Billy Buyer is excitedly looking at houses today. He wants a colonial with three bedrooms and two baths on Perfect Street. He would like a house that was built in the last 20 years, and he wants one that is within his budget. He’s ready to buy and would love to put in an offer by the end of the day.
We found two possibilities for him; both look great in the MLS pictures, and both meet all his criteria. They’re new listings, and are priced to sell. In addition, both are available to see today, and I was easily able to get us access. So off we go.
The first home is wonderful and was obviously cared for during the last few decades. The home has great curb appeal, and is clean and free of clutter inside. The bedrooms were recently painted, and the bathrooms and kitchen are scrubbed, with small touches added to make them look attractive. Billy spends quite a bit of time walking around trying to decide where his furniture might fit.
Then we’re off to home number two. It’s in the same neighborhood and was built by the same builder at the same time. But home number two appears totally different; the pictures on MLS must have been a bit old. As we pull up, we see the mailbox is tilted, and weeds surround the cracked walkway. The bottom of the front door is a bit rotted and will need to be replaced. The inside looks as though it was not made ready for sale at all. The walls are marked and scuffed. The sink in the kitchen drips. There’s a funky smell coming from under the bathroom sink. Billy and I are in and out of home number two in about two minutes.
Of course Billy does have options. He could make a low offer on home number two, since it needs a lot of work, but he has no desire to have to repair the home before he moves in, so he opts for home number one, which is in move-in condition. He makes an offer and within two months is in his new home, and home number two still sits, waiting for a new owner.
Preparing homes properly is so important to the speediness of the sale and the final price point a seller is able to obtain. Sellers need to look at the home they are preparing to sell with a critical eye, as objectively as they can to ensure it looks as close as possible to a model home. There are staging companies that can assist a home seller if needed, but the key is to make sure the home is clean, decluttered, with fresh paint, non-stained carpets and minimal personal items in view. Clothes should be hung up or placed inside furniture, not strewn on the floor. Maintenance issues should be taken care of. If tiles are missing from the middle of a floor, or plumbing is dripping, or windows are broken, those items should be repaired prior to sale. Counters should be clear of unnecessary items, light fixtures should have working bulbs and the doorbell should work. The homes should be readied prior to putting it on the market.
The bottom line for sellers is to have buyers walk through the door, and say, “Ahhhhh, this is IT!” not “Aaaaaa, get me outta here.”
Presentation is key in selling a home.