By Lori K. Tate
Whether you have a leaky faucet or a dining room with orange walls that needs to be painted real estate beige, here are 10 smart resale suggestions that can put your house under contract quicker!
- Look at your house from a buyer’s point of view. Forget about how cute your 1-year-old looked when she learned to crawl on the living room floor and start thinking about your home as a commodity. This will help you to assess the condition of your home more objectively. Once you see your house from a potential buyer’s perspective, you can make the changes needed to allow your house to stand out.
- Have a home inspection. Marti Hampton, broker and co-owner of Remax One Realty in Raleigh, NC, highly recommends a home inspection if your home is older than 10 years old. “Why not spend 300 or 400 bucks to clearly define what’s wrong or what’s right?” she asks. “You’ll avoid surprises when the buyer conducts their inspection of your home.” With this done, you can be proactive and fix all of the house’s problems beforeit goes on the market, saving buyers time and making their decision to buy your house even easier!
- Don’t be the worst house on the block! If the standard in your neighborhood is to have granite countertops and state-of-the-art appliances, then your house should include those features. “If you have a home that is second-rate for the neighborhood you live in and you bring it up to the neighborhood norm, you’re going to get a good return on your investment when it is time to sell. There is so much inventory on the market today, your house will not get a serious consideration if it’s substandard,” says Molony.
- De-personalized and de-clutter your home’s décor. Let potential buyers imagine their own possessions and décor choices more easily in the home. This means removing clutter such as toys, exercise equipment, family pictures and mementos. It is hard for a potential buyer to notice the beautiful mantel if it is covered with distracting personal photos. Light and airy is inviting, so you should repaint any colored rooms in neutral beiges or whites. Enlist the help of a staging professional or get advice from your real estate agent if you have trouble making these choices.
- Make a good first impression at floor-level. Install fresh carpet or have your carpet professionally cleaned. If you have hardwoods, refinish them if necessary. This will prevent buyers from making a lower priced offer on your home because they feel the floors aren’t move-in ready. Conrad Kuiken, owner of House Hunter Realty in San Diego County and co-author of the “Fast Action Home Sales System”, suggests touching up the trim around windows and baseboards. “It’s like wearing a new tie if you have an older shirt.”
- Choose an experienced ‘online’ agent. Choose an agent that will market your home online to reach more buyers 24/7. “Having the correct online exposure is like having a billboard on the interstate showing your house is for sale,” says Hampton.
- Avoid being involved in the showing process. Make buyers feel comfortable in your house and allow them to imagine themselves owning it. When your home is being shown to a potential buyer you should not be at home so that they can feel comfortable to look around the house in detail. “I was showing a property recently and the owner and his wife were basically showing my clients around like they were the ushers in a museum,” explains Kuiken. “That’s a big turnoff for most buyers.”
- Offer a home warranty as an incentive to buyers. A home warranty is a service contract that covers such things as the air conditioner, furnace, plumbing and appliances. By offering a warranty, you will give potential buyers piece of mind during one of the most important decisions they will make. Home warranties are quite affordable, with annual premiums costing $300 to $600, depending on what is covered.
- Make sure your home sparkles inside and out! Show potential buyers what your home looks like at its best! “Sometimes just power washing your house and your driveway can make all the difference,” says Kuiken. “Try to get it as light and bright looking as possible. Just washing the windows is a huge thing for some people.”
- Keep your landscaping trimmed or replace it if it’s out of date. If the outside of your home looks like it hasn’t been well-cared for then buyers will assume that the inside hasn’t been either. One thing you can do to improve your curb appeal is to keep the lawn mowed and get rid of those overgrowing shrubs. “If you’ve got large, overgrowing shrubs that look kind of shotty and unkept, that can affect some of that curb psychological impact,” says Molony. You want potential buyers to drive up to your home and think “this is a place I could live in!”