We've compiled the TOP 10 LIST of things you NEED TO KNOW before you sell your house.
#1: You're Overconfident!
What does this mean?
Sellers often believe that if the market is favorable for them, then their home will sell quickly for a premium price; regardless of its condition. This strategy can cost the seller time and money.
Although it is true that low inventory with many buyers can create prime circumstances for the seller, buyers are very educated due to the abundance of information at their fingertips on the Internet. They are not willing most times to blindly pay a higher price tag.
Just as the seller is concerned with making the most money on their investment, the buyer is too. It is crucial to the sale of your home, not to assume demand will outweigh commonsense. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule…But hoping the one buyer will come along that doesn’t care about overspending on a home not in top selling shape, can cost you to sit on the market far too long and miss your golden opportunity.
#2: Advertising Photos Are Subpar
No Second Chances!
Most, if not all, buyers will look on the Internet to get their first impression of the homes available on the market. Each home may have less than 10 seconds (at best) to catch a person’s attention while searching online.
Photos with too much furnishings or cluttered counter tops distract the viewer from really seeing the room, causing buyers to move on to the next listing for sale. Pictures will allow a buyer to determine whether or not they would like to see your home in person. Those listings with few or no photos will get passed by without even reading a description.
Buyers will assume that those homes without photos or very many is due to there being something wrong. They will automatically assume the worst and cross your home off their list of homes to see.
Solution: Professional photographers have expensive lenses that allow them to capture the essence of a room. They can highlight ceiling heights, add special effects to the fireplace, and make a room seem larger, all while understanding how important it is to use the proper lighting.
Although many cell phones have good cameras, they are not capable of allowing the user to create the images a professional photographer is equipped and trained to develop.
The end results of poor photos are fewer showings, which defeats your goal. Fewer showings means the less likely you will sell the home.
#3: Home Needs Some TLC
No One Wants Mustard-Yellow Appliances!
Have you been planning on painting your home, updating appliances or maybe even sprucing up your yard? Now you are getting ready to sell and probably are struggling with the thought of spending money on those items all for another family to enjoy.
Although it may seem foolish to put more money into the home when you are getting ready to leave, it just may be necessary to do in order to sell for current market value. Buyers have a tendency to over value items in need of repair or replacement. Since they want the most house for their money, they will make deductions to the asking price as they walk through the home.
Solution: It is important to assess your situation before making decisions to improve your home for sale. Sellers should consider their financial circumstances. Research the cost vs. return on the improvements being considered.
Paint is the least expensive, but biggest impact on changing or updating a room/house. Neutral colors are a must to allow buyers to visualize their own furnishings and style. Even if the color is not one of their particular choices, if it is neutral they will be happy to live with it until a later date. Bold colored walls create a mood that may not feel welcoming to a new family.
Kitchens and bathrooms add a lot of value and get a high return on the sale of the home. It is not always necessary or affordable to completely remodel these rooms. Adding fresh counter tops, painting cabinets and/or walls, changing a backsplash and replacing cabinet hardware can offer a new look without spending too much. If appliances are old, updating with newer styles and features can give a modern feel to the home as well as offer the buyer a sense of security.
Curb appeal should never be forgotten. Buyers want to feel welcome and at home. Grass and shrubs should be trimmed. Any trees or shrubs that block the view of the home should be cut back. Power wash the front steps and sidewalk if there are years of dirt and debris stains. Add a doormat and pot of flowers at the front door.
#4: The House Smells Bad
"If I can smell it, I can't sell it!"
Our sense of smell also affects taste. That includes our taste in homes! Very often we get used to smells in our own home.
Although people have less sensitive nasal receptors than one might think of a bloodhound, it is still extremely acute. Therefore, sellers must pay close attention to undesirable smells that may come from ordinary uses.
If you are unsure or unaware of a scent in your home, ask a friend or someone else that can be objective without worrying about hurting your feelings. Buyers entering the home will know immediately if they like or dislike a smell. Many times, this can determine whether a buyer will return for another view or continue their home search.
The truth of the matter is that a home can be beautiful and well priced but not sell because it smells rank.
Solution: Smells can be something that is persistent or is a result of a temporary circumstance. It is beneficial to discover what the smells are and where they are coming from.
Cooking certain foods or with certain spices can be pleasant to some and unpleasant to others. Sellers want to appeal to all buyers that enter their home.
Of course sellers have a right to prepare meals that appeal to their tastes. Just be conscious to clean up dishes, regularly remove garbage, and air out the home if potent smells are present.
Although it may sound silly and seem troublesome, we have had buyers end their showing of the home because the smell of dinner was offensive. Fish may be healthy to eat, but it doesn’t sell houses!
Candles and freshly baked cookies can be welcoming, but will not remedy stubborn problem smells. Buyers will be suspicious if there is an inviting scented candle burning with an underlying order of pet urine, smoke or mold and mildew.
If carpets have been soiled, professionally clean or consider replacing. Smokers should not do so inside the home. Install ceiling fan/ vent in the bathroom if mildew is a problem. Consider a dehumidifier in the basement to control moisture, if necessary.
#5: A Problem With The Title
A title in real estate refers to rights of ownership for a property. The title offers the right to access, use and make changes (permitted by the town) to the property.
A title may have one or more parties with interest in the property. A person may only transfer the portion they own the rights to.
A deed is the legal document transferring the title from one party to another. The deed shows evidence of ownership.
Problems can occur when the title is not clear to transfer to a new party. This can happen with or without a homeowner’s knowledge. For example: a bank shows a mortgage as an active lien on the home because someone failed to post the loan pay-off; a subcontractor places a mechanic’s lien for work completed but not paid; or transfer of ownership between family members without recording the conveyance on the deed.
Solution: Prevention of any potential title problems can help alleviate losing a potential buyer. Not only can preventative measures steer buyers away from suspicions, but save time. It can sometimes be quite a challenging feat to find the one perfect buyer for your home.
It would certainly be frustrating and disappointing to have them walk away from the sale due to complications with the title to the property. It is best to be informed of any outstanding issues, before, the buyer is found.
Always error on the side of caution and do your homework first!
#6: You Picked The Wrong Agent
Time to let you current agent go.
What if you have priced your home right, it’s well maintained and in a desirable location but still has not sold? The answer could be the agent chosen to sell the home.
As licensed Realtors, each agent defines themselves independently outside of the agency they may represent. With that said, each sales person works differently and each has their own set of values, work ethic, morals, personality, experience, and social skills. This person represents you and your home.
Ask yourself if the agent fits your needs and has your best interest in mind.
Solution: Choosing the right agent to sell your home is critically important for completing this transaction successfully. It’s far more complicated than listing the home on the MLS, posting a sign and waiting for the buyers to come.
The first step is picking an agency that has a proven track record of sold listings. It is wise to research before making any decisions.
Agents interview agencies. Agencies interview agents. Understanding the company of choice, may give an indication of the representation you can expect to experience. Although this is not always true, it can certainly cut down the list of thousands of agents to choose from in the industry locally.
Once the agents have been narrowed down to a chosen few, it would behoove you as a seller to ask questions. What is your marketing plan?
Is the agent advised of current trends that may affect the sale of the home?
Are they in tune with social media strategies?
Are they familiar with the town you live in?
Can they adapt to changes and offer creativity? Do they understand the features and construction of a home?
Most importantly, the agent should be a great match with you as a seller. Since you will be spending a lot of time discussing how to prepare your home, deciding on the best price to market the home and allowing the agent to show and communicate with buyers and other agents, then ideally sellers need to choose someone they can trust.
In order to build trust, communication between the seller and the agent should be clear and transparent. If your instincts during an interview raise “red flags,” then keep looking!
#7: Your Home Lacks Curb Appeal
Keeping up with the Joneses?
Once the buyer decides to come visit your home, the outside is their next “first impression.” Although we cannot change our neighbors that may be on the same street, your home should look exceptional. It is necessary to understand that what buyers can see, indicates how the home has been cared for throughout your ownership. A home that shows no evidence of neglect to maintenance will offer a sense of security to a buyer. No one wants to purchase a property unmanaged, unless you don’t mind offering a deep discount!
Solution: Take the time to stand out front and assess the look. Although replacing siding, roofs, windows and gutters can increase the value of your home; this is not feasible for all sellers. But all sellers can take the time to clean up the outside without breaking the bank.
Depending on the season will determine how much you can accomplish. In our area, we have three seasons to get out there and paint, trim plants/trees, freshen up mulch, mow the lawn, and make any repairs caused by the weather throughout the year.
Adding a touch of color to the front porch with a pot of flowers, a welcome mat on the door step, power wash the steps and sidewalk, fresh paint or stain the front door, a new door bell or knocker, etc. can make a huge difference in a buyer’s perception of your home.
A buyer may decide they like or dislike the home before they enter it.
#8: Your Home Is Too Cluttered
Often times we get very comfortable in our surroundings to the point we might not notice the chaos. Our home is a place we should be able to relax and pass no judgment. We like to come home, take off our shoes at the door, throw our jacket on the chair, make a cup of coffee or a meal and straighten up later.
While trying to sell your home, this daily routine needs to be monitored closely. Buyers may want to come at a moment’s notice. Although this can feel intrusive and burdensome, that could be the person who falls in love with your home.
Keep in mind; buyers get anxious when they like what they see in the pictures. They prefer an immediate response to their interest. Always be ready to “strike while the iron is hot!”
Solution: As silly as it may seem, the majority of buyers will not see past the items in the room. There needs to be a flow throughout each room that makes sense. Reassess each room in your home. Too many pieces of furniture, especially if it inhibits guests to walk thru, will make a room feel small.
Open the space by removing items that are unnecessary, this includes furniture, knick knacks, and an abundance of family photos, excess toys and clothes. It is possible to repurpose pieces in others areas. Sometimes, it is beneficial to start the moving process if you have years of accumulation.
Renting a storage unit or a pod can help make the home look more attractive as well as make it easier to pack once the home is sold.
Closets, cabinets, and pantries should not be ignored. Start to clear out all the extra items not used on a regular basis or those that have been forgotten about. Make these areas look neat and tidy. The buyer will get an impression of order and feel the home is well cared for.
Buyers will and should open up cabinets and closets to see the space. They are considering making a very large purchase and deserve to inspect even these areas a seller might see as private. As a seller this should be welcomed. This means a buyer is truly contemplating if they see themselves living in the space.
Put away laptops, bills/mail and other personal items that are not for the buyers to see. It is not anyone’s business what you have nor should we temp those by putting it on display.
When getting ready to sell your home, this is a great time to donate, recycle or sell unwanted or unused stuff. If you prefer not to have a yard or estate sale, consider going to a consignment or selling items online. There are a number of Apps available to help individuals make money for things they no longer have a use for.
#9: Being Present For Showings
No offense...but make yourself scarce.
Sellers and buyers really should never be in the home together. It is not a good recipe! Sellers are attached to the home.
Buyers are trying to make a connection to the home. Buyers typically want to respect the homeowner. This leads them to avoid looking as thoroughly as they would if the seller was not present. A likely outcome is that the buyer doesn’t feel themselves in the space, thanks the seller for opening the door and moves to the next home on their list.
Being present makes it very clearly your space and works against the goal of selling your home.
Solution: It cannot be stressed enough; sellers should educate their agent on their experience with the home. Point out all good and not so good issues that will make an impression on the buyer.
The agent can then be prepared to answer questions pertaining to the home without the seller being present. It also allows the agent to be ready to ward off or defend any objections that can arise during the meetings with buyers or their agent’s representing them in the sale.
No matter how comfortable you are as a seller, the buyer will not be. The moment they pull up and realize you are there, the appointment is jeopardized. Remember to give this respect to the buyer as they feel they owe to you. The return will be a sold sign instead of a for sale.
#10: Keep Your Home Show-Ready
You may not get a second chance to capture a buyer. If your pictures successfully get a buyer’s attention enough to want to come see your home, let them come when it works for them.
Sure, life is busy! Most people are shuffling kids, work, and caring for the home on a daily basis. It is tough to keep the home organized with everyone living in it each day. But the reality is that you want to attract as many buyers as possible to offer the best odds at getting the offer you are looking for. In order to do so, the home must be available each day at a moment’s notice.
If the home is well kept at all times and ready to show without a long wait, you will be busy. But if the home is priced right and looks exceptional to the other homes conditions on the market, it is very likely a buyer or sometimes multiples buyers will offer to buy your home. Resulting in greater financial returns and less days your home is available on the market.
Remember; most buyers who are ready to buy want immediate results.
Solution: If the home has already been organized and prepped for sale, it is just a matter of keeping the space tidy. Some suggestions to help manage daily living while selling your home:
some form of a basket at or near the front and back doors to collect shoes, socks, pet leash(s), etc.
a bowl, ceramic dish or glass jar to temporarily stow away miscellaneous items on the kitchen counter
a container for any kids toys that may have made their way out onto the floor and furniture
paper towels and cleaner to quickly wipe down counters or smudges on walls
keep a swifter or other floor cleaner handy to freshen up tile and wood floors
vacuum carpeting (if you have a pet, best to do this quite frequently)
sanitizing wipes handy for a fast wipe down of the bathroom
It is certainly not easy to keep a home spotless for buyers all of the time, but it is essential to a better outcome when selling your home.