Saturday, February 25

Tips for Home Sellers

Hunting for a house to make a home is one of those activities than can quickly consume huge amounts of physical, mental and emotional energy. (It's no picnic for the sellers, either.)

As a house hunter, who's getting lots of exposure to real estate listings and agents, I'd like to offer a few quick tips to home sellers everywhere.

1. Digital Pictures Are Free - Take (and Post) Lots. Everybody is busy, and no one wants to waste their time or someone else's. Post lots of pictures so that whatever a given buyer's criteria, they have what they need to make an informed assessment about your property. All of it. You may consider your lovely yard a selling point, but I may care primarily about the kitchen - you can't know that, so do us both a favor and cover everything. Also, please keep in mind that if I don't see pictures of something, I'm probably going to assume you're hiding something and bump you to the bottom of my list.

2. Declutter. Please! Without fail, the first thing they do on the HGTV show Unsellables is declutter; there's a reason for that! I will gladly bring my imagination and elbow grease; I can revision worn floors and crazy paint colors. That said, I'd still really appreciate it if you took the dead turkeys and 18 sets of antlers off the walls. Also, too much junk or furniture cluttering up a space suggests to wary home buyers that maybe you're not much on cleaning and maintenance - not the message you want to send!

3. Taxes Matter. When pricing your house, take the tax figures into account. Factors like mortgage insurance and taxes drive up the actual cost of monthly mortgage payments; while this is not your fault, it can decidedly impact your ability to sell. Offer as much accurate tax information on your listing site as you can -it will save everyone time and pre-screen potential buyers so you only work with ones who can legitimately afford to buy your home.

4. A Lower Price is More Attractive Than Personalized Upgrades. Please don't sink money into wall to wall carpeting or granite counter tops and then expect top dollar in return. Some improvements (like a new roof or good windows) are universally attractive. But most buyers prefer a lower sale price and money left over in their budget to devote to their priorities than a higher price with upgrades that may or may not be to their taste or address their biggest concerns.

5. Double Check Your Listing for Errors.. and Be Honest. When I run into a listing where the house size is more square footage than the lot size, it's a pretty clear tip-off that something got mis-keyed. It happens. But it can hurt you! Buyers often use house or lot size as search criteria - if yours are listed wrong, they won't pop up for consideration! And please, be honest. It's okay to have a modestly sized deck or a basement that isn't readily transformable into another bedroom. Pretending that a space is bigger or other than it really is just hurts your credibility and makes me less likely to believe the other facts in your listing. Besides, it's not like we won't find out!

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