Carol George's Blog
Although location is one of the most important factors that will impact the marketability of your home, it's not the only thing prospective buyers are thinking about.
If they're organized, focused, and serious about finding the right property for their needs, they've probably developed a detailed checklist of "must haves" and a "wish list."
In all likelihood, those who are working with a real estate agent are being shown properties that conform to their requirements and many of their wish-list items. A comprehensive list would include everything from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want to square footage and the quality of the school district.
Many people also have specific preferences about features like floor plans, amount of storage space, the size of the backyard, architectural style, and the availability of a fireplace, patio, porch, deck, eat-in kitchen, two-car garage, and privacy features. Some are even looking for the traditional white picket fence in front of the house!
While your home can't be "all things to all people," it is highly recommended to target the widest possible audience. Your agent, a home staging consultant, or a home decorator can provide you with valuable tips on how to achieve that outcome.
Stand Out and Get Noticed
Just looking good on paper, though, is not always enough to attract motivated buyers. Prospects need to love what they see and be inspired to envision themselves living in your house. Doing what you can to create irresistible curb appeal is one vital aspect of making a great first impression. A manicured lawn, a fresh coat of paint (if needed), and some strategic home staging -- inside and out -- can make all the difference in your results!
Curb appeal is vitally important because that sets the stage, so to speak, for creating high expectations in your prospects. Once you get them in a positive frame of mind, they'll be more inclined to notice all the positive aspects of your home. If your house meets all or most of their requirements and is arranged in a way that's pleasing to them, a purchase offer and negotiations may be right around the corner.
One of the most crucial hurdles to clear in getting prospects to consider buying your house is to help them imagine living, relaxing, raising a family, and pursuing their interests in your home. Your real estate agent can help you effectively stage the interior and exterior of your home to make it inviting and appealing to the widest range of potential buyers.
You can support their sales and marketing efforts by making sure your home is always clean, fresh smelling, and ready to be shown at a moment's notice to house hunters. Doing your best to eliminate clutter, keeping counter tops neat, and making sure pets are on their best behavior (or happily frolicking at the local "doggie daycare" center) can play a key role in winning over interested buyers and successfully selling your home!
Although your real estate agent will do the lion's share of the work involved in selling your home, there are several things you, the homeowner, can do to help move things along.
By making sure your home is always ready to be shown at a moments notice to prospective buyers, you will be helping to "tip the scales" in the direction of a faster sale. Since making a great first impression is crucial to the sales process, it's important that your home always looks its best -- both inside and out. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you decide to put your home on the market.
Order versus chaos: Every time your real estate agent sets up a showing of your house, it's an opportunity to attract and engage potential buyers. When your house and property look organized, clean, and well cared for, it sends a series of positive messages to prospects.
Admittedly, it can be a little bit of a hassle to keep your house looking (and smelling) immaculate all the time, but doing so can definitely work in your favor when it comes to making a great impression and getting your house sold faster.
To the extent that it's possible, try to eliminate or significantly reduce anything that could be described as "clutter." Clutter can include anything from excessive furniture and wall hangings to knick-knacks on your shelves and too many containers on kitchen countertops.
The ultimate effect you want to achieve is one of spaciousness, tastefulness, and organization. Anything which detracts from those desirable qualities could potentially work against you. As the classic 1980s TV commercial for a well-known dandruff shampoo reminds us: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression!"
Remember curb appeal: Actually the real first impression happens before prospective buyers even enter your home or step on your property. In many cases, it occurs before they even get out of their cars!
Making sure your house and property look as impeccable as possible from the street can help attract potential buyers and put them in a more receptive state of mind. Maintaining a manicured, clutter-free lawn, highlighted by a few splashes of floral color, can be an effective way to create eye-appeal and make a positive first impression.
One thing home sellers are either unaware of or forget about is the fact that prospective buyers sometimes do a preliminary "drive by" before picking up the phone and calling your (or their) real estate agent to schedule a showing. If they do not like what they see from their car, they probably are not going to take the next step and arrange a full tour of your home.
When you come to the realization that every person who drives by or visits your home is a potential buyer, you'll be more motivated to take care of the many details that either attract of send away prospective buyers.
Whether you're selling a home or buying one, the amount of storage space a house offers can have a major impact on its perceived value. Even if you're a first-time home owner who hasn't had the chance to accumulate a lot of clothes, household supplies, and other possessions, you can be sure that's not a permanent condition -- especially if you have a growing family!
So if you're looking for a new home to settle into, storage space will become increasing important. If, on the other hand, you're preparing to sell your home, then showcasing and enhancing storage space will help increase its marketability.
Everyone Loves Big Closets
Walk-in closets are considered a highly desirable feature because they not only accommodate a large and growing wardrobe, but they offer a lot of functionality from shelves, compartments, and other storage areas. They can also be customized to suit individual needs and preferences. The fact that walk-in closets are separate from the master bedroom also creates a feeling of spaciousness and luxury. The additional space and storage features make it easier to keep clothes organized, fresher, and in better overall condition. If clothes are squeezed together in a small closet, they tend to wrinkle faster, become mustier, and are harder to find -- especially when you're running late for an appointment!
Other Valued Storage Areas
Basements, attics, backyard sheds, and two-car garages are great places to store sports equipment, tools, supplies, appliances, old furniture, toys that your kids have outgrown, and other items you're not quite sure what to do with. The big challenge is to avoid accumulating clutter and hoarding things you don't need. Finished basements and attics are especially appealing to many home buyers because they provide additional living space and are more aesthetically pleasing than unfinished areas.
Basement Problems and Remedies
One cautionary note to keep in mind when storing things in a basement is that excess moisture and humidity can wreak havoc on everything from photo albums and old books to musical instruments and framed paintings. One solution is to monitor the moisture level with a hygrometer and install a dehumidifier to extract excess moisture from the air. While other measures may need to be taken to assure a dry basement environment, these two steps should help improve conditions dramatically. If mold is present on your walls, wood structures, or cardboard boxes, then you can be sure it's not a favorable environment for storing anything of value. Most wet basement problems are correctable, but professional and sometimes expensive solutions often need to be sought.
So assuming you don't have water in your basement and bats in your belfry, then lots of storage space will make your home easier to sell and more enjoyable to live in!
Although preparing your house for a real estate showing can be hectic, there are ways to make it easier and less stressful. One source of stress for many people is that nagging feeling that they're forgetting to do something important.
Admittedly, overlooking some things could result in lost sales or even lost valuables, but a little advance planning and organization can help prevent those problems from happening.
The solution is to create a checklist of important reminders and tasks you have to complete before leaving the house. Your real estate agent will provide helpful guidance and tips on effectively preparing your house for showings.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
When your house is up for sale and it's being actively marketed, appointments with prospective buyers are sometimes made on the spur of the moment. While real estate agents will be scheduling the appointments and conducting the tours, it's up to you to ensure that your home is always in tip-top condition. Hopefully, you'll be able to enlist your family's help in picking up clothes, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and cleaning up after themselves. If you have small children, they will undoubtedly need assistance in putting away their toys and making their bedrooms look civilized! Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when getting ready for house showings:
- Cleanliness (or a lack thereof) will be one of the many things that house hunters notice. While your house may meet their requirements for number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and overall layout, they could quickly lose interest if your floors, countertops, and sinks are visibly dirty.
- Pets can be a potential issue if your home is scheduled for a showing. Not only can dogs be a distraction if they bark a lot or have other undesirable behaviors, but some people are allergic to dogs and cats. The ideal solution is for a friend, family member, or neighbor to take care of your dog while the house is being shown. Unfortunately that's not always possible. Sometimes confining your dog to a fenced-in back yard (briefly) or a comfortable crate that they're accustomed to may be a viable, short-term solution. Several factors would come into play, including the weather, the temperament of your dog, and whether it's going to bother the neighbors by being outside.
- Doing your best to eliminate clutter throughout the house is another strategy for making the best possible impression on potential buyers.
Protecting Your Valuables and Privacy
Another priority that some homeowners forget is to hide valuables, such as jewelry, mobile devices, checkbooks, and cash. It's also a good idea to make sure your computers are password-protected, and that you turn them off before leaving the house. If you have any concerns about security during home showings, you might want to hide computers, personal items, and yesterday's mail in a secure place. Although most people touring your house will only be interested in its features, décor, and condition, it's always good to exercise a little caution when opening your house up to the public.