2. Preparing to Sell Your House
Preparing To Sell Your Home
One of the great challenges to selling a home can be showing all of its space, decor and natural light potential. For example, every home has crowded closets and dead space. Sellers should be aware that areas such as these are easy to spruce-up with a little elbow grease and old-fashioned innovation.
Begin by evaluating your closet/storage space, determine which areas can cut-down in clutter. Go through old clothes, shoes, etc., and get rid of anything that will not be used and in turn create more space. Consider organizing shelves and other areas to make better use of your storage space, including your garage and basement. Also, try to throw out or give away any old furniture that is no longer of use. All of the discarded items can be given to Good Will, Salvation Army or even sold at a yard sale.
Although most sellers keep their homes clean and well-decorated, it can be difficult to convince a buyer of a home's potential when clutter is noticeable. As an agent, it's my responsibility to offer any tips that will expedite the sale and make the experience more enjoyable for the seller.
Once you've eliminated the unwanted items and furniture, begin the 'renovation' process. For non-storage spaces that could use a little more decor, consider adding a small bookshelf complemented with a cozy reading chair. Always be sure you're filtering as much light into your property as possible. Open or replace curtains. For example, light from a window overlooking the backyard offers a room more color, a great view and the illusion of more space.
Always maximize the potential of existing decor; wash old curtains, re-stain old wood casings, anything that refreshes and emphasizes all the potential of the space and decor of the home.
Prospective buyers are often more drawn to homes with features that they don't have, those with clutter-free closets, open sunny rooms, and cozy little corners. To ensure you've realized all of the above characteristics the last step should be to bring in a friend and observe their reaction. Make sure it's an honest friend, who will offer suggestions as well as notice the improvements. Seeing your own home through someone else's eyes is a great way to make a home optimally attractive and more sellable to prospective buyers.
Be diligent in your efforts and be sure the renovations improve the aesthetic appeal of the home. All the hard work will be worth the reward of a successful sale.
What's Your Style?
Styles of houses vary across the country. From the New England Cape Cod to the Victorians of San Francisco, the choices are almost endless.
Following is a quick guide to help you recognize and use the professional terms for many of the most prevalent house styles:
• Cape Cod: This compact story-and-a-half house is small and symmetrical with a central entrance and a steep, gable roof. Brick, wood or aluminum siding are the materials most commonly seen.
• Dutch Colonial: The Dutch Colonial has two or two-and-one-half stories covered by a gambrel roof (having two slopes on each side, with the lower slope steeper than the upper, flatter slope) and eaves that flare outward. This style is traditionally made of brick or shingles.
• Georgian: Popular in New England, the Georgian has a very formal appearance with two or three stories and classic lines. Usually built of red brick, the rectangular house has thin columns alongside the entry, and multi-paned windows above the door and throughout the house. Two large chimneys rise high above the roof at each end.
• New England Colonial: This two-and-one-half story early American style is box-like with a gable roof. The traditional material is narrow clapboard siding with a shingle roof. The small-pane, double-hung windows usually have working wood shutters.
• Pueblo / Santa Fe Style: Popular in the Southwest, these homes are either frame or adobe brick with a stucco exterior. The flat roof has protruding, rounded beams called vigas. One or two story, the homes feature covered/enclosed patios and an abundance of tile.
• Queen Anne / Victorian: Developed from styles originated in Great Britain, these homes are usually two-story frame with large rooms, high ceilings and porches along the front and sometimes sides of the house. Peaked roofs and ornamental wood trim, many times referred to as “gingerbread,” decorate these elaborate homes.
• Ranch: These long, low houses rank among the most popular types in the country. The ranch, which developed from early homes in the West and Southwest, is one-story with a low-pitched roof. The raised ranch, which is also common is the U.S., has two levels, each accessible from the home’s entry foyer, which features staircases to both upper and lower levels.
• Southern Colonial: This large, two-to-three-story frame house is world famous for its large front columns and wide porches.
• Split-levels: Split-level houses have one living level about half a floor above the other living level. When this type of home is built on three different levels, it is called a tri-level.
• Tudor: Modeled after the English country cottage, Tudor styling features trademark dark-wood timbering set against light-colored stucco that highlights the top half of the house and frames the numerous windows. The bottom half of the house is often made of brick.
These are just a few of the many styles of homes available across the country – some are more prominent in different areas than others.
What home improvements really pay off when the time comes to sell your house?
That’s an important question for any homeowner contemplating moving or remodeling. And the only possible answer is a somewhat complicated one.
That answer starts with the fact that really major improvements – room additions, total replacements of kitchens and baths, etc. - rarely pay off fully in the near term. It ends with the fact that small and relatively inexpensive changes can pay off in a big way in making your home attractive to buyers if your decision is to move now.
It’s often the case that the most appropriate major improvements are unlikely to return their full cost if a house is sold within two or three years.
Does that mean that major home improvements are always a bad idea? Absolutely not. It does mean, though, that if your present house falls seriously short of meeting your family’s needs you need to think twice – and think carefully – before deciding to undertake a major renovation. Viewed strictly in investment terms, major improvements rarely make as much sense as selling your present home and buying one that’s carefully selected to provide you with what you want.
Even if you have a special and strong attachment to the house you’re in and feel certain that you could be happy in it for a long time if only it had more bedrooms and baths, for example, there are a few basic rules that you ought to keep in mind.
Probably the most basic rule of all, in this regard, is the one that says you should never – unless you absolutely don’t care at all about eventual resale value – improve a house to the point where its desired sales price would be more than 20 percent higher than the most expensive of the other houses in the immediate neighborhood.
Try to raise the value of your house too high, that is, and surrounding properties will pull it down.
Here are some other rules worth remembering:
Never rearrange the interior of your house in a way that reduces the total number of bedrooms to less than three.
Never add a third bathroom to a two-bath house unless you don’t care about ever recouping your investment.
Swimming pools rarely return what you spend to install them. Ditto for sunrooms – and finished basements.
If you decide to do what’s usually the smart thing and move rather than improve, it’s often the smaller, relatively inexpensive improvements that turn out to be most worth doing.
The cost of replacing a discolored toilet bowl, making sure all the windows work or getting rid of dead trees and shrubs is trivial compared with adding a bathroom, but such things can have a big and very positive impact on prospective buyers. A good broker can help you decide which expenditures make sense and which don’t, and can save you a lot of money in the process.
Fully preparing your home for sale can make considerable difference in the time it takes to sell it. You can help eliminate buyer objections before they arise by making necessary repairs and improvements, some of which are suggested below.
- Spruce up gardens and lawn; trim shrubbery and replace dead plants.
- Yard and patio should be neat; outdoor furniture should be clean and in good shape.
- Clean or paint your front door - remember first impressions last longest!
- Manicure your front yard, driveway and entry - you can’t sell what you can’t see.
- Check that door numbers, mailbox, and exterior lighting are all in good repair.
- Touch up with fresh paint as needed.
- Inspect chimney for cracks or earthquake damage.
- Repair loose trim, drainpipes and fencing.
- Clean stains; clean window screens.
- Remove clutter; tidy up shelves.
- Wash floor so it looks clean and spacious.
- Apply fresh paint as needed…brighten your interiors with neutral-toned paint.
- Clean draperies and carpets.
- Replace burned out light bulbs.
- Clean fireplace, remove smoke stains from wall and mantle.
- Sinks, appliances and counter tops should sparkle without any clutter.
- Wax the floor.
- Clean oven, range and other appliances.
- Clean tile and grout; replace if necessary.
- Clean mirrors, glass, chrome and porcelain surfaces.
- Replace shower curtain if necessary.
- Fix any faucet drips or leaks.
- Clean tile, grout and caulking; replace if necessary.
- Doors and drawers should open and close easily.
- Remove clutter; tidy up shelves and racks.
- Shoes and clothes should be neatly arranged.
- Check the basics around the house. It takes just a minute to check all doors, windows and cabinets to make sure they don’t stick, squeak or are too loose.
- Clean your furnace & water heater, so buyers know they are looking at a house that has been well maintained.