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101  Ways to Sell Your Home Faster

 

Of all the things homeowners  control when selling their home, the condition of the property is one of the  most important.

A crucial part of marketing  any product is the presentation of the product. Corporations and retail  businesses understand this concept, and they pay millions of dollars each year  to advertising and marketing consultants for the best advice possible.

The same is true of real  property. In order to compete effectively with other sellers, homeowners must  present their homes to the marketplace in an attractive, desirable condition.  When you bought your home, you probably comparison shopped. Well, buyers are  still doing that today.  According to the National Association of REALTORS, the  average purchaser looks at 18 properties prior to purchasing a home. Regardless  of how many properties are on the market, available buyers will always seek the  best priced property that is in the best condition.

Think like a buyer!

You are not just selling a  house, you are selling shelter, security, a lifestyle, and dreams. People always  want the best for themselves and your home should represent the buyer's answer  to this goal. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes!  Remember, they arrive at your  front door wanting to find the right home. Don't make them search somewhere else  for it. If you have done your homework, every room in your home will create a  desire for the buyer to stay.

Start making a list

Walk outside and take a look  at the property through the critical eyes of a buyer. Is there anything that  needs repairing, looks worn, or is outdated? Start writing these items down on  your list.  Walk through the interior, and do the same thing. Ask for the  assistance of everyone in your family. After all, a shorter sales time will  benefit everybody in the family!

Why did you purchase this  property?

You know this home better  than anyone else. Think back to when you first walked in this house.  What  attracted you to this property? These features should be among the first that  you enhance.  Ask your spouse and your children to add their own special  positive reactions. Your teenager may remember how she fell in love with your  home years ago because of the "climbing" tree in the backyard. Listen carefully  to your children's perceptions.

Tour every room, the attic,  the basement, the garage, and the yard. Note at least one positive feature in  each. Include the items that attracted you and those desirable features you have  added.

Do everything before you  put your home on the market!

The longer a house is on the  market, the more likely prospective purchasers are to suspect that something is  wrong with the house. Remember back to all the times you have looked at  properties during a home search. Chances are that whenever you came across a  property that had been on the market for a while, the first thought that went  through your mind was, "I wonder what is wrong?  Why isn't this property sold?".  Don't let that happen to you! Complete all of your repairs, improvements, and  enhancements prior to your first showing.

The following pages will  guide you step by step through the process of preparing your home for sale to  achieve the highest possible sale price in the least amount of time. Your  concentration will be in six areas: repairing, cleaning, neutralizing, space  management, atmosphere, and staging.  None of these activities are fun to do,  but all are an extremely important part of marketing your home

Focus on 6 key points!

Repairs

1.   The rule of thumb is,  if something needs repair, fix it! There are probably many things in your home  that you have simply become used to over time, things that you have been  "promising yourself" you will attend to.  Well, now is the time.  The buyer will  mentally add up the cost of repairing all those minor flaws and end up with an  amount that is generally much higher than what it would cost you to do the  repairs. 

You might be saying to  yourself, "These repairs aren't any big deal." The buyer, however, is thinking,  "If the owners didn't take care of these little items, then what about the roof  or the furnace?"

Small needed repairs and  perceived owner neglect will either lower the purchase price or lengthen the  time required to sell.

2.         Check all walls  for peeling paint and loose wallpaper. 

3.    Large repairs. In  today's climate of open disclosure and vigilant professional home inspections,  the rule is: treat a buyer as you would treat yourself. Repair any problems with  major systems or offer an allowance for the buyer to make repairs after closing.  Always disclose anything that you know about the property.  Having been a  consumer yourself, you know that buyers will more readily make a purchase  decision with someone whom they can trust.

Cleaning

4.    Every area of the home  must sparkle and shine! Each hour spent will be well worth it. Would you rather  buy a clean car or a dirty one? Would you hurry to buy a pair of shoes with mud  on them?

5.    Clean all of the  windows, including attics and basements.

6.    Clean all wall-to-wall  carpeting and area rugs. Clean and polish linoleum, tile, and wooden floors.  Consider refinishing wood floors if necessary.

7.    Clean and polish all  woodwork if necessary. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath  cabinets.

8.    Clean and polish all  the light fixtures.

Neutralizing

9.    Be cautious about  selecting colors when painting or replacing carpeting. Your objective is to make  your home appeal to the largest possible buying segment. Ask yourself, "How many  of the available buyers would be able to move into my house with their own  furniture and not have to replace the carpeting?" Position your home on the  market to be as livable to as many people as possible and to allow the buyer to  mentally picture the home as theirs.

10. Forget your personal  taste, the market is always demand driven! The average buyer will have a hard  time looking beyond blue carpeting and bold wallpapers. Consider replacing  unusual or bold colors with neutral tones. Two coats of off-white paint may be  the best investment you have ever make.

Space Management

This involves creating the  illusion of more space. 

11. Arrange furniture to  give the rooms as spacious a feeling as possible. Consider removing furniture  from rooms that are crowded. If necessary, store large furniture. 

12. Pack up  collectibles” both to protect them and to give the room a more spacious feel.   Leave just enough accessories to give the home a personal touch. Dispose of  unneeded items. 

13. Remove all clutter and  make it a habit to pick up clothing, shoes, and personal possessions each day  for possible showings.

14. Empty closets of  off-season clothing and pack for the move. Organize the closets to demonstrate  the most efficient use of space. Leave as few items on the floor or shelves as  possible.

15.  Use light to create a  sense of space. All drapes should be open. Turn on all of the lights throughout  the home.

Atmosphere

When placing yourself in the  potential buyer's shoes, you will want to consider the overall atmosphere of  your home. Keep in mind your sense of smell as you go through this checklist.   Present the atmosphere of your home as a shelter, a place that is safe, warm,  and in good condition.

16. A clean-smelling house  creates a positive image in the buyer's mind. Be aware of any odors from  cooking, cigarettes, pets, etc., that may have adverse effects on potential  buyers. Remember that some people are much more sensitive to odors than others.  Smokers rarely notice the odor of tobacco that fills their homes, and pet owners  may be oblivious to objectionable doggy odor. 

17. You can use products  like carpet deodorizers, air fresheners, and room deodorizers; but the best  strategy is to remove the source of the smell rather than to cover it up.

18. Unfortunately, often the  only way to remove the smell of pet urine from flooring is to rip up the  carpeting, padding, and underlayment, and to replace them. If this is preventing  the sale of your home, don't hesitate to make this investment.

19. If smoking and cooking  odors have permeated your home, have your carpets and furniture cleaned, and air  out or dry-clean your drapes.

20. Mildew odors are another  no-no. Don't allow wet towels to accumulate in hampers, or dirty laundry to pile  up in closets.

21. Once offensive odors are  removed, consider adding delightful ones. Recent studies have shown that humans  have strong, positive responses to certain smells. Cinnamon, fresh flowers,  breads baking in the oven are all excellent ways to enhance your property for  sale.

Staging

This part of preparing your  home for sale is the most fun and involves the use of color, lighting, and  accessories to emphasize the best features of your home. 

22. Study magazine ads or  furniture showrooms to see how small details can make rooms more attractive and  appealing. The effect of a vase of flowers, an open book on the coffee table,  a  basket of birch logs by the fireplace, etc., can make the difference in a room.  Be careful not to create distractive clutter.

23. The use of a brightly  colored pillow in a wing chair or a throw blanket on a couch can add dimension  to a sterile room.

24. Soften potentially  offending views, but always let light into your rooms. Replace heavy curtains  with sheer white panels. Never apologize for things you cannot change. The buyer  will either decide to accept or reject the property regardless of the words you  say. Just present the home in the best way possible with complete honesty.

25.  Go through your photo  albums and select pictures of your house and yard during all four seasons. If  hung at eye level in a well-lighted area, the pictures will speak for themselves  and give you yet another selling edge.

26. Take advantage of  natural light as much as possible by cleaning windows, opening shades and  drapes, etc. Add lamps and lighting where necessary. Be sure that all fixtures  are clean and have functioning bulbs. Increase the wattage of the bulbs in the  basement area.

The Exterior

Check your home for any  needed maintenance, just as a buyer would. Repaint or touch up as necessary. You  can't make a better investment when you are selling your house! Don't let the  outside turn buyers off before the inside turns them on.

27. Color has the power to  attract. A tub of geraniums, a pot of petunias, or a basket of impatiens on the  front steps is a welcoming touch. 

28. If you are selling  during the winter months, consider using a wreath of dried flowers on the front  door, or an attractive milk can on the porch.

29. If you have a porch or  deck, set the stage with pots of flowers and attractively arranged furniture.

30. Check to see that all  doors and windows are in good working order. Give special attention to your  home's exterior doors and front entry. Clean and paint doors if necessary.  Remember, first impressions are likely to color the remainder of the house tour.

31. Replace any broken or  cracked window panes. 

32. Screens should be free  of any tears or holes. 

33. Inspect all locks to  ensure that they are functioning properly.

34. Check for loose or  missing shingles. Clean out gutters and down spouts. Touch up peeling areas on  gutters.

35. Invest in a new doormat  that says "Welcome."

The Yard

36. Make sure the yard is  neatly mowed, raked, and edged.

37.  Prune and shape  shrubbery and trees to compliment your house.

38.  Consider adding  seasonal flowers along the walks or in the planting areas. Place the plants into  a well-placed wheelbarrow or an old-fashioned washtub. Such standbys as  nasturtiums, petunias, impatiens, and verbena are easy to maintain if you  remember to water them regularly. Try a row of sweet smelling alyssum to line a  short sidewalk or some perky dwarf marigolds to form a cheerful oasis of color  in your yard.

39.  Add an inch or two of  bark mulch around your shrubs and trees.

 

40.  Set up your old  badminton or volleyball net” suggest a scene of family fun!

 

41   It is important to  devote at least one area of your yard to outdoor living. Buyers will recognize a  scene set with picnic table and chairs and they will respond positively to it.  Cover your picnic table with a fringed, red-and-white checked cloth, set out  some plastic plates and glasses, and bring out the barbecuing equipment. Buyers  will almost smell the hot dogs cooking!

The Driveway

42.  The driveway is no  place for children's toys. Not only are such things dangerous, the clutter is  unsightly. 

43. The surface of your  driveway should be beyond reproach; after all, it's one of the first things a  buyer will see when he drives up. Sweep and wash the driveway and walks to  remove debris, dirt, and stains. Repair and patch any cracks, edge the sides and  pull up any weeds.

ROOM-BY-ROOM ANALYSIS

The Front Entry

Whether a graciously  proportioned center-hall or a small space just large enough for a coat rack and  tiny table, this part of your home deserves your particular attention.

44.  Study your entry hall  and ask yourself what kind of impression it makes of your home. Dried flowers or  a small plant can make a striking focal point on a hall table any time of the  year. 

45. Virtually any entry hall  will benefit from a well-placed mirror to enlarge the area.

46.  Your entry hall's  flooring will be observed carefully by the prospective buyer. Make sure the  surface is spotless and add a small rug to protect the area during showings.

47. The entry hall closet is  the first one inspected. Make it appear roomy. Add a few extra hangers. Hang a  bag of cedar chips or a pomander ball to give a pleasant, fresh scent.  Remove  all off-season clothing.

Living Areas

Think of these areas as if  they were furniture showrooms. Your job is to make each room generate a positive  response. Add touches that make a room look truly inviting. 

48. Sweep and clean the  fireplace. Place a few logs on the grate to create an attractive appearance. You  are welcome to have a fire going for showings during the winter months It  creates a great atmosphere.

49. Place something colorful  on the mantel, but don't make it look like a country craft store.

50.  Improve the traffic  flow by removing excess furniture. Have easy traffic flow patterns. Be sure that  all doors open fully and easily.

51. Draw attention to  exposed beams or a cathedral ceiling with special lighting. Be sure to remove  any cobwebs and dust.

52. Remove oversized  television sets if they dominate the room. If necessary, substitute with a  smaller one until you move.

The Dining Room

Avoid going overboard. To be  effective, any stage setting that you create should reflect the character of  your entire home appropriately.

53. Set the scene by setting  the table with an attractive arrangement. Add fresh or silk flowers as a  centerpiece. 

54. Visually enlarge a small  dining area. If your dining table has extra leaves, take one or two out.  Consider placing your dining table against a wall. Remove any extra "company"  chairs.  Consider putting oversized pieces in storage until your house is sold. 

The Kitchen

Pay particular attention to  your kitchen” this room continues to be the "heart of the home." A pleasant,  working kitchen is near the top of most buyer's list of priorities and is a room  that buyers always scrutinize closely.

55. Avoid clutter! Clean  counters of small appliances and store whenever possible to maximize the  appearance of work space. 

56. Check the counter top  around your sink, and remove any detergent or cleanser, etc., that may be  cluttering the area.

57.  Sinks, cabinets,  appliances, and counter tops should be clean and fresh.

58.  All appliances should  be absolutely clean, bright, sparkling, and shiny!!

59.  Clean off the top of  the refrigerator! If you must use that space for storage, use baskets and bowls  to camouflage the items kept there.

60.  Set the scene with an  open cookbook, a basket filled with fruit, a basket of silk flowers, or a  ceramic mixing bowl and wire whisk.

61. Create the aromas  associated with happy homes! Bake some cookies from pre-mixed, refrigerated  cookie dough, start baking a loaf of refrigerated bread dough, or pop a frozen  apple pie in the oven. A delightful kitchen aroma can be created with commercial  potpourri preparations or you can mix up a batch from scratch on top of your  stove:

62. In the heat of summer,  place a bowl of lemons or limes on the counter to provide a fresh and pleasant  aroma.

63. Clean and organize all  storage space. If your cabinets, drawers, and closets are crowded and  overflowing, buyers assume that your storage space is inadequate. Give away  items you don't use, storing seldom-used items elsewhere, and reorganize the  shelves. Neat, organized shelves and drawers look larger and more adequate for  prospective buyers' needs.

64.  Large, cheerful kitchen  windows are an advantage and should be highlighted as a special feature of your  home. Take a critical look at the window treatment” is it clean, sharp and  up-to-date? Do the curtains need washing or the blinds need cleaning. Would the  window area look better without any window treatment?

65. If you have a counter  top eating area, set two attractive place settings with coordinating napkins and  placemats, and place cushions on the stools.

66. Set the table for an  informal meal with bright place mats and a generous bowl of fruit as a  centerpiece.

Laundry Room

A separate laundry room is a  true asset and is one of the most frequent requests that buyers make during a  home search. Don't hide this treasure behind closed doors. Spruce up the room  and open the door proudly for inspection.

67.  Add a fresh coat of  paint or put up cheerful wallpaper.

68.  Organize all closets  and storage areas.

69. Remove all dirty  laundry. Keep current with your laundry or store all dirty laundry in a closed  container.

70.  Clean and polish the  washer and dryer.

71.  Consider adding an  attractive, coordinated throw rug.

Stairways

Stairways should provide an  attractive transition from one level of your home to another.

72. Make sure the stairs are  safe! Stair lighting should be more than adequate, stairs must be clutter free,  stair railings tight and secure, and runners or carpeting tacked securely.   Remove any items from the surface of the stairs and store elsewhere. Check the  condition of the walls, and paint or re-wallpaper if necessary.

73. If the stairs are a  focal point of the main living areas, carefully choose accents to improve the  visual appeal. If you have a wide, gracious staircase, emphasize this feature by  hanging a few pictures along the wall. Draw attention to a handsome lighting  fixture by polishing the brass and dusting each small light bulb or crystal  prism. Any stair landing should also have an attractive focal point, be it a  fern on a plant stand, a dramatic poster, a chiming clock, or a special chair on  a large stair landing. If the staircase is narrow, fool the eye by minimizing  clutter.

Bedrooms

Imagine for a moment that  you're in the "bed-and-breakfast" business. How would you change your home's  bedrooms to appeal to a paying lodger? Naturally you'd make up the beds with  your prettiest sheets and comforters. Maybe you'd add a vase of flowers on the  dressing table or a cozy armchair in the corner. Every bedroom in your home  should invite prospective buyers to settle right in.

74. Large master bedrooms  are particularly popular among today's home buyers. Make your bedroom larger.  Paint the room a light color, remove one of the bureaus if the room is crowded  and minimize clutter to maximize spaciousness. Aim for a restful, subdued  "look".

75. A private bathroom off  the master bedroom is a real sales plus. Decorate to coordinate with the color  scheme of your bedroom, creating the "suite" effect.

76. Virtually all buyers are  looking for a house with plenty of closet space. Try to make what you have  appear generous and well planned. Remove and store all out of season clothing.   Remove any items from the floor area” this will make a closet seem more spacious.  Arrange all shelves to maximize the use of space.

77.  Make sure all articles  in the closet are fresh and clean smelling. When prospective buyers open your  closet door, they should be greeted with a whiff of fresh smelling air.

78.  Make sure all closet  lights have adequate wattage and are operating. Add battery operated lights to  those closets that lack them. Lighted closets look bigger, are more attractive,  and allow buyers to inspect the interiors easily.

79.  Take the time to  explain the importance of marketing to your children. Encourage them to  participate in preparing your home for showing; particularly the principle of  appealing to the widest possible market segment. Ask your children's cooperation  in making their beds and picking up their rooms prior to showings. Consider  promising a special reward if they willingly participate in your house-selling  goals.

80.  Have children pack up  any items that are not currently in use and dispose of unused possessions. 

81.  Remove any crowded,  unusual, or personal wall hangings (such as posters) and store them until your  home is sold.

 Bathrooms

Wise sellers take special  pains with preparing their bathroom(s) for scrutiny by strangers. The bathroom  is a room after all, and a very personal one. Prospects will inspect yours  carefully, so be sure it is immaculate. Cleanliness is the key! Make sure that  all surfaces are spotless.

82. Replace worn or dirty  shower curtains, clean and repair caulking, and remove non-skid bath surface  decals that are in poor condition. 

83.  Clear off counter tops  and store all personal care products out of sight.

84. Repair any faucets that  leak or do not function properly. Clean off mineral deposits with vinegar or  commercial products. 

85.  Clean and organize all  cabinets and drawers. Don't forget the medicine cabinet: dispose of old  prescriptions and polish the shelves. The same goes for the storage cabinet  under the sink. 

86. Remember to appeal to a  wide range of buyers. Play down dominant colors with contrasting neutral colored  towels and accessories. If your bathroom is mostly white or neutral, add a few  cheerful accents of color: use towels in the popular new shades. Don't hesitate  to buy a few new towels and a rug; you'll be taking them with you to your new  home.

87.  Scrub and wax an old  floor. Cover the largest area you can with a freshly washed scatter rug.

88. Decorate and  personalize. Create a pleasing, individual look. Consider bringing out your best  towels and perfumed guest soaps. Add a plant for color and freshness.

89.  A gentle hint of  fragrance in the air is fine, but keep it subtle.

Basement

90. Clean and organize the  basement. Be sure that the stairs are cleared and well lit and that the handrail  is secure. Remove and dispose of any items that you will not be taking with you.  Pack other items in boxes and arrange them neatly in the center of the room so  that basement walls can be inspected. 

91. Make sure your major  systems, such as the furnace and electrical service are operating properly. If  appropriate, vacuum out the furnace and install a clean filter.

92. A dark, damp-smelling  basement will have trouble selling. Clean up mildew stains, throw out any  upholstered furniture that retains that musty smell, and check the basement  walls for high water marks. Many basements are a turnoff simply because they're  too dark. Increase the wattage of your existing light bulbs, and if needed,  install a few more lights. Be sure, however, to disclose any problems with your  basement drainage system. Most states require that adverse defects of material  significance be noted as exceptions to the seller's warranties.

93. As a final touch, take a  damp cloth and wipe off any dust and grime from the surface of your water heater  and furnace. Apply a coat of wax when you are finished.

Garage

94. Sweep and wash the floor  to remove dirt and stains. Organize tools, garden equipment, bicycles, etc. A  clean, organized garage appears larger. 

95. If the area is dark, add  more light. If it is small and accommodates only one car, remove your car before  buyers visit. An empty garage always looks larger. If it is a two-car garage  with very little extra room, remove one of your cars so that buyers can make  their inspection in comfort.

96. If the basement is  appropriate to use as a recreation area, set up your ping pong table (with balls  and paddles as props), hang some bright posters, put down an area rug, and  you've transformed the place into a teen retreat. Your setting does not need to  be complete and shouldn't cost a large amount. It's meant to suggest further  possibilities to buyers.

97. Clear off and organize  the workbench in your basement and draw attention to it as a sales feature. Make  sure the lighting is excellent and stage the area as a comfortable place in  which to work. Add a throw rug as cushioning against the cement flooring.

Attic

Whether a high-ceiling room  or a crawl space under the eaves for storage, your attic area will be examined  and should not detract from the well-kept appearance of your house. 

98.  If your attic is  reached by a steep flight of stairs, be sure the stairs are clear of objects and  well lit. If your attic space is reached by a folding set of stairs that you  pull from the ceiling, be sure the mechanism is well oiled and there is adequate  lighting.

99. Spruce up your attic  space, hide the mousetraps, and install bright lights. If your attic does have  windows, be sure to clean off the grime and let in as much light as possible.  Clean as needed.

100 Get rid of anything that  you don't plan to move to your new home. Place remaining stored material neatly  in boxes and trunks, and then position away from the walls.

101 If the attic is windowed  and can be expanded under the current municipal building codes, be sure to  inform your prospective buyers of this potential. Be sure to verify this  information first. 

SOME FINAL TIPS

Showings

    The more people who  see your home, the more likely you are to sell it quickly. Yes, it's an  inconvenience to show your home at dinner time, but if the people end up buying,  it's worth the effort.

    Prepare for  inevitable, unexpected showings with a family game plan. Work out an effective  plan  in writing with your family so that everyone knows what to do if you sound  the alarm.

   There shouldn't be any  major housecleaning at this point. The kinds of tasks you ought to be concerned  with now are simple ones; making the beds, stuffing last night's dirty pans in  the dishwasher, picking up loose newspapers, etc. Even young children can  participate by cleaning their rooms.

   If the season is  appropriate, open the windows in each room and let in some fresh air. Stale air  isn't appealing, particularly in a home with smokers or pets.

   Keep your thermostat  at a comfortable temperature.

  Turn on all of the  lights for every showing before prospective buyers arrive. This also gives you  an opportunity to select the lighting effects you want for each room.  Be sure  not to overlook areas like your attic and basement where light switches are  often difficult to locate.  No area of your home should be dark.

   Turn off the  television and turn on light, background music.

    Arrange for pets and  children to be at a neighbor's. Perhaps it's unfair to lump children with pets,  but young children can distract buyers from their purpose. Keep pets away from  buyers.

     Don't try to "sell"  the house with words! By this time you have prepared the house for sale so let  it sell itself.  Buyers' buy on emotion” theirs, not yours. Keep your emotions  under control.

 Items not included in  the sale

    Remove (and replace if  applicable) any items that will not be included in the sale of the property  (such as light fixtures, etc.).