In today’s housing market, selling a home for a decent price isn’t easy. Since the housing bubble burst, prices for homes, both new and existing, have been in a tailspin. In fact, according to a report released by Demographia, from July 2014 to January 2015, the national median house value decreased by twenty-nine percent; and “this loss, over a 2.5 year period, is comparable to the Great Depression house value loss of twenty-seven percent over a four year period.”
As things stand, the outlook for the near future is far from promising since economists foresee still more homeowners facing foreclosure as the result of toxic loans, resulting in a continued decline in property values. So, the question is, what can homeowners do to help ensure they receive top dollar for their homes when there are so many bottom-dollar houses for sale?
Price It Right
According to David Hemenway, a realtor in Cottage Grove, Oregon, who’s been in the business since 1968, starting too high is the worst thing a seller can do (Max) And why is this the case? Hemenway says it’s because the greatest opportunity to sell one’s house is “immediately after it goes on the market,” since that’s when the majority of serious buyers will see it (Max). Moreover, even if sellers lower the price to reflect the market, they will have fewer people coming through than if they had priced it right to begin with (Max).
Use Elbow Grease
Scrub the house until it glistens. Wash windows inside and out, remove pet and coffee stains from carpets, wax floors, scour bathrooms, dust ceiling fans and baseboards, clean electrical plates, scrub appliances, and polish mirrors and doorknobs. In other words, sellers should complete all those tedious chores they’ve been putting off until another day, either that, or hire a cleaning service. The important thing is that a clean house makes a far better impression than a pigsty.
Clear Out Clutter
Clutter makes a house look smaller, as well as dingy. So, take one room at a time and purge it of clutter. This doesn’t mean a seller has to throw away that hideous lava lamp he’s been saving for sentimental purposes, but he should at least put it in storage. Remember, when potential buyers enter a home, they want to envision themselves living there, which is next to impossible if the rooms are filled with stuff to remind them it’s someone else’s home.
Repair, Repair, Repair
Mend or replace tattered screens; replace cracked bathroom grout; repair loose cabinet knobs and drawer pulls; fix leaking faucets; replace burned out light bulbs; patch holes, including nail holes, in the walls (preferably before painting); repair broken steps (inside and out); and replace or remove torn and/or faded wallpaper. In other words, if something is worn out, damaged, or broken, fix it; and if it cannot be fixed, replace it.
Paint the Walls
It is amazing what a coat of paint will do for the interior and exterior of a house. It makes everything look new and fresh. Even if the paint job is recent, however, if the walls are colors that may not appeal to everyone, paint them a neutral color, preferably within the cream or beige family. Stark white is, well, too stark, whereas soft creams and beiges make rooms look more spacious. Plus, it’s much easier for potential buyers to picture their things against a neutral canvas than against one that’s chartreuse, burgundy, or cobalt.
Create Curb Appeal
Take a long, unbiased look at the outside of the house. Does the grass need mowing? Are the flowerbeds more weeds than flowers? Are toys strewn hither, thither, and yond? Have the neighbors’ cats and dogs used the lawn as a litter box? If the answer is “yes,” then cut the grass, pick up the toys, weed the flowerbeds, and scare away the neighbors’ pets.
Another way to enhance curb appeal is by practicing the teachings of the ancient art of Feng Shui; for example, place large attractive flowerpots containing healthy, colorful plants on each side of the main entranceway. Paint the front door a dramatic, vibrant color, for example, deep red, dark charcoal, or rich chocolate.
Turn on the Lights
When showing the home, open the drapes, blinds, and curtains, but also turn on the lights. The more light the better because light makes rooms look larger, as well as airy. Remember, no one wants to live in the dark, well, that is unless he or she is a vampire, so sellers should light up a house for potential buyers.
Selling a home in today’s market is not easy, but it is possible. It’s also possible to sell it for what it’s worth. It simply takes a little foresight and preparation on the part of the seller.