You can spend your time, money, and effort on attracting buyers, selling them on all of the unique features of your home, and building their confidence in you, but without properly preparing and staging the house, the buyers will be turned off and you will fail. Look at your house through the eyes of a prospective buyer. You must anticipate and eradicate anything that could give a buyer a poor first impression.
Here are a few:
An overgrown, messy yard will cause potential buyers to form a preconceived notion that your entire property is in poor condition, inside and out. They may even make them decide against coming inside. The inside could be immaculate, but if the outside looks like a natural habitat for snakes and massive spiders, potential buyers will most likely keep on driving.
Pets in residence. No matter how well-groomed or well-behaved your pets are, not everyone is a pet lover. You have to go on the assumption that your potential buyer doesn’t view your furry child as a sweet companion, but as an animal that sheds, has accidents in the house, and spreads germs and dirt. If you haven’t already, immediately put your pets on flea repellent. One flea bite could send a potential buyer out the door, never to return. In terms of liability, if a potential buyer trips over a pet or is bitten, not only is the sale off the table, but you might be looking at legal problems.
A dirty kitchen and/or bathroom. Kitchens and bathrooms sells houses. You can’t show off your beautiful kitchen with dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and your bath looks like just another locker room with towels all over the bathroom floor, or a dirty sink with blobs of toothpaste and whiskers clinging to the rim. This makes potential buyers feel uncomfortable. Best case scenario, they feel like they’ve put you out, or that they are inconveniencing you and they need to rush out in order to let you have your privacy. Worst case scenario, they might be disgusted and wondering about the overall cleanliness and quality of the house’s upkeep under your ownership. Either scenario is bad for the sale. It bears repeating: kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Make sure yours sparkle!
Dirty windows and sills. Dust the cobwebs out of the corners and keep the window sills neatly dusted and clean. Good quality windows are expensive to replace, so buyers want to know that they won’t have to make this kind of investment any time soon. They look closely at the windows, so clean windows are a must. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, the windows are the soul of the house!
A bedroom that is… not a bedroom. A home office may be part of the American dream, but not necessarily on every potential buyer’s checklist. Turning a bedroom into a working home office is common these days with so many people working virtual jobs, but problems arise when changes are made that destroy the integrity of the room and require renovation to revert the room back into a bedroom. The same holds true for children’s bedrooms that have affixed, permanent structural changes such as a built-in bed in the shape of a pirate ship or Cinderella’s coach. Most potential buyers don’t have any use for these customized designs, so remove them before putting the house on the market. You don’t want to give anyone a reason not to buy!
Repurposed Garage. Many potential buyers want a home with a garage for a secure place to park their cars, store lawn care essentials, and tools. If they discover that behind those garage doors lies a repurposed garage that has been structurally changed, they will be disappointed and might disregard the property entirely. Of course, it’s your home, and you should use the space to suit your needs. Just be aware that if you have made permanent structural changes, you’ve changed the basic design, and you might need to return the home to its original design in order to sell it for your asking price.
Swimming Pool and/or Hot Tub. People usually love a swimming pool and hot tub, but again, visiting with someone who has one is a different ballgame to owning one. Not all buyers are looking to invest in the maintenance and labor required in ownership. The water bill, constant maintenance and cleaning, potential safety hazards, and legal liabilities that come with a pool/hot tub could be enough to discourage buyers. If you have an above-ground pool, it is a good idea to dismantle it and re-sod any dead grass underneath before putting the home on the market.
The housing market is more competitive than ever. As the seller, it’s up to you to go the extra mile to make sure the house stands out head and shoulders from all the other comparable listings.
It’s the small things that can make you thousands of dollars.