What a difference a couple of years make. Back in 2007, homebuyers would beg to purchase your house. They would even bid more than the asking price for the privilege to do so. Now that the market has picked up, it gets a bit more challenging to unload your property. Once the real estate bubble burst and foreclosures diluted the housing pool, buyers suddenly regained the upper hand. But instead of buying, they're waiting, hoping that housing prices will again be swayed to their side.
Hands down, everyone agrees: Nothing turns off a buyer quicker than a dirty house.
The number 1 biggest mistake is not getting the home in the best possible condition. Realtors won't even represent sellers at this point unless they are fully aware of how important it is to get their home in the absolute best condition that they've ever had it in. It is always a good idea for sellers to go the extra mile, from steam-cleaning tile and grout to replacing carpets.
The property should be neat and clean and free of all debris. If it reeks of cats or the kitchen sinks and counters are so filthy that it almost looks like the food is moving, chances are buyers won't even want to come in.
Buyers, it's said, buy with their noses. Make sure your home smells fresh and inviting. Odors - especially kitchen odors, are something that on lookers would definitely notice. It might be a good idea to hold off on cooking fried food, fish or greasy food while your house is on the market.
If you're a dog person, don't make the mistake of thinking everyone else is a dog person. The truth is, about half of people recently surveyed in the Boston Metro area don't appreciate household pets as others would. In fact, we'd go as far as to recommend sellers eliminate all traces of pets, not just pet odors. It's important to get rid of pet paraphernalia and have a "pet plan" to make sure the animals are not around when the house is shown.
The fact to the matter is, seeing pet paraphernalia automatically lets prospectives entertain the thought of what your pet has done to the house in the past. And even though you'll have to disclose that you do, in fact own a pet if the sale goes through, it's already reassured the buyer that the property is worth it, and that's what matters. The same rules hold true for smokers: Remove all ashtrays, clean all curtains and upholstery, and consider smoking outdoors while your home is on the market.
Want buyers to roll their eyes? Leave old fixtures on your doors and cabinets. It's a hard truth that in order to make your home marketable, you'll need to change out your oldest of the old fixtures. New cabinet hardware and doorknobs will probably cost all of $400 or $500, but it makes a huge difference, especially when you're trying to unload an investment as enormous as property. The same holds true for dated ceiling fans, light fixtures and kitchen appliances.
Your grandmother may have had it in every bedroom. Your mom may have loved it as a room accent. But today's buyer wants no part of wallpaper. Wallpapers are a pain to remove and simply adds another chore to a buyer's to-do list.
And as much as it might be a relatively decorative addition to your bare walls, wallpapers are very personalized such that it might be appealing to you (of course it is, since you put in so much time leafing through catalogues to find the right one!), but it doesn't necessarily translate to your prospective buyer having the same taste.
POPCORN ACOUSTIC CEILINGS
Times change, and with them home decor styles. Acoustic popcorn ceilings, once the must-have for fashionable homes in the '60s and '70s, now badly date your space. Don't fall into this trap and let yourself get caught off guard by showing your home's age as if it wasn't being taken care of. If you can't stomach the cost or the mess to remove the overhead popcorn, be prepared to credit your buyer in order to close a sale.
TOO MANY PERSONAL ITEMS
Psychologically, when buyers tour a home, they're trying it on to see how it fits, just as they would a skirt or a pair of pants. If your house is cluttered with too many personal items, it's like the buyer is trying on those clothes with you still in them. A fit is unlikely.
Anything that makes your house scream 'you' is what you don't want. Another truth in selling is that how you decorate to live is fairly different from how you decorate when you want to sell. Sellers should try to eliminate personal items, including family photos, personal effects and even unique colors. And if you really want to hook a buyer, try placing a mirror strategically so that people can actually see themselves in the home, so they can actually picture themselves living there.
MISREPRESENTING YOUR HOME
Misrepresenting your house online in the multiple listing service is a sure way to really upset buyers and their agents. Some properties look very photogenic, and if yours happen to be one of them, don't be misguided that you can stop there.
Sellers, automatically paint the best picture they can and some listings I've looked at and wondered how in the world they got that gorgeous photo without showing all the junk that's around it. Better be upfront that caught in a tight position.
POOR CURB APPEAL
Much is made of curb appeal, and for good reason: It's your home's handshake, the critical first impression that lasts with most buyers. You have to totally trim and edge your yard to get it into the most immaculate condition you can. It's a big mistake to not freshly mulch the beds and trim the trees. Every little detail counts.
Whether inside or out, less is more when it comes to clutter.
Your closets should be half-full with nothing on the floor. Why? Because most people looking for a house have outgrown their previous house. Showing them that you've still got room to grow gives them a reason to buy. Kitchens and built-in bookshelves should showcase spaciousness by following the rule of three. For kitchens, there should be no more than three countertop appliances. Meanwhile, bookshelves should be divided into thirds: one-third books, one-third vases and pictures, and one-third empty.
The home office should be very generic so any type of professional can imagine living there. Otherwise, it can be a distraction and could invite unwanted questions: 'What does he do for a living? How much money does he make?'
So, if you're just about to make that curcial that decision to sell, be sure to refer to this list to make your home as marketable as it can get.