Home Seller Tips

Posted by Judy Orr on Sunday, April 18th, 2010 at 11:15am.

selling tips for your orland park homeIt's that time of year again - the Spring season is upon us and buyers are out looking.  This means I am seeing more and more mistakes sellers are making in the presentation of their homes.  Every year around this time I write a post about how to best show your home in order to get a quick sale at top dollar.

This is not going to be a long list of everything a seller should do, but just what I've seen recently.

1.  Clean and de-clutter - you'd think this would be a given, but I can't tell you how many homes I show where you can't see the kitchen counter or sink with all the food, dishes and clutter, piles of clothes all over (clean and dirty) and just very messy houses.  My house is up for sale and I am not the fussiest house keeper around but when it's time to show my home to prospective buyers you could almost eat on my floor.

Cleaning up doesn't really cost a lot of money (except for storage boxes, extra garbage bags, driving to donate something, cleaning products and time).  Here's what happens to a messy house; buyers cannot see the house for the mess.  It doesn't matter how low the price is (and most of the messy houses were definitely priced lower than the competition), many buyers are visual and cannot imagine what the house would look like without the stuff all around.  They cannot picture themselves in such a house and they quickly walk through and go on to the next one.

Messy and cluttered houses can cost you thousands of dollars.  In one instance, a terribly unkempt house was around $50,000 less than it could have been if it showed better and my clients still weren't interested.  The seller could hire a weekly cleaning crew for a lot less than $50,000 but obviously doesn't understand how much money is being lost.

2.  Get rid of your personal stuff - You could have a clean and tidy home but all of your family portraits can distract many buyers.  Instead of looking at the home, they're looking at your photos.  Same goes with extensive collections or books that you might like but whose titles or themes could offend buyers.

If your collection is overflowing pack some of it up.  You want to sell your home, right?  Then pack up those family portraits and you can display them in your next place once you've sold your current home and can move on.

3.  Turn on the lights!  Walking into a dark home, especially when coming in from a sunny day, makes your place look dark and not
inviting.  To make me fumble for light switches, many that don't make sense, is not helping to make a buyer to feel immediately welcomed in your home and able to see everything.

I have all of my pre-showing items down pat now that my home is up for sale.  I walk through the house from top to bottom and turn on all lights, including closets and I open all the shades.  For my louver shades I open them up via the louver, not pull the shade up.  For my Roman shades I open them halfway.  Also, if it's a warm day I turn on the ceiling fans to the lowest setting and I'll pop open windows to showcase the nice breeze.  Of course, if it's too warm you need the a/c running, but we're not there yet.

4.  Get out of the house - nothing makes buyers more uncomfortable than having the seller following us around or sitting in another room.  The weather is getting nice enough to be able to take a walk if you have nothing else to do.

I recently had an over-friendly seller greet us at the door, tell us his name and his baby's name and shake our hands.  That might seem like a very cordial thing to do, but my buyers do not need to meet the seller and his family at every house we visit.  I expected this seller to vamoose once the intros were done but he lingered in his kitchen as he and his wife were busy doing something prior to their walking out to the yard.  These sellers were not prepared - they should have been ready just prior to the earliest appointment time and been ready to leave.  They were still in the kitchen fumbling around while we ended up viewing it.  And he was walking into other rooms of the house while we were there.

Because they were in the kitchen neither my buyers nor I could really spend time in there and look it over very well.  And even when they finally went outside, my buyers were ready to go out the front door.

This might have been how it was when I started in the business 26 years ago, but it is common courtesy, and a good sales tactic, to not be home or leave the house as soon as the buyers arrive.  When you are there, whether you are trying to "sell" your place or not, buyers are uncomfortable and rush through the home.

Keep in mind, buyers know whether they like a place very quickly when they step inside.  If your home isn't giving them a good feeling then the mention of the whole house speaker system isn't going to make a difference.

This is a buyer's market and might be a buyer's market for years to come.  If you want to sell your home for market value you need to have the best home in the price range.  You need to make it welcoming with lights on, clean looking and smelling and be out of the house during the showing.  It is hard to sell a property today and a little thing a buyer doesn't like will push them to the next home.

If you're looking to buy or sell a Chicago suburbs home, click the link and fill out the quick and easy Home Finders Form to get listings sent directly to your e-mail.  Or call Judy Orr at 708-536-8200.

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