As published in the Savannah Morning News - September 23, 2012
Preparing the House for Sale
Last week we discussed the big move, and I have many clients who downsize prior to the sale of their home. Some stay at home until the house is sold, but either way, the preparation is the same if you want to sell your home at top dollar. There are things that you need to consider prior to listing it for sale. What will make your house “stand-out” in a market still glutted by homes for sale?
We are going to start with the home’s exterior, which will be our subject for today’s article. I have written about this previously, but it is worthy of more detail.
Let’s start at the curb. What can you do to make your house appealing and attractive to buyers? You get one first impression, so make it a good one. This is where the potential buyer tells their Realtor® that they like it, or to keep on driving! You don’t want to have to prepare your house for a showing, only to have the buyers be turned off by the outside. No-shows are a common complaint, so make your home the one they can’t pass up.
First of all, make sure your yard is manicured, mowed, edged, and the beds are weeded and mulched. Take out any dead plants or trees, and remove any piles of yard clippings, leaves, wood piles, old furniture, etc. Plant some flowers with color, either in pots or in the surrounding beds leading to your door.
Brooke’s Rule of Thumb: remove everything that you don’t want in the photograph of the front of your house…hoses, garbage cans, empty pots, dead plants, parked cars. Put your cars in the garage, instead of on the street or in the driveway blocking your house. Trust me, most cars don’t add to the photograph! Oh my, did I hear you say you can’t keep your car in the garage because it is full of stuff? We’ll discuss that next week!
Now, take a good look at your yard, like you have never seen it before. Get a friend’s opinion if you have been looking at it so long that you can’t see the true picture.
Next, go to the front door. Does it need cleaning, painting, or a new door knocker? Is the door handle operating, or hanging from screws? After being a Realtor® for 27 years, I have seen everything! Some doors even have a hole where the door knob once lived, and the dead bolt is the only thing that keeps the door closed and locked. A buyer is going to hang out at the front door looking at everything while the Realtor® unlocks the house. This one’s a no-brainer - tighten it up, or replace it.
Are the porch lights peeling or dirty and full of bugs? Does the house need to be cleaned to remove dirt, mildew, mud dabbers and cobwebs? Pressure cleaning the house, driveway and walkways is something I recommend once a year to keep your house in good condition and showing well.
What about painting? Walk around and look for old, cracked caulking, rotten wood and peeling paint. A handy man is great for this, and these details are something a potential buyer will notice. It is important that the buyer sees that the house has been well maintained. Almost every buyer will want a home inspection, and a well maintained home sets the stage for expectations, even from the inspector.
Sometimes it is not necessary to paint the entire exterior, but the front is important, as well as the side that faces the sun. Paint fades over time and at a different rate, depending on how much sun hits the house. Fading makes it difficult to touch up repairs, and impossible to match a color that blends on all walls of the house. It is better to paint an entire wall than to touch it up and leave an unsightly, miss-matched patch in the middle of the wall.
What about the roof? Have a low-pressure cleaning done at the same time as the driveway and house. It is not a good sign to have plants growing from your roof or gutters, so have the gutters cleaned out at the same time. If you know of any leaks, the roof should be repaired and associated ceiling stains should be touched up prior to listing the house. Your Realtor® will ask you to complete and sign a Seller Disclosure in which you will disclose any issues regarding the condition of your house. We will talk more about this in another article.
Let’s look next at patios and courtyards. Is your furniture clean, and in good condition? Rusty, broken or unsightly patio furniture should be painted, repaired or discarded. Look at your plants, beds, pots, barbeque grill…again, what will look good in a photograph? Outdoor areas are considered expanded living space, and are important to the value of your home. Making them look inviting are part of the real estate game, so if you want to play, make sure these areas are in tip-top shape.
Is your sprinkler system in working order? If not, do not include it in the listing. It can be mentioned by your Realtor®, but not warranted. If your home has nice gardens, a buyer is going to want the system operational, so it’s best to have it fixed. This is also a question in the Seller Disclosure that will need to be addressed.
What about the old shed in the back? Clean it, paint it or take it away. Make it an asset, not a liability, to the beauty of your back yard. I have seen landscaped sheds, with attractive pavers leading up to them, and they add to the value of the property. Some even have window boxes or interesting ornamentation on the exterior.
Now, for the gnomes: I know some of you love them. If you are going to do yard art, keep it simple, and less is best. Gnomes are not what come to mind when I think of yard ornaments; fountains, garden benches, interesting urns, mossy cement figurines…I love them all, but not too many, and strategically placed. This is staging, so if it does not add to the ambiance, don’t do it. “Clutter” is a bad word in real estate speak, and it applies to both inside and outside of the house!
Where do you get help for these projects? If you are short on family members who can handle it, Move Managers can oversee everything I mentioned and act as your project manager. All have resources and people to call to get the work done. Sounds like a lot to do? It can be, and if you are not up to doing it, getting the help you need to make your property show beautifully is well worth it. Staging is everything, and the end result is to make your home “stand out” from the rest, and most of all, sell at top dollar.
Coming next week in the “Moving Mom” series…Preparing the Home for Sale – Let’s Step Inside.
By Brooke Bass, Associate Broker with Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners, is the owner of Gracious Moves LLC, a Savannah based Staging and Move Management Company.
A nationally award winning Realtor, Brooke has been successfully selling and staging homes since 1985. She holds the National Association of Realtors, “Seniors Real Estate Specialist” (SRES), “Council of Residential Specialists” (CRS), and “Graduate of Realtor Institute” (GRI) designations, and memberships in the National Association of Senior Move Managers, and Greater Savannah Coalition on Aging. For more information, contact Brooke Bass at 912-655-9299 or visit www.GraciousMoves.com.