The Spring real estate market is just around the corner. Potential buyers will schedule more showings and generate more sales than any other time of year – generally. In anticipation, “For Sale” signs are already on the rise, meaning tougher competition for those buyers. To sell quickly, at the best possible price, your home must stand out in a crowd. Here are a few tips for attracting – and keeping – the interest of potential buyers.
Let There Be Light!
In today’s market, buyers decide which homes to view in person based largely upon online photos. Your home must photograph well to the attention of today’s buyers. The MOST important factor for flattering photography is LIGHT, especially natural light. Now is the time to take down dated, heavy draperies and window treatments. If privacy is an issue, put up inexpensive, large slat blinds or bamboo shades. Now is also the time to fix broken light switches and replace blown out bulbs. If you have an unattractive old ceiling fan, give it an inexpensive paint makeover or replace it with a simple fixture. Which version of this same bedroom do you think buyers will prefer?
Take The “ME” Out of HOME
I saw a great comment recently about there being a difference between the best way to LIVE in a home and the best way to SELL a house. Buyers have a hard seeing themselves living in a home that screams, “I already have a family!” So, please don’t be offended when your Realtor suggests that you take down family photos and remove your kids’ artwork from the refrigerator. Box up trophies and snow globe collections. Clear counters of mail, cosmetics, hairbrushes, toothbrushes and dentures. Pay extra attention to the area where a prospective buyer will enter your home – you have one chance to make a first impression. Don’t distract buyers from the house itself with photos of your grandfather’s 80th birthday party or your vacation to Disney World.
Declutter and Organize
Any space feels bigger with less stuff in it, and you’d be amazed how much unnecessary junk you accumulate. For donation items, like clothing and furniture, BEGIN by scheduling a pickup through an organization like Big Brothers and Sisters – this gives you a solid deadline to keep you motivated and moving. Prepare for showings by clearing your kitchen counters and shelves of cookbooks, appliances and rarely used gadgets. Put away EVERYTHING in your bathroom. Closets will appear bigger if you go through them and put less worn items into storage.
Find A Silver Lining – Or Any Other Shade of Gray
Once you’ve taken down the family photos, you’ll likely have a few nail holes to patch. Look around — you’ll notice dings and marks left by banged suitcases, ride on toys and dirty fingerprints. When you glance up, a paint bubble on the kitchen ceiling might remind you that the bathtub overflowed three years ago. Buyers will see all of these things that you don’t even notice anymore and it will influence their opinion about whether your home is well maintained. Fortunately, paint is relatively easy fix that gives a big bang for the buck. If you want to know what sells, take your cue from new construction and renovation trends. The look and smell of a fresh coat of pale gray paint will remind prospective buyers of new construction.
Grind Out the Grime
If you’ve managed to attract a potential buyer into your home, the last thing you want to do is scare them away with musty odors, dust-induced asthma attacks, or any other general nastiness. Use the remaining weeks of winter to don your rubber gloves and do some serious cleaning. Wipe down baseboards and ceiling fan blades. Recaulk mildewed showers, scrub out hard water stains and restore grout with a toothbrush, baking soda and white vinegar. Vacuum dust from the a/c and heating vents. Degrease the ventilation hood over your range. Dismantle the crumbling old swing set. If you can, take down old wallpaper. And if you have pristine hardwood floors beneath stained wall to wall carpeting, tear the carpeting up.
Thanks to HGTV makeover programs, the expectations of today’s buyers are not always realistic. But they are predictable. With some elbow grease and a little “staging” of your own, your home can stand out in the spring crowd.
By Tara Forrest