What Do I Need To Do To Sell My House?
This is by far the most common question I get from clients looking to sell their home. Believe me, I get it. There’s so much information out there for perspective sellers to mull over. Some bad, some good and mostly well intentioned, but here’s the challenge. How do you really know what a buyer will want to see when they come to your house for the first time?
I’ve been a Realtor for 13 years (about as long as I’ve been married actually) and while I do work with buyers, the larger portion of my business comes from clients looking to sell their home. I consider this to be an honor and a great challenge that I enjoy.
There are many reasons why a client wants to sell their home, just as there are many reasons a buyer might want to buy it. We’ll get to the later in a second. Maybe the seller is looking to upgrade which is very common in my town of Santa Clarita. On the other hand, I work with many aging adults whose kids have kids of their own and who are ready for a simpler more modest house. Perhaps there are economic factors or a job transfer. Whichever reason my client may give, it’s my job to assess the best way forward given his or her wants and needs. That way forward can look very different depending on the situation.
Now this doesn’t mean that we make our decisions totally based on what the seller wants. I have to look over the property as well as the community and anticipate why a buyer might be attracted to the home and what specifically they will look for when they come to the door. This is when things get interesting.
I’ll bet you’ve heard advice time and time again regarding upgrades you should do before putting your house on the market. Let me guess, kitchens and bathrooms get the best return on your investment, right? Would it surprise you if I said that most of the time you don’t even make your money back on the sale price of the home? The truth is it could even hurt the sale. How’s that possible? Well now let’s say you put $30K into re-doing your kitchen. You’ll probably want to list it for $40K more than you would’ve had you left the kitchen alone. Now a perspective buyer walks in and doesn’t connect with your sense of style and is asked to pay $40k more for a kitchen design they don’t like.
So many times sellers are told to upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms, not taking into account that a kitchen is a really personal room for some buyers who will want to make it their own. As for bathrooms, just keep them clean. No matter what you do there, you’re probably not going to win a buyer over with a bathroom. Mind you, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Again not all sales are the same and some homes that have not been well maintained can get a lot out of a little sprucing up especially if they were previously on the market and didn’t sell. I’m just saying that in my experience, I’ve found that it’s wiser to put your money and attention in other places.
Remember the expression, “You only get one chance to make a first impression”? This is why realtors should be talking to you first and foremost about curb appeal. So, what’s the first thing a buyer sees when they pull up to the curb in front of your house? The landscaping of course! A beautiful lawn with trimmed hedges, pruned trees, an attractive flower bed and well-kempt walkway tells a buyer subconsciously if not outright, that this is a well cared for home. As they walk to the door, they will have a positive feeling rather than a negative one. This does not guarantee a sale, of course, but a negative first impression can kill one.
I also strongly recommend painting the outside of the house. Be careful here though, you don’t want to alienate a buyer with an unusual color. It can be a bit different if it fits with the landscape and the feel of the neighborhood, but not outrageous.
Finally, if the driveway is very damaged it’s pretty inexpensive to lay down new blacktop and it goes a long way toward the curb appeal score of your home.
What To Do Inside
While I don’t recommend spending a ton of cash re-doing kitchens and bathrooms, there are two things that are inexpensive, but can go along way toward selling your home.
Pricing Your Home
OK now it’s time to put your house on the market. But what is the best listing price? What is the house truly worth? Good question, because once again, all is not as it seems. For example, you may want to go onto Zillow and see what similar houses in your neighborhood are going for and list accordingly. Seems reasonable, but here’s the problem. The majority of the time these popular sites are not accurate above the $750,000 price point. Why? While Zillow takes into account square footage of the house, it completely ignores the square footage of the lot. Also, it doesn’t consider our well thought out renovations. It is so crucial to have a great realtor in your corner at this moment. Poor pricing can mean the difference between multiple offers the first week or being stuck on the market for 9 months. Choose wisely.
I hope you feel a little more prepared for the seemingly daunting task of selling your home. Of course, it might seem like it’s going to be a complete nightmare, but it can be a great experience. If you have any questions, or would like to talk strategy please call me anytime at ….