Q. What are some common mistakes sellers make?
A. With the growth of information on the internet as well as the popularity of DIY shows on TV, it’s often easy to think you know enough to proceed without expert advice and assistance from a licensed realtor. Of course, it’s always a good idea to pick up tips and suggestions from friends or relatives who have listed or bought real estate in the past couple of years, but be sure to balance all that handy advice with the expertise of a local realtor and/or real estate attorney who has “walked the walk.”
Q. What are the most important upgrades that can help get my home sold?
A. Refurbishing a kitchen is definitely one of the best ways to make your home more appealing. You don’t have to completely rip it out and redo it to give it an updated look. Remove old, dated wallpaper and repaint the walls and moldings with lighter colors. Change the pulls and hinges on your cabinetry to something more modern. If your old linoleum floor has seen better days, install a high-quality laminate flooring that brings in a hardwood look or even one that looks like real tile—easy to maintain and it gives the entire kitchen a fresh appearance. Clear off counters to show more prep space, clear tops of refrigerators of clutter and make sure cabinets are not jammed with unused dishes or food products.
Freshen bathrooms by replacing old towels and bathmats with a new set, purchasing a nice cloth shower curtain with a liner, and clearing off the clutter of too many shampoo bottles, body washes, etc. Put makeup away in the vanity drawers, don’t leave it out on your countertops. If your bathtub has seen better days, consider pricing a new tub liner that can fit directly over the existing one. Replace dated light fixtures with some new ones, especially over the medicine cabinet and sink. Above all, when showing the house, keep the toilet lid closed!
Curb appeal is also critical. Scrape and repaint the front door and trim. Put plants in empty clay flower pots by the front walk, or clear them away. In good weather, plant flowers in front or in window boxes to add color. Keep the lawn mowed and raked. If your front steps are made of brick, make sure any loose ones are repointed by a mason, and also take a look at sidewalks that are uneven because of tree roots. A number of towns will require those sidewalk repairs anyway before granting a Certificate of Occupancy, and buyers will notice uneven sidewalks as well. If the vinyl or aluminum siding looks dingy or has some moss from being in the shade, get the house power-washed—it’s worth it!
Hardwood floors sell houses. Yes, you may have grown used to all that wall-to-wall carpeting, and you may say, “Let the buyers do what they want after they purchase the house,” but the popularity of exposed gleaming hardwood floors cannot be overlooked. For older homeowners who may be unwilling to pull up carpeting and have someone come in to refinish oak flooring, perhaps removing the carpeting in just one room on each floor will let buyers see what kind of wood is under the carpeting throughout the house. You can always put down an area rug after having the floors done, but buyers really want to see the quality of the flooring.
Have your house professionally cleaned before listing it. Simply put, it is money worth spending, and buyers will notice it by appearance and smell, even if you are a good housekeeper! It’s also a good idea to have a carpet cleaner come in and clean all the carpets. They are experts at getting out many types of stains, and again, this will contribute to a fresher appearance and help raise market value.
Q. What advice would you give me about pricing my home correctly so it doesn’t take months to sell?
A. Many sellers make the mistake of thinking they need to “build in a price cushion” so they can leave room for negotiating once a buyer makes an offer. Padding the price can sometimes result in leaving buyers with the perception that your property is overpriced or that you as a seller have unreasonable expectations, and that can cause buyers to hesitate in making an offer. When shopping in a store, buyers are drawn to items marked 99 cents versus the ones marked $1.09. Realtors like myself have seen this scenario time and time again—one home sits on the market for weeks without an offer or even many showings, and a similar home priced about 5 percent less gets many showings and often one or more offers that result in a bidding war. Bottom line? Realistic pricing is the name of the game.
By Barbara Ostroth