You only get one chance to make a first impression."
I'm not sure who said it first, but, whoever gets the credit, the adage was never truer than when applied to selling a home. When you have made the decision to sell your home, it is imperative that you take certain steps before you show the house for the first time if you want to ensure that it sells in a reasonable amount of time.
The first steps are very practical ones. For example, determine if you want a Realtor and choose one you know you can work with. Be completely honest with the disclosure form provided by a Realtor. In addition, you may want to consider having a pre-sale inspection done so that you can make the suggested repairs yourself or at least let a potential buyer know you are aware of the issues. There are also some simple steps that will let the potential buyer know you are a careful homeowner. Collect all of the warranties on appliances that will be staying with the home. All of these steps will let the buyer know you are conscientious about maintaining your home.
The second step is to price the home appropriately. For example, know the range on comparable home sales for your area and set your price accordingly. If you need a speedy sale, consider pricing the house at the lower end of the range. Also, be prepared for counter offers. Decide in advance what your limits are in terms of what price ultimately will be acceptable.
While these simple steps may seem very elementary, they are crucial in preparing for a successful sale.
The next phase of preparation is termed staging; that is getting the home ready to show. While homeowners are very capable of doing this step on their own, some sellers are now turning to staging companies to help them prepare their homes.
Susan Leive of Susan Leive and Associates of Sarasota, FL and Black Mountain assists sellers in preparing their home, and she echoes the importance of that first look people have at a home.
"You want buyers to fall in love with the property, and first impressions count," she says. "Most buyers will make an initial decision on a property within less than half a minute. Staging is not how we live but the packaging and presenting of a property for selling."
From her perspective, there are three things sellers should do before putting the house on the market.
- Find a good Realtor
- Price the property correctly
- Stage the home
"If the first two steps aren't right," she warns, "then staging the property isn't going to help."
McKay Dean, partner of Maggie & McKay of Black Mountain, cites the number one mistake people make when showing their homes is failing to remove the clutter. She suggests removing the clutter and taking out personal items such as family photos which make it difficult for potential buyers to see their own families in the homes. And she notes that removing clutter does not mean putting it into a closet. She suggests renting a place for the extra furniture and personal belongings.
She offers very simple advice when it comes to preparing your home for selling it: "Just clean it up." In addition to making sure windows are clean, small repair jobs are completed, and cabinets are tidy, she emphasizes that you need to evaluate each room of the home.
"If you have your office in the dining room, remove it when you get ready to show the home," she says. "It's really important that each room serve one purpose."
While some of this advice seems like common sense, it is often overlooked by sellers which can delay the sale of a property and mean more home showings ultimately. For some people it may seem as if coming to the decision to sell their home is the final step, but in fact following up that decision with a little more work on their part can enhance the property's value and ultimately improve the experience for the seller.