Think about what it takes to sell a car: If you want to maximize the sale, then you’ll detail the inside, shine the tires, polish the hood (possibly for the first time in years). Or pay for those things to happen.
The same goes for selling a house …but even more so. A house needs to be in tip-top shape if you want to sell at a good price, and sell in a reasonable amount of time.
Fortunately the steps you need to take are not complicated and often a few simple cosmetic changes will make the world of difference to buyers.
But before you get started, bear in mind these three rules of thumb.
1. First impressions matter
We’re hard-wired to make quick decisions. And once your buyer has made their first impression of your property it’s hard to change their mind during the rest of a showing
First impressions not only count. They last.
2. Make it easy to view your property
Remember you may not be in the country for each viewing. Give the keys to someone you trust locally. They’ll also need a cell phone…that they answer!
If it’s a vacant lot that you are selling rather than a house, make sure there is someone local who knows how to get there and can point out the boundaries. This could be a real estate agent, or a local contact that you have. Also make sure the grass is cut and there’s a clear access pathway and viewing area. If the buyers cannot walk around the lot and see the view, they will not buy it.
3. Buyers are interested in your house and not your possessions
Buyers should be able to mentally picture their own furniture and appliances in your house and “see” themselves living or vacationing there.
It’s important not to impose your taste and preferences on prospective buyers. This is why professional stagers use neutrals and soft colorings in their work.
OK, so here’s a collection of the best staging tips to charm potential buyers into making you an offer. You’ve probably heard some of this advice before so feel free to jump to the ones that interest you most. Or perhaps start with the least expensive items at the front of the property and work your way to the back.
- Re-paint your front door
- Buy a new doormat
- Make sure the lock is in good condition and the key turns easily.
- Plant some new shrubs in the garden and near the entrance. (Property sellers get huge value from landscaping in Nicaragua because local plants can be bought cheaply and gardening help is very affordable.)
- If your house needs a re-paint start with the front of the house, then the entryway followed by kitchen, master bedroom and main bathroom. Paint over loud colors with neutral tones.
- Clean the house so that it sparkles and smells good. Remember that garages, patios, and other outdoor spaces should be just as immaculate as kitchens, bathrooms and master bedrooms.
- Remove half the furniture from your house and store it in the garage if you have one. If not, store it off-site.
- Create counter space by removing extra appliances. Clear away dish racks, soap dishes and other clutter.
- Tidy and remove as many personal items as possible from the property. Remember that to a buyer your personal belongings are just clutter.
- Replace all broken light bulbs.
- Organize your closets so they look as big as possible.
- Make sure all doors and drawers work properly.
- Fix minor issues that can distract buyers such as leaky faucets, broken tiles, squeaky hinges, and worn toilet seats.
Getting these things done should cost you less than $400. If you still feel that your house needs more work then have a look at these other ideas:
- Consider adding a dimmer switch to the light in the family room and dining room. Not only are dimmers popular with buyers, the soft lighting will help you show your house to it’s best
- Adding a vibrant throw or a few accent pillows on the couch will enhance the atmosphere; as will a bright vase on the counter or mantle.
- Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, stacking some fluffy towels or scented soap (after you’ve put all your personal toiletry items out of sight).
- If the entrance path is broken or damaged, pull it out and replace it with inexpensive stepping-stones.
- Consider repainting the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and updating any gaudy knobs that look like they belong in the 1970s.
- Create traffic flow through the rooms by removing furniture that breaks up sight lines or blocks room entrances. In each room, create a focal point and place any other pieces of furniture on either side of this.
If you feel any resistance to doing these changes remember that once you put your property on the market it stops being your “home”, and has become your “product”.
Your house is no longer about you. It’s about your buyer. And it needs to help your buyer tell the story they want to tell about themselves.
If a buyer says, “I can see myself living or coming here on vacation” you’re house has done the selling for you.