Remember growing up and seeing the advertisements for the little “Sea Monkeys” that were usually in comic books? OK, I might be dating myself but it was pretty cool, you pay a $1.25 and get a little family that looks like a cross between mermaids and monkeys! Then the package shows up and you find out that what they are is really brine shrimp that don’t look anything like what the ad had pictured! Thankfully, I never ordered them but was tempted too but I am sure there were those who did and found out the hard way that not everything advertised is truthful in nature. So what does this have to do with real estate? Actually, a lot.
As both an agent and someone who has owned several homes I can tell you that I have run the gambit of beautiful homes that just scream BUY ME to homes that yell, RUN AWAY! Nothing turns a buyer off more than seeing pictures on the web then going to see the house with high expectations only to be met with an utter and total disaster of a home. As an agent, unless you have been in the house, you don’t know what you are walking into and it can be a bit embarrassing when you think you found your client a great home and it turns out to be a wreck. It is the nature of the business but not a side that we like very much.
If you are ready to sell your home, the quickest way to do it is to ensure it shows well and not just in pictures. I showed a home recently that had promise, the furnishings and decorations were a bit outdated and the rug was a bright cobalt blue but the clients and I felt that it might be worth a look. What we found was that the listing agent had hired someone who was quite talented with photo shop! It wasn’t quite as bad as the earlier Sea Monkey analogy but it wasn’t very far off. There was another house, same clients that was absolutely horrid and the entire kitchen floors would need replacement. This was a material fact that was left out by the agent and unethical. The agent thought that putting in the words, “home is being sold “as-is”” would negate the need to mention the fact that the kitchen floor would need replacing. My clients never made it to the second floor.
As a seller you must be up front and honest about the condition of your home especially if you don’t plan to fix something. Your agent needs to also be up front and honest with you and not be afraid to tell you that you need to fix something or take certain actions. Prior to becoming an agent I spent 30+ years in a career where you were brutally honest about things so for me this is easy to do. I have no issues telling you that your house needs to have some things done and failure to do so will potentially result in a lower price than what you are asking. If you get mad at me and decide that I am not the agent for you, I have no issues with that. My job is to ensure your success, by doing so I am successful. An agent that is brutally honest with you is one you can trust, they aren’t going to pull there punches to make you feel good, they are going to hold you accountable and make you take responsibility for your success. An agent is akin to a coach, we teach and mentor you about the real estate industry so that you are successful when you sell or buy a home.
So let’s go back to the selling part. If you are getting ready to sell your home there are some things you need to know and understand and, they are not really that complex.
1. Find the right agent. This is critical, you want an agent that is up front and honest with you but also a good fit. If the agent is a “yes” man you don’t want them as they are in it for themselves and not interested in your success.
2. Maintain a showing ready house. You never know when someone will want to see your place, make sure that it is always clean, neat and ready to be put on display at a moments notice. This is not an easy thing to do if you have an active family but very important aspect of selling your home.
3. Kitchen, Kitchen, Kitchen…did I mention Kitchen? This is one of the most important spaces in a house, if it is not neat, clean, well organized or doesn’t show well, it critically impacts the home. If you have a hodgepodge of mix and match appliances or they are old and out dated, consider upgrading so that they match, you’ll make your money back. Fix cabinets, paint if necessary but take the time to make sure this space shows well.
4. First Impression. My real estate instructor asked the class once, “What home upgrade increases the value of a home the most?” Now, you are probably thinking, “kitchen!” And this is what many of us also thought. We were wrong, the correct answer is landscaping. Curb appeal is critical when a potential buyer walks or drives up to a home. Does it look warm and inviting? Does it look like a high end house? Believe it or not, you can get up to a 100% return on your investment when you properly landscape the exterior of your home.
5. De-clutter and accent your storage. If you have a ton of stuff and the reason you are selling is you need a bigger home then you need to find someway to hide or organize so that the house doesn’t look like a jumble of stuff. A neat and organized home shows better than one with stuff all over the place and this also plays into the ability to accent storage space. If you have a stuffed closet, you should find a way to have at least half of it left empty. This emphasizes the amount of storage you have.
6. Turn on the lights. Nothing says “you don’t want to buy me” like a dark house. Turn on the lights, open the curtains or blinds and make sure that your house looks bright and cheery!
7. Don’t hide it, fix it or make sure it is known. If you have an issue that needs repair, then do so. If the cost is more than you want to pay, adjust your sale price accordingly and state it. This lets the buyer know up front that you are aware of the issue and have accounted for it in your price. DO NOT try to conceal it! You will wind up in legal hot water if it was not disclosed and it will cost you more money than you spent to hide it. Additionally, if it is something that you can’t hide, at least let the buyer know that it is there.
8. Price it correctly. A house that has been priced correctly will sell quickly. An over priced house will stay on the market and you will sell all your neighbors houses for them if your price is higher but your houses are close to identical. A good agent will help you with this and has already taken the time to figure out what the market is doing and where your range should be.
What I listed above is not the be all end all of selling your house but a good start that will help you to not be part of the group that violates the truth in advertising concept. There are tons of articles out there that talk about what you should do to successfully sell your home. If you are serious about selling, do your research and read up on good practices. An educated seller is a successful seller and it lets an agent know that you are truly serious about selling your home. You will get a better price for your home and buyer’s will appreciate the “what you see is what you get” approach that is up front and honest. As always, if you have a question or would like to discuss something please feel free to contact me.