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What should you know before you talk to your agent about listing your home?

Let’s face it, curb appeal can turn off a buyer before they even step into your home. It is important to remember that a buyer’s emotions play a large part in how they feel about buying a home. As you list your property for sale and prepare to buy a new one, think about your reactions as you look at new homes. If the front of the home is not pleasing to the eye, would you bother to look at the inside? The front of the house is a direct reflection on the care of the home, and if the outside is not presented as equally as it looks on the inside, a buyer will walk away before even entering the home.

Have a good friend join you in front of your home.  You see your house every day, so your perspective is different than those that don’t. Having a friend talk to you about what they see, how they feel when they drive up, and their feelings about the neighborhood could help you understand how your house looks from an outside point of view. Utilizing an outside perspective will tell you what might be worth changing to get your house sold faster. For instance, look at the front door.  Your front door is the welcome your guest will get. Is it in need of a fresh coat of paint, or a warmer, inviting color? Does the yard need mowing or the trees need trimming? New home buyers are going to instantly be calculating in their mind the amount of work that needs to be done to get the house up to their standards, so the less they can put on their list, the better.

It would also be extremely helpful if you walk through a few model homes to see how the furniture is arranged in regards to the room layout. Notice the minimal items that are implemented in decorating shelves and counters.  Taking pictures will also help in later referencing ideas that were influenced from the model homes. Then go home and take pictures of all of your rooms and closets; save these pictures for comparison later, you will want to look at old pictures and the new ones next to each other after you have packed up some of your things.  You will be surprised at the difference it makes.  You will need to start packing in order to move anyways, so let’s get started now!  Pack most of your knick knacks and all of your family pictures, as buyers like a clean slate and like to feel like the home could be theirs. By leaving too many personal pictures up, you are inviting the buyer into your home, not ‘their’ home. Buyers need to see the home as ready for them to move in so they can imagine ownership of their new purchase.    

Next, take a look at the linen cabinet.  When you open the door is everything stuffed in or falling out?  If so, pack up everything that you can, just leave the bare necessities.  Approach closets the same way.  You want the buyers to think they will have plenty of room for all of their things. Pack up as much as you can, leaving only the clothes and shoes you will absolutely need in the next three months.  Using matching hangers is an easy fix to making the closet look clean and organized also.   When cleaning the pantry, packing up holiday supplies and any small appliance you won’t use for the next few months will free up extra space so that the buyer can see how spacious the pantry can be.

Getting the kids involved is a great way for the whole family to get prepared for the transition to a new home. As they pack up the extra stuff you can assure them that it will be at your new home waiting for them, and giving them the option to choose what toys and books are staying could help ease their mind about the big change. The excitement that awaits them when they see all of their old toys months later will ignite a new appreciation for their toys all over again. Less clutter in the bedrooms will help showcase the size that the buyer has to work with.

Shelves are an important but commonly overlooked aspect of the home. You now know, by looking at the model home shelves that they should be sparse. It makes it easier for the buyers’ attention to be focused on more important things about the house, rather than being distracted by their thoughts of what items are on shelves. If you do not wish to bring in a home stager, have a friend come over and spend the afternoon removing and arranging things on shelves, bookcases and the top of kitchen cabinets. Less is certainly more in this case.

As briefly mentioned earlier, now go through each room and closet and take pictures. Lay them next to the old pictures. This is where you can see the dramatic difference in how your home is represented. Just by comparing the pictures, you might even discover a few more things to remove from each room. Removing extra furniture that is not used often could be beneficial in increasing the appearance of the size of a room also. Stack the boxes and furniture neatly against the wall inside the garage, or if possible even rent a storage unit for the duration that your home will be on the market.

Once these steps are done it is time to look at walls and baseboards. Do they just need to be wiped down, do they need a touch up or is it time to freshen up and paint all the walls? If you enjoy bright colors on your walls ask your REALTOR® if it might be too bright for buyers or if you should paint them a more neutral color. If you have lived in your home for over ten years you might want to replace a few outdated light fixtures as well to make the rooms visually fresh and brighter.

Following these steps will ensure that your home will sell faster and for a better price. You don’t want to leave money on the table. While your house is on the market, it is important to keep up the appearance so that you are never caught off guard if there is a showing with minimal notice.

Now you are ready to sell your home!

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Dana J. Grimley

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