Some folks believe when the real estate market is hot, like it is now in the Denver Foothills, you don't need to prepare your home for showings. They believe the buyer is stuck and needs to purchase their home no matter what condition it is in. Well many Realtors would agree with that but the good Realtors will always advise their clients to make their home the best they can no matter what the local market conditions might be. A seller doesn't need to put a lot of money into their home but the home should be clean, organized and things should be functioning. This will assure you receive maximum value and a speedy under contract and closing time.
Invest some time and not your money
You don't necessarily need to put cash into fixing up your home. Sometimes it is more about just making things neat and organized. A good Realtor will tell clients they will need to pack up and move things before the move so why not start today. Put things neatly in boxes and store them in the garage, out building or attack to make the home look bigger and the rooms look more... roomy. You can spend a little money for touch up paint or to do an accent wall but the return you might get from a few dollars is priceless. It could also make the difference of someone making an offer or not. Buyers are still smart. They know if they walk onto a home that is in dis-repair and not well kept that there is most likely no pride in ownership and there could be hidden defects that have gone untreated or unfixed.
What to do first when listing your home
Just like any big project you undertake it might seem like it is hard to find a place to start. It really can be stressful but since your home is usually your biggest investment it is worth it to really take the time and do it right. The first thing is to start to take away all the clutter and personal items. A good rule of thumb is when the buyer leaves your home they should not know anything about you. It's OK to keep up some personal things but don't have your home covered with them for showings. It is hard for the buyer to picture it as their own when they are picturing it as yours.
You might also want to get online and look at pictures of other homes that are for sale in your area. It will give you a good idea of what you are up against. Not only will it give you an idea about price and what you should sell your home for, it will also give you an idea of proper staging and what other sellers are doing with their home.
The things I recommend to a client that is relatively inexpensive and easy to do is to paint and replace the carpet. Painting is an easy thing and not expensive if you do it yourself. There is no need to paint the entire home. You might only need to to an accent wall or two. Sometimes sellers get away with just some touch up. Now with the digital matching of paint it is very easy to get the paint the right color if you don't have an extra gallon sitting around from the last painting. Also sellers should not paint their home their favorite color. Especially if their favorite color is purple. Use neutral or earth tone colors. When it comes to carpets that is a huge improvement. Usually more expensive than painting but very well worth it. So many buyers walk through a home and see stained and stretched carpet and think that is just something else they will need to do right away. If there are pets in the home sometimes replacing the carpet is a must! Even if you are "nose blind" to the smells, many other buyers are not.
Getting the Exterior ready: Remember it is the first thing buyers see
Most buyers these days do a "drive by" before they even contact their broker. In the Denver Foothills, since location is everything, buyers tend to do this all the time. A seller should have their home in show ready shape the entire time it is on the market.
What to do to make your exterior sparkle and shine:
- Make sure you have all your outside lights working. Sometimes buyers drive by your home at night on their way home from work. Make sure it is well lit and warm looking.
- A huge thing in the Denver Foothills is winter time showings. Be sure to keep the driveway cleared and sidewalks shoveled. People worry about the facing of the home and they want to know they will be able to clear ice and snow in the winter.
- Plant wild flowers and put out hummingbird feeders. That is why people move to the mountains. It needs to be pretty.
- Wash windows and sliding glass doors and clean out the tracks.
- Clean out the gutters and downspouts. You never know if a buyer is going to see your home on a rainy day and there is nothing worst than water pouring you their head while trying to make it to the front door.
- Inspect and clean the chimney and flue. This is something that should be done every year for safety reasons anyways, might as well do it now.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles. This is something that will show
- This may sound funny but get a new mailbox and a friendly welcome mat.
- Be sure to mow and trim hedges. People tend to ignore this in the Denver Foothills because we are very "rough'' And "wild Westish" but remember there are a lot of out of state buyers moving to Colorado and they don't know our customs here yet.
- Clean up and park trim your trees. This will help with buyer's insurance concerns as well.
- Be sure to check for cracks in driveways and sidewalks. Repair if needed.
- Rent a power washer at home Depot on a sunny Sunday afternoon and have fun blasting the dirt off of everything.
- Another silly thing is the doorbell. Make sure it works!
- Get rid of those oil stains in the driveway, outbuildings and the garage. Reseal and patch the driveway.
This list might seem huge but it mostly involves time and a few bucks. It is certainly worth it for your biggest investment.
To stress the point about buyers not wanting to see personal things. It should be brought up a couple of times. Most sellers just hear it and forget it. It is very important for sellers to understand this simple and basic idea. Sellers must de-clutter and de-personalize their home before buyers come through. It is real estate 101 and must be done for maximum purchase price and fastest turn around.
- Make sure the inside of your home smells nice. This is were you may need to replace the carpet. Do not use Febreeze or any other masking agents to cover up pet odors or any other odors in your home. Buyers that don't smoke or have animals still can smell it and it makes things worst. It is OK for sellers to have a mild scented product but if it is overwhelming that can turn buyers off as much as the actually smell your are trying to cover up.
- Fix all plumbing issues like leaks and toilets. Yes sometimes buyers need to use your bathroom. Also leaky faucets annoy everyone.
- Scrub the tile and wood floors till they sparkle
- Clean all appliances in the kitchen.
- Store things in boxes and neatly in the garage, attack or out building. Make the home look bigger by having more room in the rooms. If a buyer can't walk into a bedroom they will assume it is just too small. It might not be but appearance and perception are truly everything.
- Patch walls. Touch up paint.
- Work on and replace broken windows
- Get all the ashes out of the fireplace and put logs in them so the buyers see right away that it is a wood burning fireplace and not gas.
- Make sure all lights are working and turned on for showings
- Put some WD-40 on creaky doors
- If you plan on getting rid of old furniture, do it now.
- Deep clean, everything.
- Make sure your bath is sparkling clean.
OK the you have a showing.. What to do before the buyers show up
Always have your home ready to show just in case you can't make it home before an agent sets up a showing. Keep your home in perfect shape the entire length of your listing.
- Keep the kitchen clean. Do the dishes!
- Make sure your pets are not inside. Take them with you is the ideal thing but if they must be home leave them outside.
- Spruce the place up. Some flowers, leave a bowl of snacks and some water. If the buyers have kids it might be the difference of them staying in your home longer or needing to leave because the kids are hungry and cranky from seeing homes all day.
- Play some soft nice music....On the radio.... don't break out your guitar and play.
- Leave the house, leave the house, leave the house! The buyers do not need a guided tour by you or your listing broker. They have seen many homes before yours and know how to walk through your home.