“For Sale” to “Sold” in 9 easy steps.
The real estate market is ever changing, but from buyers markets, to sellers markets, and from bear markets to bull markets, if you’ve decided you want to sell your house, here are 9 simple (and cost effective) steps you can take to make your home more attractive to potential home buyers.
As real estate agents we visit properties everyday with potential buyers, and the age-old adage is true; First impressions are lasting impressions – so you have to make them count!
Step 1: Beat it – Buyers don’t want to meet sellers, and having the seller around while visiting can create an awkward atmosphere for the buyer (and for the real estate agent!), and they won’t relax in your home. While you may think that by being there you can answer questions that the buyer may have, and that you’re the best person to represent your home – leave that to the real estate agent. They’re professional, and you’ve given them all of the necessary information, so they don’t need you there. You’re better gone!
But…. before you go, there are a few things you need to tend to…
Step 2: The Grand Entrance – Grand or not, the front door leads into something. Whether it’s an entrance hall, or directly into the living room – whatever the buyer walks into is going to form their first impressions. Appeal to all the senses and make them feel welcome from the first moment. Think about the senses, literally… sight, sound, smell, touch, even taste (why not leave a caraffe of cold water with some sliced lemon and some sparkling glasses at the entrance?)
Now, imagine you are the buyer; go outside, and walk back to your front door with fresh eyes. What hits you first? Is it a positive or a negative impression, and how can you improve it. Is there something that’s been bugging you for ages everytime you walk in the front door, and you just haven’t got around to changing it? Nows the time. Start looking at your home with fresh eyes – be critical and make those changes.
Step 3: Light up my life – Lighting is essential. Before a real estate agent arrives with a client, make sure that all the lights and lamps are on throughout the house (and the bulbs and switches work) – summer or winter, morning or evening. Lights create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and give the “at home” feeling. Taking this point further, a few burning candles with a neutral scent, perhaps one in the bathroom, and a few in the living room or entrance hall will add to the atmosphere you want to create.
Step 4: Too hot to handle – If it’s a hot day, make sure you have the air conditioning on, but not too cold. Equally if it’s a brisk winters day, you want your home to be warm and welcoming – but not midday in the Sahara, so keep the heating on, moderately.
Step 5: Space out – For many home buyers, a prerequisite will be the outside space or garden, terrace or balcony, so you want yours to stand out. Make sure the lawn is mown, the pool is sparkling blue and that you have some fresh potted flowers and herbs on the terrace; and please refresh your garden furniture if it is due for painting after one too many hot summers. If you have an apartment with a terrace or balcony, ensure that the terrace is clean, put some herbs on the table and arrange a sun lounger attractively with fresh white cushions. (If you’re in need of some inspiration, there is a neverending pool of ideas on Pinterest)
Step 6: Clear your clutter – and that includes family photos! New buyers need to picture themselves in your home with their family, and if they see photographs everywhere of your daughter’s wedding, last Christmas with Uncle Bob and little Harry’s new tooth – they’re going to struggle picturing themselves living in your home. While it’s not easy to put those precious memories into a box, you know they will come out again at the other end, in your new home.
You would be surprised how difficult it is for sellers to declutter, and perhaps that’s because when one lives somewhere year in and year out, one tends to overlook things; they become “part of the furniture”, literally. That pile of old National Geographics next to the toilet needs to go; so do all your cosmetics in the bathroom and your bedside table needs to be clear (of glasses, medication, the glass of water), and the Christmas cards lining the fireplace must go. Speaking of toilets, please make sure all toilet seats and lids are down (that’s Step 7, and speaks for itself!)
Step 8: A Nip and a Tuck -and a fresh lick of paint on the walls – not forgetting the exterior walls. If you have a bright orange bathroom from the 1970’s, or a lime green kitchen, as much as you love them, stop and think whether this might be the opportune moment to “neutralise and simplify”; to change your bright orange bathroom to a warm cream, and your green kitchen for a cool grey. While you may love your orange bathroom – 99% of buyers won’t.
Step 9: And lastly, Put a Lid on It! Unless it’s freshly baked bread or a pot of coffee on the brew, leave cooking for another time! Your husband might like to come home to the smell of a Chicken Vindaloo, but the person potentially buying your home certainly won’t appreciate it!
Follow these 9 simple steps if you want the “For Sale” board flipped to “Sold”!