Wondering if your house will sell soon? Want your house to sell faster? It can be a nerve wracking time waiting for a buyer to come and want to buy your house. You love your house, but you need to sell your house and move. Traditional sales methods of selling homes can take time and seem overwhelming. You probably already know you need to prepare for the sale, but what should you do first? Here are 6 low cost and simple steps to selling your house faster in Sacramento.
1. De clutter – rent a storage unit
One of the biggest mistakes I see homeowners make when they are trying to sell their house is NOT reducing clutter. Now, before anyone gets defensive, let me explain. I’m not talking about a messy house, I’m talking about how much stuff we have in our house. Personal items in our house are like opinions; everyone has them but it isn’t always prudent to display them. Take time to empty your closets and storage areas. If buyers see closets full of stuff, buyers will think their stuff won’t fit and that there isn’t much storage room. Empty your kitchen and bathroom cabinets of all but what is necessary so that your prospective buyer will feel your kitchen has lots of storage.
I recommend that anyone trying to sell their house go to a new housing subdivision and walk through the models homes. Take a careful look at the sparseness of the decorations and the minimalist staging of props. There’s very little beyond the very basics and yet we usually fall in love with at least one of the houses and start dreaming. That’s what you want people to do when they walk through your house.
Make your house feel bigger
Developers spend thousands of dollars in research to find what is going to make their properties the most appealing. They know that the more items that are in a home, the smaller the house shows. Have you ever walked into an open home that was listed at 1600 square feet but felt more like 1200? Many times that “feel” comes from too much stuff in the house making the house feel smaller. Even nice stuff hides walls, floor space and can reduce the appearance of openness.
You want prospective home buyers to feel like there’s plenty of storage space in throughout the house. Remove all but essential furniture and put it in storage. Go through each room in the house and take down pictures, remove and rearrange your furniture so that every room feels bigger.
Have a moving sale before you list your property NOT after
Most people have their moving sale after they are in contract to sell their house. It’s too late then unless all of that stuff was stored offsite somewhere. Have a couple of moving sales and ask yourself if you really will use that chair you are going to put in storage anytime in the next couple of years. Remember the point is to sell your excess stuff, to make your house look bigger, not raise money for a down payment on your next house. If you over price stuff, you’ll have to pay for moving or storage which is probably more than pricing it so it will sell quickly.
2. Make your curb appeal pop with…
We all know that curb appeal is important. It’s the first thing your potential buyers see when they drive up to your house. If they see unmowed lawn, dead flowers and cobwebs, they ,au form a negative opinion before they ever step inside. Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve your curb appeal. The following items are relatively inexpensive but add great curb appeal.
Bark is cheap. It’s drought tolerant. It’s fast and easy to put in and provides high contrast against the backdrop of your house. Don’t buy it at one of the big box stores unless you only need a wheel barrow full. Instead, go to your local nursery supply company where you can buy it for much less and have it delivered. Bark your planter beds but be careful not to get the bark up against the bottom of your house siding material. A pest inspector will point that out on their reports.
Flowers are relatively cheap and add lots of color. The problem is that if you don’t have an irrigation system that will irrigate new plants, you will need to water them by hand for a few weeks while they establish themselves. Have you ever wondered how retail stores keep their flowers bright and beautiful? They leave the plants in their containers and change the containers out when the flowers stop blooming. You don’t have to change your flowers out like they do, but consider changing out flowers that are dead or no longer blooming with flowers that will bloom in the next few weeks.
Fertilize the grass
I love green grass. I don’t even mind mowing it, but a lush, green, lawn is like a magnet. Everyone knows to mow the grass, but they don’t always think to fertilize it until it’s too late. Most fertilizers take about four weeks before they turn the lawns green. Give yourself time for the fertilizer to work before putting your house on the market.
Trim the bushes
If you can’t make the bushes looks sharp, consider hiring a landscaper to come in for a day. For a few hundred dollars initially and a about $80 a week thereafter, they will come mow your lawn, trim your bushes and edge the lawn.
Use a cleaning company
The fastest way to clean is to hire a cleaning service to come through your house. They will typically clean a house for around $400 and be done in a day, assuming they are only having to do a shallow clean. They’ll clean your windows, dust, vacuum and remove cobwebs. I’ve had good and bad experiences with carpet cleaning companies. Talk to people for references and always ask for references. Ask the person before you hire them what cleaning is included. Will they deep clean your oven or remove the soap scum on your showers?
Professionally clean your carpets
By all means, clean your carpets. Hire a professional carpet cleaning service to clean your carpets rather than renting the equipment. I personally think the water based cleaning methods are better than the dry powder systems that are available even though the carpet will be wet for a day or so.
Check your entry area
Lastly, make sure you clean the entry way. Remove the cobwebs, make sure the exterior light bulbs all work and that the exterior lights are clean. If you have access to a power washer, wash the exterior of your house to remove the dust. Just be careful to use a light pressure setting unless you intend to paint the house afterwards.
4. Paint – Go to new construction open homes to see color
Next time you are ready to paint your house, make a trip to those open home models in town again and look at the color scheme they are using. I was surprised when I went a few years ago and saw how much olive green shades were being used. It’s not my favorite color but that’s not the point – it was the color that was selling at that time. As I mentioned before, thousands of dollars are spent on testing colors to determine what sells well and appeals to the largest number of people. I now make it a habit of going through model homes every couple of years just to see what’s popular.
There’s a lot of different opinion regarding the effectiveness of staging. These”studies” are promoted by the staging industry itself and have never really struck me as being legitimate blind studies. I’m a firm believer that staging can make a world of difference however. My personal feeling is that staging creates that model home, Better Homes and Garden look. It’s not super expensive; usually less than $2,500. Furthermore, “staged, homes spend an average of 73% less time on the market.”
If you are still living in the home, a typical real estate staging company may not be an option. Most staging companies require homes to be vacant so that their furniture stays new. However, you can still have your home staged by furniture rental companies. The advantage is that these companies will provide newer furniture, without all of the signs of wear and tear that happen and won’t look dated. Remember, you want your home to look like it came right off the cover of one this weeks home magazines that everyone drools over.
6. Don’t be unrealistic about value
Most owners spend a lot of love, time and effort on their homes. We tend to be emotionally attached as a result and have a hard time seeing value objectively and place a higher value on our home than the general public does. Sellers are looking for top dollar, but buyers are looking for a good deal. Sellers think their property is the best house around, but buyers are looking at every house that is available. A lot of real estate agents play on this when seeking your business. It’s rare that an agent will tell an owner that the price the seller wants is unrealistic. Only, after the house has sat on the market for several weeks without any offers, does the agent suggest that “we lower the price”.
Ryan Lundquist a Sacramento appraiser notes in his blog, that in the current market, sellers are often in a state of disconnect from their buyers. Sellers are being overly aggressive in their expectations while buyers are taking their time waiting for the right house at the right price. His recommendation to sellers is “to be in tune with reasonable prices.”
Hire an appraiser
To help cut through our emotional blind spots, it helps to hire an appraiser. To be sure, their value is only an opinion too, but they don’t have the same conflicts of interest that we have or that agents have. For just a few hundred dollars, you can hire an appraiser who will give you a realistic opinion of value.