Owning two homes with two mortgages can be a financial disaster if you didn’t get there on purpose. Many times, my divorcing clients are trying to sell their home quickly because owning a home with an ex-spouse is usually complicated, costly and stressful. We have all heard about homes that sold within days of listing and others that have languished on the market. Selling fast can make a big difference in your financial security, even when you are not in the throes of a divorce.
At the last Parade of Homes, I met Susan Schleider, CHMS, a broker associate with the Traditions Realty Team at Keller Williams. She explained the high standards of a home that sells quickly. To my surprise, she says you can achieve that standard with little financial outlay. Assuming you have dealt with any structural or other big repairs, here is what you can do to get your home ready to attract serious buyers.
Drive around your neighborhood. Which homes look more appealing than yours? They may be on the market next week. Commit to making your home look more attractive than any other house. If your home is not stunning, buyers will drive right by.
We all know the basics: wash the windows and clean the gutters. To reach that higher level of stunning, Susan advises us to also get a new doormat, wash the front door, polish the hardware, buy new house numbers and remove concrete stains. These tasks are not expensive. My neighbor chemically removed the stains on his walkway. I was surprised at the big difference it made. His house sold for the asking price within days of listing.
Then go another step and put one or two urns with colorful flowers at your front door. My neighbor had those urns at his front door.
A house that sells fast is an immaculate, bright and inviting home. You may love your collections and your comfy ambiance, but buyers see clutter. When potential buyers stop to admire your adorable nick knacks, they are distracted from looking at your home. You want the buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Relatively small changes can get you there.
Everybody wants large rooms. Less furniture makes rooms look bigger. You may be reluctant to temporarily move furniture to a storage facility, but that could reap rewards when your house sells quickly. If heavy lifting isn’t your thing, hire a few college students.
“Check every light bulb and replace all burned out bulbs”, recommends Susan. “You would be shocked at how many people don’t do that.” When your house is shown, every light and lamp in the house will be on. Light and bright sells.
If you need to paint, choose a neutral with some color in it. Susan explains that you want a little color such as tan or khaki, not just white.
If bedspreads are worn, pick up some new ones at a discount store. Clean and organize your closets to make them appear larger. While you are at it, move clothing and extra “stuff” to that storage facility.
Showtime: Cheap Seats
“Staging appeals to buyers’ emotions”, explains Susan. You can get this effect for a low cost. Susan recently sold her own house. She picked up a couple of lamp shades for a combined total of $5. She found them at a local crafts store – deeply discounted because the lamps were broken.
When you get the call that someone is coming to see your house Monday afternoon, get the place ready. Do not cook fish for lunch that day. Susan explains, “Odor can turn someone off and they will not go past the entry hallway. Candles and plug-ins will not hide food or pet odors.”
Before you leave the house, turn on all the lights and lamps. Open all blinds, curtains and shutters. Empty all the trash in the kitchen and bathrooms. Set the dining room table with colorful placemats and china. Turn on soft background music. If you want to bake cookies, put them out with a small note saying “please take one.” Susan adds that some homeowners put out small bottles of water. Buyers find this charming.
Leave a copy of your utility bill, seller’s disclosure and house information in a folder in easy view of potential buyers. People always ask about the utility bills.
Remove all your jewelry and valuables prior to the showing. It is just smart.
Leave the premises. Lookers want to be able to speak openly with their agents as they walk through your house. If you are there, they will not be comfortable.
Yes, this does seem like a lot to do. But it is only temporary. The more thorough your preparations, the shorter the number of days or weeks you’ll have to keep up appearances. The quicker you can sell your house, the more money you can save.