When potential buyers drive up to your home, they’re full of hope.
They imagine themselves baking in the kitchen and their kids playing in the yard. Most of all they think: “Could this be my home?”
Then they look closer. They see a mess by the driveway and the peeling paint near the roofline. Very quickly, they decide to keep driving—and keep looking. They don’t want your home. The exterior tells them the interior might have the same negative impact.
They’ve already done research on your neighborhood and know your asking price. Now they’re just driving by to see if your home has that “it” factor—not an “ick” factor.
Where do most sellers go wrong? Here are the main mistakes they make:
1. Ignore curb appeal
How your home appears from the curb is extremely important. It’s the proverbial first impression. If your home looks inviting from the outside—the yard maintained, the garden manicured and the paint fresh—potential buyers will take an interest in it. If not, they might think the interior is likely unkempt, too—and they’ll move on.
2. Crowd the buyer
When you sell your home, take yourself out of the picture. If you happen to be home, greet any potential buyers and then allow them to walk through your home undisturbed. Give them a chance to picture their couches in the living room or their dining set in the dining room. Let them have space to discuss what they’re seeing.
Some sellers crowd a buyer, thinking that any newcomer will want all the details of every renovation and every nook. Don’t do this. Let the buyer be. You can always provide an info sheet to describe anything you feel should be mentioned.
3. Offer that ‘lived-in’ look
Prospective buyers don’t want to see your clutter. It’s distracting and makes it hard for them to picture themselves in your home. A mess can often hide aspects of the home that would entice someone else to buy.
When you’re selling, keep a tidy home and tuck away all your family photos and knickknacks. Try to create as many open, clear spaces as you can. Clean off counters and other surfaces. Even the toaster and blender should be stored away when you show your home.
Ideally you will have time to give all the rooms a fresh coat of paint. You don’t need to hire an interior designer, but do look over your home with an unbiased eye. Is it warm and inviting? Pleasing to the eye?
4. Let odors linger
If you smoke or have pets, your home will likely have an odor. Although you might be used to it, others may not appreciate it.
Removing pet urine smells out of carpets takes care; you’ll likely need to use special solutions or a steam cleaner. With rugs, you may just have to buy new ones. Vinegar will work on most flooring. If you have a litter box, change it daily while showing your home.
If you smoke, try to smoke outside as much as possible. Most nonsmokers are sensitive to the smell of smoke. Not only will they want to leave, they may also find the prospect of cleansing a home of smoke odor a turnoff. You may be so used to it that you hardly notice the odor, but others will walk out the door quickly.
If there is a heavy smell in the home from years of smoking indoors, try washing the walls with vinegar. And don’t forget the curtains, shades and anything else that might collect the tar and resin from the smoke.
For any unwanted smells, try baking soda. Sprinkle it around the house, on the furniture and on the carpets. Let it sit for a day so the granules can absorb the odors and then vacuum it all up. You may have to do this a few times.
Think of it as vacuuming your way to a good deal on your home.