One of the many skills real estate agents bring to the table is the ability to see a home through the eyes of a buyer. When you take a listing and tour the home with the seller, many times they are enthusiastic about the upgrades and beauty of their home and are completely unaware about how some things spell ‘no way’ to a potential buyer. It is with great tact that we can show them step-by-step those areas that can potentially result in more money in their pocket at closing and a quicker sale.
Here are 6 recommendations, which apply to both, a highly competitive and a slow market.
1. Clear the Space Room-By-Room
The goal is to create a sense of more space and flow throughout the home. For this reason, it’s important to remind the seller that less is more. Ask the seller to store, sell or donate anything that is not currently in use or totally loved. While the seller is deciding what to keep and what to remove, renting a storage unit can come in handy, or renting a POD if they are permitted to have it on the premises. This is a good time to also have all personal pictures removed. Inform the sellers that the reason this is important is because we want buyers to envision themselves living in the home as their own. An unidentifiable home facilitates that.
Encourage the sellers to organize the closets and pantries. It’s not a hiding place for anything as buyers see everything! And if they are in the process of packing up their home, ask them to keep the packing boxes in one specific area of the home—and never in the main area—so buyers can focus on the overall design and floor plan. Lastly, for their peace of mind, encourage them to remove all highly valuable items. They can put them in a vault or bank security box.
2. Hire A Stager
As experienced professionals, we know how the home needs to look in order to sell fast. However, depending on the situation, we can be walking on emotional water when we make recommendations. Sellers that have strong ties to their home items may not listen to our advice. The sale could also be highly emotional because it’s the result of a divorce or death in the family. That’s when having the seller hire a stager can be invaluable. When a seller pays for the stager, they tend to hear their professional advice. The good news is many stagers offer special negotiated rates when working with a Realtor.
3. Professional Photography and Video
Professional photography is not just for luxury properties. It can make a world of difference to all listings. We are in a visual business. Most buyers are searching the internet long before they reach out to an agent. When they stumble upon a listing with beautiful photos—well priced—, that is what makes your phone ring. Go for at least 20 photos of the inside of the home. Video is also a big plus. Many photographers can also shoot video that can be uploaded to your website and YouTube. A word of caution: avoid showing expensive items, such as artwork or home décor, in photos and video, as it could attract thieves.
4. Have the Home Professionally Cleaned and Odor Free
When a home is clean during showings, it says to buyers that the home has been cared for and not neglected. Yes, maintaining a clean home can be a challenge when there are small children or pets, but buyers will notice when walking into a home with strong odors from pets or last night’s dinner. Because people have different standards for clean, we recommend leaving it to the professionals. Hiring a company to meticulously clean the home will make a positive difference. To maintain a clean smelling indoor environment, refrain from plug-ins or sprays, as they can affect people with chemical sensitivities or allergies. Instead, keep small boxes of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda in the refrigerator and freezer. Sellers could also run Charcoal Air Purifiers at the home. Another simple technique is to place several spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, and allspice in a pot of water and letting it simmer on low before showings. This creates a “comfort” scent throughout the home. Some added nice touches include fresh flowers, baked cookies or apple pie in the oven.
5. Fix Items Prior To Listing the Property
Along with having a clean home, is fixing those things that are visual blemishes. When buyers enter the home, we want them to see the ambiance and envision themselves living there. When there is old, chipped paint on the walls or non-working fixtures, the buyer’s eyes may go there first. Then they start calculating deductions for those items if they decide to make an offer on the home. Carpet stains? Get the carpet cleaned. Dirty grout on floors with tiles? Have that cleaned also. Other items to look out for are noisy toilets, leaking faucets, slow drips underneath the sink from the disposal or pipes, and electrical outlets that are missing or non-functioning. Get those fixed or know that they will come up on the Inspection Report, and it may result in a lower offer for the home. We want the seller to be in the driver’s seat, be completely prepared and not get caught off-guard with anything. So, encourage your sellers to fix those broken mirrors over vanities in the bathroom and have the walls painted a neutral color. This is an investment that will make a positive difference when the home is sold!
6. Price the Home Correctly the First Time!
The #1 killer of a real estate deal is overpricing a property and not marketing it correctly. Unless you are in a strong sellers’ market for homes or condos, the home will sit on the market if not priced accurately from the beginning. That is where the advice from a trusted real estate professional is very important. Along with your seller, choose a price that will have motivated buyers eager to see your home. The first few weeks on the market are the most critical for showings. As more and more properties hit the market, a property that sits too long gets fewer and fewer requests for showings. Worst-case scenario, if a property is priced at or below market value, your seller can receive multiple offers, which creates a bidding war and drives the price upwards! If the seller is not motivated to sell the home at current market value, then it may be better for them to wait before listing it.
The bottom line is to make your Listing stand out above the others. By following the above recommendations and relaying them to you seller means a win-win for all parties.
Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a a Realtor, LEED AP , Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.