Improving Existing Properties for Sale
Existing Properties For Resale
are either going to sell your home at retail or wholesale.
It's up to you, the seller.
Sellers need to know that although they highly
value their own properties, buyers will do just the opposite.
Buyers are notorious for disproportionately discounting a
property to its actual condition and true market value. Sellers
have to understand that market value, however, is directly
related to perception, and that the desirability of a property
is its true value.
What can I do to improve my home before I
Congratulations! Maybe you're moving to a new
city, new country, or just a new neighbourhood because you
got a new job or a promotion or have a new addition to the
family. Now it's time to pack up and move out. Before you
start thinking about all of that, however, you need to think
like a buyer -- the kind of buyer who will look at your home
with a discerning eye. Without spending a lot of money, you
can help improve the marketability and value of your home.
Cleaner than clean
Nothing turns off a potential buyer more than
an unclean and cluttered appearance. Take a pad and pen on
a thorough tour of your home. We're not only going to look
for smudges on walls, stains on the floors, and dust behind
the refrigerator, but for cluttered areas, as well. Is there
a natural path that allows free movement from place to place
in a room, and from room to room in general? Your home office
or craft area/workshop may have boxes of things which can
be relocated to give an appearance of more space. That doesn't
mean hiding it all in the closet! Ask anyone willing to listen,
and they'll tell you that apart from kitchens and bathrooms,
the most important item is closet and storage space. Clean
out the closets a little to show off their roomy interiors.
The same holds true for the garage, basement/crawl space,
and storage shed.
Now you can get out that mop and pail. As we
mentioned above, it is essential to have the kitchen and bathrooms
sparkling clean. Make those windows laugh, as they used to
say on TV. Pay attention to the areas around switchplates
on the walls for fingerprints. Doorways are good places for
smudges to accumulate. You never know when your agent will
call to let you know that a potential buyer wants to look
at your house, so you'll have to keep it clean.
Repair it now if you can
Don't forget to add to your cleaning list anything
that needs replacing or repairing. It doesn't take much time,
effort, or money to re-caulk a sink or replace a light bulb.
Replacing the old washers in leaky taps, mending window screens,
and lubricating squeaky doors and windows are short jobs,
too. More complicated repairs to plumbing , heating, or electrical
systems should be noted and dealt with. Unless you know what
you are doing with these systems, call a pro or two for quotes.
Any potential hazard to you or a buyer should be dealt with
Knowing where to draw the line on repairs is
a judgement call. A small crack in the walkway or driveway
probably won't sink a potential buyer's interest. Maybe they
won't like the paint scheme or carpeting. No matter what you
do in these areas, a potential purchaser is bound to want
to personalise the decor, anyway.
And speaking of personalised ...
Part of the "clutter" referred to
earlier would take into account your fishing trophies or those
"beautiful" wedding gifts that you have to keep
on display in case of visits by relatives. Off to storage
-- NOT THE CLOSET -- they go. Remember, the purpose of the
exercise is to sell the home -- not show off your memorabilia.
Buyers will tour your home all the while thinking of how their
own furniture and possessions will look in the home. In general,
put yourself in their shoes, and also keep these thoughts
in mind while you are visiting potential new homes for you
and your family.
Ever heard of "kerb appeal"? With
your notepad in hand, take a walk outside, and look for weeds
and dead shrubs or branches. Cut and rake the lawn to dispose
of leaves and clippings. Take care of the flower beds. Don't
forget to check out the condition of shutters and eaves, paying
attention to painting needs. How does that old shed look?
As honest as the day is long
OK. You've dealt with the visible and cosmetic
areas. Let's turn our attention to major faults that you've
decided not to deal with for whatever reason. It is advisable
to give full disclosure of any problems of which you are aware.
In many places, if a real estate agent or vendor can be shown
to have knowledge of an undisclosed problem, he or she may
become involved in expensive lawsuits. Purchasers may be willing
and able to fix these problems on their own. The need for
small repairs or even a "handyman's special" won't
necessarily hurt the chances of a successful sale.
Cost vs. value
Apply this test to any repair or improvement
you are contemplating in the sale of your home: I am aiming
to make my home more saleable, mindful that the cost of any
improvement must raise the value enough to warrant the outlay
of money. Will my project accomplish these goals? Here is
another area where using a real estate agent can pay off.
They deal with buyers and sellers every day. They probably
have a good idea of what buyers are looking for. Don't be
afraid to consult your agent. Here's a quick list of what
the market has to say about potential for return on money
spent on home improvements :
Interior or exterior painting: 62%
Family room: 56%
Finished basement: 52%
New furnace: 48%
Central air: 43%
Separate living unit: 40%
Adding a home office: 35%
Inground pool: 16%
Blanches Best Make-Ready List Ever
Note: Some of the advice herein is specific
to American selling styles - most of it is very relevant no
matter where you live!
Are you ready to sell your home? Great! Let's
get started with the basics. Your agent can market your home
more effectively when it is ready for presentation. Here is
a list of things you can do to help bring a quick offer at
the price your want.
1. Adjust Your Attitude. You have just
put your biggest investment into the hands of a real estate
professional, who will successfully market your home for you.
Your agent will be dealing with other real estate professionals
who will also be marketing your home. Believe it or not, some
sellers actually hamstring their agents by refusing to listen
to their advice, especially when it comes to preparing the
house for market. Don't you be one of those folks! Your agent
has no agenda other than to sell your home, so suggestions
she/he makes to put the home in better condition or make the
home more visually attractive are simply to broaden the home's
appeal to the most buyers.
2. Remember the Rules. You want to sell
your home for the most. The buyer wants to buy it for the
least. You are at opposite poles and must find a way to meet
in the middle for a sale to take place.
Homes are purchased in two price ranges - wholesale
or retail, with no exceptions. The less you have done to prepare
the home for market, the bigger hit you will take in the sales
price. Buyers discount repairs and deficiencies way beyond
their actual costs, because of several reasons - they discount
according to a psychological "disgust" factor, and
they don't necessarily know the true costs of repairs so they
will tend to overestimate, and third they see it as the seller's
job to make the home ready, so if the buyer has to do repairs,
they want to be paid for their time and trouble. Another reason
you want to do repairs is that obvious repairs heighten awareness,
and buyers will look more critically and suspiciously at the
house as a whole.
By the same token, homes that are in good repair
give buyers a sense of security, plus they can see themselves
"living with" things they don't like more easily.
They also think the home is worth what you asking. Buyers
will pay top dollar for well-maintained properties.
3. Move Past the Memories. It may be
hard because you have spent years and a lot of money personalising
your home, but that is exactly why your home won't appeal
to a majority of buyers. It has your stamp, not theirs.
Regardless of the quality of your tastes, every
person is different and has their own unique style. That means
your buyer wants a personalised home, too. So it stands to
reason that making the home as neutral and clutter-free will
make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in
the home with their own things. You may love orange walls
and sunny corners, but your buyer may be an Aubusson rug collector
and shun the sun.
Many sellers can't believe that buyers will
not view their home with the same appreciation that they do.
You have good taste, why shouldn't everyone appreciate what
you have done? The reality is that buyers will come in and
if they like the home, they will immediately start discussing
how they will change it! Keep in mind, if the buyer didn't
appreciate the home at its core, they wouldn't make an offer.
It may help you to think of the home as yours
no longer. It now belongs to the buyer. The buyer just hasn't
paid for it yet. Focus on selling the home as a means to meet
your goals and concentrate on moving forward and don't look
behind. For whatever reason, you are leaving this home to
go on to something new.
4. Model Your Home by Moving Out. Renting
a temporary storage unit to take care of a lot of the clutter
in your home is much cheaper than losing the interest of potential
buyers. Remember the buyer needs to be able to see the home,
and that means looking around and past your belongings so
they can imagine their own things in the house. As soon as
you decide to put your home on the market, start cleaning
out closets and getting rid of junk. Give yourself a goal
- that you will have all the closets and clutter cleaned out
three days before the MLS tour.
If you can afford it, more than one home has
been sold from being "staged." That is when a professional
staging service comes in, rearranges your things or brings
in furnishings to best accent your home.
You can also begin to store things in boxes
in preparation for moving. A buyer will forgive moving boxes
more readily than clutter. They can see you are serious about
selling and ready to deal. You'll also be glad that much of
the work toward moving is already done when you actually do
go to contract.
5. Dig In on Details. Get everyone in
the house mobilised for a barracks tour. Pretend you are at
boot camp, the CO is coming and if everything isn't spic and
span, you'll have to clean the latrines with a toothbrush!
Are the windows washed? How will you sell the
view of the garden through dirty, fingerprinted glass? Look
at your plants. Your Bromeliad is dormant. What are the odds
that your buyer is going to understand why you have these
dirt-filled containers with sleepy, brown-leafed plants around?
You love dogs, but is a buyer going to enjoy stepping through
your dog's backyard powder room to see the back of the house?
Clean it up. Your children's science experiments on the kitchen
window sill must go, especially if they are growing mould
or house bugs. Do you like to work on cars or motorcycles?
Great, but get those steel carcasses out of the garage and
the driveway for the duration. If you can afford a cleaning
service, now is the time. They can come in and shine places
you wouldn't think of, and they can save you so much effort
that you can put your time and energy toward your other goals
- finding a new home or making preparations for the home you
have already found. This is a treat you deserve, and will
go a long way toward keeping your stamina up as you move to
your next home.
6. Clean Out the Closets. Closets and
storage are the third most important feature buyers seek in
homes after number of bedrooms and baths. In your flurry to
clean, don't throw everything into the closets - that is the
first place your buyers will look! Instead get the family
mobilised again to clean out at least one closet a day. Where
to put the stuff? Throw it out, have a garage sale, give it
to a charitable organisation or put it in your just-rented
Pay special attention to:
Beds - make the beds daily; an unmade
bed is like seeing you in your underwear to a buyer
Pets - sweep pet hair daily, keep dogs bathed, arrange
pet care during open houses or showings
Plants - green or flowering only, trim bad leaves
Closets and Storage - If you can't see the back of
the closet, it's too full; ditto for the pantry
Built-in drawers - must open freely and easily: again,
watch for clutter
Countertops - keep free of clutter
Floors - have carpets cleaned; put down protectors;
get wood floors refinished; sweep often
Look for easy, inexpensive, and quick ways to
improve your home. Make it a family project. Paint does wonders,
and gives that clean-slate feeling to the buyer. Paint is
the minimum cosmetic improvement that buyers expect, so if
you don't have fresh paint, they will assume nothing else
has been maintained either. Put some seasonal flowers to add
kerb appeal to the front of the house. Change door knobs and
cabinet handles if discoloured, old or rattling. Put on new
In today's competitive environment, the difference
between whether a home sells quickly or not is often in how
it is first introduced to the market. Your home must be at
its best or it will immediately be discounted to "wholesale."
If the agents who have viewed your home deem
it wholesale, overpriced or unshowable, they will stop showing
it to their buyers, or you will find that your offers are
increasingly lower or stop altogether. Then you have no choice
but to lower your asking price, or remove your home from the
One way to keep abreast of buyer's likes and
dislikes is to ask for feedback. Agents are busy, but that
is no excuse for an agent to enter your home with a buyer
and not give you honest feedback. Don't take no for an answer.
If the problem is correctable, do it. Then have your agent
call that buyer back and tell her/him the problem has been
corrected and invite them for another look.
By doing your "homework," you can
help your agent market your home more successfully.
Seller's To Do List
STAGE TO SELL
Your home will sell. Theres no question
about that - in todays market or tomorrows, good
or bad. However, if you put your home on the market without
preparing it for sale, you may long wait for an offer. You
also may not realise your homes greatest return on investment.
You dont have to turn your pockets inside
out to get it ready to sell. Some outlay may be necessary
for painting, for replacing worn woodwork, carpeting, cabinet
doors, or for repairing broken fixtures or appliances.
There are, however, many fix-ups that cost absolutely
nothing - except a little time and elbow grease. These fix-ups
will make all the difference in whether or not your home makes
the most of itself.
Here are a few tips for getting your home ready
to show itself off to your pocketbooks best advantage:
Spruce up all around the house. Keep lawn
and shrubbery trimmed and free of bicycles and other clutter.
Keep the garden beds weeded and mulched.
Put a flower pot on the front step and
keep it watered and trimmed.
Fill potholes in your driveway and tidy
Clean off your outdoor furniture; remove
any rust (or toss out the rusted item). .
Clear out the garage of everything but
cars. If yours has become a two car attic, throw out the
Straighten gutters, the TV antenna, the
fence - and other things that sag
Fix doorbells, tighten loose doorknobs,
and oil squeaking hinges.
Repair broken windows and shutters.
Clean everything in and out of sight.
Shampoo rugs and wax floors. Wash or brush walls. Wash
windows and clean blinds and curtains.
Weed clutter out of closets and cupboards.
Create space by storing some of the furniture
youve found useful (bureaus, bookcases, storage
chests, oversized chairs) but which makes a crowded impression.
Place the remaining furniture so that
traffic can flow easily from room to room.
Unless youre a skilled artist, scale
down your personal art work (portraits, landscapes), posters,
signs, and family photos, especially in teenagers
rooms. Create a feeling of spaciousness.
Keep blinds and curtains open, to admit
as much light as possible, but screen out unappealing
Let your kitchen look warm and welcoming,
not a hectic workplace. Keep your sink shining and free
of dirty dishes at all times.
Keep kitchen bench tops clear, but not
empty (as if unused); adorn them with your most attractive
Completely degrease your oven. Let the
kitchen smell fresh and fragrant (with cinnamon warming
in the clean oven if you have time).
Remove debris (dust, flies, moths, etc.)
from all light fixtures.
Keep bathrooms scrubbed, tidy and equipped
with fresh soap and neatly hung towels (matching, if possible)
Get rid of all stains and install new
washers on dripping taps.
Feature (with lighting or furniture arrangement)
your homes best characteristics (a fireplace, a
picture window, a balcony, ceiling beams, a kitchen eating
If youve repainted (preferably in
safe neutral tones), add bold splashes of colour (with
your brightest throw, pillows, crockery, pictures, etc.)
Place plants in strategic spots in any
room - the bigger the more glamorous, if space permits.
Light the whole house, especially dark
corners and hallways.
Hang mirrors where they will reflect outdoor
light - as well as make a room look larger.