The following is a guest post from Franz Diessner & Joe Overland with Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, WA.
Bringing your home to the market presents a variety of questions, challenges and doubts for every seller. When it’s time to select your real estate broker, pay careful attention to the suggestions they provide on how to best showcase your home. An experienced listing broker will provide valuable insight on buyer expectations and guide you on how to position your home against competing properties.
Although many real estate markets across the country are experiencing strong, even robust buyer demand, sellers can’t take that for granted. Here are some expert tips to make your home stand out against competitors:
Curb Appeal – Take a drive through the neighborhood. Does your home blend in? If so, how can you make it stand out? It could be simple fixes like new porch lights, power washing the sidewalks and driveway, fertilizing your lawn, and planting seasonal flowers. A yard in bloom always sells best. A yard in gloom means doom. Take care of those pesky weeds, blackberry bushes, or overgrown shrubs. Sometimes bigger projects are needed. When was the last time you painted the house? You might be overdue.
Interior Condition – What’s that smell? I’m not sure, but it needs to go away! Sometimes it’s in the carpet. Sometimes it’s in the paint. Wherever it is, find it and fix it. Before you put your home on the market, make sure it gets a thorough cleaning. Does your home feel dated? I keep hearing brass is back! That doesn’t mean the dining room light fixture you installed in 1982 is relevant now. It’s time for a refresh! There’s no need to spend gobs of cash, but a home that feels current will always fetch a higher price. Simple fixes can help you overcome buyer’s negative feedback before they ever walk through the door. Sometimes a homeowner’s idea of “style” doesn’t resonate with buyers. Positioning your home for mass market appeal using neutral paint, fixtures and furnishings will help the offers start rolling in.
Staging – Less is more. Take down the family photos. Thin out the bookcases, knick-knacks, lace doilies, etc. You know who you are! It’s time to admit it, then let your real estate broker help you. This is the hardest step in the process for mort sellers and typically where brokers get the most push-back. Coming to the realization that you’re actually moving can be difficult, especially when you’re leaving behind so many wonderful memories. Just remember, you’re not selling the memories, just the house. The best approach is to pack like you’re ready to move. You’re going to have to do it eventually. If you’re going to live in the home while it’s on the market, it may be a good idea to accessorize with some staging items to help complete your furnishings. If the home is vacant, talk with your broker about having the home professionally staged. Buyers have a hard time visualizing furniture in an empty space. Will it fit? Give them something to help them envision the space.
Professional Photography – If your real estate broker doesn’t do it… find a different broker! Over 90% of buyers start their search online. The photos they see are your home’s first impression and photos of vacant rooms are downright boring. Buyer’s click past them without a second look. Give them something to focus on and they’ll linger to imagine living in that space. This is a no-brainer.
Deferred Maintenance – Remember that honey-do list? Did you ever get any of those things done? It’s time to start. Buyers don’t need a home to be perfectly remodeled, but they do want to know a home has been well maintained. Before you list, make sure to take care of the projects you’ve been procrastinating on. From the roof to the basement, they’re hidden all over. Walk through your home with your real estate broker and decide which ones should be done before the For Sale sign goes up. Things like cleaning the roof & gutters, furnace maintenance, paint touch-ups, checking the crawl space & attic, and fixing dripping faucets will help make inspections go more smoothly.
Identify Your Target Buyer – Your real estate broker can develop a buyer profile to determine who the likely buyers are in your area. Use the buyer profile to assist in deciding which projects to focus on before listing your home for sale.
Regardless of location or home value, these universal tips will help your home stand out against the competition. It takes a lot of work to get your home ready for the market. Sometimes sellers find it so daunting that the tasks become overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Just remember that all the time and energy you put into the market preparation will often result in a far better selling experience at the negotiation table.
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