What do you notice when you visit a model home in a new development? Often, you’ll find wonderfully furnished and decorated rooms that anyone could live in.
The operative word here is “anyone”.
Sure, there might be a computer screen on a desk in the den, or a child’s Raggedy Ann doll sitting in a corner, but for the most part, all the rooms are anonymous. There is a sense of family, but no specific family… the feeling of personality, but no specific person.
The professionals who set up a model home make it anonymous for a reason. They want buyers to view it as their potential home, not someone else’s. And these professionals know — based on decades of experience — that this strategy helps sell houses faster and for a better price.
Why not use this same strategy when showing your house or condo?
It’s easy. Just put away that soccer trophy, take down the wedding photo, and box those souvenirs from the family vacation at Disneyland. No, you don’t have to completely empty your closets and drawers. Just pack those personal items that can be seen when a potential buyer views a room. Put away toothbrushes, collectibles, even unopened mail. Don’t forget the fridge door, which is often a mosaic of personal items in most family homes.
If you have lots of personal items, consider renting a storage unit for the few weeks that your house or condo will be on the market. It’s worth the investment.
You wouldn’t think of buying a birthday cake with a stranger’s name on it. The same holds true when you show your house or condo. Make it anonymous!
Recently, researchers have discovered that lighting in the home has a much greater impact on health and well-being than originally thought. Better lighting can boost your energy, help you sleep better, and even enhance healing.
So it pays to make sure the lighting in your home is healthy.
Start by enhancing sources of natural light, such as windows and sunroofs. Study each room of your home and replace as much of the artificial light as possible with sunlight. For example, re-position a preferred reading chair next to a window.
Consider dimming the lighting in your home during the evenings. If your home is very bright when it’s dark outside, it can affect your body’s natural rhythms, resulting in disturbed sleep.
Avoid over-lighting, which is common in rooms where there are few windows. Over time, excessive light can cause headaches and even mood changes. Lighting that is sufficient to see everything clearly is all you need.
Retailers know that if they dress up their window displays and other outside features to make them look as attractive and enticing as possible, they bring in more shoppers. Of course, having more shoppers means more potential sales.
The same holds true when selling your home.
The more appealing your property looks from the outside – from the sidewalk right up to your windows – the more likely buyers are to become interested in your home and want to schedule a viewing.
That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on new landscaping and window dressings. In fact, there are many simple, low-cost things you can do to make your property look significantly more inviting to home shoppers.
- Mow the lawn.
- Trim the hedges.
- Plant some flowers. Place potted plants near the entrance way.
- Make sure the walkway is clear and swept clean.
- Paint the front entrance door. (If needed.)
- Clean the windows, inside and out.
- Make sure window coverings, and all other items that can been seen from the street, look great.
Make your property look better from the outside, and more buyers will say, “Yes, I want to view that home!”
Viewing new homes on the market can be a very exciting and a fast-paced experience – especially if you’re also selling your current property. You see a home you like, you fall in love with some of its key features and, before you know it, you’re making an offer. But, if you haven’t taken the time to consider some of the details, you may wind up discovering that upon closer inspection, the home doesn’t truly meet your needs.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
Of course, you have to act quickly when you find a property that matches your criteria. You just need to make sure that the home really is a good fit, and that you’re not being swayed by first impressions.
When you’re viewing a potential new home, or checking out a property during a weekend “open house”, what should you look for beyond the obvious? Here are some suggestions:
- Will the property require a lot of immediate repairs and upgrades?
- Is it in an area that supports your family’s needs and activities. (Consider commuting time to work, playgrounds for the kids, local shopping, etc.)
- Is the yard big enough?
- Is the driveway and garage space okay for all your vehicles?
- Will your furniture and other items fit the space?
- Are there enough bedrooms, bathrooms, closets and storage space? (Think about your current AND future needs.)
Avoid the temptation to focus on only the major features of a home, such as the large kitchen. Get down to the nitty-gritty details. After all, it’s a major purchase. You want to get it right!
You’ve picked a great contractor or decorator. The crew is coming in on Monday to do the work. You can hardly wait to see the renovated kitchen, new hardwood floors, or freshly painted living room.
But there’s one thing that can put a damper on all your enthusiasm. The work itself.
Dust. Loud noise. Renovation debris. Work people tracking dirt in and out of your home. It can all add up to a not-so-great feeling about the renovation.
That’s why it’s important to have a discussion with your contractor or decorator before the work begins so you understand how the work will actually be done, and so you can set some ground rules.
Here are some key questions to ask: What are the names of the people on the work team? What are their hours? Who will be in charge of the work team when you are not on site? What steps do you take to reduce dust and dirt in the home during the project? Is the job area cleaned up at the end of each day? What is your policy regarding smoking and eating on site by your work team?
Getting answers to these questions upfront will help avoid unpleasant surprises.
What if something unexpected happened – a relocation, perhaps – and you needed to sell your current property quickly and find another home? What would you need to do to make that happen, especially when you don’t have a minute to spare? Focus on the following three steps:
1. Prepare your property for sale
If you’re selling your home, you want to make it as attractive to potential buyers as possible. Depending on your property, this may involve getting minor repairs done, doing some light renovations (such as painting the foyer), eliminating as much clutter as possible, and making sure your home is clean and neat.
2. Get a pre-approved mortgage
A pre-approved mortgage is simply a certificate from your bank or lender that states how much money you qualify to receive. Getting a pre-approved mortgage is a good idea for two reasons: It gives you confidence when shopping for a new home, because you’ll know exactly how much home you can afford. And, it gives the seller confidence that you’ll be able to secure a mortgage for the purchase price you’ve offered.
3. Find the right real estate professional
The right real estate professional can make the entire process of selling your current property and buying your next home quick and easy. He or she can help you determine the right listing price and show your home to prospective buyers. At the same time, your real estate professional can show you properties that fit your budget and other criteria. So there’s no need to panic. If you have to sell your home and buy another one quickly, focus on these three steps to help ensure everything works out fine.
Your home has both a personal value and a market value.
When you think of your home as a place where a family is raised and memories are built, then it’s like those popular MasterCard commercials on television: Your home’s value is “priceless”.
But when it comes to how much your home is worth to potential buyers, then things get much less sentimental. It’s the “market value” of your property that determines how much it will sell for, not your personal feelings.
Market value is simply the price that similar properties in similar areas are currently selling for. If you were to list your home on the market today, you could expect to get somewhere close to that figure.
Even if you’re not planning to sell your home in the near future, it makes sense to get an update on its fair market value. Your home is an investment – and you should know how much that investment is worth.
There may also be circumstances where you might have to move quickly. Knowing the market value of your home will help you make quick – and better – decisions.
Some people just don’t appreciate pets, and all the sights, sounds, and smells that go with them. So, to keep potential buyers focused on your house, and not your pet, follow these simple tips:
- Wash and put away the pet toys and food bowls.
- Refresh the kitty litter.
- Check your yard for doggie doo.
- Use room or carpet deodorizer.
- Send your pet on vacation during showings.
You love your pet. But it’s your house that you’re trying to sell.
The more varied the opinions of economic experts, the more we are required to do our own homework when making real estate decisions for the future. This is especially true when there are varying degrees of optimism and pessimism about the nation’s economy. Many homeowners use interest rates to measure the health and viability of real estate. But the national economic outlook is not the only relevant factor in the health of the real estate market in your area.
Educated real estate investors look beyond the macro economic outlook to local factors that impact their investment. For example, the stability of local employment and consumer spending has a direct impact on the supply and demand for homes and condominiums and therefore their prices. New housing developments in a local market also impact the supply, creating “buyer’s markets”.
As you evaluate the value of your investment or try to predict the future value of a potential purchase, be sure to understand both the national economic environment and the specific factors of your local community.
Remember when you found your current home? You walked in and got the feeling it was a great fit for you and your family. Now that you’re selling your house, you need to make that same impression on the next potential buyer. Here’s how to do it.
- Clean and de-clutter
Make sure your kitchen, bathrooms, and floors sparkle. Use old-fashioned elbow grease or call in professional cleaners to get the job done. Can you walk into your walk-in closet? Does your car barely fit into your garage? Start packing early and put your seasonal and personal things into storage. Make your rooms and cupboards look spacious.
- Repair the little things
Put on your home inspector‘s hat and walk through your house. Make a list of the items that need attention and arrange for repairs. Focus on your entry-way, drywall, paint, sticky/squeaky doors, leaky faucets, flooring and countertops.
- Help buyers see themselves in your house
Remove your family photos and personal mementos. If you’re a collector, pack up your collection. Buyers have difficulty picturing themselves in your house when your personal items are on display.
- Let the light in
Bright homes often have a higher resale value. Get your windows cleaned, inside and out. (Consider hiring a professional.) Pull back blinds and draperies to let natural light in. If you still have some dark spots, add floor or table lamps to the area.
- Groom your yard
You wouldn’t go to a job interview without being well groomed, so make sure your yard is groomed for viewings. Trim your hedges and shrubs. Cut the grass. Pull weeds and cut back any greenery that covers walkways.