Thursday, January 31, 2013

Selling in the New Year!

When you sell your home is not as important as how you sell your home.

Whether the market is sluggish or red hot, your home will sell faster and for more money if you put some effort into improving the condition. This does not mean pouring thousands of dollars into remodeling. Sometimes, it’s as simple as cleaning, de-cluttering, and taking care of minor maintenance.

Buyers want to know that the homeowners have taken care of their home. Burned out light bulbs, doors that stick, drawers that won’t slide easily, are all signs of a home that hasn’t been properly maintained. These little inconveniences that you have learned to live with can be downright unacceptable to buyers. No one wants to buy a home that comes with a fix-it list a mile long. As that list grows in the minds of buyers, the price they want to offer goes down! And, first impressions start at the curb, so don’t forget that exterior maintenance, as well.

So, get out those tools, grab that can of WD-40, and get your home in shape!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Your Home "Picture Perfect"?

A large majority of today’s buyers start their home search on the internet.  What does that mean to you? It means the first impression buyers get of your home could be photos posted online. And, they need to be pretty darn good to make your home stand out.

Would it be safe to say that if the home looks good in person, it will also look good in photos? There are a few things to remember to make the photos of your home the best they can be.

So, if you have a small room, edit the amount of furniture, and make sure what is in there is the proper scale. A large sectional sofa in a small family room is going to eat up even more space in a photo. And, an overly large room will appear even bigger if there is too much empty space.

A pop of color is crucial in photos. They have a tendency to wash out color, so the room you thought was colorful enough, may not photograph that way. The solution can be as simple as adding some colorful throw pillows on a couch, or a vibrant piece of art on the wall.

Light says cheery and dark says dreary! Natural light can cast an appealing glow on your home, so take advantage of it. Open those curtains and blinds, but the best time of day to have your home photographed is early morning or in the evening. The sun is lower, and your photos will be softer with less contrast.

Clutter is even more apparent in photos. It’s hard for buyers to concentrate on the home, when there are hairdryers on the bathroom counters, a collection of remote controls on the coffee table, or a dining room table stacked high with the family’s belongings.

People and pets in photos are a no-no. It may be that Grandpa hasn’t left his recliner in ten years, but his presence in the photo will be too distracting. And kitty needs to be moved off the bed, just long enough for photos to be taken. Be sure to watch out for reflections, too.  Many an unsuspecting agent or homeowner has been caught in a mirror!

Whether your agent takes the photos or a professional photographer is brought in, it is your responsibility to have the home in camera-ready condition. And, since these photos will either entice buyers to see your home or cause them to put your home in the “definitely not” pile, be sure you get to see the photos before they are posted. There are websites dedicated to bad MLS photos, and you wouldn’t want your home to wind up there. It’s the responsibility of you and your agent to make sure your home looks perfect in pictures.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's All About Space!

When getting our homes ready to sell, we sometimes get hung up on paint colors, furniture placement, and décor. But, buyers can repaint if they want to, and the furniture and décor generally leave with the seller. So, what are we really selling, and what is it that buyers really want? The answer is space.
Have you ever picked up a book and decided not to read it because the text was very condensed, and each chapter was a hundred pages long? Negative space is more important than we think. Our eyes need empty space to rest. The same thing goes for our homes, especially when selling. Many a buyer has walked away from a home because they didn’t believe there was enough space for their dining room set or king-sized bed. So, if space is our home’s best commodity, how can we play it up?
A good place to start is your floor space. Small rugs and mats scattered everywhere just clutter the floor, making rooms look smaller than they really are. You might like the convenience of having a table next to your chair to hold your drink, but having too many occasional tables takes up valuable floor space. Think about removing all but the tables which anchor your big pieces of furniture or hold lamps. Potted plants, ottomans, magazine racks, free standing lamps, and bulky coffee tables can also create a cluttered looking floor. There is a reason professional stagers use glass-topped tables. It allows buyers to see more floor.
Wall space also commands a premium with buyers. The more visible wall space there is, the higher the ceilings appear. Don’t be afraid to keep a couple walls in each room artwork-free. When choosing between a large piece of art and a grouping of several smaller pieces, go with one large one. Bathrooms, especially if they are small, don’t need anything more than a mirror over the vanity, and some neatly hung towels. Exposing wall space includes the windows. Heavy drapes which cover up wall and window will definitely close a room in. 
Walk through your own home, and evaluate the amount of space visible. If space is lacking in your home, it’s time to make some changes. The good news is it doesn’t cost anything to remove items, and you can only benefit when your home appears bigger to buyers.

Monday, January 28, 2013

How You Can Go With The Flow!

If you ask buyers what they are looking for in a home, it’s almost guaranteed they will mention “good flow.” But, what exactly does that mean? If you have visited a model home lately, you probably noticed how floor plans have changed in the last decade or so. You’ll find large entries, living rooms and dining rooms separated with nothing more than an open arch, kitchens sharing a space with family rooms, and very few hallways.

If the home you are selling already has these features, you are way ahead of the game. But, what if your home was built earlier, when doors and hallways were everywhere, and every room had its own four walls? If ripping out walls is not in your budget, there are still some things you can do to help with the “flow.”

Resist the urge to put furniture in your entry way. That catch-all table is just making the space seem smaller. You want the buyer’s eye to look ahead. If the entry is narrow, a mirror can open the space more. Place the mirror, so as buyers come in the front door, the reflection is of something you want them to see. A reflection of a closet door defeats the purpose of the mirror.

Think about removing doors completely, especially in older homes. Paint the door trim the same color as the walls, so the doorway appears larger. In fact, paint can go a long way in helping your home seem more open. Continuing the same color throughout the home is a great way to counteract a choppy floor plan.

If your home has narrow hallways, hanging photos or art only makes them seem narrower. And, remember to leave all doors open for showings.
Buyers don’t come into your home and sit on the sofa. They are on their feet and walking from room to room. Make sure there is a clear path in each room, so buyers don’t have to walk around your furniture.

The last trick is to place all the largest pieces of furniture, such as entertainment centers or bookcases, on outside walls. This helps create the illusion of more space. And, never block windows. The more windows you have, the larger rooms will appear.

Creating a good flow through your home will give buyers what they are looking for, and can be accomplished with little or no cost!