These days, selling a house is like online dating. You need to look as good as possible on the internet where buyers are most likely to see you first. And few people want to know they are taking on a “project” before even going on the first date. Yes, some buyers can visualize how they’d change things, but more often than not, they’ll simply “swipe left.”
Keep in mind that a home for sale is like a piece of salmon in the display case at Kroger, and each day it sits it gets a little brown around the edges and they have to start marking it down. Same with a house. Your value drops with each day it goes unsold, and buyers know this. Think about it, … if you were house hunting and saw that a property you liked had been listed for four months, how likely would you be to make a full price offer? Yet, if that same property had just hit the market a week ago, you’d likely come in stronger to avoid getting in a bidding war with other potential buyers.
I’m often asked by clients to advise them on what they should spend money on to get their home ready to go on the market. And it’s a question I recommend all sellers ask their agent as it can save thousands of dollars. Too often people spend money on items that won’t help the house sell yet overlook things that would surely make a difference in how the property looks. As a rule, give buyers as few obstacles as possible to take a visit.
Here are my top priorities to ready your property prior to listing:
1. Obvious, visible maintenance items: No potential buyer wants to stand on the front steps of a home and see thousands of dollars in window, roof, soffit, trim, paint, and mortar work needed before even stepping foot inside. Plus, it sends them a message that the property has not been cared for.
2. Paint: It’s a pain but neutralizing your walls (preferably a light grey or off-white) will do wonders. You may like that the living room is blue and the dining room is gold, but few buyers will share your taste and will just see it as more work.
3. Landscape: Curb appeal is a real thing. Trim hedges below your windows if possible, ensure that shrubs are not overgrown, bushes are cut away from the siding, and pine straw covers “bald spots.” Also make sure exterior trim is painted.
4. Declutter: You’ve heard this before. Too many tchotchkes are distracting and don’t look good in photos. Likewise, if you have every inch of wall space covered in art, no matter how expensive or beautiful, you’ll want to pare it down. Too much covered wall space makes rooms feel smaller and it distracts.
5. Don’t spend money finishing a basement simply to sell. You’ll never get it back.
6. Unless you are prepared to fully renovate a kitchen (i.e. new fixtures, appliances, hardware), don’t “partially” do it by slapping granite on old cabinets. That rarely works. However, do replace existing granite that may be damaged.
7. Got pets? Your house probably smells like it. I promise. Do what you can to deodorize.
8. Replace worn carpeting. Doesn’t need to be expensive, just needs to look nice (stay with light, neutral colors).
9. It’s okay to store things neatly in unfinished basement areas or garage. Buyers understand you are moving. Better that you store boxes there than take up space in a bedroom.
Jimmy Baron is with KellerWilliams Realty, and can be reached at Jimmy@JimmyBaron.com, www.JimmyBaron.com.