When it comes to selling your home there are some things that you cannot control such as the general local market conditions. If your area is experiencing high unemployment because a local factory has gone out of business, it’s more important than ever to prepare your home and prepare yourself for selling your home.
Over the years I’ve counselled with many sellers and while many of them know how important a little preparation can be, others do not realize that their own actions can sabotage the sale of their home and minimize the profit realized.
1-Make sure the house is CLEAN. You would be surprised how many homes are shown to potential buyers that are dirty. Buyer’s should be looking at what the house has to offer, not grading you on your housekeeping skills. When your house is on the market adopt some new routines to help you and your family maintain your home is “show quality” shape. With just a few adjustments you can always be ready for that last minute showing and your home will be one of the ones that agents can dependably put on the list when they have buyers drop in and want to look on short notice. Being prepared can give you and your home a huge advantage over other competing properties.
2- Be Practical when it comes to your Pets… I have two of my own a lab and a pomapoo and they are like our children, some days I feel like our whole household revolves around them, but I know that if my home were on the market I’d have to adopt some changes because there are just things that us pet parents have to deal with… Make sure your house is clean and there is no “pet smell”. This may require air cleaners, shampooed carpet or any number of other techniques, but it’s very necessary if you want to sell your home for top dollar. Don’t let your cleanliness or love of your pet give a buyer an excuse to make a lower offer. With that being said even if you maintain the cleanest of homes, remove your pets for showings and make every effort to prepare your home for a showing, if you leave doggy beds, liter boxes and food dishes lying around everywhere a buyers predisposed imagination can fill in the blanks and create what isn’t even there. I’ve shown many houses that you absolutely cannot tell that a pet lives in. Kudos to those sellers who’ve dealt with this reality is such a positive way.
3-Have your home show ready at any time. This is a hard one and I mentioned it above, but when I have a buyer from out of town pop into the office and want to look at a few houses it sends me into a panic. Why? Because, those are the buyers that can usually afford to buy and feel like if they want to see a house it should be available. Houses that are available to show on short notice, are positioned perfectly to get an offer over those that buyers have to wait 24 to 48 hours to see.
4-Turn Lights On- Just think about it…most of the time the buyers are either traveling with the agent or arrive around the same time. Agents don’t have time to fumble through looking for the right light switch and a dark house is never the best first impression. I’ll take this advice a step further. In rooms where there is no over head lighting always make sure that you have a few lamps turned on so it doesn’t scream to the buyer that they will need to have lighting installed. If you have ceiling fans make sure they are on if you unless they are clean of all dust. ( a moving ceiling fan will not show dust caked on the blades). Make sure all light bulbs are working. It takes less than an hour to inventory all the light bulbs in your house and make sure that all the lights are working. Unless you aren’t home and it’s a short notice showing go ahead and turn the lights on so that when the agent walks their clients or customers in the front door your home is illuminated.
5-Keys are the Key….Usually, the front entrance is the best place to bring prospective buyers into a house, yet believe it or not, most owners don’t even know where the key to the front door is because they never use it. Make sure you have arranged for the agents to enter the house from the best possible location. An over filled garage with an oil stained floor and cobwebs is probably not going to be the best place to enter your home. Instead, make sure that you use this as an advantage.
6-Baby it’s HOT in here…. Extremes, whether they be hot or cold can sabotage you in a big way. Leave power bill frugality behind when it comes to scheduled showings. If you don’t keep your home a comfortable temperature, it’s time to change that habit or at least adjust your thermostat up or down as seasonably required prior to any showings. The first assumption a buyer has when they walk in and a property is hot or cold is that something is wrong with the heating and or cooling systems. The more questions that you prevent a buyer from needing to ask, the more comfortable they will be making a higher offer.
I’ll stop here to state a few observations that should help put this all into perspective. First, buyers are no different than you are when you are buying. They want the most house or property for their money. In addition, they are looking for items that they can justify as reasons to make a lower offer. To a buyer a roof that looks older will mean that they will guess how much a new roof will cost and a roof that in reality might cost $3,000 will become a $10,000 reduction to the offer price. Many times buyers don’t have time to get all the estimates and so they do guess at the cost to get a property in the condition that they require. Don’t let these guesses gnaw away at your sales price.
7-Protect your valuables and evaluate your home and yard for potential dangers that could lead to costly lawsuits. Accidents happen so make sure that you correct any tripping hazards and clearly mark any unusual step downs etc. that might endanger a buyer or agents safety. Put away any firearms and valuables. That loaded handgun that you pay no mind to could be the first and last thing a buyer’s child finds. Not everyone is taught to respect firearms or how to handle them safely. When selling your home it’s better to be safe than sorry.
8-We’ve all got them now, but do you really want to eavesdrop on buyers? If you’ve ever watched an episode of those fix it up real estate shows you’ve probably seen the before and after footage of buyers remarking on the house….this may be engaging tv, but unless you want really want to hear what a buyer thinks, don’t listen. You may not like what you hear and it may be the truth. Agents share with one another the information, but can share with you constructive criticism in a more productive way. I’ve had sellers become offended with offers and literally miss the sale of a lifetime because of it. In real estate you can be offended or you can sell your house. If you really want or need to sell you cannot afford to allow insignificant things sabotage your sale. I can only imagine what some of my transactions might have been like if sellers had heard comments. If you have the video cameras please notify your agent and have them alert the showing agent OR put a note near the door telling people they are being videoed. If you have questions about the legality of this please contact an attorney for advice. I’m merely pointing out that even if you can do something sometimes it’s not the best idea to do it. If a buyer feels uncomfortable in your house they may not stay in it long enough to fall in love with it.
When you list your property with me you take advantage of my many years of experience dealing with buyers and sellers and my goal is always to help you avoid many of the pitfalls that cost you money when you sell a property. Call me today and let’s get started.
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Tammie Gibbs is an Associate Broker at Lovins Realty and a published author. She has been a REALTOR since 2006. She loves helping people buy and sell real estate in her hometown, the Vidalia Georgia area. Tammie is a member of the National Association of Realtors, The Georgia Association of Realtors and has been the President of the local Altamaha Basin Board of Realtors twice. Over the years not only has she been successful selling real estate, but she has also mentored several new agents, sharing with them from her experience in an effort to elevate the future professionalism of the Real Estate Business in her area. She enjoys using her extensive experience in marketing and real estate to offer her clients and customers the best of both worlds, an agent with an eye for creative marketing and the experience that only comes from being a top and multi-million dollar producing agent. One of her favorite sayings is that “There is no substitute for experience.” She is always looking for her next client or customer and looking forward to what she can do to help them navigate their way to fulfilling their real estate goals. Tammie can be reached via direct phone at 912-293-2899 or at the office 912-537-8885.