By Patrick Blood
Well, it’s April and we’re finally into spring. No, seriously, I jest you not; spring is here!
If you’re able to look out your window while you read this and see some remnants of a snow mound—the one you’ve seen for at least two months—and you don’t believe me, you need merely look towards the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., where cherry blossoms will bloom at their fullest between April 8 and 12 this year. That’s your sure-fire indicator that we’ve rounded the equinox.
What does spring mean in Real Estate World? It means hibernation has ended, people are beginning to walk out of their caves and bathe in the sunlight, getting re-motivated to do things like look for new homes and consider putting their homes on the market. If you’re one of those thinking of selling a home, now is a good time to size up what you need to do.
There’s a weird psychological thing that happens when people go house hunting. The condition of the house when the buyer sees it becomes, in their mind, the permanent condition of the house. So, if a buyer walks in to a sparkling tidy home they will subconsciously think “Wow, I’ll be so organized.” Conversely if they walk in to a home that is cluttered and messy, they’ll think, “Ugh, I’ll have to clean all the time.” Of course, this doesn’t make logical sense. Buyers do know that there’s no such thing as a magically clean house. Still, knowing how to prepare your house so that it appeals to the buyers’ subconscious experience can make all the difference.
Here are 5 tips for preparing your home for sale.
#1: Prepare your home for pics
It is like school picture day . . . for your house. Buyers are finding their houses online, which means having the house looking appealing on the web will reduce its time on the market. It doesn’t have to “be” neat and tidy, it just has to “look” neat and tidy when the shutter snaps.
#2: Little Things count big time
It may cost you a trip to Home Depot and a weekend of your time, but taking care of the little things will pay for itself many times over when the offers come in. Pressure wash and seal that deck, mulch that garden, replace the 1980s hardware on the cabinets, replace those dead bushes. These are some of the details all buyers will notice—in their minds they’ll be thinking of all the things they’ll have to do if they buy your house.
#3: Be relevant to the buyer
We recently went to an open house and saw, sitting smack in middle of the living room, a wheelchair and some geriatrics equipment. Now, you tell me: is that how to prepare your home for sale? Nuh-uh. The golden rule for preparing your home is to appeal to buyers. Since you don’t know if your buyer will end up being an elderly couple, a young family, or a single professional, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take down your child’s art, put away grandma’s oxygen tank, and replace those leopard print satin sheets with something, um . . . neutral. Just sayin’.
#4: Say buh-bye to tenants
An important tip for how to prepare your home for sale is to avoid having a tenant stretched out on your couch eating a bag of Cheetos during showings. I tease, but truly, unless you have an extremely cooperative tenant, it is a good idea to be renter-free before you list. Keep in mind, when your house sells, your tenant loses their home, so it is not in their best interest to tiptoe around to help you sell faster. A little rental income is not worth losing your sale altogether.
#5: Stage Or Sparkle It
For vacant houses, a couple of towels in the bathrooms, or a bowl of fruit and some cookbooks in the kitchen can bring it from looking barren to having a feeling of home. Although more common in markets like DC, a professional staging is often a worthwhile investment, particularly if you’re about to put a heavyweight home on the market—or if you’re out to demand a higher than average price for your home. We have worked with stagers in the area that can do a wonderful job at this, too.
Patrick Blood is senior partner at Blackwell Property Management and Real Estate Services. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit blackwellpropertymanagement.com.