Marianne Leonard Cashman's Blog
Selling your home can be an exciting time because it usually represents a positive change in your life. Chances are, putting your house on the market means you're moving up in your career, expanding your family, or even retiring.
Regardless of the reason you're selling your home, one thing's for certain: You'll want the process to go as smoothly as possible!
The first step to making that happen involves choosing a real estate agent who's experienced, easy to work with, familiar with your neighborhood, and ready to help you navigate the many twists and turns of selling your home. If this is the first time you've sold a home -- or if you haven't done it in a decade or more -- you'll need lots of advice on everything from pricing your home correctly to enhancing its appearance and making the best possible impression on potential buyers.
Since you usually don't get a second opportunity to make a great first impression, there are two crucial concepts to remember that can make or break your chances of selling your house at the best price and in a relatively short period of time.
Curb Appeal: One of your top objectives in listing your house is to attract as many qualified buyers as you can. The first hurdle you'll need to clear is making your property look inviting from the outside.
Whether you're selling real estate or consumer products, attractive packaging is what catches people's attention and draws them in. The outside appearance of your home and yard is the first thing that triggers either interest or disinterest among prospective buyers. House hunters often make a snap decision in a matter of seconds about whether to pursue a real estate listing, and that decision is typically based on factors like the condition of your lawn, the neatness of your shrubbery, and the appearance of the exterior off your house.
Basic ways to enhance your home's curb appeal would include applying a fresh coat of paint, maintaining a manicured lawn, and -- if the season allows -- placing colorful potted or hanging flowers on your porch or near your front door. Good curb appeal advice would vary, depending on the style, size, layout, and condition of your property, so the best place to turn for customized curb appeal ideas would be your real estate agent.
Home Staging: Most people are familiar with the concept of home staging, but don't necessarily know how to go about it in the most effective way. Part of the problem stems from the fact that homeowners can't objectively look at their own home and see what needs to be improved or changed. Outside opinions, such as those from a professional home stager, Realtor, or home decorator, can be extremely helpful. If you happen to have a friend or relative with a flair for home organizing or decorating, they may be willing to provide you with some productive suggestions, too!
Preparing your house to sell can mean different things in different markets. You want your home to be competitively priced and attractive to the buyer, so you put some extra effort into staging and end up with no takers. What happened?
Despite what you see in decorator magazines and on television, sometimes less is more, way more when it comes to staging your home.
Here are some areas to watch out for when following staging “advice.”
- Over the years, real estate agents have shared the notion that freshly baked cookies or bread evoke a warm and welcoming atmosphere. But unless you're offering the treats to share, leave the baking to the shop down the street. The idea has run its course and appears to be just what it is—a sales tactic that might backfire on you.
- In the same vein, don't light scented candles all over the place. What seems delightful to you may be overpowering to your potential buyer. They may be wondering just what you're trying to cover up. Instead, open the windows and air it out. Or use an odor-removing spray with a "fresh" or "linen" scent.
- Don’t cover the windows. Don’t buy new blinds, new drapes, new valances, or sheers. Just don’t! Your windows should be as lightly-dressed as possible. Remove or pull up shades to let the dazzling sunlight stream through the clean glass. Chances are, your buyer has different taste from you, so spending money on new window coverings would be a lose-lose!
- Leave the music and television off. Since you don't know your buyer's taste in music any more than you know their taste in candles, allow the home's everyday sounds to become music to the buyers' ears.
- Don’t decorate every surface. It’s easy to do when using magazines or home décor shows as your guide, but savvy buyers want to see the nitty-gritty surfaces. They want to know what they’re buying, and not worry about what you’re covering up with all that stuff.
- During holidays or events, don’t overdo the celebratory decorations. These become distractions and may turn off your buyers.
- If you've painted a room a deep shade of red or purple, consider painting it light and bright before your open house. Regardless of how popular they are in theory, homes with darker shades don't sell as quickly as lighter hues.• Don't leave family portraits and very personal items hanging on walls or filling display spaces. You want the buyers to imagine themselves there, not to see you.
When staging your home for sale, opt for less, not more. Less furniture, fewer window coverings, and limited décor give your home its best chance. For more ideas on home staging, talk to your local real estate agent.