Friday, September 20, 2019

Soggy September Need Not Dampen your Listing

This has been a bit of a wet month, hasn't it? If you have a fresh listing and are concerned about the soggy situation keeping buyers at bay, fear not. The rules of engagement for autumn simply need to be applied a little early this year.

I have written at length about prepping your listing for the market and it the same rules apply. You need to create and early positive reaction in the process. A big part of the marketing job has already been successful if the buyer is coming in for a showing. Keep in mind that crappy weather tends to scare off the looky-loos but the serious buyers are not deterred.

The same rule of quality professional images and a tidy and minimalist approach will get buyers and their agents attracted to the listing on the Multiple Listing Service as well as consumer sites such as Realtor®.com and Zillow.

Now that the buyer has shown up, the importance of starting off in the plus column is critical. Curb Appeal is a thing, friends and it matters. That front yard and / or entry way need to look as good as humanly possible. When the first arrive they need to get a warm a fuzzy feeling, like, "wow this is nice." If they pull up and immediately think, "this is dumpy," they will likely start looking for other negative features. If they arrive to a clean, tidy and nice property, they tend to focus on other nice things about the house.

This market is neutral right now, well priced listings will sell, overpriced listings will sit. But a well staged home will get a better price and will find a buyer quicker. When I say "staged" I do not necessarily mean profession staging, but rather personal staging which is often more than enough.

One thing that is often overlooked is clogged rain gutters. With this early rainfall, we do not want to walk under dripping or worse, overflowing rain gutters anywhere in the front of the house nor at the rear exit to the yard.

Here is a top ten tips for staging from

Stage where it counts

Not all rooms are considered equal when it comes to home staging. You want to focus your efforts on the rooms that have the biggest potential to influence buyers’ decisions, and spend less time on the rooms that won’t make much of a difference. Per the NAR report mentioned above, the rooms that hold the most importance for buyers are the living room, master bedroom, and kitchen. These are the rooms that you want to focus the most on when you’re staging a home. Don’t worry as much about the rooms that have less influence, such as guest bedrooms, children’s bedrooms, and bathrooms.

(Rod's comment, "the entryway both outside and inside are also critical)

De-personalize the space

One of the primary objectives of home staging is to help prospective buyers visualize the space as their own. The fastest way to accomplish this is to set as blank of a canvas as you can. You want the home to have style and charm, but it should be devoid of personal touches that suggest this home belongs to the seller, not the buyer.

Start by removing any personal photos, making sure to take down both framed photos on walls and surfaces and anything that’s hanging on your fridge. Keep clothes stored away and out of sight, and clear bathroom counters of personal items, like toothbrushes and contact solution. Remove anything overtly religious as well. While it’s true that de-personalizing your home makes it a little weird to live in, it is extremely useful for helping buyers better connect with the property.

(Rod's comment, "minimalism works")

Get rid of clutter

Clutter takes up space, and space is what sells. Make your home look bigger and more desirable by editing down to just the basics. You don’t have to get rid of things forever, but you should certainly be packing them up and getting them out of the house. This includes any un-seasonal clothes (no need to crowd your front hall closet with winter coats in the summer), most of your d├ęcor (you can keep a few select pieces if they’re subtle or minimalistic), papers, games, and pretty much anything else that you don’t need on a day to day basis. Buyers will be opening your closets to look at their storage potential, so take your time there removing as many miscellaneous and non-crucial items as you can. The less clutter you’ve got in the space, the bigger it will look and the more appealing it will be to buyers.

Clean like you’ve never cleaned before

Spring cleaning has nothing on the cleaning you should do when you’re putting your home on the market. You want every square inch to shine, from the baseboards to the corners of your ceilings and everywhere in between. A squeaky clean home suggests to buyers that the current tenants took good care of the property, a notion that extends beyond the kitchen counter tops to the entire house. If you’ve neglected certain tasks, like cleaning the inside of your refrigerator or regularly dusting your window blinds, now is the time to tackle them.

The cleaning you’ll do for staging purposes has similar steps to the deep clean you do when you move into a new home, so start with those and add on as you need to.

(Rod's comment, "people tend to be a bit judgmental, cleaning is a big deal, buyers are often emotional so do not under estimate the importance here.)

Patch and repair

Home staging is a good time to tackle the tiny nicks, scratches, holes, and other impurities that signal neglect to buyers. Start with a melamine foam eraser pad and go room to room removing any scuffs from walls. Keep an eye out for any areas that could use a little TLC, then spackle and caulk as necessary. You may need to do some paint touch ups too, if you notice areas where previously applied paint has chipped. Just like with cleaning, the purpose is as much about showing potential buyers that you’ve put effort into maintaining the property as it is about making the place look nice.

(Rod's comment, "sometimes a property may be a bit rough, maybe even a 'fixer' so this part may be skipped if a fixer upper is part of the strategy, however, even a fixer needs to follow the the rest of the 'rules')

Go neutral

This staging tip is a bit more time and cost intensive, but it can make a major difference when it comes to your sale price and time on the market. Bright colors on walls help people express their personality in their homes, but they can be a major turn-off for buyers. When you’re staging your home to sell, one of the very best things you can do is paint over any garish colors with neutrals, like gray, white, and taupe. Bold colors can distract from a room’s assets, and like photos and clothes, are bold signifiers not of the home’s future, but of its past. Buyers might want bright colors themselves, but a neutral home gives them the option to do that – or not.

(Rod's comment, "same as above")

Make a good first impression

The first thing a buyer is going to see when they walk up to your house is the front entrance, so you want it to make a strong positive impression. Remove any sort of seasonal decorations, which can date a house in both pictures and during viewings. If you have a front stoop, consider power washing it, or at least scrubbing off any dirt. Then add a touch of hominess with a simple doormat and perhaps a potted plant or two, provided they are in perfect condition (a dead or dying plant will do you no favors). Keep the space simple but welcoming to start buyers off on the right foot and suggest good things to come inside.

(Rod's comment, "This should be number one. Remember, we want them looking for pros, not cons")

Focus on fresh

While too many extraneous items in a home can detract from its perceived value, a few healthy, well-placed plants and flowers can add life and freshness into the space. Space them out so as not to clutter any one particular area, but try to have a couple fresh items in areas that matter. Place a vase full of big, bright flowers in the center of your kitchen table, a small potted plant or some succulents in the living room, and perhaps a larger potted plant in the corner of the living room as well. Don’t have the time or green thumb to maintain fresh plants? Fake plants will set the same atmosphere with less work.

Another aspect of freshness is making sure there are no odors. A deep clean should take care of any lingering smells, but also be sure to always clear out your trash bin before showings so buyers aren’t hit with any offensive scents. You may want to install a small scented plug-in in a couple of rooms too (or just one may be okay, depending on the size and layout of your home). If you do that, keep it on a low setting – you want the smell to be pleasant, but subtle.

(Rod's comment, "fresh, fresh, fresh, pet odors and other lingering odors can lead people to conclusions that are likely unfavorable to purchase or pricing attitude.")

Let there be light

Dark rooms are sad rooms. Brighten up by letting as much light shine in the house as possible. Open the blinds on all of the windows, which in addition to letting in more light will also make rooms seem bigger. (If your yard needs a bit of work, keep blinds down but open the slats to get a similar effect without showcasing any problem areas.) Turn on all the lights in your house for showings, including lamps and closet lights. This well help make your home more welcoming, and also saves buyers from having to stumble around figuring out which switches turn on which lights.

(Rod's comment, "This is critical, although some people like dark spaces, most do nit, those who do will make the space dark when they move in. It is nearly impossible to make your listing too bright. This rings especially true in the notoriously cloudy, Pacific Northwest)

Rearrange your furniture

You want there to be as much open, walk-able space as possible. This helps buyers navigate the space, and also helps them better visualize their own furniture in each room. Put extraneous furniture in storage to get it out of the way, focusing on getting rid of any over-sized pieces, damaged pieces, and those that that don’t match the rest of the room. With the furniture that’s left, rearrange it to make the room look and feel as spacious as possible.

Staging a home to sell doesn’t require spending a lot of money – just making smart decisions. Your agent should be able to help you make specific changes that will add value to your home and entice the buyers who come for viewings. Once you know you’ve done everything you can to show your home in the best light possible, you can sit back and wait for the right buyer to stop by.

(Rod's comment, "This is cheap and easy, if you don't have the money for an external storage area, the garage is fine. The garage is an important part of the home but is also the most generic part as well. If there is one area that has to be cluttered the garage is it, ideally you get an external storage location.")

Some of these tips are low cost to no cost options and could lead to better offers. Spend a few hours prepping your home so you can reap the reward of thousands of dollars on the offer(s).

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