Before You List...
Updated: Aug 16, 2021
by Karen Flaherty - Real Estate Agent since 2004 - Kinnane Group, Inc.
§ Check your curb appeal
Like it or not, Buyers do judge a house by its curb appeal. A messy front yard, peeling paint, or a damaged front door are all things that can bring the wrong kind of attention. Some buyers will keep driving, while others will begin calculating the reduction in their offer price. Quick and inexpensive fixes such as a power wash, touch up paint, potted plants or pulling weeds can make a big difference.
§ Conduct a smell test
Science has proven that the odor receptors in our noses adjust to the smells in our own homes. That’s how we become “noseblind.” More times than you can imagine, Buyers walk into homes and are hit with pet, mold, smoke, and a variety of other smells. It can be a deal-killer. The old days of masking the smell with candles or a fresh pie are over, and those items can alert Buyers that there may be a problem. Have a neutral and honest third party (feel free to ask your agent) walk into your house to let you know if they notice anything that could potentially be off-putting. If there’s an issue, arrange for a deep cleaning and treat upholstery and curtains with something like Febreeze. If you have carpets, a good steam cleaning will usually do the trick.
§ De-personalize your home (that also means leaving for showings)
Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your home. Seeing you and/or your photos, refrigerator magnets and personal items lying around can make Buyers uncomfortable and prevent them from seeing the house the way they would like to use it. Having Sellers present at showings decreases the time the Buyers will spend and makes them feel hurried and uncomfortable – no matter how friendly you are!
§ De-clutter your home
The more items in a home, the smaller the house seems to Buyers. Clear off countertops, tables, windowsills, and floors. Consider it a head-start on packing. Store packed boxes neatly in the basement or garage. If you have a LOT of “stuff,” consider renting an inexpensive storage unit.
§ Clean and touch up!
Conduct a deep cleaning of the house. If you’re busy, hiring a cleaner to do the job will be worth the investment. Try removing any scuff marks on floors or walls (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is great) and touch up any chipping paint.
If you have anything that you know is broken in the house, have it repaired. Loose handles, burned-out lightbulbs, dripping sinks, are all items that the home inspector will notice. Buyers don’t adjust their offers based on an actual repair. They usually adjust their price based on replacement and the hassle that they anticipate. It’s always cheaper to complete the repair before a Buyer sees the home.
Note: Check your circuit breaker panel. If it is a Federal Pacific panel (up to the 1980’s) it is now illegal and a fire hazard. Buyers will not be able to obtain financing. Have it replaced now to save on hassle later. Plus, a new circuit breaker panel adds value.
§ Be aware of FHA items
Many loans today are backed by FHA. Anyone obtaining an FHA loan (rather than a conventional 20% down loan) will need to have an FHA appraisal. In an FHA appraisal, the appraiser is required to conduct a safety inspection of the home. If there are missing handrails, lights or outlets not working, cracks in steps or sidewalks or chipping paint, the inspection will fail, and the items will need to be repaired prior to closing. The Buyers will be required to pay for the appraiser to go back to the house, which usually makes for cranky Buyers.
§ Lock away valuables
As your agent, I will be with Buyers at the showings, but some people are good at being bad. To be extra cautious, please lock away your valuables.
§ Consider Staging
If it’s a Buyer’s market, consider having a staging professional come to the house. They can work with what you have, or they can furnish an empty house. I’ve seen homes that had been on the market for months sell immediately after staging. If it’s a strong Seller’s market, it’s probably not necessary, but if you’d like to maximize your price, a consultation could help.
§ Don’t be offended!
Please don’t be offended, your agent knows what Buyers are looking for and how they will view your home. Any suggestions are for your benefit.