Upon showing thousands of homes over my real estate career, please allow me to share with you some of my experiences of how not to sell a home based on a human being’s sense of sight!
Sense of SIGHT
Most humans, by nature, are visual creatures. I believe sight is the main sense you must appeal to when trying to sell a home. Smell comes in a close second, but right now, let’s focus on what buyers SEE:
1. PERSONAL PICTURES, BELONGINGS, ETC.
Many of my “buyer clients” enjoy looking at photos of your wedding day, your kids, your estranged family members and friends (sometimes doing weird things caught on film forever and showcased on the staircase wall) … yes, they thoroughly enjoy these photos. They truly adore your Puppy Fido, your Kitty Kat, and your prize fish, Oscar the Algae Eater … In all seriousness, my buyer clients really do love to stop and “Oooooohhhhh and Ahhhhhhhhh” at these things, who doesn’t love babies, puppies, kittens and weddings?
Now think about it, wouldn’t you much rather YOUR potential buyer focus on THE home’s unique features? The Travertine backsplash and stainless steel appliances that shine in possibly THEIR kitchen? The glass tile in THEIR bathroom? The stunning hardwood floors in THEIR living room? By leaving personal things on your walls, it takes away from what your potential buyer should be focusing on, the home itself and what could be THEIRS. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in the home. This is blatantly obvious stuff to some, but not to all …
Recalling a lovely listing I had several years ago, it was located in a fabulous area with great schools, it was situated on a nice lot, etc… etc… it had the whole “Location, Location” thing going for it, but I had a hard time getting it sold. Why? Yes, the home was dated, but not in an unappealing way. The home was VERY well-kept, I’d say it was meticulously kept. I believe it should have sold despite its somewhat dated décor because it was priced accordingly. The problem was the “little things” the home seller refused to do, mainly for sentimental reasons, which is very understandable, but no matter how you look at it, you ARE moving, and moving for most people is a sentimental and emotional experience. Please remember that your ULTIMATE GOAL is … to move.
An example of a “little thing” – the child’s bedroom door, covered in crayon and Sharpie markers (as the child grew so did their choice of writing instruments) with things such as “I love Johnny/Harry/Joe,” whomever the crush of the month was, practicing signing “Mrs. Johnny/Harry/Joe,” stickers ranging from the Smurfs to Metallica (again, age progression), but you get the VISUAL? Now mind you, said child is now off to college, but to the home seller this was a beautiful, physical piece of art, it was their baby’s childhood on that door, a reminder of life as it passed in their beloved home. Cherished Memories. Again, all understandable. Now on the flip side, to someone in the market to buy a home, one of life’s biggest purchases/expenses, they will look at said child’s artwork as having to replace the door, amounting to loss of their valued time and their hard-earned money.
The easy fix and one which was suggested: if an item means that much to you, if possible, take it with you. Replacing the door with a simple builder’s grade door removes the “negative” for the buyer and will help the home sell for more money in less time, less of YOUR valued time and more money in YOUR pocket.
Speaking of children’s bedrooms, when selling a home, the goal is to try to appeal to as many buyers as possible. By removing the posters of Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez and the neon lights where crown molding could be, you are neutralizing the room, making it possible for the buyer to visualize their office, a guest room, a future nursery, or even just a room for Fido/Kat.
And you may already know, a can of paint is cheap and goes a long, long way! Hate painting? So does most of your buyers!
2. Clutter and Disorganization – you’ve heard this many times, declutter your home before putting it up for sale. Buyers need to SEE the home. If the home is buried under YOUR piles of laundry, papers, over-flowing drawers and cabinets, these things SCREAM to a buyer that you don’t have enough room for your stuff, which reads: they will not have room for THEIR stuff. Besides the obvious, most buyers do not want to look at your dirty underwear strewn about the floor. Giggle.
3. DEAD THINGS
Flowers, plants, weeds, bugs, rodents, rodent traps, and animals in general: Remove them, enough said? Nah? Ok …
Call the bug guy/gal, have the home treated, then maybe you could supply a buyer with a warranty (selling point). I have to tell you, there is nothing like showing a lovely home and seeing dead roaches on a glue strip, or a big rat trap in the garage (true story). If at all possible, please take care of these issues before you put your home up for sale.
Dead animals in general: I am referring to the trophy bear you have in the corner, the moose/deer head above the fireplace or the dead duck/owl sitting atop your hand-crafted cherry wood basement bar or your gorgeous stone mantel (which Mr./Ms. Buyer may not notice because they are too busy looking at the dead things that are staring at them) … these are YOUR personal hunting trophies. Please keep in mind that not all people share your passion for hunting or enjoy looking at animals mounted on the walls (this can also apply to your collection of 3 Stooges memorabilia, covering the room from floor to ceiling, true story, floor to ceiling) — yes, I love the Stooges, but this was extreme and kind of creepy. PACK IT UP. In my experience, these things give many buyers the shivers down their spines. I am not knocking any hunter or collector of 3 Stooges items, it’s most certainly your prerogative and your choice of sport/hobby. BUT! You are trying to sell your home, please take them down, you will soon be able to re-hang these things in your new space…. if … you take them down first.
Lastly, pull the weeds and the dead flowers, and remember … mulch is cheap; it looks fresh and clean and is low maintenance.
In summary, if you depersonalize the home-selling process: you’re trying to sell a product; the buyer is paying good, hard-earned money for your product. If you want top dollar for your product, then you need to be ahead of the other products for sale and stop thinking of it as YOURS because you want it to be THEIRS.
Rich Sidorski, 215-439-2058, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Soley, 484-948-5573
Pest Blaster, http://www.pestblaster.com/
DISCLAIMER: Kimberly Schreiner, RE/MAX and RE/MAX Affiliates are not responsible for any contractor listed above. These are just suggestions and it is up to the consumer to research and interview contractors. Please check with your BBB and ask for references.
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