44 Easy Ways To Help Sell Your Home Faster
Why does one house sell within days, while another lingers on the market for months???
One of the most frustrating things for a seller is when one prospective buyer after another troops through their homes without making an offer. Not only is it discouraging, but the longer a house is on the market, the less money the seller is likely to receive. A slow-selling house makes prospective buyers nervous – “surely if it was worth what they were asking, someone would have bought it already, right?” As much as you hate to admit it, they have a point!
While nothing short of a miracle will make an overpriced property sell at full price, there are things you can do to increase your sale price and shorten your marketing time. So…review the enclosed list, take your blinders off, and get the whole family with the program – it’s time to get to work!
Begin by putting yourself in the buyers shoes…
Remember, they arrive at your front door hoping to fall in love with your home!!! Take a tour room by room. What makes it special? What was it that made you decide that this was the one? Start by listing your home’s most positive features, and accent them in any way you can. Take a cue from sample homes & “stage” as many rooms as you can, with music, lighting, flowers & greenery or decorative accents. Don’t forget that the impression they have when they get out of the car sets the tone for their entire visit – the effect of curb appeal cannot be overstated! If there are toys all over, unkempt landscaping or peeling paint, the buyer’s expectations begin in the negative zone, and you’ve got an uphill battle on your hands. Most buyers are suspicious to begin with…if they think you haven’t maintained the things you can see, who knows what could be wrong with the things you can’t see??? And while the old expression “You never have a second chance to make a first impression” is trite, it is so very true.
Here is a quick overview...
1. Make Those Minor Repairs
All those minor flaws, those odds & ends that you’ve been meaning to get to? DO THEM! Otherwise they translate as “owner neglect” to the buyer, a big no-no.
2. Spring Clean Your Home No Matter What The Season
The time it takes to clean your windows is well spent – pay special attention to the kitchen & baths!
3. Create the Illusion of Spaciousness
Make your living space appear larger by eliminating clutter & bulky furniture that may be unnecessary. Experiment with re-arranging things for a more open floor plan.
4. Give Your Rooms a Light, Bright Look
Push open or eliminate those heavy, room darkening drapes, put in higher watt bulbs, etc. Buyers want large, bright, cheerful rooms.
5. Use Color and Lighting to Draw Attention to Your Home’s Best Features
Highlight a bay window with spring flower’s, use color as an accent to attract attention and lighting for emphasis.
6. Disguise Unsightly Views
Not with heavy drapes that keep out the light, but with sheer panels.
7. Eliminate Unpleasant Odors
And recognize that you’re probably used to them! Ask someone you can trust to be honest with you about any odd smells, then do something about it. Smoke & pet odors are the kiss of death - and don’t forget about the diaper bin & that pile of sweaty clothes your teenage son keeps in his closet!
8. Avoid Eccentricities
Smart sellers play down individual tastes that may appeal to a minority of home buyers – in other words, they play the odds. If you’re into black lights, iridescent paints, incense (see #7), & lots of beads, don’t rely on your Realtor to find the perfect buyer whose tastes match yours. The average buyer has a hard time looking past hot pink walls. Remember, paint is your friend – it’s cheap, easy to apply & gives you the biggest bang for the buck. The other two things to stay away from
Are the ones your mother told you to avoid at parties – politics and religion. While it is a free country and all that, remember that you’re playing the odds. It’s probably not a good idea to have political handouts sitting on your dining room table with a sign that says “Please Take One”, and take that portable altar & assorted religious statuary usually found in your living room, to your mother-in-law’s for safekeeping.
9. Recognize That There’s a Fine Line Between Clutter & Sterility
While you want to be on the lookout for distractive clutter, tasteful accessories can make or break a room, and provide the attention to detail that creates warmth in a home. Just remember that more is less – or so they say. One rule I’ve developed, is that if you watch QVC for more than two hours a week, you probably need to get rid of some stuff.
10. Display Photographs That Show Your Home During Other Seasons
Photo’s of your yard taken at different times of the year, particularly if you have a pool & it’s currently closed, can have a big impact if nicely framed and on display.
Front Door & Porch
11.Create a Welcoming Image
This is one of those “set the stage” area’s where you want to create an atmosphere of warmth that gives the first impression you’re looking for. Place a rocking chair
with a small table that has a book on it, or a bench with colorful pillows if there’s room. If not, then a standing sleigh with bright red ribbon if it’s winter,beautiful hanging baskets of flowers at other times, a colorful rug to wipe your feet – you get the picture!
12. Make Sure They Like What They See When Standing at The Front Door
…waiting for you to let them in. I can’t tell you how often I stand at a front door waiting for the owner to answer it, staring at dirty, peeling paint, ripped screens, pitted & dull brass, cobwebs, dead insects, candy wrappers, bicycles – I think you get the picture. Make your home welcoming – keep the inside door open in nicer weather, don’t have heavy drapes drawn, undue the triple deadbolts (is the neighborhood unsafe?) – don’t give the impression your house is a fortress.
13. Create a Focal Point
This area should scream “Welcome to my friendly home!!!”. Fresh or dried flowers on a table, a beautiful mirror, an antique hat stand are but a few ideas.
14. Clean Out the Coat Closet
This is usually the first closet inspected – make it roomy & uncluttered.
The Living, Dining, & Family Rooms
15. Set the Stage for the Image You Want to Convey
Because today’s buyers don’t have as much use for formal living rooms, stage yours with the suggestion of alternate uses – whether as a music room, or reading retreat perhaps. The family room is one of the most important in the house because this is where most of the time is spent. Make it warm & inviting & usable. Traffic flow is important – get rid of excess furniture & toys.
16. Highlight Your Fireplace
Unless it’s the heat of the summer, light that fire!!! Fireplaces are near the top of the buyers “must have” list of features. If the weather is warm, consider putting a trio of candles in the fireplace and lighting them.
15. Set the Dining Room Table if You Have Nice China
At the very least, put flowers in the center of the table. If your dining room is small, take a leave two out of your table so it doesn’t overwhelm the room.
18. Set a Cheerful Scene
This room is huge – there are very few ways to overcome a kitchen that a buyer doesn’t like. Again, set the scene – an open cookbook with ceramic bowl & wooden spoon on the counter, a bowl of lemons, a wire basket with berries…
19. Expand Your Counter Space…
by de-cluttering it! Get those small appliances off the countertop & put your cleaning supplies under the sink. Find a basket for the mail & assorted school papers, and clean off the top of the refrigerator!
20. Clean Out Your Cabinets
Pack away the stuff you don’t use often. If your cabinets are jam packed, buyers will think your storage space is inadequate.
21. Aim for the Master “Suite” Effect
Even if your master bedroom is small, the goal here is to create a “retreat” where you can get away from it all. Remove a piece of furniture if the room is crowded. Add a rocking chair for a “reading corner” if there’s room. Think “bed & breakfast”, and dress your bed with a pretty comforter & lots of plump pillows. Add a small vase of fresh flowers to the dresser or nightstand.
22. Tackle Your Closets
Every buyer needs more closet space, so make sure yours are orderly & well organized. If you haven’t worn it in two years, GET RID OF IT!
23. Depersonalize Teenager’s Rooms
I know how sensitive this can be, but it gets back to that “playing the odds” concept. If you can get your kid on board, it may be best to store those really cool posters until the house is sold.
24. Wise Sellers Take Special Pains to Prepare Their Bathrooms
This is one area buyers really scrutinize, so it must be immaculate. Dump the old prescriptions, clean the shelves, caulk around the tub, clean out underneath the sink.
25. Small Changes Have Big Impact
Buy a new shower curtain, put a colorful throw rug over those old tiles, put out fresh towels & soap, add a plant or two.
Attic & Basement
26. Tidy Up the Attic
Don’t wait until the week before you move to sort thru the attic, get rid of anything you’re not planning on taking with you NOW, while you have the time. If it’s a walk-up attic, be sure the stairs are clear & well lit. If you have pull-down stairs, make sure they’re well oiled and sturdy. The better organized your attic is, the easier it will be come moving day.
27. Spend a Day Down There “Spiffying” It Up
Chances are all your systems are down here, so take a moment to clean around them, wipe them off, and do any minor repairs. Get rid of all the old, broken or rusted “treasures” you were meaning to fix but somehow never got around to. Organize what you can’t bear to part with into some semblance of order, then give the place a thorough sweeping.
28. Pay Attention to the Lighting
Dark & dingy basements make buyers suspicious, so increase the wattage in all light bulbs and add more lighting if necessary.
29. Make The Workbench a Focal Point
Many men dream of having a workshop in their basement – even if they don’t know a wrench from a screwdriver. Make sure it’s well lit, cleaned off & well organized.
Driveways & Garage
30. Fix Up Driveways for First-Impression Impact
Rutted driveways and junk-filled garages spell OWNER NEGLECT in the mind of a buyer. Repair cracks, pull up any weeds & find a home for the kids toys – they shouldn’t be scattered all over the front lawn & driveway.
31. Organize the Garage
An organized garage appears larger! If you have a one- car garage, remove it before buyers visit – an empty garage always looks larger. If it’s a tight two-car garage, take one car out.
32. Your Yard Can Determine If The Buyer Gets Out of The Car
Much of the value of your property is in the land itself. If your yard is a well landscaped setting for your home, your chances of selling will be greatly enhanced.
33. Avoid an Overgrown, Unkept Look
Your yard should reflect your pride of ownership, so keep that grass mowed, trim those hedges, edge those flower beds & along the sidewalk, pull up those weeds and get rid of anything that’s no longer living! Remember, mulch is your friend! Fill in with brightly colored flowers.
34. The Backyard is another “staging” area
Here is where you’re trying to create an image of fun family times, or a relaxing, quiet, private getaway, so use props to create the suggestion. A couple of chairs under a tree, a volleyball net, a picnic table set with bright plastic partyware, birdhouses, feeders or baths – you get the picture.
When Showing Your Home
35. Be Ready, Willing, and Able to Show Your Home At Almost Anytime
Again, you’re playing the odds, because this truly is a numbers game. The more people who see your home, the more your odds are increased that it’s going to sell. So, yes, it’s a hassle to show your home at dinner time, but hopefully you won’t have to do it for long.
36. Air Out Your Home ½ Hour Before Showings
Any home will smell better if you can open the windows in each room & let in some fresh air – particularly if you have pets or smokers.
37. Set Your Thermostat at a Comfortable Temperature
Yes, everyone needs to conserve, but it’s hard to project an image of warmth & comfort when it’s too cold to take off your gloves. The goal is to make people comfortable enough to stay for awhile & imagine themselves living in your home – they won’t do that if it’s either too hot, or too cold.
38. Create The Right Atmosphere
Put on soft background music & turn on the lights in every room – and TURN OFF (or at least down) THE TV!!
39. Vacate The Premises Whenever Possible
And take your children and pets with you if you can! Buyers feel uncomfortable poking around someone else’s home when they’re there – but if they’re interested, that’s what they want to do! Even if you can go for a walk, or take the kids and dog to the back yard to play, it will help give the buyers the opportunity wander around your home & imagine themselves living there.
40. If You Must Be Home – Stay Out Of The Way!!!
Once you answer the door & welcome the buyer & their agent into your home, tell them where you’ll be & offer to answer any questions they may have – then make yourself scarce!!! There is nothing more annoying – or uncomfortable- than having the Seller tag along for the tour.
41. Never Volunteer Information
If you’ve heeded the advice in #39 & #40, you won’t be around to chat with the buyers, but if they approach you with questions, follow your attorney’s advice – just answer the question, don’t volunteer anything. That way you won’t develop the common sellers disease – foot-in-mouth syndrome.
42. Get Any House Related Records Together
Documentation for any improvements made (new windows, roof, siding, etc), appliances that are included, and systems, will be helpful to the buyer and may come in handy during the home inspection process. It may also be a good idea to compile your utility costs as buyers often ask for these figures.
43. Tell Everyone You Meet That Your House Is For Sale
Homes are often sold as a result of word-of-mouth, so don’t keep it a secret, tell everyone you know! You may even want to keep some extra copies of your home brochure to hand out to those who appear interested.
44. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Recognize going in to this process that routine’s will be disrupted, and stress levels will escalate – the key is just “going with the flow”, and knowing that because you’ve done far more than most of your competition, it won’t last for long!