So you’re getting ready to sell your house. Just thinking about it can be an overwhelming experience.
Should you hire a real estate agent? Should you do a FSBO (for sale by owner) to keep from paying that big commission? Should you spend a lot of money to paint and re-carpet — at least the front rooms?
Where do you start, and what can you do to make sure you attract a qualified buyer as quickly as possible?
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
A licensed real estate agent who is successfully moving properties in your neighborhood and comes with references will likely get you a better price for your home than you could get on your own. Most nonprofessionals (owner sellers) end up losing more in the transaction than the commission they would have paid a professional. You want the best and most experienced representative possible to sell your house — not your friends’ nephew who’s launching a new career.
NO RADICAL CHANGES
Should you remodel the kitchen? Replace counters and fixtures in the bathrooms? Probably not, unless they are not working. Frequently, such updates and changes done to achieve a higher sales price don’t pay off.
CREDIT AT CLOSING
Rather than discounting your sale price to compensate for worn carpeting, old appliances or outdated bathrooms, offer the buyer a credit at closing to pay for these items. For example, let’s say your electric blue carpeting is old and tattered. Rather than replacing it or reducing the sales price by $4,000, offer the buyer a $4,000 credit upon a successful close.
Now the buyer is motivated to make the deal because he will have the money to re-carpet the house with his choice of color and style.
Curb appeal is that initial impression your home makes when a potential buyer sees it for the first time. The cost to make certain your property is beautifully inviting will be money well spent.
— Repair cracks in the driveway and walkways that approach the home.
— Keep the landscaping neat and tidy with blooming, weed-free and well-cultivated flowerbeds.
— Make sure the home looks freshly painted. A good scrub-down might do the trick.
— Remove most or all of the items from your kitchen and bathroom counters. Take items out of the closets, and clear shelves of knickknacks. You want storage areas to look spacious.
— Remove quotations, signs or pictures hanging on the wall that are specific to your family. Move all the papers, magnets and coupons from the refrigerator. You want buyers to envision their family living here, not yours.
— There should be nothing on the floors but floor coverings and furniture.
Soap and water are cheap. The cost to get your house ready to sell will come in terms of time and elbow grease. Your home should be so clean that a Marine sergeant inspecting it with a white glove could not find a single speck.
Clean every window inside and out, including the tracks, sills and jambs.
No matter how old or worn, have the carpets cleaned by a professional. Clean, wax, polish or do whatever is necessary to make your hard floor surfaces glisten. Scrub the corners even if you’re sure no one will ever look there.
FURNITURE AND FIXTURES
Dust and polish until there is not a speck of dust anywhere. Vacuum all upholstered furniture. If you have so much furniture that your rooms appear crowded, move some of it out. Stand back and look at each room through the eyes of a stranger. Rearrange things to give a more pleasing visual impression.
When you show your home, make sure it’s a pleasant experience. Put out a plate of cookies and fresh flowers, and make sure something that smells good is cooking in the kitchen. Try a pan of simmering spices on the back burner.
It’s been said that you only get one chance to make a good impression. Never were truer words spoken than when you’re getting ready to sell your house.