Even though we are currently in a red-hot housing market, there are still certain things sellers will want to do before listing their home on the market in order to make their listing as attractive as possible to potential buyers.
The first thing I like to assess before listing a home is safety. Are there any blatant safety hazards in the home or yard? If the home has a pool, does it have the required barriers imposed by the city? Could a potential buyer easily hurt themselves while touring the property? Anything that is an obvious safety concern should be addressed before the home is put on the market if possible. This reduces the seller’s liability, and makes the home more attractive to potential buyers. Safety issues that are not addressed before the listing can scare away good potential buyers, and will eventually have to be addressed during the home inspection period. The last thing a seller wants is to have a buyer back out of a contract over a safety hazard that was found during the home inspection, which could have been easily handled beforehand. When deals fall through during the inspection period, it costs the seller valuable time on the market.
The next thing I look at is aesthetics. It’s important to evaluate your home both on the inside and out to determine if it’s worthwhile to invest in any improvements before listing your home for sale. The reasoning for this is two-fold. First, buyers will be evaluating your home to see how much money they will need to invest to “fix” your house the way they want (which will either scare them off or they will use as leverage against you on negotiations). For example, if your home hasn’t had the exterior painted in over 10 years, chances are it’s not going to look super attractive from the outside. So right of the bat, buyers have a negative first impression about your home (and they haven’t even seen it on the inside yet!). On top of that, they start to calculate what it would cost them to repaint the home, which usually makes them less likely to want to put an offer on your house, and if they do offer, it’s likely to be lower than what you are asking. Second, some improvements and investments can pay dividends when you sell. An example here could be carpeting. Let’s imagine your home is 15 years old and it’s still rocking the original carpet. Let’s also imagine you have had a dog that had some “accidents” over the years on said carpeting. It’s safe to say your carpet does not look or smell fantastic anymore. Homes that have bad smelling flooring that looks weathered are generally not attractive to buyers. Carpeting is relatively easy and cheap to replace, so replacing the original carpet for new, fresh, good smelling carpeting may be an easy and cost-effective way to make your home more attractive to buyers, and allow you to ask (and get) more money when you sell.
The final thing I like to evaluate with clients before listing is layout and overall design. When showing a property, it’s crucial that the listing is de-cluttered. Excess counter items should be removed and only essentials should be left out. It’s also important to de-clutter children’s rooms and office spaces. Get some boxes and put the extra items in the garage or rent a small storage space for a few months if you have to. Having less clutter creates a more inviting space and gives the home a cleaner feel. Another often overlooked aspect is lighting. Opening up the windows and turning on as many lights as possible helps cheer up otherwise dark spaces and brings more energy to the entire home. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your home should look like, go online and do a virtual tour of some of the new home models in your area from local builders. I also recommend getting a few fake plants to set in various places around the home to give it an inviting and calm feel. You can pick up fake plants at places like Michael’s, Target, and Lowes for relatively low cost, and they make a difference.
Speaking of clean, dirt and dust are a buzz kill for potential buyers. Homes should be kept tidy and cleaned regularly (especially the bathrooms!). No one walks into a filthy home and thinks “Man, I would love to live here!” Being clean and keeping things organized takes almost zero monetary investment, it just takes a little effort and time.
A good Realtor will be able to go through your home with you before listing and help you evaluate what should be changed before going on the market in order to maximize your returns. Sometimes it does not make sense to fix certain items, and it’s better to leave them “as-is” from a financial point of view because the amount needed to repair or change something may outweigh the return. These may seem like trivial details, but focusing on fixing the right items has the potential to net you thousands of dollars more, and may help your home sell quicker. For those reasons, it is certainly worth taking the time to evaluate your home before listing.
If you are considering listing your home, let’s discuss your options.
Michael G. Huber