You get one chance to make a good impression, as the saying goes. As a seller, you truly get one chance to make a good impression, so make it great. A home is one of the seller’s biggest investments, so why not maximize its value. After being a Realtor of for 20 years, my husband and I documented these tips in our new book, The Art of Real Estate. Here are our Top Ten Quick Tips of things a seller should do in order to maximize their real estate investment.
1. Vacate the home. It is nearly impossible for a home seller to reside in a home during the preparation phase as well as the marketing and showing phase. Consider living with friends or relatives or taking a vacation while your Realtor prepares your home for market, and markets your home for sale.
2. Paint the exterior. You get one chance to make a first impression, so if you have not painted the exterior, you may lose potential buyers from even stepping through the front door.
3. Paint the interior. A home needs to be refreshed not only after the wall hangings and furniture are removed, and the clothing and boxes set deep in the closet are as well; and no doubt, the color palette will need to be updated too. Allow your Realtor and the home stager to choose the colors current to today’s market. Neutral is always in, while dark colors, deep reds and bright fuchsia may be your personal favorites, they are not the best choice when selling a home or appealing to the masses.
4. Make repairs. Is the fence falling down? Is the dishwasher broken? Do all of your lights operate? Walk your home with your Realtor and scrutinize all items that may need repairing. Minor and inexpensive repairs make a huge difference. If a buyer notices a small easy fix and a seller has neglected to repair it, the buyer will be thinking to him/herself, what sorts of larger items has the seller neglected to address? Don’t leave buyers with those lingering unanswered thoughts. Oftentimes an agent will not have the opportunity to address the question and that buyer may just move on to the next home rather than share his/her thoughts. Instead, leave nothing to chance and allow a buyer to walk away with a beautiful impression of our home.
5. Invest in your asset. A small investment creates a huge impact. Replace all light bulbs throughout the entire home. No one likes a dark house. One of the top 3 things buyers are seeking in a home is one that is light and bright. I’ve never had a request from a buyer interested in purchasing a dark house! Another inexpensive investment is to replace old or outdated light fixtures. Stores like West Elm, Home Depot and Lamps Plus provide an inexpensive and stylish option.
6. Install smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and strap your water heater. Different regions enforce their own set of ordinances and codes. I believe these three are fairly universal. Be sure to install smoke detectors and co detectors in all the appropriate locations throughout your home prior to market. Once your home goes into escrow, the buyer’s lender will order an appraisal. If you do not have the aforementioned in place the appraiser will have to return to confirm you have done so thus delaying the escrow.
7. Detailed Cleaning. Housecleaning and window washing is a must. It should go without saying, that after the moving, the painting, the repairs, the traffic, a home needs to be professionally cleaned and the windows must be washed inside and out. You might not think it matters, but it will affect your bottom line. Don’t give a buyer a reason not to consider making an offer on your home. Make it shine!
8. Landscaping the front garden, side and back garden. The front of the house is the first thing a buyer will see when they approach your home in person or on the Internet. A buyer can be pleasantly surprised, or horribly turned off. Trim back overgrown bushes, remove large trees covering the home or inhibiting sunlight, replace the front lawn, plant white flowers and lay mulch. I prefer black mulch to gorilla hair!
9. Staging. It should go without saying, but a staged home will most definitely provide the biggest bang for your buck. Buyers simply cannot see through another person’s belongings or personal taste in colors or design. We all have our own personal style, but this is not the time to share it.
10. Leave all communication up to your Realtor. Sellers must not be present during showings. Once you have signed a listing with your Realtor you should step away. Allow your Realtor to field any questions from potential buyers, other Realtors, even friends and neighbors. Cocktail conversation can be your biggest setback. You would be surprised what a neighbor may share either true or not, or what a seller might say that will negatively affect a sale or potential sale. Keep your lips sealed and offer your Realtor’s phone number. Your Realtor is the professional you hired to educate you about the process, market and sell your home. Don’t short change yourself or inhibit your own sale.
Preparing a home from lived in to staged to sell never gets old. The process and the results are always magnificent. Each home is unique, some homes need more than others, but if you adhere to the list above, I guarantee you will realize more than had you not invested the time and money. If you would like to learn more please comment below. Look for my next article, Marketing A Home for a Successful Sale.
If you are interested in learning more from two top producing Realtors who have been in the business for over 20 years, order our book, The Art of Real Estate, our guide to help buyers, sellers and Realtors find success in buying and/or selling residential real estate.
A home is one of the largest investments a seller may have, so in order to maximize potential return, a seller should consider doing what we did here: fresh paint, new light fixtures, updated flooring, replaced appliances and of course, staging — which made all the difference. Just see for yourself!
As a Realtor, it is always difficult to begin the conversation with our seller(s) detailing what we believe they should do in order to maximize profits, but when we walk them through the process and show them our results, it all makes sense. As you can see, these images tell the story. Before and After, what a difference!
Kitchen Sink, After
We use a product called Miracle Method. Miracle Method is a process stronger than paint that simply transforms the look of tile. This sink was old and worn before, but not after. Oftentimes we use Miracle Method to refinish old tile or tile that is outdated, or has a busy pattern. It’s a game changer!
Kitchen Sink, Before
The kitchen is the heart of the home so it is very important to create a space that appeals to potential homebuyers. Old or dirty grout will only turn buyers off, so take the time and make the investment to maximize results.
The color you choose will make the difference between a dark hallway or room, and a bright, light and cheerful one. Be sure to choose the right color for the right room. The color chosen will be dependent on the location of the room in relation to its access to natural light or not.
The carpet was removed to expose the lovely hardwood floors. Buyers prefer hardwood to carpet. If a home has hardwood floors, it is best to remove the carpet. Turn a hallway from dark to light by choosing the right paint color combination as well as by replacing old light fixtures. And don’t forget to install bright, new light bulbs throughout the entire home. Its an inexpensive but fruitful investment.
Doesn’t this room just shine? Exposing the hardwood floors, even if a homebuyer installs carpet later, hardwood floors complement the staging and translate much better in photographs. The right colors, perfect staging and sparkling clean windows work to create a good feeling and engage potential home buyers.
Not everyone believes in staging but it has been proven time and time again that a home properly prepared for market will create more buyer activity thus increasing the chance of a sale or in many cases a significant sale over the seller’s asking price.
A basement is a basement until you create a room. The transformation of this basement room is fairly significant. Before the work was complete, the room looked like a simple storage room, dark and gloomy. A few minor improvements gave this old room a new lease on life! Paint, new fixtures and staging created this incredible, updated look.
The basement was dingy and dark with old built-ins prior to our make over. Painting the bricks out white also created a more updated and inviting look. Painting, staging and new light fixtures transformed a basement into a useful room thus adding value to the home. Such improvements were well worth the investment.
Family Room, After
Upon completion of this room, it became a favorite. Comfortable, sun-filled, cheerful and bright. Attention to detail is very important when preparing a home for market. Be sure your painter replaces all the switch plates from old and worn to clean and white.
Family Room, Before
After years of living in a home, filled with love and memories, it isn’t always easy to empty the contents. Ask your Realtor for a referral. Realtors usually have a large pool of resources at the ready. Just ask.
Living Room, After
Although I loved the pink walls before, the new colors chosen by our stager really did make all the difference. Removing all window coverings is also another staging trick to maximize great lighting.
Living Room, Before
The transformation of a single room is always unique and always amazing. Such a simple investment can make such an impactful change. See for yourself.
Dining Room, After
Although I do like the original red wallpaper in our before photograph, you will see the incredible transformation and impactful improvement from lived in to staged to sell.
Dining Room, Before
Each of the rooms in this home had great potential. With the advice of your Realtor and stager a seller can maximize their investment just like we did here. Small changes create an impactful punch.