Adding Extra Sparkles…
Buyers are attracted by the appearance of your home and, when they inspect the property they are influenced by the atmosphere. The right appearance outside, followed by the right mood inside, gives you the best chance to get the highest price.
You rarely need to spend thousands of dollars in renovations or repairs to make your home attractive. All you have to do is pay attention to some points, all of which can make a big difference to your place.
We are attracted to homes the same way we are attracted to people. The first thing we notice is the outside. If it is clean and neat and friendly, we feel good and we want to know more. If it is scruffy or dirty, our minds seem to shut down, we are ‘turned off’ and we lose interest, not caring if we ever see that home again.
Buyers often say they “just want to look from the outside”, they want to see if they are ‘attracted’ by the appearance. This is how ‘open inspections’ lose buyers. Some homes may not look very attractive from the outside, but inside they have a real atmosphere to them (the same applies to people). If the home is open for inspection and the buyers don’t like the appearance, they drive off, never to return.
The Outside Appearance…
First impressions create permanent opinions – so create a positive mood with a positive first presentation. Begin by sweeping the front street. Remove all rubbish from the gutters. Clear the letterbox of junk-mail. If you have a lawn, make sure it is not bone-dry. Green grass is appealing, and a sprinkler does wonders to most lawns. Water always creates a fresh and clean appearance.
If you have a gate make sure it doesn’t squeak. If your front fence needs repair, it might be better to demolish it. If the buyers see a potential expense, they either won’t buy or they will expect a reduction in your price.
Hose the paths and the outside of your home to remove dust and cobwebs (close your windows first). And clean the windows so that they sparkle; few things are as ugly as dirty windows.
Make sure there is no paint-flaking. You may not have to re-paint, but at least scrape off any loose paint pieces. And clean the gutters of leaves. Flowers do wonders for the front of a home; and the brighter the better. They create a homely look. You can get flowers for any season. Daffodils, pansies, petunias – ask your local nursery for advice.
Buy flowers in pots if you don’t have much lawn, and make sure they are displayed in two places: near the street and near your front door.
At the front door, have a thick door-mat with ‘welcome’ on it. It sounds corny, but it feels good. It is friendly, it feels like home.
Make sure that the screen door is working. Have a door-knocker or a bell with pleasant chimes. If you have a door bell make sure it works.
You want buyers to fall in love with your home, so give your home that loved look.
Inside, your home should feel like a home. It has to be warm and appealing. One agent described it by saying, “A home should look and feel ‘happily lived-in’”.
Make the atmosphere natural and relaxed, even if it means changing (or improving) your living habits. Buyers are aware of gimmicks such as a coffee pot brewing, a cake in the oven or classical music playing softly in the background. False attempts to add appeal often have the reverse affect.
Genuine appeal is what wins the buyers. A radio or a TV – never too loud—is a natural part of home life.
Well-made beds with warm quilts, lots of pillows and the ultimate mood enhancer – the teddy bear, really make a home feel like home. Home truly is ‘where the heart is’ and anything which increases the emotional feeling of comfort is something we all love.
Nothing turns people off more than bad smells, so be sure your home is fresh. You can buy plug-in fragrances which remove bad odours. If you have pets, be careful because their smell, while familiar to you, can be unpleasant to others. Take the pet bowls outside. A dog which jumps up can be irritating and distracting (but not as bad as a savage dog which bites the buyers). The rule is remove your dog. Take it for a walk.
Make sure the home is bright and airy by opening the curtains. Fresh air, if practical, is always best.
If you have a fireplace and it is winter, an open log fire can be a big selling feature. At the very least, make sure your home is warm in winter and cool in summer.
Try to remove clutter so your home does not look smaller than it is. The time for a clean-up or a ‘garage sale’ is before you sell, not afterwards.
To make your home look its best, ‘attention to detail’ is crucial.
When you live in a home, you overlook it’s little faults. It is now time to have a fresh look.
Most homes have some natural untidiness – a book beside the bed, a newspaper in a kitchen or slippers on a floor – this is acceptable and expected. What is not acceptable is dirt.
Make sure the bathrooms are clean to the point of sparkling. Fresh fluffy towels add a warm feeling as does the sound of a washing machine or the sight of clothes blowing in the breeze on the outside hoist. Atmosphere is everything.
The bathrooms and kitchen are especially important to a woman, who is usually the major decision maker.
If there is any unfinished work in your home – such as skirting boards which have been removed – fix these things. If there are any obvious minor repairs – such as door handles missing or broken hooks – fix these too. Repair all irritating things which are likely to catch the eyes of buyers.
Be very careful if you do any painting. Painting one dull room can suddenly make other unpainted rooms look dull too. Before you know it you have a major painting job on your hands; this could lead to replacing the carpets, even the tiles in the bathroom. Suddenly you are involved in a very expensive renovation.
The cleanliness and the mood are most important but all expense needs careful consideration.
Will you get your expenses back? Ask your agent’s opinion.
The best advice is to do all you can to make your home feel like a home. Make it sparkle without making it too immaculate or clinical.
Some sellers create a show-home. In doing so, they create a cold sterile effect.
Homes with warmth are the most attractive and appealing.
During the Inspection…
When an agent is showing your home it is best if you (and your dog) are not home. Too many people in a home make it look small (this happens at open inspections if hoards of ‘lookers’ are squeezing past each other).
If you must stay home, do not remain in the most appealing room. Buyers will be conscious of their intrusion into your life; they rarely feel relaxed when you are in the same room. Genuine buyers take their time to inspect a home so make sure they have this time.
If you trust the agent, let the agent stay with the buyers.
And don’t expect the agent to point out all the obvious features. Some of the best salespeople are silent when buyers are inspecting a home. The time for most questions is after the inspection or if they require a second or third inspection.
The Value of Minor Improvements…
If you spend enough money you can always make it easier to find a buyer, but this makes no sense if the cost of the improvements are too high. It would be better to reduce the asking price.
Most major improvements are personal and do not add the value you expect. An example is a swimming pool. If you pay $50,000 for a pool, the pool salesperson may tell you this increases the value of your home. But if the buyers don’t want a pool you will not get back what you paid.
Most home improvements often return only half their cost upon sale.
You may have to wait years to find a buyer with the same personal taste as you.
If your home needs major renovation, it may be better to avoid the expense of renovation and have a lower asking price. Many buyers want to renovate a home to suit their own taste.
Minor improvements can give you a great return on your selling price, but major improvements are often a big mistake. Either spend a little bit of money to sell your home or spend a lot of money and don’t sell.
Focus on Features…
Your home’s features are its biggest selling point, the price is secondary. Sure, if there are two identical properties, then the price is important. But most homes are unique and each has a special ‘feel’ which makes it more or less attractive than another home. Even an apartment in a building of look-alikes can sell for a higher price if the owners give it that special touch.
Therefore it is so important to focus on the features of your home. What are the best features of your home? Other than price, why should someone buy it? Make a list of these features and make sure buyers are told about them.
Selling a home can be cruel. You may hear that your home is too small or too big or too old or too new or that it needs too much work. You will hear negative features you never considered, so it is vital that you fight these negatives with a list of positives.
When people focus too much on the price of a home they tend to forget its features. And this means you have to reduce the price or the buyers will choose a similar home at a cheaper price.
Almost all buyers make their decision based on the features of the home. It could be something as simple as a tree on the front lawn. Buyers buy homes they love first, and homes they can afford second. Features are more important than price. Focus on features.
Your Competition in the Market…
Any market involves competition and your competition comes from two places: the other homes for sale and the other agents. The presentation of your home and the skill of the agent can mean thousands of dollars to you in the real estate market.
Your agent has to persuade buyers to inspect your home and to buy it in preference to other homes. Buyers have a choice – your home or someone else’s. Agents have a choice – sell your home or sell someone else’s.
Agents can ‘switch’ buyers from one home to another fairly easily by saying something positive or negative about either home. This is just competition in the market. It is the same as Honda ‘switching’ a buyer from Holden by stating the positives of Honda and the negatives of Holden. Holden may do the same, in reverse. Competition is part of a free-trade market; it inspires companies to offer a better product. Your home has to be a better ‘product’ and you have to have a better agent than other homes.
Many negatives are actually positives when viewed in a different way. For instance, a small block of land is often a negative, but it can be a positive for people with ill-heath. It can also be a positive for a business couple who do not have the time for gardening.
Look for the positives in any negatives. They always exist.
Your agent should sell the positives of your home and, when necessary, sell the negatives of homes with other agents. This does not mean your agent should mislead people. It means that your agent works for you and not for the other homes-sellers or their agents.
The best agents will tell you how to give your home that special feeling which wins the hearts of buyers. With the right agent and with your home looking its best, you will always get the highest price.