Even in Golden Valley, a diverse and friendly community with wonderful schools and parks, qualified buyers are still scarce. But now that spring is nearly here, we expect the market to pick up. That said, in order to attract a buyer and entice them to bite, you must be sure your home is priced competitively. Once you've done that, it's time to think presentation. I cannot stress enough how important this is.
Something important to keep in mind is this: the way we live in our homes is much different than the way we should present our homes for sale. Think of it like a job interview. Would you wear jeans and a T-shirt when selling your experience and education to a potential employer? The same goes for your home. Make it look its best.
This can seem like a daunting task but with some preparation and a plan of action, your home will be ready for it's close-up in no time!
Here are the most effective things you can do to make sure your Golden Valley home will get the best price and quickest sale:
- Disassociate yourself.
For many of us, the hardest part of preparing your home for sale is cutting the psychological cord. If you've made the decision to move, you've made the decision that your home will soon be someone else's home. Preparing your home in a way that will appeal to the widest range of people will not only help you get a higher price but can also help your home sell more quickly. Don't take it personally when your agent asks you to take down your family photos and kids' artwork or asks you to paint over your favorite shade of periwinkle on the master bedroom walls.
- Make it Love at First Sight.
Nine out of ten times the front of your home is the first photo buyers see. Before calling their agent, many buyers drive by a home to check it out. If they don't like what they see, they probably won't pick up the phone. Overgrown landscaping, deteriorated siding, roof or doors, peeling paint, a driveway full of vehicles, junk piled in front or doggie bombs across the yard can send a buyer running.
Keep your lawn mowed and watered in summer months. Walkways and drives should be free of snow and ice in the winter. Even if your home is well-tended, a few extras can help draw buyers in; a fresh coat of paint, new shutters or railings, appropriate landscaping, twinkle lights in the winter, a potted plant on the front step or a window box with fresh flowers in the summer are all easy ways to freshen your front and create a welcoming first impression.
- Cut the clutter
Sometimes the most daunting task is also one of the most basic - decluttering. Clearing out and organizing each room in your home will not only make the spaces feel larger and brighter, but will also allow buyers to more easily envision their own things in the home. We're not just talking clearing off shelves, countertops, tables and walls. Decluttering also means sorting through closets, cupboards, the garage, the junk room in your basement, the yard, the shed ... even that pile of papers on top of your refrigerator.
Yes, buyers will notice it all. If it looks like you don't have enough space for all your things, buyers can get the impression there's not enough space for their things, either. This is also a good time to get rid of items you don't plan to take to your new home and start packing seldom used items for your move. Get a storage locker, call for a donation pick-up or order a dumpster if you need it, but get it pared down and organized now.
- Fix it now or pay for it later.
You might be fine living with the bedroom window that doesn't open or with the bathroom light switch that shocks you if you don't hit it just right, but I guarantee a buyer will not. If they don't see these things before making an offer on your home, their inspector surely will afterward. You are probably well aware of all of the 'meaning to get to' projects throughout your home. Now is the time to get them done!
There may also be some unknown issues that can cost you down the road. Chimneys and furnaces are two high-buck items that we frequently see come up on inspections. Hiring an HVAC company and chimney sweep to clean and inspect your furnace and chimney can save you money and stress down the road. If you are going to have to fix it one way or another, it's a whole lot better to marketing your home with a new furnace than to be forced to replace it after you negotiated a price based on the old one.
- Can you smell that smell?
Nothing can kill a buyer's interest in a home quicker than a foul odor. Smoke, pets, strong cooking smells and wet basement odor can all be the kiss of death within seconds. Often homeowners have lived with odors for so long they can no longer recognize there is a problem until an honest friend or agent points it out.
Odors are also one of the hardest issues to address. Eliminating the source of the odor is the first step - stop smoking in the house, clean pet boxes daily, elimate water issues etc. After that, thoroughly treating the affected areas is critical. There are companies that specialize in treating odors with enzyme treatments or special machines that neutralize the air. Sometimes these treatments can take care of the problem, but many odors, especially smoke and pet smells, can be quite stubborn and may require recarpeting, priming and repainting, cleaning furniture and window treatments and wiping down other surfaces of the home to fully remove the odors.
- Clean! Clean! Clean!
And not just the regular stuff - wash windows, clean behind furniture, wipe out the oven and refrigerator, clear the cobwebs in the basement, clean the toilets, wipe off light switches, doors, walls, woodwork... it all needs to be spotless and stay that way. If you can't do it yourself, ask for help or hire a professional.
- Take a Buyer's-eye view.
Last but not least, take a walk around your home and yard in a buyer's shoes. Try to look at your home from a different perspective and not from your usual vantage point on the bed or from your favorite TV chair.
Stand out front and try to look at your home as if you were seeing it for the first time. Would it attract you if you didn't know what was inside? As you enter rooms, stand in the doorway and look around. Does the room appear open and balanced or dark and crowded? Does the room feel bright or do you need to open blinds or add lights? Do the spaces feel comfortable and balanced? Welcoming? Can you move freely from room to room and out doors or do you need to clear your travel paths more?
Preparing your home properly for sale is one of the most important things you can do to increase your bottom line and decrease your time on the market. If you have the luxury of time you can lay the groundwork early and pace yourself, but don't be afraid to ask for help or hire professionals if you need to. Do it smart, do it right and the time you spend in the beginning will be well worth it in the end!
Karla Rose is real estate agent with Edina Realty in Golden Valley.