You’ve seen/heard this before, but it still bears repeating because so many sellers haven’t been listening! If your real estate professional hasn’t told you these things, hmmmmm, wonder why not?? By the way, have I mentioned that I’m one of those real estate professionals? I’ve also been a buyer and a seller and have seen first hand how these things impact the home buyer’s impressions of a home. So, pay attention! This stuff matters!!
The first thing–the #1 thing–is pricing! Your home must be priced right for the market it’s in. Buyers have lots of choices today, and you must give them a compelling reason to keep your home on their list–and price is that reason! Too high? Scratch you off their list! Too low? What’s wrong with it? Scratch off! At or slightly below market? Hmmm–let’s take a look! The old rules about starting high and then coming down DO NOT work in today’s market!
So, you’ve got the right price to get someone in the door, now you have to keep them there, lingering and thinking about their lives in your house! Some ways to help make that happen:
87% of buyers first look at homes on the internet! Before they ever even think about contacting a REALTOR. So, really, that’s your first showing, on the web. Pictures matter! You need to have lots of them and they need to be good ones. Your home needs to be clean, uncluttered, and looking its best in the pictures your REALTOR posts on your MLS and other websites. Give buyers a reason to want to see more! And not just on the inside--buyers want to see the front and back of your home also, and your yard, and anything else that makes your home attractive, so get busy and get the exterior in shape too!
Curb appeal–it matters! A lot!! So you’ve priced your home well, posted lots of good pictures in MLS and on the internet, and buyers are interested and want to see more. Now they’re ready to get in the car and come have a look in person. It has to look good when they drive up! If your yard’s a mess, your front porch is cluttered, you have dead or overgrown landscaping, they may not even get out of the car! Clean it up, people! That old adage about first impressions is true–you never get a second chance to make a good first impression! They’ll never see your beautiful kitchen or remodeled bathroom if your front yard looks awful!
So, now they’re in the house. Now it gets tricky, especially if you’re living in the home while it’s on the market. Once you put your home up for sale, it ceases to be just your personal home, and becomes a commodity. You’re now competing with every other home on the market in your area and in your price range. If new builder homes are part of that competition, things get even more interesting! Builder’s model homes have the advantage of being decorated to look like someone’s living there without the complications of having people who actually do!! Your challenge– to make your home much less a home and more of a house–help potential buyers see themselves in your house and not be distracted by your personal “stuff” ! Here are some things that you’ve gotta take down and put away.
- Personal photos and mementos–they’re special to you, but only to you. Take ’em down and pack ’em up! No one wants to see your kids’ school pictures, your wedding photos, or your family portraits. All the stuff your kids have made for you, the souvenirs of your travels, your collection of shot glasses, beanie babies, refrigerator magnets, Hummel figurines, sports memorbilia, whatever–pack it up and get it out! Now! Before your REALTOR gets there with his/her camera!
Your hunting trophies–congratulations on shooting Bambi’s dad, or landing that big one, or skinning the animal that’s on your floor! Please take them down–many buyers aren’t into that “hobby” and feel very uncomfortable around stuffed heads!
- Your diplomas, awards, school spirit–Hook ’em, Gig ’em, whatever–but not now! Remember, this is not about you and your loyalties, it’s about someone else who may want to buy your home, but could have second thoughts if you’re in their face about your favorite teams!
- Your religion--your collection of crosses or your other religious items. Extremely personal–to you! Not necessarily to everyone else! Put them away to save for your new home so you’re not “branding” your current home to a potential buyer who may not share the same views.
- Politics–same as religion! Very personal, and not appropriate when you’re trying to appeal to a wide audience. Put away that picture of you with George W. Bush or Hilary Clinton. If you have books on the shelf that have a distinct political view, pack them away. Go neutral while your home is for sale. And, during election season, no partisan signs in the yard, please!
- Extreme decor–you love bright colors and your house is full of them. Your kid is going through a phase and her room is a Disney Princess paradise or a teenagers “statement”. You’re a die-hard Cowboys or Spurs fan and your “man-cave” is a tribute to their past glories. Or maybe your nest is empty, but your kids’ rooms haven’t changed since the day they left for college–15 years ago!! Time to come back to the real world and de-personalize a bit. If you just can’t bear to let it go, take a picture to remember, then clean up, clean out, and neutralize!
- Your pets–part of the family and beloved by you and yours, but not by the strangers coming to see your home! Some people are allergic to animals. Some folks are really afraid of dogs, even your precious baby who would “never” hurt anyone! You’re so used to your home that you don’t even notice the unique “aromas” your pets contribute, but others do! Keep your pets out of the way when your home is being shown, and keep the evidence of their presence (litter boxes, etc.) either hidden, or scrupulously clean and odor-free. You might want to consider offering a buyer a special cleaning after you move out to remove any lingering evidence of your pet’s presence–carpet cleaning, etc. And if you have other pets, like rodents, birds, or anything that lives in a cage, all this advice goes double!!
Selling a house in today’s market involves a lot more work. The days of sticking a sign in the yard, putting it in the MLS, and waiting for offers to roll in are OVER!! REALTORS are having to work harder to market your home to potential buyers and you, as a seller, are a critical part of that marketing effort! You have to help us by giving us something to work with! Do your part to make your home attractive to buyers and make them want to see it! You and your real estate professional are a team and selling a home today requires that everyone on the team is working together to achieve that goal! So get busy, get your home in showing condition, and good luck!! (And if you’re in San Antonio, call me!! 210-363-9282)