First Impressions Count
They say "Don't judge a book by its cover," but when it comes to selling real estate the opposite is usually true. Curb appeal is about presenting your home's story to buyers. If your home has an ugly or outdated cover, buyers won't take the time to read its story.
Market research shows it's usually the packaging that initially attracts the buyer’s eye. Book publishers select cover designs specifically to survive “the glance test.” Likewise, there have been many products that have failed to sell because of poor packaging. Appearance matters, especially when it comes to real estate.
Curb appeal basics include pressure washing or painting the home’s exterior; raking the leaves; pruning and trimming overgrown trees and bushes; washing the windows; removing toys, sheds, broken furniture, equipment or old lumber from the yard; and keeping the lawn edged, cut and watered.
Inspect the roof to make sure it is in good condition. If buyers notice loose, damaged or missing shingles, or poorly maintained gutters, they’ll assume that lack of care in maintenance is carried throughout the whole house.
Check the front door for its condition. Consider placing a pot of blooming flowers at your entry to enhance the welcoming feel. Try to remove anything that might be distracting or uninviting.
This gives prospective buyers and their agents an impression that your home has been well cared for. Also, it’s worth hiring a professional house cleaner to come the day prior to your professional photos shoot, which ideally will be timed the week of your first Brokers Open & Open House.
You’ve likely heard that you need to "de-clutter” your home. Keep all counters on the kitchen cleared off which will make it seem larger. It may be a hassle to keep storing the coffee maker and toaster, but it’s worth doing until you’re in escrow and the buyers’ home inspection is completed. If you look at a brand-new development, their “model homes” have very little items on the walls, usually nothing on the counters, and very little furniture. The furniture they do have is as small as possible, giving the room and home a much bigger feel. Since you’re planning on moving, you’ll need to pack up or donate what you don’t want to bring with you, so you may as well box them up prior to your home going on the market. This will save you a lot of time and reduce stress when moving day arrives.
Make an Impression Online
If your home doesn’t have curb appeal, prospective buyers may never even get out of their car. Realtors call this the “drive by.” With fierce competition among sellers, you can’t afford to lose a single prospective buyer’s attention. Nowadays, the “drive by” usually done online, with buyers and their agents searching through hundreds of properties with the swipe of a finger, either on their smartphone, computer or tablets, using the Locations mobile app). The photos that are displayed first in the MLS should be the best rooms and/or features of your home. Even if only one or two rooms look excellent, while the others need updates, chances are good the buyers will still take the time to come and look at your home.
Sellers who pack up most of their personal items prior to putting their home on the market have a significant advantage. These sellers often have a garage sale or call their favorite charity organization to pick up items they wish to donate (save those receipts for your tax deductions). This gives your real estate agent more possibilities to stage your home. Your agent will guide you on things such as which pieces of furniture or items on the wall to leave and which to store. Moving companies usually have the option to store your boxes and furniture in locked containers stored at their facility, which they will then deliver to you after you've moved to your new home.
Fresh, Subtle Colors
If you have brightly colored walls or carpeting, you may want to consider replacing them with more neutral colors. Investing in some fresh paint and new carpeting can pay off. Many home improvement centers offer 0% financing if you pay them back in full within 6-12 months, giving you time for your home to sell. Be sure to work with your Locations agent prior to making any big decisions or investments, as they will have tips and suggestions based on experience.
Most agents across the industry agree that it’s ideal to remove all personal photos, regardless of how wonderful or memorable they may be. Prospective buyers and their agents may make assumptions about you based on your photos. For example, they may infer that you have ‘a lot of money’ and see it as an opportunity to offer you less for your home. Most potential buyers will try to picture themselves in your home by walking through it, imagining what it would be like to live there by visualizing their personal items throughout the home. Having a blank, clean canvas to encourage this is essential.
Look at the Competition
For a quick lesson in marketing, visit some model homes on the island. New home builders dress up their model homes because they know how important it is to make a good first impression. They have likely employed designers and architects to make color selections as well as ways to make the home appear more inviting.
It’s been said that a buyer makes up their mind with 30 seconds of seeing a home. If a buyer doesn’t fall in love within minutes of arriving, they’ll be off to their next appointment. This is especially true in a buyer’s market when there is no pressure on buyers to make an immediate offer. Ask your Locations Realtor how you can make your home more appealing.