Thursday, October 15, 2009

“How do I Get an Offer on My Home?”

Whether you have had tried to sale your house for a week, month, or a year this question comes up all the time. My initial advice to sellers is to make sure they price their home correctly. Set a price at the median of your property’s realistic price range. How do you accomplish this? Get an appraisal. I know, I know. It cost money, but leaving money on the table from pricing your home too low or making interest payments, paying taxes, insurance, and paying for maintenance on a home from over pricing your house to begin with will cost you far more than the appraisal in the long run. An appraisal will give you current sales comparables to help you determine a high and a low for your neighborhood. If you price your home right, it will sell.

Beyond this you must prepare for visits from potential buyers. Get your house market ready at least two or three weeks before you begin showing it. Think about this process as if you were walking up to your front door for the first time. Is the hardware on your front door tarnished and scratched up? Is the finish in “vogue” at the present or is it out of style? Look at new homes that are on the market in the price range of your home. If all of them have oil rubbed bronze front door hardware, for example, and you have a brass front door knob it may make sense to bring your door hardware up to date with current styles or finishes. For many people they like the idea of buying a new home. Make your house feel like new.

Remember that placing a pot of seasonal flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch is not only a good idea when you are entertaining, but also when you are selling your house. Edge the grass around walkways and trees. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight. Keep clutter such as toys and yard art cleared from the lawn. I have even had sellers buy a new mailbox, and upgrade outside lighting in an attempt to add curb appeal. As far as outside lighting is concerned, it can be done rather inexpensively today. Make sure you buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door. Put a basket with disposable “shoe covers” right inside the door to show that you care for your home. Also, nothing says “home” like a seasonal wreath on your door. Even something simple like house numbers should be either polished or replaced.

Repair any cracks in the driveway. This is a suggestion I normally give. I am actually more concerned however with cracks in a basement slab than I am with cracks in the driveway. People from the Northeast who move into our area are more aware of Radon than we Southerners. Cracks in the basement slab might be a problem to them that could either cause a contract to fall apart or cause a hiccup during the due diligence process. Be mindful of fixing anything that could cause a hindrance to a sale.

On the interior of your home I would start with removing clutter and cleaning off counters. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Get rid of smells. Remember that some air fresheners “mask” smells. I previewed a house recently where the air freshener intended to hide dog odors was far more offensive than the dog could have been on its own. This means when in doubt, have the carpet professionally cleaned.

Brighten your rooms by putting higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Also, don’t disregard minor repairs. You want the house to show as “like new” as possible. If you ask most closing attorneys in town they will tell you that a 5 year-old house in our area is “outdated” now a days with new construction inventory on the market. Your house needs to feel like a “new home.”

You need to set the scene by making centerpieces for your tables. From nicer than every day table settings and candles to creating other vignettes throughout the home you are helping buyers picture living there. You don’t need to pay the extravagant pricing for a Home Staging Company to do what you can do yourself with a little forethought.

Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light, and show off the view, if you have one. It should go without saying, but make sure windows are cleaned, inside and outside.

Finally, make the bathrooms feel luxurious. A tip, any good Home Stager always stages the bathrooms. You as the homeowner should do no differently.

Make sure you are flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show at the spur of the moment. But the more amenable you can be about letting people see your home, the sooner you’ll find a buyer. 

As you start the showing process make sure you anticipate the offers. Decide in advance what price and terms you’ll find acceptable. 

Lastly, and this is hard for most of us to accept if we feel we have priced our house correctly to begin with, don’t refuse to drop the price. If your home has been on the market for more than 60 days without an offer and selling season is drawing to a close, you should be prepared to at least consider lowering your asking price. This is one reason I mentioned to price your house in the median price range per your appraisal. This gives you room to move lower without feeling as if you gave something away.

In summary, if you take my initial advice and price your home correctly it will sell, but it takes painting the picture to help a buyer envision themselves in your home to procure a contract!


  1. I just gave a seller this same advice, about placing large flower pots or greenery in front of their home. Even though we're going into the winter months, a large potted evergreen on the front porch would nicely add color and warmth.

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