The Facts of Life for Sellers
Most Buyers Would Rather Have a New Home.
If they can purchase the size and style home they need in the location they desire, with the lot they prefer, at the price they can afford, they’ll buy new. The reason they are looking at resale homes is that what they need is not available in a new home.
If there are many available homes, they will choose the home that is closest to “New” in condition.
If the home you’re selling is an older home, and particularly if you have occupied this home for a number of years, go out and look at new homes. Notice the fresh smell, the cleanliness, the professionally maintained landscaping, the light, open spaces. Then go home and do everything you can afford to do to capture that feeling of newness in your home.
IF ALL YOU CAN AFFORD IS ELBOW GREASE
1. Weed your flower beds, prune your shrubbery, cut and edge your lawn. Clean up any yard clutter. Plant bright annual flowers in concentrated splashes of a single color.
2. Pack up 80% of your family photos, collectibles, clothes, etc. to decrease clutter, create the illusion of space, and create a neutral environment. If someone in the family is a hunter, this is a good time to pack up the dead animal heads.
3. Clean your home top to bottom. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and baths. Remember, your Buyers would rather have a new home. Look up: notice cobwebs, dirty vents, ceiling fixtures. Clean all light globes and keep light bulbs changed.
4. Buy some cinnamon /spice or citrus air freshener, and use it in every room (plug-ins are great for this). Please don’t smoke in the house- the smell permeates the carpet, the draperies, and furniture.
5. If you only have time to do minimal housekeeping in the morning, load the dishwasher, wipe off the kitchen counters, make the beds, and hide all the dirty clothes and towels! You never know when your house will be shown. If you have pets, do constant, vigilant clean-up.
6. Steam clean carpets. If any rooms of carpet need stretching , get them stretched now. This is an obvious cosmetic flaw and will invite lower offers or a request for you to replace the carpet.
7. Pressure wash the exterior of your home, the driveway and the walk, the roof, and patio or deck. Clean gutters if needed.
IF YOU CAN AFFORD A LITTLE SPRUCING UP, ADD:
1. Update your ceiling light fixtures and ceiling fans. Buy light, white, neutral. Avoid brass and styles that are particularly country, modern, etc.
2. Paint the interior walls and ceilings. Again, think WARM, LIGHT, and NEUTRAL. Remove any dated wallpaper and replace with light neutral paper, or prep and paint walls. Steer clear of any particular style, such as country, modern, etc.
3. Paint the shutters and front door of your home.
4. Replace the mailbox if it is old and battered.
5. Replace torn or missing window screens.
6. Replace any double paned windows on which the seal has broken. These appear to be foggy, because there is moisture trapped between the layers of glass.
IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO DO MORE, ADD:
1. Replace worn or outdated carpet and vinyl with a light, neutral color (light beige is good for carpet; a beige & white combination works well for vinyl flooring). Lightly buff and add a coat of polyurethene to your wood floors.
2. Paint interior and exterior as needed.
More Good Advice:
1. List your home with a REALTOR� who knows your area.
2. If you don’t have an answering machine or service, get one! Agents must be able to leave a message for you prior to showing. If you have an answering machine but are often on the Internet when you are at home, consider getting a DSL line or subscribing to Bell South’s voice mail service. Even if you are on the line, it will record a message.
3. If you know that your home is going to be shown, turn on all the lights and fans, turn on some soft music, and LEAVE if possible. If you must be there while your home is being shown, make yourself scarce. Walk around the yard, go to the basement, be available for questions, but don’t give the potential buyers and their agent a “tour.” They will stay longer and give your home more consideration if you are not there.
To avoid last minute problems and stress, I recommend hiring an INDEPENDENT HOME INSPECTOR to inspect your home prior to listing, and a qualified pest control company to inspect your home and issue an official GEORGIA WOOD INFESTATION REPORT (termite letter) prior to listing. Keep in mind that any flaws or damage of which you are aware must be disclosed to the Buyer in the Seller’s Disclosure Statement. This statement becomes part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
Repairs you make prior to selling your home are not considered improvements but “homeowner maintenance”. They will not increase the market value of your home. However, not doing needed repairs certainly will decrease the value of your home and add to its time on the market.