Friday, August 14, 2009

Nothing says “Pre-Foreclosure” like a Vacant Home!

If you are one of thousands of sellers all across the fruited plain that has a vacant home you are trying to sell, let me give you some advice, raise the price and keep it from looking vacant. Okay, well maybe don’t raise the price, but nothing seems to slow down the selling process like trying to sell a vacant home. Buyers and real estate professionals seem to smell “distressed sale” even though that vacant home may not be a distressed sale. Assumptions by potential buyers on the current financial status of many a vacant home has killed an owner’s chances of getting it sold at market value, and they tend to sit on the market much longer than occupied homes for sale. From my experience as a real estate broker, here are some tips to live by in selling your vacant home.

images*Give the house a lived-in look. See if a neighbor or close by family member would help by making the house look occupied. Have them park a car in the driveway, open and close the blinds, and take in any stray newspapers off the driveway. This can also be accomplished, by letting a college aged child live in the property while for sale. On one of my listings we are taking this option. He needed a place to live during his Junior year of college, so he is going to stay and live in the home while it is on the market.
Now-a-days there are even house sitter services that will put someone in the property while for sale to maintain it for the seller. Another option is Home Staging. This can be expensive, especially on a tight budget, but may be well worth it in certain price ranges depending on your home and location.

*Maintain the look of the yard. I have had buyers attracted to one listing over another due to the fact a lawn looked cared after. Unless you are going to do this yourself, hire a lawn service during the summer to keep the grass cut, edged, weeds pulled out of the beds, and limbs off the lawn.

*Do some Home Staging on your Own. Touch up the paint, repair nail holes when removing pictures or mirrors from the walls, and replace rugs so there are no faded spots or blemishes on the walls. Keep some of your furniture in the home if at all possible. Set up sitting areas, as a good home stager would do. If you have a love seat and a full sized sofa in the living room, take the sofa and leave the love seat. Remove the King sized bed in the Master or Owner’s suite and replace it with a Queen. Get your larger, bulkier, furniture out of the house and replace or leave smaller pieces to emphasize the space.

*Leave the Utilities Running. Most thermostats today have the wonderful ability to program a comfortable temperature during the winter and summer months without having to worry about the inside temps in your home. Also, keep them going. If you don’t want to seem desperate and the property hurt by feeling like a “distressed sale” remember also that nothing says “foreclosure” more than walking into a home with no power! Keep paying those utilities.

*Hiring a maid service and other tips. Make sure the home remains cared for through at least having a monthly service check for cob webs, dust, and even sweeping or mopping floors. If you are getting some traffic coming through the house to view the property, it makes a better impression if the floors remain clean. A trick to use is to keep two baskets by the front door with disposable shoe covers. One for new and one for those discarded after use. Believe me when I say that anyone looking at your home will be impressed that you care enough to protect your home from excess traffic that you provided and request for anyone showing or previewing the home to wear disposable shoe covers than the dozens of homes that your potential buyers may look at which do not. Whether they wear them or not while previewing your home, the point will be made!

These are probably the best buying conditions in 30 years! If you would like to search the Athens MLS please take a look at listings in our “Classic City” today! On this web MLS search solution you can search every listing on the Georgia MLS for the Greater Athens area or in your Georgia town!

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