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The Proper Mindset
1. Think positive. You have already made the decision to move. You are considering hiring one of the top agents in Northern Virginia to market your property and to be your negotiator. Your chances of a quick sale improve if you distance yourself from whatever emotions your life in this home has encouraged. Consider yourself now a business person trying to sell one of the more expensive items people buy.
You’re competing with builders and relocation companies who have invested a lot in understanding what makes buyers decide and who have made a lot more sales than you. You are also competing against other resellers who may be just as market savvy.
It is wisest to treat the time you are on the market as a period when you no longer own your home. The more you back away from fond memories, the quicker you will take the right actions to make your property (no, it's not home anymore) attractive to a ready and willing buyer.
We will guide you step by step through the process of preparing your home for sale to achieve the highest possible sale price in the least amount of time. We will focus on these areas:
* Space Management
* Area-by-area Tips
Neutralizing: remove your personal signature.
2. Learn from corporate relocation companies. Generally, the first thing they do after accepting a home is to neutralize the interior from top to bottom. They install new medium grade beige carpet, strip wallpaper, and repaint all the walls and trimwork in a currently fashionable off-white paint.
You want to make your house appeal to the largest possible buying segment. Ask yourself, "How many of the available buyers would be able to move into my house with their furniture and not have to replace the carpeting?" Position your house on the market to be as livable to as many people as possible. Encourage potential buyers to mentally picture it as their home. Appeal to their emotions.
3. Forget your personal taste . . . the "market" is always demand driven! The average buyer will have a hard time looking beyond blue carpeting and bold wallpaper. Strong "country" or "art deco" motif will limit the number of buyers who say "Oh, yes! This is where I want to live the next several years of my life!" Replace unusual or bold colors with neutral tones. Two coats of white paint may be the best investment you ever made.
Repairs: let’s make the home inspector’s job tougher.
4. The rule of thumb is: if something needs repair, fix it! A "pre-inspection" by a professional home inspector may show you problems you never realized you had. Then there are probably things in your home that you know about and have simply become used to over time . . . things that you have been promising yourself that you would take care of. Well, now is the time. The buyer is going to hire a professional home inspector to point them all out to them anyway.
5. Many potential buyers in our market are not particularly skilled at home repair. They will mentally add up the cost of repairing all those minor flaws and end up with an amount that is generally much higher than what it would cost you to do the repairs. They may never make an offer.
You might be saying to yourself, "These repairs aren’t any big deal." But the buyer is thinking, "If the owners didn’t care for these little items, then what about the roof and the furnace?" Needed small repairs and perceived owner neglect will either lower the purchase price or lengthen the time required to sell.
Large repairs: "Treat a buyer as you would yourself." Repair any major system problems or explicitly offer an allowance for the buyer to make repairs after closing. Ask Pat about what to disclose that you know about the property. Having been a consumer yourself, you know that buyers will more readily make a purchase decision with someone whom they can trust.
6. If you decide not to neutralize, check all walls for peeling paint and loose wall paper and repair them.
7. About "pre-inspections": they give you the opportunity to make fixes you are capable of yourself. This ends up being much less expensive than having to hire a professional because the buyer agent does not want to risk "Harry Homeowner" making repairs of items discovered by the post-contract home inspection. It’s a simple idea: if there is no problem for the home inspector to find, the buyers’ agent can’t ask for expensive professional repairs.
Cleaning: "cleanliness is next to… a winning contract!"
8. Every area of the home must sparkle and shine! Each hour spent will be well worth it. Would you rather buy a clean car or a dirty one? Would you hurry to buy a pair of shoes with mud on them?
9. Clean all windows, inside and out. This allows more sunlight in, brightens your interior and appeals to the potential buyers’ emotions.
10. If you choose not to replace it, deep clean all wall-to-wall carpeting. If you have area rugs, clean them too, even though you plan to take them with you. Clean vinyl, linoleum, tile and wooden floors. Polish them if possible.
11. Clean and polish all woodwork if necessary. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath cabinets. Use Old English to make scratches and wear areas less noticeable.
12. Clean and polish all light fixtures. If the brass is badly discolored and can’t be salvaged, replace the fixture.
13. Look up at furnace/air conditioning return duct covers for dust. It invites suspicions about overall unit maintenance. Remove cobweb accumulations in corners. You’d be amazed at how often this is overlooked.
14. Pay particular attention to your heating/cooling system. Clean the filters or replace them. Inspect the underside of the fan coil unit for accumulated dirt/dust. If it’s not clean, vacuum it then use a scrub brush to get any difficult deposits. Better yet, have a heating/cooling professional inspect and clean the unit and put a sticker with the date in plain sight.
This is an excerpt from our free "99 Ways to Sell Your Home." For more great tips, please contact us or call us at 703-503-4365.
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