Photo: karl frankowski on Flickr
It’s a buyer’s market in most of America for real estate right now, meaning would-be sellers need to do everything in their power to make their properties look good.”It’s all about supply and demand,” says Elizabeth Mendenhall, CEO of Columbia, Mo.-based Remax Boone Realty and a National Association of Realtors vice president. “There’s more supply on the market these days, so you need to figure out a way to increase demand for your property — and one of the ways to do that is to improve its image.”
You might think your place looks nice enough, but NAR research shows the average househunter looks at 12 properties before settling on what to buy.
That means your place has to beat out nearly a dozen competitors — often including newly built homes — to land a buyer.
“Anything you can do to make your home look like it’s in ready, move-in condition will make it much, much more desirable,” Mendenhall says. “Older homes are always compared to new construction, where there’s new paint, new finishes, new everything.”
Here are five quick, relatively inexpensive things every seller should do to maximise a home’s marketability:
Tip No. 1: Clean, clean, clean
Cost: $0-$300 or more
Mendenhall recommends doing a “deep cleaning” yourself or hiring a professional to do it for you.
“Investing in a deep cleaning can have a big return,” she says. “Obviously, people clean to different standards, but you have to remember that buyers will be comparing your house’s appearance to a new home that no one has ever lived in.”
The expert advises thoroughly cleaning or vacuuming all surfaces, including floorboards, baseboards, windows, blinds, crevices, corners, eaves and alcoves.
Don’t forget the front door and entryway, and wheel out the refrigerator to clean under and behind it. Outside, pull up all weeds and make sure the landscaping looks good.
Tip No. 2: Declutter
Removing excess papers, books and tchotchkes from your home will make rooms not only look cleaner, but bigger.
Mendenhall says decluttering will also make it easier for buyers to envision what the home will look like if they live there.
“People want to imagine what the house will look like with their personality, not yours,” she says. “You don’t have to make your home look vacant, but you do want to get rid of loose items so that someone can envision their own things there.”
Mendenhall recommends boxing up, throwing out or selling anything you won’t need for a while.
A good rule of thumb: Try to eliminate at least one-third of everything that’s sitting around.
Tip No. 3: Clean all carpeting
Cost: About $100 per room
Dirty carpets not only hurt a home’s appearance, but can make the place smell if you have pets.
That’s why Mendenhall suggests doing a professional carpet cleaning before putting your place on the market.
You should also consider replacing carpets that are worn, have stains or came in an unusual colour that you love, but buyers might not.
“Not everyone may like your ‘pink princess’ room,” Mendenhall says. “Toning it down with a neutral-coloured carpeting can definitely make your home more appealing to buyers.”
Tip No. 4: Add fresh paint
Cost: $20 and up per room
Repainting any part of a home’s interior or exterior that looks worn will do wonders for your property’s marketability.
“A fresh coat of paint in a neutral tone just gives a home an extra sparkle — an extra freshness about it,” Mendenhall says. “A few hundred dollars can make a big difference in the property’s feel.”
Do-it-yourselfers can expect to pay about $20-$90 per room, depending on the room’s size and the quality of paint used. Exterior costs will vary widely depending on your home’s size.
If you hire a professional, expect to pay about $200 to $300 per room for interior work or $2,000 to $8,000 or more for an outside job.
Tip No. 5: Make your home accessible for showings
You’ll vastly improve the odds of selling your home if you set things up so an agent can show the property at almost any time of the day or week, preferably with little or no notice.
That means making arrangements ahead of time to hide valuables, board or lock up pets, keep your house constantly clean and provide a lockbox for agents to get keys to the place.
“You’d be surprised at how many times I have a seller decline to do a showing because it doesn’t fit in with their schedule,” Mendenhall says. “But if a buyer can’t see your property, it’s very unlikely that they’ll buy it.”