about selling your home, here are some “Must do’s”. Not only will it get you’re an offer faster, but statically, it will bring you a higher dollar.
- Most important – De-clutter. Your things are not going to get into your new place by osmosis. At some point you need to box them up anyway. Do it now. Box up as much as you possibly can, not just the obvious winter clothes in the summer, etc. Remove all knick-knacks. Take down family photos (Buyers need to visualize their family, not yours) Less is more. Keep boxing until the house looks empty and cold to you. You are almost there. Just a few more dozen boxes. Now, store those boxes somewhere else. Rent a storage unit or rent a P.O.D, but get them out of the house.
- Fix those items you have been meaning to get to for years, the chipped tile, the crayon painted wall. Fresh paint can go a long way. Keep it neutral, but not white. Taupe or beiges, or soft greys are best with either fresh white baseboards or natural woods.
- Clean until every corner shines and don’t forget those windows. You may think that is obvious but I have been in literally hundreds of homes that were so filthy it was an embarrassment for my buyers and myself.
- Paint the front door. First impressions speak a million words. If they don’t think the house is well maintained at the entrance, they won’t believe it inside either.
- Add a pop of color to the front yard. Buy some live flowers that are in bloom for that time of the year. Even in the dead of winter, you can add some potted red poinsettias or bright green holly with red berries.
- If you have a yard, make sure it is at its very best, grass mowed and weeds pulled. Fresh mulch goes a long way to make a front and back yard shine. If you are in a condo, add a new front door mat and hang a colorful wreath on the door.
- Visit a model home. Even if you can’t put top of the line new furniture in your home, the one thing you will notice in the model is the minimalism. They don’t do that because they don’t want to spend money on furniture. They do it to make rooms look larger.
- Replace all light bulbs in your home with a higher wattage light. And remember to turn on every single light in the house during a showing. Even in the middle of the afternoon.
- Once you have the home on the market, never be there for showings. Let the Realtor® do his job. A buyer will feel uncomfortable sitting down or opening cabinets if you are there. But that is what you want them to do.
- Make sure your house smells clean and fresh. Use plug-in air fresheners but don’t overdo it where someone will think you are trying to cover a bad smell.
- If you have kept a notebook of warranties on appliances or service on the air conditioner or furnace etc., leave it out on the counter for the buyers to look through. They probably won’t spend much time actually going through it, but it leaves the impression with them that you have always maintained the home, not just put a Band-Aid on it to sell.
- Understand that the best real estate transaction is one where both sides win. The sellers deserve to get a fair price, but so do the buyers. If you are realistic on your price and negotiate with the buyer on price and terms, when that glitch pops up (which very often does), your buyers will be much more willing to work with you to resolve the issue.
For all your real estate needs, anywhere, let me help. If you don’t live in SW Florida, let me refer you to an expert in your town or community. I will do the research to make you get a professional experienced in the type of property you are buying or selling.
Joanne Tailele, Realtor
ERA Flagship Real Estate, Marco Island FL