The term “seller’s market” is something we have heard a lot over the past couple years, but does that mean you put forth less effort to market your home properly…NO! Favorable interest rates and an influx of millennial buyers have created demand for houses as well as home loans. Now is a GREAT time to sell! But while garnering an offer might be easier than in years past, good marketing and preparation are still extremely important.
- Prep work pays.Some sellers order a pre-inspection from a licensed home inspector ($300-$500). Others consult with their Realtor regarding potential issues and fix things before their home goes onto the market. When demand for homes is high, sellers may be tempted to list a home as-is (i.e. without fixing it up first), but this will result in lowball offers. Consult with a professional to learn where the weakest links exist in your home and remedy those problems before you go to market. Some of the issues known to curtail a full-price offer include:
- Missing/damaged roof shingles
- Peeling paint on the exterior and bold color choices inside
- Dirty windows
- A chimney in need of maintenance or one that has never been inspected or cleaned
- Mold in the attic. Even just a few inches of non-toxic mold or mold residue can alarm buyers.
- Decluttering is a big deal.This applies whether our economy is at the height of excess or the bottom of the barrel. Cluttered spaces are a big turn-off to buyers. Also, personal tastes matter, so consider repainting your rooms with neutral colors. Granted, this makes absolutely no financial sense. Things like bright paint colors and too much furniture really shouldn’t make a difference to potential buyers, but they make a difference nonetheless. Consider some of the following modifications before you present your home on the marketplace:
- Neutral paint colors – You can save on cost by purchasing 5-gallon buckets and painting every interior room the same color as long as you choose from a neutral palette.
- A home that looks “lived-in” is not necessarily a good thing. Have a friend or family member walk through your home and offer you a fresh perspective on your space. If they think an area looks cluttered or contains unnecessary furniture, have a garage sale, donate unneeded items, or move some things into a rented storage space before you schedule any showings. Keep in mind you are moving so boxing things you won’t be using regularly is suggested.
- Clean, clean, clean.Make sure your home is spotless for every showing. If you’re averse to cleaning or don’t know where to start, hire a professional cleaning crew. Some areas of deep-cleaning that you might have overlooked until now include:
- Light fixtures including ceiling fans
- Check the attic.Get up into your attic. Inspect and clean the area. Pretend to be a buyer and look for any “red flags” that need addressed. Better to do this now than during the inspection phase of your transaction. Also, inspect any other forgotten areas like storage closets and cellars.
- First Impressions Matter.Buyers have choices. Put your home’s best face forward by doing the following.
- Work with a real estate agent who commissions a professional photographer. Most buyers begin their home search on the internet and will use photos to decide whether an actual showing appointment is worth their time.
- Do an exterior audit of your home before you list and before each showing. Was there a storm last night that blew leaves and sticks around? Did Fido leave a little presents in the yard? Buyers are understandably critical as they approach the front door of the biggest investment of their life, so show them more positives than negatives.
- Keep the grass mowed or sidewalks shoveled free of snow
Consider a Home Warranty.
- Home warranties have been around for several years now and can sweeten the deal for a prospective buyer. For around $400 you can offer buyers one year of enhanced insurance against unexpected repair costs. Longer coverage periods are also available.
When you’re ready to bring your product to market, don’t go it alone. Work with a real estate agent adept at marketing who can advise you on proper presentation of your home. Also, negotiate with buyers who are financially informed. Even in a seller’s market, enlisting the help of professionals puts you in the best position possible when it’s time to price, negotiate, and close on the sale of your home. Remember that “inking” the contract isn’t an end but a beginning.