The snow is finally gone, and the harbingers of Spring are out in force – the red-breasted robins, the bright yellow crocuses, the soft, gray pussy willows… and the eager house-hunters, blue with cabin fever. Spring is generally accepted as the best time for a homeowner to list his or her home for sale, so we thought it might be helpful to list a few things to consider when planning to sell your home:
#1 – The Price First and foremost, evaluate the market. What are the prices for those homes on the market in your area which you think might be comparable to your own? If the average market price of these homes is palatable to you, and allows for some flexibility in the pricing of your own home while still accomplishing your goal in selling, then great, read on. If not, consider listing your home when the market improves. If circumstances require that you sell your home regardless, then you also may benefit from the additional tips below.
Ultimately, however, if you truly would like to sell your home, be realistic with the price. Chances are, potential buyers have also done their own research – they know when a home is priced too high for the current market. Too high a price translates into more days on the market. Overpriced homes that stay on the market for 90 to 120 days are extremely difficult to sell. On the other hand, if it’s priced too low, potential buyers will think something is wrong with it.
#2 – Curb Appeal As the author Lois McMaster Bujold wrote, “A stunning first impression was not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter.” The interior of your home might look like something copied from a page on Pinterest, but you can be sure that any potential buyer has already made an initial assessment based on what they’ve seen as they pulled into the drive. If the flowers have not yet started to bloom, be proactive and purchase something in bloom from your local home center. Freshen mulch beds and keep the grass neatly trimmed. Check for eyesores on the home itself – is the paint peeling or a shutter hanging forlornly by just one screw? And by all means, keep the front yard and entryway of your home clear! Which brings us to the next item:
#3 – De-clutter Removing clutter from the home before a showing can help potential buyers visualize their own items in the space. A simple rule of thumb to help reduce clutter is “The 80/20 Rule”, which is this: For clothing, we generally only wear 20% of the clothes we own, 80% of the time. This is also typical for other household items as well, such as video games, books, DVDs, toys and more. Attempt to rid your home of those things you don’t use 80% of the time. Potential buyers need to see the space to appreciate it – especially when it comes to closets. Try removing half the stuff out of your closets, then neatly organize what’s left in there. You can be sure that your closet doors will be opened, so keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy. Also, if you have dark corners in the house, get rid of clutter in those areas. If possible, paint them a light color and reflect the color with lighting.
#4 – The kitchen is the heart of the home When it comes to selling your house, it’s been said that you’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. When it comes to renovations or upgrades, any modifications done to the kitchen will typically see a return on investment of at least 85% of the initial cost. And unfortunately, while it may cost a few thousand dollars to replace countertops, a potential buyer may look for $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. Consider applying a fresh coat of paint, or installing new cabinet hardware. These two are typically the fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates which can be performed. For paint, use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas. It’s much easier for them to visualize their own style of decorating this way. If you have the means, consider upgrading the oldest, most unappealing appliance to a new, stainless steel model. Why only one? Just as one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, when people see one high-end appliance they may think that all the rest are expensive too, and it updates the kitchen.
#5 – Lights, Camera, Action! Maximize the light in your home, natural or artificial. Studies have shown that second to location, good lighting is one thing that every buyer wants in a home. Remove old draperies, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs (but try to keep all the bulbs in the same color temperature, i.e., 2800, 3500, etc.), uniformity in lighting may also make small areas appear larger. And lastly, trim the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you can to make your house bright and cheery – it will make it much more saleable.
#6 – Always be ready to show You should keep your house “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door, and you may not always have enough advance notice to clean or reorganize before a showing. You should try to be available whenever they are, and it has to be in tip-top shape. Buyers may judge how well the home has been maintained by how well you maintain the appearance. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, do keep the dishwasher empty, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It may be an inconvenience, but it will help in selling your home.
#7 – They don’t want to see “you” An important thing to remember when selling your house is to de-personalize it – the buyer is here to see the home, not you. While it may be hard to remove some of your most sentimental items, the more personal the stuff that you have in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of as much of your personal items on display as possible – put them in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider inviting a neighbor over to walk through your house like a buyer would. Get their opinion on how it “shows. And if you have a pet, remember not everybody is a dog or cat lover. A potential buyer doesn’t want to walk in your home and see your pet’s favorite toys, or a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It may give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you know you have a scheduled showing, or perhaps an open house, take the pets out of the home for the day.
#8 – Your agent is your best weapon Make sure you have a broker who is informed – an agent or broker who knows your local market is imperative. And find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold. The majority of buyers start their home search online. To market your home most effectively, hire an agent who will make sure that your listing will include professional photos, a virtual tour and an accurate, vibrant description. Assume that all buyers are tech-savvy. Ensure that your listing will be available on multiple websites and multiple technology platforms. More buyers are using mobile phones and tablets to search for homes, so marketing materials should be easy to navigate from those devices, too.
#9 – Be prepared to sweeten the deal To help make the home and deal more attractive to buyers, consider offering things or terms that might expedite the sale. For example, some sellers offer to pay a portion of the closing costs, or offer to pay closing costs entirely. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feel they’re getting one. Lastly, bear in mind that some buyers are motivated by the option to close in a short amount of time. If it is possible for you to close on the home within 30 to 60 days, this may be just what the buyer is looking for, and help to set your home apart from the others.
#10 – Handle your emotions As mentioned previously, keep your emotions in check. For many (if not most) people, selling a home can be emotional. There are many emotions that can come with selling a home. Excitement, uncertainty, nervousness, and stress are just a handful of emotions that challenge home owners when selling a home. Also, it isn’t uncommon for a home owner to have seller’s remorse when selling their home. To avoid this pitfall, make certain of your decision to sell your home. It’s important to acknowledge when selling a home that it’s a business decision and that keeping emotions out of any decision is the best practice.
So, while we here at Synergy Self Storage are neither counselors, real estate agents or attorneys, we do believe that these preceding tips will be helpful, should the need arise for you to sell your home. One thing we can do for certain, however, is provide you with a convenient and secure location to store your personal belongings while you de-clutter your home and/or relocate to a new location.