You’ve decided to sell your house. With or without your agent, you have to decide how much you believe your house is worth.
It doesn’t hurt to find out what a real estate agent thinks its worth. In fact, ask 2 or 3 of them. It’s a free service offered by most real estate agents in your area. After all, they often have more information on recent sales they can hand you in a report.
Before selling your house, if you want to get that amount, your house has to appear its worth the price you’re asking. Here are 7 things you must do before selling your house to get the most money.
Pricing My House
People are always surprised and offended when anyone who wants to buy their house doesn’t offer them more than the listing price. Why don’t they love it as much as I do? Don’t they think the olive green paint and pink trim are unique?
In a previous life I was a residential real estate agent, also known as a Realtor or often mispronounced as”Re-la-tor. (That mispronunciation drives most of us crazy, by the way.)
When ever I would go meet with potential sellers, I would hand them a list of 6 things to do to their homes before I would list it for sale. The first words out of my mouth are me quoting my first real estate teacher who said “I know you love your blue shag rug and hot pink tiles, and you think that makes your house worth more. But did you enjoy it? Great, because that’s all its worth. The buyers are going to buy this house and change almost everything to make it their own, just like you did.”
Why is this important? Buyers have certain expectations when looking for a house to be their new home. And if they like the bones or general feel of the house but expect they’re going to have to paint and clean before they can move in, they are going to decide your house is not worth what you’re asking.
If you want to get the most money for your house, there are seven things every homeowner should do first.
Understand There Are Three Types of House Buyers
Yes, there really are mainly three types of buyers.
The first type of buyer is a buyer who is looking for a house they can get cheap. These buyers are investors or flippers who buy low for cash and will do a fast escrows. They don’t care what condition it is in and will offer to buy your house as is, pay all the closing costs and close within a few days. Sounds good, right?
Yes except for one thing. Their goal is to get the house as cheap as possible. Smell, dirt, and odd paint choices don’t matter to them. They’re going to have a crew come in, clean it, paint it, do minor repairs and upgrades and sell it for top dollar. These investors know whether your house has potential to make them money or not. In fact, almost all houses if purchased cheap enough can be a good investment.
Don’t expect these people to offer you even close to what you’re asking. It just won’t happen. They typically want to pay 40% to 60% of market value. So if you believe your house is worth $100,000 today, they will offer you $40,000 or maybe as high as $50,000. Unless you have to get out of your house for an urgent reason, or the house has more issues than you can or want to deal with, you may not want to call the numbers on those “I Buy Houses For Cash” signs.
The second type of buyer is the retail buyer. These buyers like everything shiny and new looking. They’re hoping for top line appliances, fresh paint and flooring, sparkling windows, and remodeled kitchens and baths. The lawn has to be green, flowers in bloom and they want to go “Ahhhhhh” when they walk in the front door.
Not that these retail buyers won’t try to get a deal, because they will. It’s human nature. But if your house looks like you’ve taken good care of it, recently had it updated, and smells great, you will probably get the offer you’re hoping for. And maybe, just maybe, more than one buyer will want to buy your house and the price goes up because of demand.
The last type of buyer is the “Foot In The Door” buyer. They really want to own their own home but can’t afford to buy the house that has all the bells and whistles. These buyers recognize they may have to do some work like paint or minor repairs just so they can get their foot in the door.
These buyers may or may not point out all the things that are wrong with the house, hoping you’ll agree and give them a bit of a break so they can afford to buy the house. Even a small discount can be helpful to these kinds of buyers if you’re willing to give a little.
In another article, I’ll make suggestions on enticements you may want to consider offering someone who wants to buy your house. These small enticements may just help seal the deal.
But this article is to help you make more money when selling your house. And you can save money if you’re willing and able to do some, most or all of these things yourself.
So here goes with my list of 6 things to help get you more money before selling your house.
Curb Appeal Is Important
If a buyer drives up to your house and all they see is weeds, sparse grass spots, one or two sad blooms hanging off a half dead bush, and kids toys dumped in the yard, they are likely to drive on.
How a front yard looks tells the new buyer a lot about the seller and their house. If they can’t keep up the front yard, the inside of the house must be a disaster. Trust me, if they don’t like the front of your house, they won’t bother going inside.
No one wants to buy a house with problems like leaky pipes, peeling paint, or broken doors.
Of course, there are the ugly house buyers but they will offer you a fraction of what it could be worth with a little TLC. Why not spend a few hundred dollars and make thousands for your effort.
Some inexpensive tips:
- Trim bushes and remove dead plants
- Decorative rock can be a bonus for low water simple landscape
- Maybe paint the front door a cheery color like yellow, blue or red
- Pick up kids toys and remove old vehicles if they’re sitting in the yard
- Plant a few flowers and put some in decorative pots out in front
- Don’t forget to plant a few more in the back yard. A little clean up and a few flowers go a long way.
How Does Your House Smell?
If you have pets, I don’t care how many times you tell me your house doesn’t smell. It does.
Dogs, birds and cats, even outdoor cats, leave hair or feathers and odors in your house. You get used to smelling them but someone who doesn’t have and doesn’t want pets can smell them the second they step foot inside your front door.
When selling your house, confine the pet’s toys, bed and food to one specific area in the house like a laundry room. I know its quaint to have your dog’s bed at the foot of yours, but when a buyer is considering your home, they may not feel the same way.
Make sure you add baking soda to the cat’s litter box to help absorb odors.
Do you really want to accept $5,000 – $10,000 less because your house smells like your pet instead of fresh and clean?
No One Wants To See Pictures Of Your Family
I know you just adore that photo of the kids playing in the snow. And you can’t part with the one of grandma holding the baby. But you’re trying to sell your house, remember?
Buyers want to envision their belongings in the house not yours. Being able to see themselves living there with their own photos and furniture makes the house feel like their home. It will get you more money in your pocket.
So please pack the personal photos and family name plaques. You want to get the most money you can but buyers won’t bond with your house if it looks like you instead of them. This is an important to do before selling your house.
Animal Heads Are A NO!
Okay, where do I start. Animal heads are important to the hunter showing off their prowess. However, for most buyers, they are a giant turn off.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve opened the door to show a house to and upon seeing the animal head on the wall, they turned around and refused to walk in the door.
You can hang them at your next house. Before selling your house, if you really want to sell for the most money, please take them down.
Make Sure It’s Clean
I’m always stunned when I go to show a house and the sink is full of dishes. Laundry scattered on the sofa, bed and floor are not what the buyers want to see. Every one can see the tufts of pet hair and feathers floating around.
At least do the basics:
- mop the floors
- do the dishes
- put away the laundry
- pick up the toys
- wipe fingerprints and dirt off doors, windows, and walls
An added bonus that will help you get more money is if your house is freshly painted in a neutral color. I love color but lots of people don’t want color they have to paint over, so the more neutral the better. White, beige, and soft gray are always safe bets.
Fresh paint lets buyers know you’re clean, have pride of ownership, and you’ve probably taken care of your house.
Last thing is remove all your personal products off the bathroom counters. Buyers don’t care what brand of hair spray or toothpaste you use. If you have a lot of clutter on the counters, they automatically assume there is not enough storage. That’s a definite turn off.
What is Attached Stays Attached
I was selling a house for a friend going through divorce. Doing a walk through while we were in escrow, I noticed she had pulled some of the embedded stepping stones from her grass. No, I’m not kidding. Those stay with the house.
If something is attached like planter boxes or a flag receptacle, leave them there. Don’t take part of the landscape with you unless its something small and personal like a favorite whirlygig or personal yard ornament like metallic singing frogs.
This also goes for inside your house. If you want to take a family chandelier, then make sure your agent knows to exclude it from the listing with special language “The Dining Room Light is a family heirloom and does not convey.” It’s okay, but unless you’ve let everyone know you’re taking it, you must leave it if its attached.
Here’s a Bonus Item To Help Sell Your House
Pick out a unique feature in your house and make it special. Maybe you have an unusual shaped niche, or a stained glass window or great fountain or special bench in the yard.
The main theme here is give buyers a reason to remember your house, something they’ll think about or comment on after they walk out the door.
If you give the buyers something special to remember, the house sticks in their mind and they’ll talk about it when considering to make them say your house is the one.
That’s My List
I’d love to say these things are common sense. However, I’ve viewed over 2,000 houses and I’m constantly amazed at what I see.
Doing these things will help you get more money and sell your house faster. And after all, isn’t that the goal when you’re selling your house?