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Thinking of selling your home? Chances are, you’ve heard real estate professionals, neighbors, and friends alike wax eloquent about the importance of things like “first impressions,” “curb appeal,” and “home staging.” Indeed, these industry terms peppered in your conversations hold real weight: Real estate industry research indicates that redesiging your home for maximum appeal can reduce the time a house spends on the market by 30 to 50 percent—and even increase the average selling price by 6 to 20 percent. But not all changes will be a instant-hit and sometimes you might forget a detail in the midst of all the planning that could make or break our sale. Skip the stress, and avoid the following 9 common mistakes to move your home off the market quickly.
LEAVING OUT LITTER AND CLUTTER
Banish all signs of yourself. Clear off the counters, empty the closets, and take down family photos—anything that does not help the prospective buyer visualize how he or she might one day use the space. Even stuff you think doesn’t matter might actually make a difference. For instance, in the garbage area outdoors, are the cans overflowing with trash bags? A visitor might perceive that sort of thing as a sign of neglect. Let buyers know that your home and yard are well-cared-for by cleaning up the property on a regular basis, especially when a listing appointment is on the schedule.
GARDENING WITH GNOMES
You may indeed have a whimsical sense of humor and want to express your personal style with an eclectic selection of yard ornamentation, but not all prospective buyers will share your love of garish garden elves or pink flamingos. Remove all of the clutter from your front and back yards, including excessive or old lawn furniture, children’s toys, and gardening implements typically left in-sight to be handy. Leave just a few tasteful pieces to enhance the homey look of the yard—like a stepping stone or two—and leave the rest to the buyers’ imagination.
DIMMING THE LIGHTS
Remember that many potential buyers visit homes and tour neighborhoods in the evenings—don’t make it difficult for them to find their way to your door! Outdated or broken fixtures should be replaced with attractive, modern lighting and all bulbs should be in working order. Many new and attractive solar and LED exterior lighting choices available at a relatively low price; these will add to the overall impression that your house has been well-maintained and updated regularly.
MAKING YOUR YARD…MEMORABLE
Don’t let an unkempt or unique yard scare buyers away. Keep your lawn and garden looking neat and tidy with regular maintenance like watering and mowing the grass; pruning low-hanging tree branches; trimming the hedges; pulling or treating weeds; and so on. Attractive landscaping will make the yard feel inviting and lively. Just steer clear of unusual landscaping, such as front yard vegetable gardens or large statuary, which may not garner a universal appeal. Before selling, ask a neighbor to assess whether any of your choices might be considered weird or even slightly off-putting in the eyes of someone else.
NOT EMPTYING THE NEST
Full shelving units, cabinets, or closets will look cluttered, not convenient and ready to hold a new family’s belongings. Really show off your space’s potential by pulling out what you can do without, like this past season’s clothing and kitchenware you haven’t touched in months. Box those items up, and store them with a friend or storage company until the house sells.
FORGETTING ABOUT INSPECTIONS
The biggest mistake a seller can make is to do nothing. You may feel your home looks fine “as is,” but a prospective buyer is going to be going over the house and property with an extremely critical eye. A good way to identify areas of concern is to schedule a pre-listing home inspection. Draw up an action plan of items to address before actually listing your home. A bit of forethought and planning in the beginning will save you a tremendous amount of time and aggravation during the sale process.
ASKING TOO MUCH
As much as you’d like profit from placing your home on the market at something slightly higher than the estimated home value, a higher price can limit the amount of interest you receive. You’re better off paying attention to the market and pricing appropriately than lowering the price later when nobody bites—a price drop, no matter the reason, could make the next round of potential homebuyers suspicious that something bust be wrong with the property.
POSTING TOO FEW IMAGES
In these digital days, your home will likely make its first impression on the web. Take the pictures you post seriously—extra angles of each space, crisp focus—as they could be key in clinching an in-person viewing with a prospective homebuyer. If you doubt your own photography skills and don’t know anyone handy with a fancy camera, consider making room in the budget to hire a professional.
LISTING TOO EARLY
There’s a precise order that goes into prepping your house for a sale. First, you thoroughly clean and stage—yes, well before any visitor drops by—in order to photograph for your listing. Then, you tie up any loose ends with maintenance and inspections. Finally, when you’re ready to open your doors to prospective buyers and not a second sooner, you publish your official listing. While you may want to share those high-quality interior images immediately, the most interest will occur in the first couple of weeks after your house is listed, and you don’t want to miss out on any interested buyers because you have a bit of work left to finish up.
Written by Donna Boyle Schwartz of Bob Vila