June 2017

Merchandise Your Home: How to get top dollar when you sell

Author: Beth Drake

Are you considering selling your home? If you are like most people, your property is one of your largest assets. Here are some tips that can help get you more money and a faster sale.

Make the first impression count. The more the buyer feels that the home has been well cared for, the better they will feel about purchasing it. Use a critical eye to evaluate your landscape, including the size of your trees and shrubs. After 15 years, most plants look straggly and overgrown. If a potential buyer can’t see your home, you may have lost the sale as soon as the Realtor pulls into the driveway. Don’t let plants block the windows and cast shadows on the exterior. Pull out the bushes and replace with three-gallon plants that are four to five feet from the edge of the exterior. Add some color with a bed of annuals. Be sure your front lawn is mowed and looks good.

Always be “show ready.” Especially in our market where most of the buyers come from out of town for a limited time, it is important to make it easy for a Realtor to show your house. If you require a 24-hour showing notice or limited showing times, you have already lost potential buyers. While it is inconvenient for you it will help get your house sold. The more buyers who come through the door, the higher the chance you have of getting an offer.

Depersonalize the home. Take the personal items out of view. When listing a home, I advise sellers that we want potential buyers to walk in and focus on the floor plan, the views, the details, etc.—not stopping to look at the personal photos on the bookshelves. You want a potential buyer to envision him or herself living in your house. Make the effort to de-clutter your house as much as possible, even if it means renting a storage unit.

Update the kitchen. Does your kitchen look dated? According to a recent study by remodeling magazine, a minor kitchen remodel will help sell a house 8 percent faster and you will recoup 85 percent of the cost. While it may cost you a few thousand dollars to do a minor update, a potential buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if you have a dated kitchen. Simple fixes are: new hardware, paint, countertops, and one or two stainless appliances.

Make your house bright, cheery and clean. Most buyers want a light-filled home. Increase your light bulb wattage, make your windows sparkle, and be sure to get rid of the dust. If you have pets, remove the food bowls, kitty litter boxes and pet hair from view. Not everybody is a dog or cat lover. Keep a clean house with dishes put away, bathrooms spotless and countertops as empty as possible.

Price it right. Price it low and you could lose out on thousands of dollars. Price it high and it will sit on the market for months or even years, which will make potential buyers think something is wrong with your home when, in reality, you priced yourself out of the market. This is where an experienced listing agent comes in. When interviewing a listing agent, ask how many homes they have sold and their average days on the market. What is their marketing plan and how will they get potential buyers into your home? A listing agent should analyze the recent sales within the last six months in your neighborhood, or “comps,” and advise you on where your home should be priced. Why six months? Because licensed appraisers try to use the last six months of sold data, and if your home doesn’t appraise then the bank won’t finance the home. 

Beth Drake is a local Realtor, experienced in listing and selling homes on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton. She is a guild member of the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing and holds a BFA degree in interior design. A certified negotiation expert, she works with Keller Williams Realty and is consistently ranked in the top two percent of all area Realtors.

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