Are you thinking of putting your Weston or Wellesley, Mass. home on the market? Here are some important steps to follow to ensure that your home shows its best.
ON YOUR MARK
1. Talk to a local Realtor® who’s an expert in the Weston-Wellesley MA Real Estate Market
Real Estate agents have seen countless homes prepare to go on the market. Love them or hate them, a Realtor knows what helps a home sell and what distracts or deters a potential buyer from making an offer. I know what you are thinking… As a Realtor, I am simply offering self-serving advice!!! While it is convenient for my first blog post to advocate using a realtor (what, you thought I was going to advise you not to???), once you realize the advantages, I think it becomes readily apparent that the benefits are abundant and practical. Here is why: At no initial cost, you have the opportunity to have a realtor (or realtors) come into your home to discuss its value, condition, current market conditions, and advise you on what needs to be done to get your home “market ready“. You want your home to be at the top of its game while at the same time not over-spend on unnecessary improvements that won’t realistically ever add value to the house. Even if you aren’t sure about putting your home on the market, or may not do so for months or years, it can be extremely helpful to have a realtor come through to look at your home. You can obtain free guidance (still no commitment yet!) on what you should think about improving, removing, painting, staging, replacing, etc. You are never obligated to hire the realtor that helps you in this process. Think of it as a free trial… if you are happy with the help you received and start forming a trusting relationship, then maybe you’ve found a perfect match. If not, you’ve given up nothing.
The worst thing that could happen is for potential buyers to come into your home only to find stuff everywhere: Piles in the corners of rooms, dirty dishes (trust me, we’ve seen this at prospective showings!), mail and bills on the counters or clothes all over the floor. It is hard to believe that people would show their house this way, but it does happen more than you‘d think. It is hard enough for people to envision themselves in someone else’s home, but to have to look beyond a mess only magnifies this problem. Take the time to go room by room and remove the “excess“ stuff. If you have a pile of 6-month old magazines, or clothes you haven’t worn since the 90‘s, or a box of VCR tapes you are planning on breaking out “any day now once VCRs come back into vogue”, chances are you have “excess“. Make good use of your time. The goal is to sell your house, so if you take the time now to purge properly, think how much easier it will be for you when you start packing the boxes. You want people to look at your house – not your excess stuff. This advice also has practical benefits from the perspective on how your house shows – if everything looks cluttered, a potential buyer will think the house doesn’t have enough storage space. Or, worse, you are a slob, and couldn’t have possibly taken good care of the home over the years! You don’t want a buyer’s imagination to start running wild.
This goes beyond the “purging” discussed above. However, the initial clearing out of excess will make this job a lot more manageable. Besides clutter, there is nothing worse than a dirty house. An unkempt kitchen or bathroom is a massive turnoff. Having a grease-splattered stove or a refrigerator with streaks all over it will simply make it more difficult for the buyers to “see themselves” living in this house. The list is endless, though fairly obvious: Dirty dishes? No! Toys all over the tub and bathroom? No thanks. Hair on the floor or in the sink? Yuck. Kids’ pee on the toilet seat? Hmmm… maybe that’s just at my house? Think immaculate! Don’t be afraid to be anal. All beds must be made, clothes off the floor and closets spotless. Overstuffed closets are going to make them appear too small. Oh, and one other thing: Don’t just throw everything into your garage! You want the cleanliness to flow to the basement and the garage as much as possible (if you need to, throw it in your attic! Or your friend‘s garage!) Obviously, the basement/garage don’t need to be as neat as the rest of the house, but make the effort to keep them organized and clean. It is an incremental investment of your time, and can only help the process.
2. Fine Tuning
Now, you’ve moved a bit further along in the process, and your use of an agent is no longer “big picture”, and more “fine tuning”. For example, do you need a new deck or can you just power wash and seal it? A deck is inviting and adds value to the home. If your deck is in horrible condition, potential buyers are not going to look at it as a positive. They will see dollar signs (as in a cost for them!) and you run the risk of them thinking the house will be a money pit. Fix the deck, the garage door, the broken cabinet, the caulking in the bathroom or the broken shutter, etc. The fine tuning stage is where the little things add up to make a large difference.
Along the same lines, an important part of the “fine tuning” process is adding “Curb Appeal”. Almost by definition, the first thing a buyer notices is the exterior of the home. Mow your lawn, pick up all the leaves, plant pretty flowers and fix your light fixtures and mailbox. All of these items make the home more inviting, at minimal cost and effort. The curb appeal sets the expectation. In this case, first impression is everything. If a buyer sees a poorly maintained lawn, paint peeling off the house and broken windows, you‘ve likely already lost them. One quick and easy thing to do is to get a new Welcome mat.
The final part of the “fine tuning” is “Staging your home”. If using the word “staging” makes it sound like you are putting on a show, even a fake show, well… you are. (Self-service alert!) Again, here is where agents can be incredibly helpful – they have heard all the questions, seen most everything (good and bad) and can help you “stage” effectively. “Clean lines” is what I like to call it. That should be what you strive for. For example, staging the kitchen… Take all the appliances off the countertops. This means blenders, coffee makers (I am sure there is a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks within 5 minutes of your home for your caffeine fix), mixers and knife sets. It all needs to go into storage. Go through your cabinets. Remove the excess. Potential buyers love opening cabinet doors and drawers. Make sure that your cabinets are not stuffed to the max. Go through your pantry, your refrigerator, your freezer. Trust me, you’re going to find some pretty gross stuff you didn’t know you still had. Good – now, get rid of it. Put some apples, flowers or something seasonal in a bowl on your kitchen table to warm up the room. Your staging is well on its way.
1. Market Ready
O.k.… you’ve spoken to an agent, purged, cleaned, and staged your home. Your home is now ready to make its debut. You will likely have many different emotions at this time – relief, exhaustion, excitement and likely a little sadness. Most important you should be proud at how much you’ve accomplished (more often that not in a short amount of time). It’s go-time!
Hmmm… I think this one deserves it’s own post. I’ll save it for another day. Stay tuned…
Live, Love and Laugh in your home…