Everyone is talking about how hot Denver’s real estate market is. Denver is number one in the country with a whopping 10.2 percent year-over-year price increase, which puts us higher than San Francisco and Dallas. Everyone wants to move here. Everyone wants to buy. However, that doesn’t mean a seller can just throw their home on the market, “as is,” and get top dollar.
As we head into fall, the market always has a little bit of a lull. Making your home shine can help sell your house quickly at the price you want.
Here are a few simple tricks you can do to prepare your house for market.
Less is more
We all love our stuff—nick knacks, family photos, tchotchkes from vacations past, even cooking utensils. But the reality is you will soon be moving. Clearing out the clutter before your home is photographed can get you ahead on your packing while making your home more appealing to buyers. Purge or pack. It’s time.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Everyone lives in more mess than we would want others to know about. Buyers will notice the chipped paint on the banister or the dirty baseboards. Making your house sparkle give the impression your home is well cared for and you take pride in your property. This also indicates to them that you take pride in the unseen upkeep of your house, meaning they don’t have as much fear when it comes time for the inspection.
I always advise my clients to have their windows cleaned. Think about the last time you had your windows cleaned! It’s amazing what difference it makes. Clients always drag their feet on that instruction but it never fails that once they have it done they call me and say “I thought you were nuts but the difference it makes is absolutely phenomenal.” Usually in a ranch house, this costs no more than $125.
Paying someone to professionally clean your house before your put it on the market is also a great investment. This may cost you around $150-$300, depending on the size. It is a small amount for a big gain in the buyer’s comfort. Remember they will be spending several hours in your space during inspection and looking at all the details. PLUS, it will save you time on move-out day.
Cleaning and losing the clutter isn’t the only thing that gets your house ready to sell. Sometimes, light staging can help make the photos of your home pleasing to the eye. I like to try to incorporate a color throughout the house. It helps the photos appear cohesive as buyers flip through them online. As a real estate agent, I keep boxes of smaller staging items on hand—pillows, fresh towels, lamps, decorative items, etc. If you don’t have an eye for design, make sure you hire an agent who can offer you this kind of assistance. We often work together to get the house freshly painted and work with your furniture to create a pleasing space where buyers can picture themselves living. This doesn’t have to cost you money if you hire an agent who offers this guidance and has a staging stash.
Hire an experienced agent who pays for a professional photographer. Yes, these agents sometimes charge a slightly higher percentage but you get what you pay for, both in the quality of the marketing and their negotiation experience. Ultimately, they will make up any costs in the value they bring to your deal. An experienced agent can often get you a higher price by paying attention to the details up front and attracting more buyers with professional level marketing. See the following before and after photos for photography and staging examples.
When the buyers and their agent first come to your house, they might spend several minutes standing on the porch or doorway as the agent fiddles with the lockbox. Knock down those spider webs and freshen the paint on the front door. Consider a pop of color, possibly in a pillow on the porch swing. A brand new welcome mat can feel fresh and inviting. Cutting back over grown bushes helps make the walkway more inviting. All of these things help give your house extra street appeal for no to minimal cost.
Remember, buyers will open your cupboards and refrigerators. They want to see the storage space they are getting and the quality of the appliances. Make sure to take out stinky trash and organize (and clean) the inside of your fridge. Again, it doesn’t hurt to get ahead of packing and eliminate items from overstuffed cabinets and closets. And don’t forget to clean the inside of that microwave! This will also save you time the day you move out.
Prepping the Unseen
Once the buyers fall in love with your cute, charming, de-cluttered, and staged home, they will write an offer. The next step is inspection. Simple things can prevent a disaster down the road. Fill out your seller’s property disclosure honestly. Change your furnace filter, any lightbulbs that are out, and make sure there are batteries in your CO2 and smoke detectors.
This is a small list of inexpensive efforts that can make a huge difference in whether or not a buyer falls in love with your home. Keeping up with these things through listing, showing, inspection, and appraisal can really impact the outcome of your final net price.
In the end, hiring an experienced agent is always my number one piece of advice. They should be able to advise you properly on these and other aspects of your home, all while negotiating a smart contract and getting you through inspection.
This post was written by Emily Chaney, a Realtor with Kentwood Real Estate in Denver.