Selling a home can be disruptive. Homeowners must walk a fine line between living comfortably in their own homes and making them as appealing as possible for potential buyers.
Agents agree, the more amenable owners can be at the start of the process, the faster the home will sell – if priced correctly.
There are numerous tips on how to make a home stand out from the crowd – keep kitchen counters clear of all clutter, wash windows and screens to amp up the amount of natural light in the room – but most real estate agents say the best advice is to stand clear, and allow access.
“Without getting people in the door, we can’t get offers,” says Samer Kuraishi, senior vice president of A-K Real Estate Inc., Germantown, M.D.
Kuraishi, a listing agent with 127 current listings, says buyers are most eager to see properties during the first two weeks of market time. Access is crucial. Even more important is following the rules that most real estate agents give their clients at the time they take the listing.
Here are their top suggestions:
• Lighting: Switch to brighter light bulbs and turn all lights on during showing. Replace heavy drapes with sheer panels to allow natural light inside.
• Cleanliness: Remove all odors so the home can smell neutral – don’t forget to clean the kitty litter and remove dog odors.
• Declutter: Remove excess furniture. Buyers want to see the floors and visualize their furniture in the space. Sellers could benefit by getting a head start on moving: That means removing out-of-season clothing and packing it away, preferably off-site to make closets look bigger.
• Bathroom Care: Make the bathrooms feel like a trip to the spa. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, specialty soaps. Hide your everyday toiletry items like toothbrushes and washcloths.
• Home Improvement: Hardwood floors should gleam. If necessary, have them refinished before putting your property on the market. Anything that is not in tip-top shape should be repaired, unless you’re willing to give repair credit at closing. Replace torn screens, oil squeaky doors and replace broken closet doors. This will attract a higher price and streamline negotiation.
• Etiquette: Leave the house at least 15 minutes before showings. Owners lurking in the garage, or in another room, make buyers feel uneasy.
Agents suggest that sellers follow these rules as much as they can, even if they seem nitpicky. “What may seem trivial to you can signal to a buyer that a house is not well maintained,” according to the National Association of Realtors.
While there are stories of homeowners taking their properties off the market because of the inconvenience of too many showings, most are willing to do whatever is necessary to get the house sold.
Additionally, Kuraishi advises clients to clear away religious and cultural items. “Buyers want to see the room, not your religious beliefs.” In the end, it’s about how the potential buyer can see him or herself living in the space.
For sellers who are frustrated or unsure about the current market, data shows that buyers are generally looking right now. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications are up in recent weeks.
That means every showing can translate into a contract if the property and price are positioned well.
Mortgage applications rose more than 11 percent in the second week of September. While the majority of that increase was from owners looking to refinance into lower rates, the purchase index rose 3 percent signaling strong mortgage demand heading into the fourth quarter.