Are you thinking of moving? Maybe you’re about to start to prepare your house for sale.
A daunting task? Yes.
Enjoyable? Probably not.
Inconvenient? Most Likely.
Worth it? Hell. Yes.
Don’t skimp when selling.
Unless you really don’t care if, when or for how much your place sells for…
If you don’t want to skimp, keep reading my selling tips!
1. Neutralize Your Space
The goal when listing a property for sale is to appeal to the greatest pool of buyers. In order to attract a large number of people & have high volume traffic before offers, neutralize your space. Not everyone likes white walls & tone on tone earthy colours, but it is a palette that feels clean & has potential, regardless of personal style.
A bright red kitchen is something that a new buyer would have to address immediately if it didn’t fit their style. A white kitchen is something livable until a new owner can paint.
Neutral always wins.
2. Take The Home Out Of Your House
People will have a hard time connecting with a space or visualizing themselves or their family living there if they see remnants of your life. Remove your beloved family gallery wall (even if it’s a masterpiece & will require patchwork), take down religious items, don’t have an overstocked fridge, do your best to relocate pets during the showing period & get rid of their pet beds.
Psychologically, potential buyers connect better with a space when there is little to no evidence it was previously lived in. Personal touches are for you, & you only. Hide them when selling!
I was recently in a property where the owner had so many clothes, she had a hanging clothes rack rolled into the walk in closet & wall to wall open shelving stacked with clothes IN THE BEDROOM.
I truly hope she was moving to a bigger space…
My client was immediately turned off of the property because she just couldn’t get an accurate feel of it. We couldn’t see how big the closet was unless we moved the hanging rack, that was blocked by all the shelves. And that was only one room…
Instead of a closet within a closet, only have half of the closet filled. The illusion of space is SO IMPORTANT. Buyers want to see space, they want to see potential storage solutions. They want to envision themselves living there & can’t do that when all your crap is in their way.
Less is way more when staging & selling. Always.
4. Fix The Small Stuff
Scuff marks, loose handles, crooked light switches, small dents, missing window levers… the list truly is endless.
YES, these are minor items most buyers SHOULD be able to look past.
The reality? Most can’t, many don’t, I wouldn’t.
It’s not that I can’t go to the store to buy a new window lever or pick up a pack of magic erasers. Generally I advise painting & hiring professional cleaners for a clean, fresh start anyhow…
But those water marks dripping all down your glass shower wall into a pool of yuck means you might not take care of other, larger ticket items in your home.
The dead giveaway? Check the furnace filter. It either hasn’t been touched, or was JUST changed. Maybe it’s because I worked for my family’s business, Sipco Heating & Air Conditioning, for too long, but both of those indicate the filter is usually forgotten along with other home maintenance items. Long term if I’m buying that house, the consequences are on me.
In short, don’t overlook the small stuff.
5. Light The Way For Those Buyers
Daytime listings in a multi-million dollar home with cathedral ceilings & custom floor to ceiling windows may not benefit as much as a North facing condo with 8′ ceilings. Either way my recommendation stays.
LEDS, new light fixtures, dimmers, track lighting with directional focus – they all matter & make a difference.
There is nothing worse than showing a condo to a first time home buyer that has been renting a basement for 2 years & hearing them say “I think my basement apartment was less gloomy.”
True story. Don’t let it be you. Dim lighting does you no favours when selling.
6. Smell Check
Recently saw a beautiful, unique property in a fantastic location. My client sent me the listing (even though she wasn’t meant to start looking for another year!) because she was so excited about it. We made a day of it, saw a few others, were having a great time building up to this grand finale…
Walked in & could barely breathe. The place REEKED of cigarette smoke that I later found out the sellers didn’t think was that bad or a deal breaker.
We couldn’t get out fast enough.
Yes, steam cleaning, paint, duct cleaning yada yada would help. But those are things the seller should do BEFORE listing a property, not the buyer after purchasing. Unless you want the price to reflect it & your pool of buyers cut to a fraction of what they otherwise could be.
Every house has a smell. Whether it is incense, spices, smoke, pets or something else, smells should be addressed before listing a property for sale. I always conduct open houses with a diffuser from Saje & a neutral refreshing, spa-like fragrance to eliminate odors & address potential buyer’s sense of smell.
7. Staging & Photos
Yes, staging works. A vacant, move in ready property may present well to buyers with vision, but frankly, most don’t have it.
A room looks smaller with nothing in it. Photos make rooms look smaller with nothing in it. How are you going to drive traffic with online marketing if you have no pictures to online market with!? Again, the goal is to drive the most amount of traffic in the least amount of time to get the most number of offers. If a property doesn’t show well, this won’t happen.
On the flip side – when I work with buyers I often find sometimes the best deals are tenanted properties with no photos. Second best, all those agents who are too cheap to use a photographer & think an iPhone is good enough.
STAGE YOUR PROPERTY (even if its just a fluff job), & use an agent who won’t skimp on presenting your property the way YOU need it to.
8. Due Diligence - Laziness Costs
Is it SUPER obvious that all potential buyers are going to want the wall down that separates the old kitchen & big living room? Find out if it’s possible. Before selling, go to your condominium board & request the documents to begin the approval process so you have the paperwork to show buyers. Otherwise you risk people walking away if they don’t want to do the work themselves.
Maybe you’ve got an old mid efficiency furnace on its last legs. If you don’t want to pay to change it, get a few written quotations so you can present the cost to potential buyers. Show them a high efficiency model can be installed & for how much. If it’s a rental, find out the cost to buy it outright & stipulate you will do so before closing.
(Sorry, not sorry – I use a lot of HVAC references…)
Use an agent who will order a status certificate BEFORE selling a property, not after an offer comes in. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read my blog What Is A Status Certificate?
These little details can make or break a sale. Yes, they’re time consuming. But when you add a dollar figure beside their worth, you’ll realize they’re worth your time. Don’t be lazy.
9. Flexible Hours for Showings
Another recent property I went to see was smart enough to allow showings until 10pm. Given my client’s busy schedule, the only time that worked was 9:30pm on a weekday.
We offered that night.
Yes it’s inconvenient. The WHOLE PROCESS of moving is inconvenient. But if you really want to maximize your potential when listing a property, not restricting showing times is important. There are SO many tenanted properties I haven’t been able to show to clients because of restrictions. Allowing showings “Tuesdays & Thursdays 1-4pm only” doesn’t work for everyone & vastly limits your pool of buyers when selling.
In an ideal world, tenants would be out or you would be living elsewhere to allow the property to show vacant.
10. Make The Process Easy
Please don’t have a sticky door or key (actually, or lockbox!)… I already have THE WORST luck when it comes to opening doors. The key either gets stuck, or the door is jammed, or I can’t get the lever down on the lockbox because it’s old & mucky from sitting in too many rainstorms.
Yes, this is my problem. But it becomes yours when my clients are the ones standing in the rain getting a terrible first impression because you didn’t WD40 your key hole.
Using an agent whose office processes showings using state of the art technology & immediate confirmations is just a bonus (MINE DOES!). Especially when you want to see that one last place in half an hour because we’re done early since nothing else fit the bill…
An easy showing process gives potential buyers ease of mind, a positive impression & few reasons to cry “it just doesn’t feel right if everything’s been this hard.”
My best piece of advice – choose an agent who won’t settle for less than perfect when listing your house. Someone who will not only guide you through the process, but be a helping hand along the way.
Don’t know who to hire? OH HEY, HI, HELLO! I sell real estate!
Lara Stasiw • Real Estate Agent & Home Design Connoisseur
You made it to the end! THANK YOU!!
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