What will it take to sell my home these days? A question many people are asking in these tough times. Unfortunately there is not one panacea that is going to get the housing market back on its feet, and as I stated in previous articles, I believe once we are on the road to recovery, that road will be awfully steep.
As I was walking my dog through my neighborhood the other day, I noticed a realtor installing his ‘For Sale’ sign in front of one of my neighboring homes. Curious to see what home prices are doing, sort of like smelling the milk two weeks after the ‘sell by’ date, I stopped and talked shop for a while.
The realtor seemed upbeat and positive. He had a number of listings in the area and even had a few escrows that were going to close before the end of the year. He continued to explain that he makes sure his sellers are realistic about their prices, and his buyers are realistic about the ability to qualify for the loan.
Curious about other reasons why a home would sell, I set out to do some investigative work amongst my peers…buyers, sellers, realtors, and even mortgage bankers that have managed to keep their jobs. Though some of the answers were what I expected…price, etc., there seemed to be a commonality amongst the entire congregation as to how to sell a home in this market. Here is how it went…
De-clutter! That’s right, de-clutter! Believe it or not, that was the most common answer. Buyers told me they want to “see themselves” in the space, not see other people’s stuff in that space. Besides, clutter makes the space look significantly smaller in addition to admitting that the home does not have enough storage or closet space.
But do not just take your clutter and stuff it in a closet or garage. According to one home staging company here in the San Francisco Bay Area, they recommend taking half of all your clutter and storing it off premises. If you are selling your home, you were going to have to move it out at some point anyway.
Clean and be clean. A buyer told me she and her husband recently entered a home that had a large stain on the dining room carpet. They would have overlooked the discoloration, but the owner, who happened to be leaving as they were entering the home, admitted that her six-year-old
From beds left un-made, baby diaper pails full and overflowing, to moldy grout in a bathroom and dirty dished left in a kitchen sink, I heard all the stories in colorful detail. Needless to say, many of those homes are still on the market today.
There are companies that can come and clean your entire house at very inexpensive rates. Bonded and insured, most of these companies can be found on the internet and even come with their own cleaning supplies.
Curb appeal. These days, many buyers will get a list of open homes from their realtors a few days ahead of time. Honestly, every buyer that I spoke with took that list and did a drive by preview of that property, crossing off the homes that did not appeal to them from the outside.
One buyer in my neighborhood admitted they decided not to look at a home because of the deplorable condition of the front yard. The home we were discussing has a beautiful rolling front lawn, two huge trees and a fountain that highlights the property. Unfortunately, the owners neglected to rake the leaves from those huge trees, which clogged up the fountain pump, creating a pool of brown algae and mosquitoes. Additionally, the rain gutter filled with so many of the fallen leaves that it too was clogged up, thereby causing dirty water from the roof to spill over onto the front windows of the home.
Make access to your home and easy chore. If you want to sell your home, make sure people can get in to see it. Many homes for sale today have extremely restrictive open house hours or lock box rules. One home I noticed on the local MLS stated I could only gain access to the home via lock box on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, between the hours of three and four-thirty in the afternoon, but only on the second and third week of each month. It also mentioned that I needed to call the owner the day of the showing to ensure the very large dog was contained in one of the rooms…which would then be unavailable to see since I would not want to make acquaintance with that large dog, be it in any room.
Light up my life! Turn lights on and make sure to replace bulbs that are not working. With winter upon us, shorter days and cloud covered, rainy or snowy afternoons are going to happen. Even a home that has few windows can benefit from brighter features. One realtor that I spoke with admitted that she changed out all the flood lights, which usually give off a dull yellow tint, with bright halogens. Not only did this give off a better white light, but it also gave the appearance of updated lighting.
Finally, use a professional real estate agent. A real estate agent will save both buyers and sellers a tremendous amount of time. Using them to comp other homes in the area for pricing, days on market, and even make suggestions as to what it will take to sell a home, or purchase a particular home, will be invaluable. Additionally, many real estate agents use a vast number of marketing tools to get a home noticed. With access to multiple listing services and a network of other agents, the simple fact remains that the majority of homes these days are sold through the efforts of real estate professionals.