Wednesday, June 24, 2015 / by Bill Berning*
Selling your home is all about appealing to the market. You’re putting a product out there, so of course you have to take steps to make it appeal to your prospective customers. Some flaws are excusable: not having a fireplace in the living room, kitchen tiles that are slightly out of fashion, and so on. When your home has certain flaws, however, you’ve got to take steps to improve or downplay them – otherwise, they’ll send any sane home buyer dashing for the door.
Utilities Gone Wild
Water, heat, and electric are the first things any smart buyer will check in a prospective home, so you’d better make sure yours are up to code and working at full throttle. Get your home inspected before you sell to get aware of any issues at hand, and have them taken care of professionally unless you’re a licensed technician – home inspectors can tell when something’s a DIY job, and you don’t want to get slapped with legal fines down the line if something goes wrong. These utilities are serious issues that could end disastrously without an experienced hand, so don’t let that DIY itch get the best of you.
A Home So Cozy That We Can’t Turn Around
It’s always tough to sell a small home, especially if you and your real estate agent don’t do your part to make the house an attractive purchase without denying the issue. Buyers know when a house is small, but you can expand it to the eye with clever staging – clear out clutter, stage with small furniture, and let in plenty of light. Don’t forget to sell your buyer on the benefits of living small: cheaper utility bills are no joke, especially to first-time home buyers and retirees looking to downsize.
This Place Has Really Let Itself Go…
Some buyers don’t mind a small home improvement project waiting for them when they move in: laying new tiles, repainting rooms, and tearing up carpets aren’t overly expensive undertakings, and can help a new buyer to settle in to a new place. However, there’s a difference between “we should tear up these tiles, they’re not really our style” and “we should tear up these tiles, I think something’s building a civilization beneath them”. Do your part to take care of the big home improvement projects before you even put the house on the market. Your house will sell faster, and you won’t have to take hits on your desired pricetag.
Those Aren’t Termites! The Walls Are Just Rustic!
Insect and vermin infestations don’t need to be as severe as a termite attack to have an adverse impression on buyers, and they don’t even need to be infesting the house itself. If your lawn and garden are home to some nasty beasties, your buyers will be able to tell with even the briefest inspection that something iffy is buzzing around – especially when it’s buzzing right in their face.
For severe issues such as the aforementioned termites, a professional exterminator is absolutely essential – the exterminator will not only work to get rid of the bugs, but will also assess any potential damage to the home and its foundations. If you’re lax on getting this inspected and professionally fixed, be prepared for legal repercussions. Less pressing problems, like a booming mosquito population, can usually be improved or eradicated with a little bit of detective work, instead of smelly, lawn-damaging pesticides. Check online for what kinds of environments your given insect invaders thrive in – that long grass is prime real estate for ticks, and stagnant water attracts mosquitos. A bit of lawn improvement can go a long way.
Is That a Lawn or a Jungle?
Many home sellers neglect to include their home’s great outdoors in their prep work, and do so to their own peril. A messy, unkempt lawn will impress no one: not only will it put your home’s curb appeal in the toilet, but if things are especially dire, you might find that potential buyers refuse to even take a step outdoors. Are lions and tigers lurking in that unmowed grass; or more reasonably, ticks and fleas? Are they going to need a tendonitis shot for being in the proximity of your rusted lawn furniture? No buyer wants to be saddled with the responsibility of cleaning up the mess of a yard that you’ve left them, so do your part beforehand and get some gardening done.
In This Neighborhood, It’s Always Party Time
Noisy neighbors (and their noisy children, noisy pets, and noisy guests) are one of the biggest deal-breakers out there when trying to sell a home, and unfortunately, it’s usually an issue that’s completely out of your control. Noise is only one of the many sins that bad neighbors can commit: there’s also the nosy neighbor, the rude neighbor, and the messy neighbor. A neighbor that parties into the night is just as bad as a neighbor that peeps into your windows, a neighbor that refuses to give back children’s toys that have gone rogue into their yard, or the neighbor whose yard is so messy that they couldn’t give the toy back if they tried.
In the end, the only thing that can solve this issue is communication. If politely requesting that a neighbor cease their bad habits doesn’t work, consider building a privacy fence to block out at least some of the issue – if the problems are severe, you may have to get local law enforcement involved. In any event, it is heavily advisable for you to speak about the issue at hand to your real estate agent so they can devise an appropriate plan to keep prospective buyers informed, but still interested.
Taking care of these deal-breakers before your home even goes up for sale will do a lot for your selling prospects. Homes that are well-maintained and attractively staged consistently spend less time on the housing market, and go for more money, than those that could do with some TLC. Put in some elbow grease, and you and your prospective buyers will be thankful for it in the long run.