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In many ways, the selling of your home is similar to the selling of a product. From the moment you make the decision to place your home on the market, you are no longer simply a homeowner and a resident in the property. You must now view yourself as the seller of a unique and valuable commodity. The price of this commodity will be determined in the same way that other products are bought and sold.
First, there must be a demand for your property given its condition and price relative to the current marketplace.
Second, there must be viable and affordable vehicles for you to advertise your property in.
Third, the potential buyers of your property must have easy access to it to allow them to inspect it as they shop for their most suitable choice.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, you must be willing and able to separate your personal and emotional ties to the home from the property itself.
There is nothing like a good first impression to drive a sale. There is nothing more lasting than a bad first impression.
Begin the process of readying your house for sale by stepping outside and evaluating the property from curbside. Trying to be objective, ask yourself what a newcomer will notice as they drive up to the property. What is the general first impression?
Complete your inspection by walking around the house and into the back yard. Remain critical! Keep in mind that you are pretending to wear the shoes of a potential buyer. You are also following a path that will be walked by a home inspector or other individuals hired by the buyer to give professional opinions about the property's facade and exterior characteristics. Prepare a list of action items that will need attention immediately and that can be completed without undue cost.
Conduct the internal inspection starting at the front door and walking through the house as a buyer might. At each threshold stop and review individual rooms to gain a general first impression. Make a list of action items pertaining to the inside of the house.
Things to watch out for include:
- Clutter - Piles of newspapers, magazines, toys and other objects, and even mail distract from the fine points of a room and contribute to making the room seem smaller.
- Poor lighting - Inspect those things that contribute to the brightness of the room. Open curtains and shades, make sure windows sparkle from inside and out, replace burned out light bulbs, and wipe down walls that contain smudges or marks. Good lighting can contribute to a feeling of spaciousness.
- Dirt - It appears in obvious places like heavily trafficked kitchens and baths, and some inconspicuous places that a serious buyer could investigate such as under furniture and appliances, in closets, on windowsills, and inside of cupboards. If your property is in a competitive market, it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional cleaning service to completely clean your house. A clean house gives the impression of being well cared for and offers a subtle assurance to most buyers.
- Too much furniture - This is often a problem when you have occupied a property for a number of years. In some cases, moving furniture from one room to another or removing certain pieces altogether can greatly improve the look and feel of a room.
- Poor decor - Keep an eye out for shabby fabric, colors than clash, or decorations that are so personal that they make the buyer focus on you rather than on your property. Also keep an eye out for empty spaces that could be filled by inexpensive silk flowers or plants, or other decorations that would spruce up the room.
Make a list of positive and negative features of each room and prepare to maximize the positives. Write down the finer points of the home and provide this information to your realtor to be used in creating promotional materials.
If you feel that there are major upgrades or changes that must be completed in order for the house to sell seek the advice of a real estate professional to get a second opinion before you invest your money on renovations. Unfortunately, in markets where there are more listings than buyers it is sometimes necessary to complete major repairs even though the cost will not be recouped through the sale of the house.
If your goal is to sell, you will have to do whatever it takes to make sure the house sells. Stay focused on the goal. The process of readying your house for sale requires a critical eye, an impersonal attitude, and in some cases nominal money. Do it right, and you will be rewarded by a timely sale!