Getting Ready to Sell
Are you thinking of selling your house?
Let’s review Jim’s Tips for Getting Ready to Sell:
FIX-UPS - Do any home improvement before you go on the open market, because the most qualified buyers will visit in the first week – and the most motivated on the first day. They have been hunting, seen all the others, and are waiting for new meat. Don’t disappoint them – once they see your house once, they decide to either buy or not, and if not, they forget about you.
Landscape/Curb Appeal has moved to the number one spot on my list of fix-ups. Buyers are making a lot of decisions based on internet pictures, and drive-bys. Lots of potted plants, green grass, and color. Clean the driveway, sidewalk, curb and gutter. Spruce up the exterior approach and entry too – buyers are getting a first impression while waiting for the door to open.
New carpet & paint is still critical, and either you do both, or your price needs to reflect it – knock off 10% for old carpet and paint/wallpaper. Because if you need carpet and paint, be honest, there’s other stuff too – old kitchens and baths, etc.
SHOWINGS – Make it easy and convenient to show the house to prospective buyers. Their interest is fleeting, to say the least. I prefer a vacant house to one with old furniture any day. People think houses show better with furniture, but I’ll take the benefit of instant showings and hope the new carpet and paint will capture the buyers’ interest – besides, it’s easier for them to visualize their stuff in the house if it is vacant.
Use a lockbox – If you are paranoid about somebody walking in on you (it happens) then stash the lcokbox in a non-obvious place. Have your listing agent note in the MLS that you have a lockbox, but call for location. The agents who want to show your house will call with some notice, hopefully, so you’ll know when they are coming. Clear out – leave the premises so buyers feel comfortable walking around, opening closets, etc.
Do open house – Any agent that tells you that open houses don’t work are just lazy or old-school. This is the age of the internet, and buyers are taking their search into their own hands. Rather than rely on their agent, they drive by the possible proeprties – and boom, “look honey, it’s open, let’s go in for a look”. I personally have a storied history of selling my listings off open houses, but even if I don’t find the buyer - they are circling. If they see me pushing the product, it creates urgency that might get them to go find their agent, who is out at the pool drinking mai-tais, and get them to write an offer before JtR sells it to somebody else.
Worried about looky-loos coming by who are casing the joint? I do open house nearly every weekend, and in 28 years I’ve had two thefts; a candle, and a bottle of Vicodin. Hide the vikes, and don’t leave cash or jewelry laying around, and you’ll be fine.
Don’t like the neighbors coming through? Whatever you have to hide – get over it. You need to change your thinking – your home is now a business decision, a commodity that you want to sell for top dollar. If you take things personal, you’re cooked. If it’s problem, just move out – you are planning on moving, right?
CLUTTER PATROL – If you don’t vacate, rent a storage locker and remove half of your belongings from the house. Take everything out of your garage, and at least half of the furniture. Remove all personal photos – this one always ticks sellers off, but imagine what happens. Buyers come through and start looking at the photos to see if they know anyone, and then start imagining why the sellers are moving. That is distracting – keep their focus on the house, and whether or not it is a good fit.
I know it’s a struggle with kids – get those big bins and right before the prospects arrive, throw in those last-minute items. I’d rather have one clean, closed bin in the family room than a dozen toys strewn about.
PETS – Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes – do you want to be defending yourself against Fido’s advances, or buying a house today? Clear out the pets – especially due to smells and allergies. My wife is allergic to cats, and the minute we walk into a house that has a cat, she bolts for the door – with the checkbook.
HIRE A GREAT AGENT – If your agent doesn’t recommend the above items, and isn’t easy to get ahold of, what exactly are they going to do to add value to the selling experience? Check their website to see what they do for their other listings, and make sure video and professional photos are being used.
Find a great agent, and then worry about commission. If you hire an agent because of their low commission rate, don’t be surprised if you have trouble selling in this market.
Find out more about their reputation in the realtor community. Ask them if they know the agents you’ve heard of – because if they haven’t, will the top agents give your listing the time of day? It’s not personal or discriminatory – there are so many properties to consider, we have to make the cut somewhere. Good agents want to work with good agents. Check their sales history at www.neighborcity.com for vital information on their experience in being able to navigate this market successfully. At least one sale per month is the mark of a professional.
Don’t use range-pricing, unless you are OK with selling below the bottom of the range. If you’re OK with selling below the bottom, just use the bottom price only.
Fertilize and overseed the lawn – and keep it trimmed nicely.
Fix screens, especially screen doors.
No booties, they inhibit buyers from going out back.
Don’t over-water the landscape.
Most listing agents will be happy to give you a complimentary review of your house, and make suggestions. Let me know if you’d like me to swing by for a look – email@example.com