How Can I Sell My Home Fast?
"How can I sell my home fast?" is a question our clients ask us all the time. We want selling your home to be quick and painless for you, and we want you to feel you've gotten the maximum price you could for it. We want your home to make such an impression on buyers and agents that our phones are buzzing with requests for appointments to tour it. Then we want a great offer to purchase to follow quickly on the heels of the first batch of showings. How wonderful!
The key to selling your home fast is properly preparing your home to go on the market. While it might be tempting to throw your house on the market now and make it look pretty later we generally don't recommend it. Your home gets photographed before it goes on the market. Those photographs and the video tour are your home's major marketing assets. If your home is not properly prepared when the're taken, you're selling yourself short. If your house is shown when it is unprepared you may find yourself, many months later, wishing you'd taken some prep time before putting it on the market. Did you know people form an opinion of your property within the first 15 seconds of their arrival? They're barely out of the car! In order to sell your home quickly you need to enhance your property's first impression before any agent or prospective buyer takes a tour. It's time to think of your home as a product as well as the place you hang your hat. Transform your home into a product your buyers can't resist by making a few of the changes we suggest below and watch it fly off the shelf!
Preparing Your Home For Sale
The First Impression
With only 15 seconds to make a great first impression your home should be picture perfect when buyers pull in the driveway. Here are the top 10 exterior items to address when selling your home.
1. The Roof. Replace any broken or missing shingles and repair fascia boards and flashing. If your roof is in very bad condition it may be a turn-off for buyers who don't want the trouble and expense of a roof replacement.
2. The Siding. Chipping paint or dirty and mossy vinyl siding are buyer turn-offs. Give your home a fresh coat or a good scrubbing and repair any rotten or damaged siding.
3. The Windows. Replace any cracked or broken glass. Clean the windows to a sparkling shine. Paint if touchups are needed and consider installing window boxes with bright flowers.
4. Landscaping. Freshly trimmed shrubs, a neat and tidy lawn, and well placed potted plants make a home look well maintained and cared for at very low cost. Grab some hedge trimmers and clip until your home looks like it belongs in Better Homes and Gardens. In the winter some tasteful holiday decorating can make your home feel welcoming.
5. Walkways. Repair any cracks or missing bricks in walkways. Clear away any weeds and grass that are breaking through and give them a good sweep. If it's wintertime be sure that the walkways are well cleared of snow for photographs, video filming and tours.
6. The Driveway. In Upstate New York the driveway is important feature in a home. Repair any cracks, consider resealing and give it a good cleaning. If there are any items like toys or waste cans that usually call your driveway home, remove them to a less conspicuous place. If possible your vehicles should be parked elsewhere for the photo shoot, video shoot and for showings.
7. Gutters and Downspouts. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are in good repair and if runoff areas are eroded install concrete "spillways'.
8. The Doorway. The doorway is the visual focal point of your house and also psychologically important to your buyers. Buyers are looking for the perfect place to spend the next phase of their life. If the doorway to your home is in poor repair or unappealing they're unlikely to feel enthusiastic about entrusting their future happiness to the house. To spruce up the doorway consider repainting, replacing the door hardware, installing a kickplate, upgrading the surrounding light fixtures and placing potted plants nearby.
9. Trees. If you have trees that seem perilously close to falling on your house, or have broken dangling limbs consider having an arborist address the problems.
10. Water Features. If you are lucky enough to have a water feature on your property, show to its best advantage! Have pools, hot tubs and waterfalls working, open, and clean during the photo shoot, video shoot and showings. If you have waterfront property clear the access path to the waterfront so that buyers can safely get a good look.
On The Inside
Preparing your home's interior for sale can present an emotional challenge for many sellers. You love your home, you've made it comfortable for yourself, and it can sting a little to purposely reduce your comfort level. But remember, your home is now a product! A product you want to unload quickly! That means you need to make it as widely appealing as you can. If selling your home is a priority you may have to let go just a little. A good way to think about it is to make your home look as much like a model home as you can. Who knows, you might find you love it that way!
Your home should smell clean and neutral (avoid using commercial air "fresheners", they will irritate a chemically sensitive buyer). The entire house should be free of pet smells and hair, and free of the scents of tobacco and cooking. We all become accustomed to the smell of our own homes, so ask a friend to tell you honestly if there are any odors when they walk in.
Do the small repairs that will make a big difference. Touch up paint, replace broken light fixtures and bulbs, update passe switch plates and repair any holes and cracks in the walls, doors and trim.
Here are our top tweaks for your interior.
1. Declutter. We've all watched the HGTV shows where a cluttered home becomes a near-palace with some sorting, recycling and organizing. Pretend you're on one of those shows and go to town. There are a couple reasons to really declutter when selling your home. If things are neatly organized in storage spaces a home appears to have ample storage. Leave a little breathing room in your storage areas and buyers will feel like there's more than enough room for all their stuff. A closet with nothing stored on the floor warms the cockles of a buyer's heart. Decluttering also allows a buyer to really see the home's features like flooring, trim and windows. Pack away items that don't enhance your home's decor, any items that make a strong political or religious statement, and any items that make your rooms feel busy.
2. The Entry. In the entry your home gets a chance to make a good first impression. Your entry should be well lit, uncluttered and comfortable. The colors all over the house should be neutral (whites, beiges, and greys), but neutrality is particularly important in the entry. If you have a stunning antique or piece of art that would work well in the space go ahead and place it here for maximum impact. Shine up the floors and make sure paint is fresh.
3. The Kitchen. Presenting your kitchen well is imperative if you want to sell your home fast. Put away all small appliances, dish racks, paper towel dispensers, and doo-dads, shine floors, clean and organize cabinets, clean appliances and make sure the area is well lit. If your kitchen is very dated or in really bad shape you may want to consider some upgrades. However, speak to an agent before you make any major investments, the advisability of making a large change can be affected by your home's price point and location.
4. The Bathrooms. We'll start with the obvious. Make sure your bathrooms are spotlessly clean. Scrub and seal grout lines, remove soap scum, and neatly store all personal care items that don't enhance the decor of the room. Kick it up a notch by replacing old toilet seats, lighting fixtures and shower curtains (remember keep it neutral, you might love a new Skull and Crossbones shower curtain, but chances are only a small percentage of buyers will feel the same way). A small vase of fresh flowers and appropriate decorative items are great finishing touches. Matching fresh towels are a must.
5. The Living Room. Buyers look for spacious, impressive living rooms. If your living room is tight on space try adding some mirrors to make it appear bigger and bounce light around the room. If you have a fireplace in your living room clean it and light it up for the photo shoot, video shoot, and for showings when the weather is appropriate. Clean floors and carpets as well as lighting fixtures.
6. The Dining Room. Your dining room should appear to have enough space to seat people comfortably and have a nice atmosphere. This is the one place where we don't recommend following the model home example. A table set for phantom guests is, well....just a little creepy. Instead decorate the center of the table with some fresh flowers and perhaps one or two small decorative objects.
7. The Bedrooms. Don't neglect the bedrooms! "I want to sell my home fast" might just become your famous last words if you do. Bedrooms should be spotlessly clean, with enticingly made beds, fresh flowers, open blinds, and no laundry in sight. If you have children stow away all toys that don't get used frequently, and put away all toys and utilitarian items for the photo and video shoot (move them out of the room while the photographer gets the shots they need and then put them neatly back in the room for showings).
8. The Attic, Basement and Garage. Organize each of these spaces so that they appear spacious and functional. You don't want a buyer discarding your home as an option because they wonder how you'll ever clean up and move out in time for them to move in (this actually happens!). These areas should be well lit, dry, safe, and pest free.
Your home may not need every item on this list to be addressed. Fantastic! If you're not sure, or you need help making decisions about the best course of action, ask one of our Real Estate Agents.