No one wants to live in limbo with their house on the market for months on end. Fortunately, there are many ways to catch the eye of prospective buyers and make your home sell faster. Better yet, most don't cost more than a few dollars and a generous application of elbow grease, regardless of whether you live in New York City or Dubuque, Iowa. Here are 21 tips from veteran real estate agents to make your home stand out.
21 Ways to Make Your House Sell Faster
Your house is special, and you want buyers to know that. Instead of just listing the bare facts, tell a story about your home in the listing brochure, says David Crowley, a broker with One Boston Real Estate. You can focus on an interesting previous owner or maybe simply the fact that it's the place where you raised three kids. Your agent can also include this write-up in listings on various online platforms.
Unless you make your living taking photos for Better Homes and Gardens, pay a pro to take photos of your home, Crowley says. Sellers should get a minimum of 10 color photos that will accompany the listings on Zillow and other real estate sites. Fuzzy frames and odd angles are a big turnoff.
While you're at it, have floor plans made, as well -- it's worth the additional expense. You should have printed floor plans ready for the agent to hand out at the open house. They'll help buyers remember your home after a long day of house hunting and help them envision living there, Crowley says.
This isn't just a one-and-done proposition -- you want to show your home to as many potential buyers as possible. Sara Rosenfeld, a Coldwell Banker broker in Somerville, Massachusetts, lists houses on Wednesdays and has daily open houses Thursday through Sunday. "The only way to have a seller get the best price is to expose the property to the widest audience," she says.
You want to get as much money for your home as possible, but don't get greedy. If it's priced too high, buyers will look elsewhere. After all, it's easy to go online and see the selling prices of other homes in the neighborhood. Consider spending a few extra dollars for a market appraisal, says Sam Schneiderman, principal broker of the Greater Boston Home Team.
You may love your home and consider yourself the best person to extol its virtues, but you're better off making yourself scarce when an open house rolls around. No buyer wants to be cornered in the kitchen by an overeager seller.
While you're at it, book a spot at the local kennel for your cat or dog. You may love your pets, but would-be buyers might not. Make sure you expunge any odors, as well -- the smell of a litter box can kill a deal in seconds flat. "Nothing turns buyers off faster than pet, mildew, or cooking odors," Schneiderman says.
There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint to liven up a house. You may just love burgundy red or Big Bird yellow, but it's better to stick with a neutral palette, says Neda Vander Stoep of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Boston.
Dirty windows can be a big turnoff to potential buyers. That means washing both the inside and outside, Vander Stoep says.
You want as many people as possible to know you are selling your home, and that includes your neighbors. Yes, they may be nosy and show up at the open house. But they also may know of a family member or friend who is house hunting, Vander Stoep says. Plus, they presumably will give high marks to the neighborhood. After all, they live there as well.
To make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your home, have a schedule of showings and a clear process for submitting offers when you put your home on the market. "Buyers and their agents like to know how showings and offers are being handled, and this presents your home much more professionally," Crowley says.
It's hard to say which is worse: trying to show off a chilly house to potential buyers or inviting them into a stiflingly hot house. If people are comfortable, they're more likely to linger and admire the home's attributes.
Try to put yourself in the mind of a buyer who is searching online. It's important to highlight key features as well as pricing. Make sure your listing is "clear, concise, and includes all the right keywords," Crowley says.
You want your house to appear bright and airy. Remove heavy drapery from the windows and consider upgrading the artificial lighting, Vander Stoep says.
A dirty house will send buyers running in the other direction. Make sure your house is spotless -- hire someone to come and clean for you if cleaning is not your thing. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, steam clean it, Vander Stoep advises.
Buyers aren't interested in your fine taste in art and furniture. Rather, they want to envision what your house might look like if they were to move in. That means clearing out everything except the bare essentials, including any reminders that someone else lives there, such as family photos. "Get rid of the clutter. ... Let buyers envision themselves living an organized lifestyle in your house," Schneiderman says.
The flashiest real estate broker with the most ads in your market may not always be the best fit. You're really hiring not just one broker but a team. Make sure there is enough talent on the bench so that you're not stuck with a rookie agent at your open house.
This might sound counterintuitive, but be up front about any issues your house might have and sign a disclosure statement, Schneiderman says. If issues come up later in the home inspection, it could head off a round of haggling with a buyer over a price you both previously agreed on.
Fresh flowers throughout the house add a classy touch and will help lure buyers closer to signing on the dotted line, according to Vander Stoep.
The first thing a buyer is going to see when driving up to your house is the front yard and the front of your home. Spend some time on the landscaping, maybe put in some flowers, and paint your front door. First impressions count.
Maybe you can't wait to sell your house and move into a bigger home with more closet space. That's fine, but you don't want prospective buyers to know that. Organize your closet so it looks like you have space to spare, Vander Stoep says.
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