On Wednesday blog I talked about the upsurge in the housing market and tried to encourage folks to get out and take advantage of the Governments down payment assistance program. The flip side of this and what I’d like to talk about today is for those of you who have been trying to sell a home for many months. If homes are selling now is the time to take actions to make your home as saleable as possible. Yes there are many foreclosed houses out there that are driving the market and are putting out some considerable competition to you selling you home. With this in mind you need to make your house competitive. When I got sick and could no longer work, back about 3 years ago, and knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep my much loved home I studied at, great length, all of the opinions from the real estate experts. Watched all the television shows that promised to make you house sell and then set out to make some changes to my house so that I could sell it more easily. This was a year or more before the mortgage collapse and the dearth of foreclosures but the market was really beginning to get tough. I did the following things that I suggest for you depending on your budget or lack thereof:
1. I got rid of all of the extra furniture. This opened up the house and made it look larger. As an example I had a coffee table in the living room which was a tight fit. I gave it away. Had an extra chair in the living room which we always seemed to need during family gatherings but sat used 90% of the time. Take a look at your entire house and see what you could get rid of to open your rooms up. Cost $0…..if you have a garage sale it can add to your decorating budget.
2. Go through the house and remove all of the person pictures, plaques, awards etc. I originally thought that not only did I enjoy looking at pictures of my children and my “Father of the Year” awards but thought that it made the house look lived in and loved. I was quickly told by my real estate person that people want to be able to see walls and picture their own families there not yours.
3. Get rid of those dusty silk or plastic plants. If youre having an open house use fresh flowers or alive plants to dress up the place.
4. You may love those lavender walls in your bedroom but its not likely that a prospective buyer will be as fond of lavender. The same thing about that orange wall left over from the 1980’s. Invest a few dollars and a weekend in painting all offending surfaces in a warm neutral color, NOT WHITE.
5. CLEAN THE HOUSE
6. CLEAN THE YARD, especially the front door area. Curb appeal is a major factor. I can tell you from personal experience when I was a buyer not a seller I have many times told my real estate agent to just keep on driving when I got a look at our next proposed appointment because of what I could see from the curb. Got dead plants in the yard? Afraid that if you mowed the lawn you might find 3 old cars? Then its time to cut the grass. Plant a few blooming plants and paint the front door. Put down a nice fresh door mat. Fix that door bell that hasn’t worked in years.
7. If you have dark drapes or blinds on the windows take them off and if you feel the need for some sort of window covering use gathered white sheets or shear white panels.
8. In the bathroom, simple things like a new shower curtain, candles nice towels and if you did well with the garage sale replace the old grungy faucet with a new one. My friends at NBS can help.
9. Wall paper is out. If you have it in the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere else, get rid of it.
10. Carpets stained? Rent a carpet shampooer for the weekend. Worn out replace it or cover it with an accent rug.
11. In the kitchen get rid of anything sitting on the counters. Change out the faucet if the one you have is old. Put everything out of sight. No toaster, mixer, blender or martini set sitting around. This will make the kitchen look larger and make the work space look bigger and easier top work in. take the refrigerator magnets off the refrigerator. Think about freshening up the cabinets with paint and new hardware. Curtains? Take them down. Again fresh flowers or a potted plant.
12. Clean out the garage. If you have to rent a storage shed get rid of everything on the garage that is preventing it from being used as a garage.
13. Got a half finished basement that you’ve been working on for years? Lock the basement door or finish the damn thing, at least clean it out and up and send those things to the storage shed too. When you get in your new home you will soon realize you don’t need any of the stuff that was in the basement or the garage and can buy marshmallows and have a roast.
14. If you have pets board them and get rid of all the signs of them, smell, fur, litter boxes. Food bowls etc at least when you’re having an open house.
15. Got kids? Board them…LOL Well how about send them to Grandma’s? You’ll be surprised at how little you miss them after a while. They’re going to grow up someday and move away. Just consider this as practice. At least get the toys up off the floor and the crayon marks off the walls.
16. Last but maybe most importantly, bake cookies. Keep the smell of fresh baked cookies in the house and a plate full to offer to visitors.
The list can go on and on but it’s mostly common sense and nothing that I have mentioned here involve any great cost, just time and labor. The competition is tough and you have to make your home stand out against the wrecked, trashed foreclosure down the street and you only have a brief moment of a prospective buyers time to convince them that your home is the one.