Four Overlooked Steps To Take Before Listing Your Home

Thursday, March 29, 2018
Take advice from Alice T. Chan about home staging. 
"Really be hard on yourself."

That's the advice given by Alice T. Chan, a professional stager in San Francisco, when asked what a home seller can do to get a home looking great for its upcoming listing.

She says that most buyers are "so strapped after they purchase a property that they literally just want to move in and live. Even if they want to make upgrades later on, they want to feel like they're getting the best value possible when they buy. So give it to them."

I could not agree more. The only way to guarantee you're getting the maximum amount for your home is to prep it to satisfy buyers before you list it. Along those lines, here are some reminders of what buyers expect.

But there are a few commonly overlooked steps that home sellers can take to make sure buyers respond favorably, and give themselves an edge over competing houses. None of these steps cost much money. Some are free. All are smart.

One bugaboo

You can ruin a budding relationship with a potential buyer if you invite her into your home for a look, only to have a mouse run across the floor when you flick on the garage lights. Or have a trail of ants making their way across your kitchen sink. Even one belly-up cockroach will send some home shoppers running for the door.

Insect problems can be a deal-breaker. Best bet is to address them before you even think about listing your home. The sooner you take action, the less damage there will be.

A roof is an important part of curb appeal. 
It needs to look in good condition.
A home inspection -- required by any financial institution granting a mortgage -- will reveal signs of infestation.

It usually doesn't cost to get a termite inspection or a pest evaluation from an exterminator.

If you have severe termite damage you can expect to spend at least $3,000 for repairs, but at least you can tell your Realtor that the problem is solved.

Over your head

Have your roof inspected. Ideally, your roof should be checked at least once or twice or year. If you're planning on listing your home, you should have your roof looked at by a professional. It's another assurance you can give your Realtor that one of the major infrastructures is sound.

Experienced buyers always look at the roof. They're eyeing it for loose shingles, dips, bumps, poor drainage, mold, and signs of other problems. If they see any minor roofing issues, they won't feel comfortable placing a generous offer on your home. If they make an offer, they could ask for a reduction in price to cover roof repairs or re-roofing. Trust me, they will ask for more than it would take you to fix the problem.

The air you breathe

The HVAC air that moves through your home moves through filters that trap particles like lint and dust and pollen and dander. Regularly replacing the return air filters will let your entire heating and cooling system function more efficiently, more economically.

A ductwork technician once told me that under normal circumstances expensive filters aren't important. The least expensive ones are just as good as the fancy ones as long as you change them regularly and don't have serious problems with things like smoke or odors or allergens.

No matter how pretty your bathroom is, 
it will not impress a home inspector if it doesn't
deal with water 
as it should. Photo: BHG

Water works

Another situation you may have become accustomed to but will not go unnoticed by a home inspector is minor plumbing issues. A toilet that does not automatically cut off the resupply but keeps running is a problem. So is a toilet that intermittently comes on to refill the tank. You may need a toilet repair kit, a minor cost, or just a new flap or float, even cheaper.

Do your sinks drain quickly or slowly? An inspector will check. He will run your dishwasher and washer through a cycle to detect insufficiencies. If sinks and tub or shower drain slowly, you can usually treat them yourself with Draino or Liquid Plumber. If repeated attempts don't fix the problem, it may be time for a plumber visit. Tell him you are preparing to list for sale and see what professional advice he can give you on specific issues he might notice.

Why stage your home 

There are plenty of benefits to staging your home before you list. Increasing the value of your home is the most outstanding benefit. Staged homes typically sell as much as 10% more than homes left as is.

A staged house will appeal to more people and make it stand out from similarly priced homes that are not staged. It's easier for buyers to imagine living in a staged home than an empty house or one filled with clutter or unappealing decor. Selling a staged home is likely to be less stressful for a seller because staged homes sell faster.

If you are selling any kind of home, you can get more tips on staging it in my $4.99 eBooks. Download and start staging your own home today so you'll attract a serious buyer.

What to Do Waiting for Your Home to Sell

Saturday, March 24, 2018
Are you impatient for your home
to sell? Staging will help! 
If worrying about your home sale is keeping you up at night, you're not alone.

If you talk to people who've sold their home, they will usually tell you how much they hated the time between when they listed their property and when they closed.

They can have good reasons for their frustration. Most sellers are trying to keep the house show-ready.

They might be dealing with difficult negotiations or lowball offers.

Maybe the local housing market is overloaded with properties and they're not getting many showings. Perhaps they are in a time crunch to move.

Having a decluttered and staged home will go a long way towards minimizing these obstacles. Staged homes statistically sell faster and for more money than unstaged ones.  To shorten the wait time even more, and at the same time, take the worry out of waiting, try these tricks experienced sellers use.

Vacant house

If you've moved from the home you've listed, whether it's been staged or not (I hope it is!), checking the property regularly is a good idea. You can't assume every Realtor will make sure a toilet isn't running, that pillows are fluffed, and that lights are turned off.  

If you've moved so far away that you can't easily visit your old home, can you ask a neighbor or friend to stop by? In addition to making sure everything is locked up, he or she could sweep the walkway, remove any junk mail, and brush any cobwebs or debris away from the front entrance area.

Don't let your staging results go to waste. Maintain an appearance that makes your house stand out from others -- the cleanliness and other signs that someone loves and cares for the home. Don't look desperate to sell or that you've already left town and written off the property. You'll only attract low offers.

Knowing that your home is perfect for someone takes
the pressure off you. A clean house priced right will sell. 

Occupied house

It's not unusual for folks living in a decluttered and staged home to enjoy the minimal lifestyle. To me, it's like the ninth month of a pregnancy when everything is ready for the new baby and you are looking forward to the adventure ahead.

Of course, waiting for an offer on a house you're still occupying has challenges, too. You can't live a regular life without creating a little chaos around you.

Although it's impossible (without a live-in maid) to keep your home looking like a model home, having routines and practices that keep your homestaging intact will go a long way towards making your home tempting to buyers. People buy a lifestyle when they buy a home.

I often hear people who finish their staging tell me, "I wish I had done this sooner, so I could enjoy my home looking like this."

Check your mindset

Keep your home fresh while it's on the market. If the seasons change, change things like throw pillows and the front door wreath to reflect the time of year. Cooperate with real estate agents to make it easy for them to schedule showings.    

Every seller, every home has a sweet spot between holding out for the perfect selling price and not jumping at the first serious offer. Stay current with what comparable homes in your market are selling for. A good listing agent will guide you towards what's a realistic price. Having confidence that your price is right will help you be patient.

Buyers can often discern when a seller is over-anxious
for a sale. Don't appear vulnerable
to discounted offers by regularly taking
small chips off an inflated asking price

If you are still in knots about your home's sale, find a way to deal with the stress. This could be the time to learn a new skill or take up a hobby you're curious about. Socialize and exercise.
Enjoy the time you have in your home. Play tourist in your hometown before you relocate. Learn about your future neighborhood, town, or state.

Get the look, get the book

Need more encouragement and suggestions about staging and selling your home? Download my $4.99 home staging eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. It's a 150-page pdf that will guide you step by step through doing it yourself with style and ease.

Beginner's Guide To Selling Your Home in the Internet Era

Monday, March 12, 2018
It's becoming increasingly common for a homeowner ready to put his home on the market to say, "Why don't I sell it myself without a real estate broker?"

Is this you? Are you thinking of hammering a  For Sale By Owner sign on your front lawn? 

I've previously blogged about selling your home without a Realtor, and advised against it. But I wrote that post eight years ago. Some of my rationale is still solid, but some things have changed so it's time to re-evaluate the FSBO scene.

More people are plugged in

The number of devices that connect to the Internet is expected to rise from about 13 billion to 50 billion by 2020. It seems like we are all connected all the time! Why not? The web lets us learn about anything and reach goals easier than we could have scarcely imagined a generation ago.  

About 92% of people now use the Internet when looking for a new home.  If you'd prefer to sell your home on the web without a real estate agent, it 
might be something you'd have no regrets about. 

Questions to ask yourself

Eyes wide open is the way to tackle
any FSBO program. Educate yourself about
the advantages and disadvantages. 
Do you have time to gather the specs about your house and prepare the selling literature?

Are you up to the task of researching what a realistic selling price for your home is? 

Can you show your own property without tipping your hand about how anxious you are to sell, or having personal opinions about the prospective buyer influence the negotiations? 

Does your daily schedule allow you to show your home when a prospective buyer wants to see it? 

Are you skillful and comfortable about negotiating price and other considerations?  

Be aware that real estate agents are probably not going to bring you clients unless you subscribe to a FSBO program that hooks you into agents willing to work with you. Otherwise, you are going solo. 

If you decide you want to "be your own Realtor," here are just a few tips to help you get started with marketing and selling your home online

Don't hesitate to pay for exposure

One of the best ways to sell your home online quickly is to make sure the listing reaches as many pairs of eyes as possible.

Since selling your home without a Realtor's guidance can save you thousands of dollars in commission costs, why not allocate some of those savings to exposure? Fortunately, there are quite a few FSBO websites to choose from. Research the features and costs of each program to determine what fits your finances and skillset.

The FSBO website you choose should have a high search engine rating, a simple user interface and navigational site map, and of course, quality listings with clear descriptive sections,  plus sufficient images.

Some FSBO sites will let you list with Multiple Listing Service,, Zillow, and Redfin. Most offer different packages at different prices. If you want to spend for it, you'll get advice, signage, forms, brochures, and other perks.

Advertise best qualities

Brag about your house. Be professional
instead of personal. Don't be like this guy.
When you create your home's listing, think about what a potential buyer would want to know. Reflect on what you enjoy about your home and locale.

Mention improvements and upgrades you've added, and indicate how these upgrades relate to the bigger picture of health, convenience, aesthetic appeal, and even social status or success.

For example, if your home is located in a picturesque location that's highly walkable and close to many businesses, it helps to emphasize it in the listing. Considering the fact that about 14% of Americans have even changed jobs to shorten the commute, a convenient location can be a major selling point.

When it comes to images, both quality and quantity are important.  Your lead-off profile shot needs to be stellar and show off your curb appeal!  

A good listing will have at least one clear photo of every room, in addition to several angles from the outside of the home. If you've recently remodeled, include pictures of the upgrade and specify brand names and other details.  Even small remodeling jobs can push home-hungry buyers to make a decision, or at least come to see the property.  

Any photo that makes your home look "new and improved" will help attract potential buyers. For example, a 2017 interior design trends survey showed that more than a third of respondents said they prefer a neutral color palette. 

If you want to have a measurable advantage over your competition, hire a professional photographer so your photos represent your home at its best.

Take advantage of social media

Finally, don't neglect the powers of social media when it comes to reaching buyers. Start by posting to your own friends. Then, post your listing in any neighborhood watch groups, HOAs, and listserves for local residents.

Use Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and/or Twitter. Tune your message to the medium -- frisky and tempting on Instagram, teasingly cryptic with a photo on Twitter, and detailed and inclusive on Google+. Make sure your social media posts contain a link to your home's FSBO listing so potential buyers can learn all about your home and take the next step if they're interested.

Even though a Realtor is a good investment, it's empowering to know that you do have the ability to sell your home with nothing more than a device with Internet access and your own intelligence and efforts.

Get the look, get the book

To guide you on your home staging journey, my popular book of tips. techniques and tutorials will prove indispensable. Download the  $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, and start your staging today.

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