You’ve heard the expression “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Selling a home is just like marketing any other product. The more effort you put into the marketing, the more results you are likely to see in terms of activity and offers.
The first thing to realize is that whatever condition your home is in, it probably is not in “show” condition. There are items we learn to live with to the point that we forget the little eyesores and honey-do’s that never got done. Over the years, clutter accumulates. Our eyes adjust to that low light and that fading paint color. We love the home as it is, and fail to see what the home is like compared to others. Other homes – your competition – may be in show condition. If yours isn’t, it will look tired by comparison.
Second, your buyer is going to view your home with the opposite attitude from yours. You are presenting something you are proud of – the buyer is going to do his/her best to find as much wrong with it as possible. If they find too much wrong with it, they’ll walk. If they like the house, they will try to find enough wrong with it to make a lower offer. The reason they do that is to get you to lower the price. Remember the buyer and the seller have opposite goals. You are trying to sell the home for the most money – the buyer is trying to buy it for the least.
Your best strategy to stick to your goal is to disarm the buyer before they even get through the door. Make them want the house so much from the time they drive up in front that they are willing to come up in price to get it.
That’s called curb appeal.
What makes curb appeal? Curb appeal is an intangible, subjective quality – but it is the one thing that can really sell a house. It is that quality that makes the buyer start thinking emotionally instead of practically. It builds desire, the desire to own and to live a certain lifestyle that the exterior of the home appears to advertise. It can take you back to your childhood to when you had a home just like this one with the flowers in the front and the winding walkway to the door, and a beautiful brass doorknocker on the front door. It is the quality that makes you want to go inside.
That is why if you have a limited budget to spend on marketing your home, you want to put the majority of it toward sprucing up the front entrance to your home. And a lot of improvement you can do with a little elbow grease. Here are a few ideas.
* Clear away anything dead – dead leaves, dead flowers. Trim the trees, clean up the flower beds.
* Tune up the grass – make it as green or greener than your neighbors. Clean up any winter kill.
* It’s spring time so plant some blooming flowers for color. Add some potted plant containers.
* Paint the front door, trim, fence and anything else that needs painting. Try to choose a neutral color that goes with the brick, roof or trim of your home.
* Open the front curtains. Clean the windows. Turn on the lights.
* Put out a clean, new welcome mat.
* Check out your gutters and downspouts.
* Consider repairing or redoing the concrete flatwork if it is severely cracked or dangerous.
* Polish the brass doorknocker, the mailbox, light fixtures, and address numbers.
* If you have a front porch, keep it swept clean.
* Take the hose and wash down the front of your home removing the winter dirt and grime. And while you are at it, you may as well do the rear and the patio.
* Keep the garage door closed. Make sure it is clean. Put bikes, tricycles and children’s toys out of the way.
* Safely lock away pets. If you have a pet that remains in the back yard, let the showing agent know in advance. If your dog is a barker, overly protective, or otherwise ill mannered, arrange to board it or take it with you during showings.
What your buyer sees from the street is the first impression they will have of your home. You want it to be a good one, especially if there is a home down the street for sale that may be a little bit prettier, a little bit bigger, or a little bit less money or something more. Don’t worry, you aren’t out of the running yet.
Remember that your buyer’s first impression of the exterior of the home is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the buyer’s walk through. If the buyer has fallen in love with the exterior, they will look more favorably on what they find inside.
Ask your real estate professional to critique your home and offer suggestions for developing curb appeal. And then, get started inside!