Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seller Wake-Up Call

The Hard Truths Every Home Seller Must Know

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

The Hard Truth Every Home Seller Must Know
First, please excuse my directness (and any sarcasm). These are not personal attacks, just the most straightforward advice to home sellers.

Dear homeowner, if you want to sell your house, know these things:

  • You have too much stuff. Get rid of it. It's easier to sell an empty house than one with too much stuff.
  • If you are moving, there is no need to leave all the family pictures up.  If you do, you are not serious about moving.
  • Your house smells like you (and your pets) and you can't smell it because it's you. Clean it. I mean professionally clean it. Including the carpet and the windows. Open the windows and air it out. Stop it with the perfume and air sprays.  If you are masking an odor that is worse. Clean again. Maybe paint too. Don't cook pungent foods in your house while your home is on the market.
  • Saving a couple hundred bucks on upfront repairs is likely to cost a couple thousand in sale price. If it's broken, fix it.
  • Staging doesn't get you more money for your house, it prevents buyers from passing it over. More buyers looking may translate to a quicker sale which would result in more money but you can't ask more because you staged it.
  • You are emotional about your house. Finances are emotional. Your house is likely the biggest financial transaction of your life. Of course you love your home more than the neighbor's (identical) house so you think it's worth more. Make a plan in advance so that your decisions are not strictly emotional. 
  • Buyers want showings on their time, not yours.  Plan to be very busy away from your house while your home is on the market.  Don't plan to have people over while your home is on the market you are just asking for extra cleaning and your are bound to get a showing request while they are there.  If you don't have real things to do, here is a list of suggestions: Go drive around neighborhoods you would like to move into. Hang out at a dog park or coffee shop. Go to the movies or bring dinner to a friend. Better yet, volunteer somewhere. Go to the gym. Get a temporary second job. Bring your clothes to the laundromat and read a book and wait. Just get out and stay away.  Don't park down the street and stalk your potential buyers. That makes them feel uncomfortable and rushed.
  • Lock up your valuables.  Every criminal had a first. Don't tempt them. 
  • The feedback you receive from showings is telling you something. Are you listening?
  • Buyers might use your bathroom. Leave out the soap and towel and hope they use those too.
  • Don't hide material defects. Chances are your buyer will have an inspection and the inspector will find them. If the inspector doesn't find them but the buyer does after they move in, you may have a legal problem.
  • Leave the curtains open unless you are home... or you plan to rush home and open them for EVERY showing.  Remember, there are photos of your house online. People can see inside without even driving by.
  • Was there work done on the house without a permit? Get the work inspected.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature at ALL times. Buyer's need to be comfortable there. 
  • Lighting. Install light bulbs that come on quickly. Bulbs that take time to warm up are gloomy and annoying. Yes, buyers understand some energy efficient bulbs do that but do they want to stand around waiting for the bulb to warm up so they can see a bathroom?  
  • Is there someone that can watch your dog/cat while your home is on the market?  That barking during the showing is distracting. That sign on the the door "don't let the cat out" may mean the door never gets opened.
  • Litter boxes should never be in kitchens or (gasp) your bedroom closet.
  • The peeling caulk and the yellow grout in your kitchen and bathroom make people grossed out. See above about hiring a cleaning person and a handyman. 
  • All personal hygiene products need to be removed from "display" in your shower (and anywhere else).
OK real estate pros... what did I miss?

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