Message to Seller: If you were a Fly on the Wall...What would you hear a potential Buyer Say? Suggestions for preparing your home for showings.
Message to Seller: If you were a Fly on the Wall...What would you hear a potential Buyer Say? Suggestions for preparing your home for showings.
As a seller, do you ever wonder what a buyer is really saying about your home? Do you want to know why the same house around the corner was chosen over your house?
Sometimes there are things you can't change and just need to make the best of. Some might include:
- Home backs to a street
- Home backs to commercial property
- The yard has a slope
- It may sit east to west and the buyer wants north to south
- Room size
However, there are some that you do have control over. Of course, it is imperative you hire a professional Real Estate Broker in your area who can properly guide you with setting the right price and who can do target marketing to get your home sold.
For now, let's focus on two areas that will assist you get you home ready for showings, Cleanliness and Updating. First and foremost, the Real Estate Professional you hire should be able to guide you best when it comes to preparing your home for showings because he or she will be knowledgeable in your area and will have the advantage of viewing your home. But, I'm including a few things you will want to consider in response to what a buyer might say. Let me stress, these are only a few things to consider. Once your Realtor previews your home, they may have additional useful and valuable suggestions.
Buyer: Wow, either they weren't expecting us or they just don't keep their home clean.
While there may be times when you allow a showing even if you know you home isn't 100% clean, you should never leave it dirty or a mess. For starters, one of the most difficult things you will do while selling your home is keeping it sparkling clean. Before you put your home in MLS or even make it available for showings, you need to make it sparkle. Most people know how to clean their home but, below are some things that are commonly overlooked. By the way, these are just a few things you'll want to do.
Baseboards, chair molding, ceiling fans, and blinds: If nothing else, take a Swiffer wipe and clean the baseboards, chair railings, ceiling fans, blinds, etc. A bucket of water mixed with cleaning solution would be even better and add a nice clean scent. Potential buyers want to know that you take good care of your home.
Showers & Bathrooms: A dirty bathroom is one of the quickest ways to scare a potential buyer away. If your bathroom is more of a "horror story", put a lot of effort into your cleaning. It is imperative that showers and toilets are clean. If you have moldy or chipping grout, you may need to have it professionally re-grouted. My little trick to keeping the shower clean is to keep a squeegee in the shower and use at the end of every shower. Another trick I've heard of is using car wax on the glass so that water beads and wipes away easily instead of leaving spots. *Disclaimer-Try this at your own risk.* When it comes to the toilet, you may want to buy a new toilet seat from your local home improvement store. It is inexpensive and much better than having a stained seat. Replace your shower curtain liner and curtain if necessary. You may want to put the pink or baby blue fuzzy toilet seat cover away for now. You'll want to put the toilet seat down before you leave each day. Check your caulk, is it yellow or pealing away? If so, fix it! If you have carpet on your bathroom floor (did I hear a big Gasp?) please make sure it is clean and looks new. By the way, please put away the personal grooming items. Last, put out a nice fresh hand towel each morning, it'll go a long way!
Clutter: Ok, we all have clutter. Some are better at managing it than others. De-clutter! De-clutter! De-clutter! And, did I say de-clutter? Yes, get rid of all that unwanted mail, put away the magazines, and don't leave bills lying around. But, it doesn't stop there. Open closets to see what you can dispose of, donate, or just pack away. Do the same for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. If you feel overwhelmed with all the clutter, purchase some plastic tubs, throw all the clutter in them, and store them in the garage or attic. You probably won't need that stuff anyway. I've actually shown homes with papers and junk just lying all about the floor. It makes a bad impression on potential buyers. It's no one's business, so put it away.
Kitchen: One of the biggest selling points of a home is the kitchen. A buyer may envision preparing meals, family dining, romantic dinners, or friends gathering. If it isn't clean, it may remind them of work. Put away all dirty dishes as well as clean dishes. Keep surfaces clear with the exception of a few decorative items. Take out your trash on a regular basis. Put food items in the outside trash or grind it in the disposal. If it is something like banana peels that tend to smell really bad, keep a plastic grocery bag in the freezer and place the peel in the freezer until garbage day. Some of you may use compost. What ever you do, the point is, don't keep smelly trash in your home. You'll also want to make sure you don't have food particles or beverages on your cabinetry or around the trash can. Remember to wipe down your light switch plates. Buyers often turn on lights as they go through the home. Clean out your refrigerator and oven. Even if it isn't included, buyers may be thinking of asking for it as part of the offer. Organize your pantry and inside cabinets so they appear large. If you have collectibles (roosters, little houses, cookie jars, etc.) you'll want to pack the majority away and only keep a few for display purposes. Buyers will remember you for your collectibles but, not always in a favorable manner.
Laundry: Please don't have piles of dirty laundry lying around in the laundry room or other areas of the house. Not only does it smell; potential buyers don't want to see your dirty laundry. Find a good hiding place such as in the dryer/washer, under the bed, etc. If all else fails, stick the baskets in your car and take it with you.
Buyer: Who are they kidding? At this price, I can get a new home with lots of upgrades!
Again, pricing is very important. You must know your competition. If new homes around the corner have all the bells and whistles, don't expect your home to sell for the same price. Your Real Estate Professional will guide you through the pricing process. In some cases, you may have to make upgrades to even get buyers to look at your home. But, you need to know what potential buyers are looking for in your price range. If you've been in your home for a while and it has appreciated, you may need to replace that old vinyl or change out the gold bathroom fixtures. Watch what is popular in the new homes in your price range. Making some of the upgrades will not only give you a competitive edge, they're expected in this market. By the way, why not do it while you're still in the house so you can enjoy the upgrades yourself? Below are a few upgrades worth mentioning.
Kitchen & Bath Flooring: Here in the North Carolina Triangle area, depending on the price range, potential buyers often want tile or hardwoods in these rooms. I would say if you're in the $250-$350 range and up in this area, potential buyers are looking for upgraded flooring. Again, you need to know what the norm is for your area.
Flooring in general: Whatever you do, please don't put a million different types of flooring in your house. This does not go over well with potential buyers. It may remind them of how much money they will need to shell out to make it consistent. A lot of times, if the color isn't their preference, they can live with it for awhile as long as it is clean and in good shape. Hardwoods and carpet still seem to be the dominate choice for community rooms as well as bedrooms. I wouldn't suggest too light or too dark on the hardwoods. Cherry Brazilian hardwoods and bamboo flooring is beautiful but, you may not recover the full value. It could assist in making your home one of the first to sell. It is usually ok to put hardwoods in bedrooms. I have more buyers looking for all wood floors throughout than I do buyers saying they only want carpet. Again, you may not recover the full value. If you put in carpet, please know that buyers are smart and they know the difference between cheap carpet and good quality. If you have to skimp, don't skimp on the padding. A good 8lb pad will give a perception of a good quality carpet and can be done at a fairly reasonable price. Good padding seems to give a little bouncy feeling and buyers do notice. Choosing a neutral color is also important.
Kitchen & Bath Counters: Again, you need to know what the norm is in the price range you intend to sell. Granite in the kitchen is still the counter top of choice in my area. It is also a great way to update your outdated cabinets. It isn't cheap but, will go a long way in selling your home. I've noticed many new homes putting granite in the bathrooms instead of cultured marble. It looks beautiful and makes a rich impression. While we're in the kitchen, another upgrade would be knobs and light fixtures. While gold fixtures may have been popular 10-12 years ago, it isn't so anymore. Got silver? In certain price points, silver too is outdated. Check out the local competition. New homes in our area are putting in bronze or oil rubbed fixtures. Kitchen knobs can add up but, still may be a worthwhile investment. Before you change all the door knobs, light fixtures, etc. throughout your home, check with your Realtor to be certain it is a good investment.
Bathroom Fixtures: Just as in the kitchen, gold and silver fixtures are no longer desirable in our area. The master bathroom is usually the 2nd most important room a potential buyer considers. If you've been in your home 8-10 years or more and have the same fixtures, it may be time for an upgrade. Look at new homes, go to the local home improvement store, or check out HGTV. Find out what you can do to make your bathroom appealing to potential buyers. Your Realtor can assist you in determining if making these upgrades is a good investment for your neighborhood and area.
Appliances: Often times you'll see a home listing exclaiming SS Appliances. Buyers love Stainless Steel Appliances! And yes, they are attractive. Before you rush out to upgrade your appliances, think about what value this may bring. Are there other things in your home that would be a better investment in terms of upgrades? If you want SS appliances and will be in your home for another year or two, go for it. However, if you're just getting them to help sell your home, you need to find out if they will really add that much value or help you sell your home that much faster. In a lot of cases, I think upgraded floors or counters would be a better investment. Take a realistic look at your budget and talk with your Realtor about this.
Decorating: How about that lovely wallpaper? Even homeowners get tired of their wallpaper. Most of the time we don't change it because we paid so much for it in the first place or because of the cost and trouble to take it down. I've heard that wallpaper may be making a comeback. It hasn't yet but, if it does, it won't be the wallpaper from the 80's. Yes, you guessed it; you may need to take it down before selling your home. Just as you dread the thought of removing the wallpaper or the cost of having it moved, so does the potential buyer. With so many homes available, unless they just absolutely love your home or your home's location, they may move on to the "next" home instead of requesting a decorating allowance. It is just too much trouble. How about the "red" room? Many of us fell in love with the color red. It really made our furniture "POP"! There may be buyers out there who love it just as much as you do. But, there may be buyers who only see hours of painting to cover it up. Know what the decorating trend is and try to freshen your home with current neutral colors as much as your budget will allow. Painting can be a low cost effective solution. However, everything can "not" be painted. Please do not try to paint something just to cover a problem. Don't paint your bathroom or kitchen tiles just to cover those pretty fruit decorations from the 90's. A good tile company can probably replace them with something more current and re-grout your tile for a fair price. If you paint your kitchen cabinets, make sure they will look good painted or you'll have a huge mess and repairs to deal with. May I suggest you only paint things that were meant to be painted? Floor to Ceiling mirror are not the going trend. How do you remove those anyhow?? You may want to investigate further if you have mirrors glues to your walls. By the way, nude or suggestive artwork may alienate the potential buyer. I suggest packing it away before you show your home. Stage your home with neutral colors and again, de-clutter. Last, find someone you trust and ask their true opinion of your decorating choices. I've seen some crazy and creative decorating that may be good for the current homeowner but, may be considered quite unbelievable to potential buyers.
In Summary, there are some things you must do to sell your home and others that are optional. Many depend on your area and price point. It is so important you hire a Professional Real Estate Broker to assist you with your decision. This may be the first area they save you money. The above suggestions are just that, suggestions. There are no guarantees. I'm providing this information to assist sellers in selling their homes. As with everything, you have to do your research then the decision is ultimately up to you. I know this can be a challenging time to sell homes. Hopefully you'll find this information helpful and informative. Best of Luck to all the Home Sellers!
Thank you for reading this post. For more information on buying or selling a home, please contact Carla Freund, Broker, Fonville Morisey Realty/ A Long and Foster Company, Licensed Realtors® in North Carolina at 919-602-8489 to list your property for sale or to purchase a property in Cary, Raleigh, Morrisville, Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Chapel Hill, Johnston County, and the surrounding areas.
Now accepting referrals. **Not meant as a solicitation to individuals already working with a Professional Real Estate Agent.**
About the Author: Carla Freund is a North Carolina Realtor® with Fonville Morisey Realty, who specializes in buyer and seller real estate services in the Research Triangle. This includes but is not limited to residential purchase & sales, short sales, first time home buying, buying & selling of luxury homes, new construction, specialty communities, out of area referrals and corporate relocation. She represents clients within the cities of Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Morrisville and the surrounding Triangle areas. She is current with transactions in these areas, and very knowledgeable with the local schools and area services. Visit her active rain site at http://activerain.com/carlafreund.
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