Seller Tips

Tip 1: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” 

You've heard the expression "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." Selling a home is just like marketing any other product. The more effort you put into the marketing, the more results you are likely to see in terms of activity and offers. 

The first thing to realize is that whatever condition your home is in, it probably is not in "show" condition. There are items we learn to live with to the point that we forget the little eyesores and honey-do's that never got done. Over the years, clutter accumulates. Our eyes adjust to that low light and that fading paint color. We love the home as it is, and fail to see what the home is like compared to others. Other homes - your competition - may be in show condition. If yours isn't, it will look tired by comparison. 

Second, your buyer is going to view your home with the opposite attitude from yours. You are presenting something you are proud of - the buyer is going to do his/her best to find as much wrong with it as possible. If they find too much wrong with it, they'll walk. If they like the house, they will try to find enough wrong with it to make a lower offer. The reason they do that is to get you to lower the price. 

You see - the buyer and the seller are opposites. You are trying to sell the home for the most money - the buyer is trying to buy it for the least. Obviously you are going to have to meet- in the middle somewhere. 

Your best strategy to stick to your goal is to disarm the buyer before they even get through the door. Make them want the house so much from the time they drive up in front that they are willing to come up in price to get it. 

That's called curb appeal. 

What makes curb appeal? Curb appeal is an intangible, subjective quality - but it is the one thing that can really sell a house. It is that quality that makes the buyer start thinking emotionally instead of practically. It builds desire, the desire to own and to live a certain lifestyle that the exterior of the home appears to advertise. It can take you back to your childhood to when you had a home just like this one with the flowers in the front and the winding walkway to the door, and a beautiful brass door-knocker on the front door. It is the quality that makes you want to go inside. 

That is why if you have a limited budget to spend on marketing your home, you want to put the majority of it toward sprucing up the front entrance to your home. And a lot of improvement you can do with a little elbow grease.

  • Clear away anything dead - dead leaves, dead flowers. Trim the trees, lift the canopies. 
  • Replace flower beds with fresh blooming flowers. If you don't have time to grow them from seed, just go buy a few plants. 
  • Paint the front door and anything else that needs painting. Try to choose a neutral color that goes with the brick, roof or trim of your home. 
  • Open the front curtains and shutters. Light the lamps. 
  • Put out a clean, new welcome mat. 
  • Polish the brass door knocker, the mail box, light fixtures, and address numbers. 
  • If you have a front porch, keep it swept clean. Clean the furniture and put nice, new pillows on the chairs. 
  • Keep the garage door closed. Put bikes, tricycles and children's toys out of the way. 
  • Safely lock away pets. If you have a pet that remains in the back yard, let the showing agent know in advance. If your dog is a barker, overly protective, or otherwise ill-mannered, arrange to board it somewhere else during showings. 
  • What your buyer sees from the street is the first impression s/he will have of your home. You want it to be a good one, especially if there is a home down the street for sale that may be a little bit prettier, a little bit bigger, or a little bit something more. Don't worry, you aren't out of the running yet.

Remember, your buyer's first impression of the exterior of the home is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the buyer's walk through. If your buyer has fallen in love with the exterior, s/he will look more favorably on what s/he finds inside. 

Written by Blanche Evans 

Tip 2: It’s the little things that count

It's the little things as well as the big things that count when you are selling your home. You never know what will capture a buyer's fancy and what will turn them off. Most buyers predictably respond to the same things - clean, clutter-free homes in good repair. Your agent may have already suggested that you paint the house, or that you do some major repairs. Those are big ticket items, but what can you do on a small scale to get your home ready to compete on the market? 

There are a few time-honored tricks you can use to make sure your buyer sees what you want them to see, and overlook what you want them to overlook. Keeping your home in tip-top shape for showings will insure that your buyer will offer a higher amount than for a home that isn't showtime-ready. 

Always look at a home from the buyer's perspective. Be objective and honest with yourself. If something bothers you about your home, chances are good it will bother the buyer, too. Do what you can to get rid of the problem. You want to keep objections about your home to a minimum. Preparing a home for market means you'll be putting some elbow grease into it, so get ready.

  • Have a garage sale before the home is listed. Get rid of clutter so that the buyer can really see your home. Clean out what you think you won't need in your next home. Pack away all that you can. Home buyers will expect you to be preparing to move, so a few packing boxes here and there can be used to your advantage. They could be a good visual stimulant to someone who is "on the fence;" they show that you are moving and are serious about finding a buyer. Be sure, though, to find the fine line between clutter and emptiness. 
  • Welcome the buyer at the entry. Put out a new doormat, but avoid mats with cutesy sayings. Clean and polish the brass door knocker. Put potted flowers on the porch. Make sure the front entry floor is always sparkling clean and the porch and steps are always swept. First impressions count. 
  • Stimulate the buyer's imagination by setting the stage. Set the dinner table with your best china. Use the coziness and romance of the fireplace to advantage. Put a pair of wine glasses and a vase of flowers on the coffee table in front of the fire. 
  • Be ruthless about odors. If there is a smell, your house won't sell. Use cleansers of all kinds to make the home smell fresh, from carpet freshener to potpourri. Deodorize cat litter and scoop litter daily. Put cedar chips inside the closets. Be careful with room sprays, they could stimulate allergies. Use the sense of smell to your advantage by having fresh-baked cookies on the kitchen table. 
  • Create a spacious feeling. Make sure that all doors, cabinets and drawers open all the way without bumping into anything or sticking. Clean out the entry closet and put only a few hangers so that the buyer can visualize winter coats. Move oversized furniture to a storage facility. Make sure entrances to all rooms have an open flow. 
  • Make the most of views. Disguise unsightly views. Put a screen or a basket of flowers in front of a fireplace if not in use. Let the breezes move your sheer curtains at the window. Make sure the interior is visible from the street. All windows must be crystal clean and clear. 
  • Create counter space. Store away extra appliances. Put away dish racks, soap dishes and other clutter. Decrease kitchen clutter further by removing magnets from refrigerator. 
  • Avoid eccentric decor. De-personalize your teenager's room, the game room or other areas by removing wild posters or any decorative item that could be construed as offensive. Remove hanging beads in doorways, your children's jars with spiders or bugs, and anything which won't appeal to the masses. 
  • Increase the wattage in light bulbs in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms. For showings, turn on lights in every room. 
  • Put photos of the family enjoying your home in at least three different places.

Now step back. Stand outside the front door, as much as 30 feet away and evaluate the feeling you get. Is the house warm and inviting? Does it feel like home? Now perhaps, it will for a buyer too. 

Written by DeLena Ciamacco and Blanche Evans