Even though it is the Holiday season, many people are still trying to sell their homes. Always a daunting process, I thought I would share some ideas, hopefully made easier from a more personal perspective.
Several years ago, I was faced with the possibility of selling my own home. During the process, I had to get several Realtors in for assessments. One of them told me that it was a wonderful old house, and would appeal to a quirky owner (the thought of 10 cats and a cupboard filled with an infamous canned food, beloved by Monty Python, came to mind) and the other, was not shy in saying that my house was cozy (small) and shabby (without the chic).
What was good, is that it gave me the chance to see my home through the eyes of someone who saw it from a very different perspective. Some of it seemed quite harsh, but truly, they were giving me the reality of the housing market, and I learned a lot from talking to them:
The first thing I learned, was that selling a house is about filling the needs of as many people as possible, not about how much you love the crooked staircase and your quirky gargoyle collection. It is no longer about you, it is about a commodity.
The second thing I learned was to be realistic. eg. A mansion, in a not-so-good neighborhood, no matter how much money you put into it, will probably never get you the return that you hope for. Likewise, a small home will always appeal more to couples or young families looking for a “starter” home.
Depersonalizing was the next lesson. Not a bad word, it just means that you have to edit what you have, so that the house is the main event. Family photos and “stuff” are a distraction. At the very least, keep mementos corralled in one area, not spread all over the place.
Clean it up - the outside and the inside. Buyers are fickle; first impressions can prevent someone from even wanting to look inside (put garbage cans, broken Halloween decorations and green hosepipes in the garage).
Also, a house that is tidy looks bigger, welcomes you in and makes you want to see more.
Make your home feel cared for. Open the curtains, fluff up the pillows and let in the light. Water your plants, and get rid of ones that are past their prime.
Every room should have a purpose. Spend some time making sure your rooms look like what they are supposed to be (computers in the office, baskets of clothes in the laundry room, television and photos in the family room etc). A spare room that is filled with “leftovers” puts people off – it needs an identity.
If you want to fix things prior to the sale, be wise in your choices. Many states have mandatory inspections, and you may have other things to repair that are far more important (and expensive).
Finally, your home should smell good. At the absolute least, change the kitty litter, empty the garbage and open the windows (no air-freshener please!). If you can, bake something in the stove or light a natural scented candle. Make people feel at home with these favorite, comforting scents: Apple pie, cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, chocolate chip cookies….
Lovely, airy photograph from: http://www.softlineonline.com/blog/?m=201104