By Robert Irwin
"Spring Into Selling Your Home" was the theme of last week's column. We discussed 5 ways to improve your home's curb appeal and overall appearance during the critical spring months. That's the time when more buyers are usually out there looking to make a purchase. It's also when you can often sell more easily "by owner" and cash in on all that appreciation your home's acquired over the last few years.
Here we'll discuss 5 ways to increase your home's appeal when you show it to potential buyers -- How to make it irresistible!
5 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR HOME TO ADVANTAGE
Be Ready - In real estate it's important to strike while the iron's hot. That means that when a buyer calls to see your home, you need to be ready to show it, even if that only gives you 10 minutes notice. While it's inconvenient, when your home is for sale make sure that you can have it ready to show within minutes. That means always keep the kitchen clean, the dishes washed, the floor mopped. Be sure the carpet's always vacuumed and the bathrooms are clean. From the moment you get up in the morning, the beds should be made, all clothes neatly put away. Pretend your mother is coming to visit, every day, every hour!
Turn On The Lights - Buyers are always looking for light, airy houses. They expect to be able to see into every nook and cranny with ease. If your home has dark corners, dark rooms, dark hallways it will look uninviting and could be a turn off. So when you know buyers a coming by, not only open all the window shades, but turn on all the lights. If necessary, buy a few inexpensive light fixtures to illuminate otherwise dark areas. Don't worry about saving energy when you're trying to sell - now's the time to brighten up your home.
Smell Pretty - An old trick that many agents use is to have a pot of aromatic spices (pleasant ones such as cinnamon or cloves) or apple cider on the stove, or even bread baking in the oven. It makes the home smell inviting, like where you grew up (or where you wished you had grown up!) On the other hand, if your home has some serious aroma problems such as caused by cat urine on the carpet or mold growing in wet areas, get it fixed. Bad odors can quash any buyer's enthusiasm. And if it's there, you'll need to disclose the problem, which could result in a lower offer.
Add Flowers - For just a hundred dollars or so, you can run down to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up a variety of blooming flowers which can be placed strategically at various locations in the house. Seeing fresh flowers on tables, at the entranceway, and in the bedrooms will make your home seem more alive, and more welcoming.
Get Out Of The Way - You needn't leave when buyers come by, indeed you shouldn't - you don't want them walking off with your TV set! (All valuables should be removed before showing the home.) But once they're in the house, don't hover. Let them see what you have to offer. At some point, do explain your home's best features. Don't go out of your way to point out its flaws. All homes have some negatives (too small, only one bathroom, etc.), but wait until the buyers ask about them before launching into an explanation. Be positive.
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn. In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column forOwners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.