Home Selling Tips

Don't get emotional

When conversing with real estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying a property, they will refer to your purchase as a "home”. On the other hand, if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a "house”. There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when you’re selling real estate you need to remove your emotion and treat it like a business transaction. You need to think of your house as a marketable commodity or just one item in a large inventory that buyers and REALTORS® are considering.

All home buyers create a set of criteria that they would like, and they prioritize those criteria into “must have” and “would like to have” items. And, with resale homes, buyers will inevitably begin to make compromises on those criteria as they go through the buying process. Don’t assume a potential buyer’s criteria are the same as yours. You will never appeal to all buyers, no house does, but you need to ensure that you appeal strongly to those buyers whose criteria are matching up well. Leave the emotions out, but definitely ensure that your homes best attributes are well presented.

De-Personalize… or not.

One of the most common questions we get from home sellers is whether or not they need to de-personalize their home prior to it going on the market. The correct answer is it depends. Some people have homes that are very stark and impersonal while others live in “family shrines” for lack of a better term. So, the answer really depends on what your house currently looks like. A few family photos can give your house a necessary “home” ambience, whereas walls and walls of family portraits and pictures will make a potential buyer lose focus on your properties true attributes. When buyers view numerous houses in a day, they rely largely on memory to recall what they liked, or disliked, about each property. It’s better to be remembered as the house with the “nice kitchen” or “great backyard” than it is to be remembered as the house “with all those pictures”. A general rule of thumb here is that less is better than more, but none may also be counterproductive.

Clutter… get rid of it!

Obviously this also depends on how your house currently looks. Generally, we find that the people most concerned about clutter, have none, and those that need to work in this area don’t really see it. Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer. Let a friend help point out areas of clutter, as long as you can accept their views without getting defensive. Also, ask your rhino REALTOR® what they think. It is acceptable to box up and neatly put your “clutter” in either an unfinished storage area of the house, or in the garage.

The kitchen is a good place to start removing clutter, because it is a common area where clutter accumulates. First, get everything off the counters. Then, place back a few attractive kitchen items making sure not to give the counters a “full” look. This is how your counters should look throughout the entire selling process. You may need to keep some items that normally sit on your counter in a cupboard and only bring it out when needed. Put the toaster in a cabinet and take it out when needed. If your kitchen is a bit short on cupboard space and/or you have too much “stuff” filling your cupboards, then you should probably consider boxing up some infrequently used items. Same idea goes for drawers and pantry space. You will be very surprised what 2 or 3 hours of work and a few boxes will do to the look and feel of your kitchen. You can pretty much apply the same course of action to bathrooms. And don’t forget that continued cleanliness is imperative for your kitchen and bathrooms if you want them to present well.

Closets are great for accumulating clutter as well, even though you may not think of it as clutter. We are talking about extra clothes, shoes, hats, mitts etc. - things you rarely wear but cannot bear to be without. Make do without these items during the selling process by putting them in a storage box, it’s these items that make your closets look "crammed full” and smaller than they actually are. Potential buyers will look inside your closets and this is a fast and easy way to improve the look of this space.

Many people have too much furniture in certain rooms – not too much for your own personal living needs – but “over crowded” for viewing purposes. Remember, furniture shrinks rooms and generally speaking that’s not good and counterproductive to presenting a room properly. If this is a real problem in your home, it may be necessary to rent a small storage unit to temporarily place some items.

Bedrooms are also prone to their own version of clutter, but it’s usually “floor” clutter and it’s commonly dirty laundry, toys, stuffed animals, pet beds etc. This also has the effect of visually reducing the size of the room and possibly creating unwanted odors. Bedroom sizes are often high priority criteria to many buyers, don’t sell yourself short. And for goodness sake, keep your beds made. They don’t have to be made military grade, but make the effort to ensure they are all presentable. If necessary, it never hurts to buy new linens or bedspreads plus they'll be yours to keep. New crisp linens or a comforter with matching pillows will liven up any bedroom. Tone down colors to soft neutrals that appeal to everyone.

Generally speaking clutter is simply unattractive and certainly works against you when trying to impress potential buyers. De-cluttering is a fast, easy and economical way to improve the salability of your home.

Clean like you’ve never cleaned before, seriously!

So we all know that everybody has their own opinion, or preference, on home cleanliness and that’s okay for normal everyday living. There is however, only one correct way to present a house for sale when it comes to cleanliness, spotless! Without question, this is the number one bane of resale home buyers - dirty houses. There are two big problems with a filthy house, first, nobody is interested in buying your grime and second it leaves a larger impression of how you care for things, both of which send buyers running.

Clean everything, carpets, walls, windows, bathrooms, the kitchen and more. An unkempt property overwhelms buyers with a feeling of having to clean/work in order to move in; don't give a potential buyer an easy reason to disregard your property. Dust and wash windows, mirrors, and surfaces so they sparkle. Clean the oven and all appliances. Organize your yard, basement and garage. Ask family or friends to assess your efforts, especially sensitive issues such as pet odor or dander. If you can afford it, hire professional cleaners to do the initial/tough clean and then maintain that level of cleanliness until your house is sold.

Brighten rooms when possible.

Replace any burnt out light bulbs, or if you use low wattage bulbs for energy saving purposes, you should consider changing them out while your home is for sale. Since you’ve gone through so much effort to clean the place, you might as well let them see it! Remove heavy drapes that block out light. Blinds add value but pull them up three quarters of the way to allow the sun to shine in. And remember to keep your windows clean, inside and outside. Depending on the circumstances, it may even be appropriate to consider a quick paint overcoat to lighten up a room. Paint is an inexpensive do it yourself fix.

Improve your curb appeal.

Does your home make a great first impression? A home with great curb appeal will attract potential buyers. Mow your lawn, weed the yard, trim your shrubs, and pressure wash the driveway, sidewalks, decks and front porch area. Here also a quick front door paint overcoat or back deck staining will be worth the time and small cost. Look at your landscaping, is it at least average compared to the houses surrounding yours? If not, perhaps spend a bit of money on some flowers and/or shrubbery and get your hands dirty. Keep children’s toys and bikes organized and in the backyard or garage. Remove any and all seasonal decorations in a timely manner.

If you live in an older neighborhood and you haven’t kept up with proper exterior maintenance, you may need to deal with broken items such as windows, screens, eaves troughs and/or downspouts. And don’t forget to repair any wobbly stair rails, it’s not a good first impression you want to give to a potential buyer when they’re walking up to your front door.

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