Coldwell Banker Village Properties
Special to the Village News
Despite what HGTV would like you to believe, it is rarely wise to make major improvements when preparing to sell your home. Sure, if a celebrity greets you in the aisle of your local home improvement store and offers a free remodel in return for some elbow grease on your part, do it. But if you are paying retail for the improvements and you are doing them to your taste, you are inflating the cost of your home without necessarily matching the taste of your buyers. That’s a bad strategy in most cases. So what’s a home seller to do?
- Declutter. Close your eyes. Picture a bookcase holding less than a dozen books and a vase of flowers with noticeable empty space on the shelves. Now picture that same bookcase with every shelf crammed full of books. Which sight made you calmer? For the majority of home buyers, the answer would be the first bookcase.
Try it again but this time with a kitchen counter. First imagine it covered with a blender, a panini maker, a stand-up mixer, a toaster, a stack of mail, a colander of fruit, an espresso maker, your prized copper bowls, Aunt Gertrude’s tea set and little Clara’s homework. Then visualize it with just the colander of fruit and try to guess which version will make a buyer say, “Look at these huge counter tops!”
Declutter everywhere to increase the illusion of space and to give your home a peaceful feel.
- Depersonalize. I may love your home even more when I see your collection of ceramic chickens. I am, in fact, very partial to chickens in general. But a buyer who was pecked by a hen as a child might dislike the feel of your home once he sees those chickens and not even know why. Granted, that specific scenario is a long shot but the truth is that a seller’s personal photos and mementos do interfere with a buyer’s ability to connect with a house.
Every realtor has heard a buyer say, “This one has all the things on my list but it just doesn’t feel like home.” Packing up your family photos and knick knacks before welcoming buyers makes it easier for your buyers to imagine their own belongings in a home. Turn your house into a place that will feel like home to a buyer; depersonalize.
- Deep clean. Tidy up. Neaten. Square away. It’s less splashy than a new claw foot tub but not every buyer wants a claw foot tub and almost everyone everywhere prefers clean stuff to dirty stuff. Plus it’s free and claw foot tubs are not, so get scrubbing.
- Deodorize. Persistent smells are a problem many of us have long made peace with. If you like spicy foods or animals or small children your house is probably a little bit smelly. Buyers hate that. I’m not encouraging you to run out and buy an expensive diffuser for every room. Heavy perfumes are often even more objectionable than the slight stink they are masking.
Instead, open the window a crack if you live in a colder climate or throw them all wide open if you live in warmer climates. Place a dish of vinegar near the stove when you cook. Throw citrus peels down the disposal when you are done with that orange or lime. If you have rosemary growing in your garden or sitting in your spice drawer, put it in a bowl near the source of a smell.
When all else fails, take the smelly item outside. If the smelly item is a small child, be sure and watch it carefully while it is out there.
- Hire the right agent. Okay, I can hear you saying real estate agents are not free. You are correct. We are not. But if you are hiring one – and you should since research shows For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes routinely sell for less than similar homes sold by professionals and don’t even get me started on the liability in a FSBO transaction – it won’t cost you more to find a realtor with a proven track record, an effective marketing strategy and a history of happy clients.
Take a little extra time and be sure you are working with the right agent. Your home will most likely sell faster and you will definitely be happier throughout the selling process, and that latter part is worth its weight in gold.
Questions may be directed to Coldwell Banker Village Properties at (760) 728-8000 or Nancy Schrimpf directly at (760) 717-2307.