Home sweet home. Your palace. Your castle. This is where you live and you love it, but now it’s time to sell your home. Once the decision is made, your home becomes public domain – agents, buyers, appraisers, inspectors, and handymen descend on your home and make it ready to be owned by someone else. For some, this is a simple business transaction, but for most families, this can be a terribly emotional experience. The key to it all? Think like a buyer and see your home through their eyes.
There are tons of staging tips out there and all of them offer sound advice on the basics; clean, declutter, and stage. But what can you do to really set yourself apart in what has (thankfully) become a competitive market? Walk outside your front door and out to the street. Pretend you just got out of your car and walk towards the home. Instead of thinking, “I love this house,” think like a potential buyer. See the issues they’re going to have before they ever show up at your front door. Make them love the house the way you do…but remember they’re going to be your harshest critic. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but viewing your house from the buyer’s perspective will help give you an edge over the other houses on the market and help you sell your home.
Practical Tips from Home Buyers
Dirt and dust. You keep a clean house. You try your best to pick up everything, but let’s be honest here – we all have a certain amount of dirt and dust in our home. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with! When a buyer walks in and sees dirt and dust in your home, they don’t see it the same way you do. They see it and multiply it. If you didn’t bother to clean that crack in between the stove and the counter – what else might be laying down there (crumbs dropped down this space provide a perfect meal for rodents and a host of creepy crawlies)? Hard water stains in your toilets means you didn’t clean them often enough – so what dangers lurk in the drains? Dirty kitchen appliances – have they been serviced…do they function properly? The buyer has choices in the housing market and by giving them any room to let their thoughts wander to negative questions hurts you…even if the buyer’s thoughts are completely off base. Perception rules the day when you sell your home.
Heating and cooling. Almost every repair amendment I have seen in the past year has included a mention of cleaning the A/C unit and changing all filters. Inspectors are not licensed A/C repairman so if they see a speck of dust, they’re going to mention it in their report and just about every buyer’s agent will then ask for it to be cleaned and serviced by a licensed technician, as well as replacing the filters. Head this one off at the pass and have your filters changed and your unit serviced regularly. Other helpful tip? Clean the vents in every room. If there’s dust on them, buyers will think you haven’t been keeping up with maintenance and will probably go further and wonder how dirty the ductwork is.
Trees. This one is simple and I see it time and time again on inspection reports. Cut the branches of your trees – particularly those that are too close to the roofing or structure. Branches can cause a lot of damage to your home on windy days. They are also used by wood destroying insects like carpenter ants to enter your home. Trim them before anyone notices how close they are to the house and you’ll avoid another common buyer complaint.
Curb appeal. People typically think of curb appeal as trimming the bushes and planting some new flowers. While this is definitely appealing, when seeing your house through the buyer’s eyes, you need to think about the walk up to your house, particularly your front porch and door area. When an agent is showing your house, this is the one place where buyers are typically forced to stand and wait a few moments while the agent fiddles with the lockbox and gets the front door open. These days, most people enter their own homes through their garage, so the front door area is often neglected. Make sure your lock works smoothly (tricky locks can be a frustration to the agent, but are an immediate red flag to a buyer). Clean up the area (sweep, remove cobwebs and hornet nests). Look at your door – does it need a new coat of paint or refinishing? Even just adding a nice new door handle, house numbers, or doorbell can help prevent the buyer’s minds from wandering into the “if they didn’t take care of this, what else didn’t they take care of” territory.
The idea is to present your home in an ideal light. Don’t give the buyers a chance to think anything negative. Of course, if there are actual problems with the home, you must disclose them (so don’t perform “cover up” work). By being proactive and trying to see things the buyer will see, you can help prevent some of the issues you might run up against during contract negotiations. Every problem in a buyer’s mind means less money for you and you certainly don’t want that to happen when you sell your home.
image courtesy of luisar