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The First Impression. You probably heard how important first impressions can be. But did you know that within 15 seconds a buyer has already developed an opinion of your property? That is why establishing the first right first impression is critical to achieving a successful sale. The following is an outline of those elements which create the overall first impression, including suggestions on how to make sure the buyer reacts as favorably as possible.
Here are nine tips for savvy home sellers:
1. Focus on curb appeal. The outside of your house can be the source of a very good first impression. Keep the grass well-watered and mowed, bag and discard the clippings, tree branches or trash. If there are spots that look needy, fertilize them or a little sod goes a long way to restoring the look of a well-maintained lawn. Kill and remove all weeds in and around the walkways and yard. Have your trees trimmed. Cut back overgrowth and make sure the street in front of your house is free of litter or debris. If necessary give the street a fresh sweep. Plant some blooming flowers. Keep toys, bicycles, gardening equipment and the like out of sight. Have at least the front of your house and the trim painted, if needed. Sweep the porch and the front walkway, you may need to power wash dirty areas. Any areas that have a green or black deposits should be power washed. Add a flower pot or greenery to porch area. Add a nice new door mat. After dark, turn on your front porch light, and any other exterior lighting, create a warm, inviting look. Buyers will sometime drive past a house of interest to see how it looks at night. Although you do not own the fire hydrant or electrical box in front of your house, you should still be concerned about how it looks. If it needs freshening up, get permission from your town and paint it. There are two elements of the driveway with which you should be concerned. The first is its surface condition. If stained or otherwise worn- looking, consider power washing it. The second is the appearance of the car parked in the driveway. A newly waxed, well -maintained automobile will make a much different statement about you and your property than an unattractive, poorly cared for car. If you think your car will be a detriment, park it down the street.
2. Clear out the clutter. Real estate agents say buyers won't purchase a home they can't see. Or more importantly, see themselves in it! If your home has too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won't be able to really see your home. Remove all items, including toothbrushes, from the bathroom and kitchen countertops. Get rid of anything you don't need or use. Fill up your garage or rent some off-site storage space! Make the house look like you have lots of money. People like to think they are buying the home of prosperous people. If necessary, borrow a nice lamp or two, or a few nice decorator items that will compliment the house. The house should look as bright as possible during a viewing. This means the shades, blinds and curtains should be opened to give a bright look. Nobody likes to walk into a dark home.
3. Clean obsessively. All areas in the home should be spotless, especially the bathroom and kitchen areas. The refrigerator should be organized nicely, free of odor, and the door of the refrigerator and all other doors should be free of stickups and photos. The oven and stove top should look spotless. If necessary, the stove top covers and accessories should be replaced. The shower and tub areas should be clean. If necessary, fresh caulk and grout should be applied in any worn, cracked or damaged areas. A fresh tube of caulk costs less than $4. Replaced any cracked window glass or torn screens. All windows should be spotless.
4. Use your nose. Many people are oblivious to scents, but others are extremely sensitive to offensive odors. To eliminate bad smells, shampoo your carpets, dry clean your drapes, and empty trash cans, recycling bins and ash trays. When you know
someone is coming to look at the house take Petunia or Rover and evidence of them (food bowl, bedding, etc.) to someone else's home. (Some people think pets are dirty.) Place open boxes of baking soda in smell-prone areas, and refrain from cooking fish or
strong-smelling foods. Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in your home and using air fresheners. Baking a fresh or frozen pie or some other fragrant treat is another common tactic. Use living potted plants heavily. Use room deodorizers with
clean, rather than floral scent. There is one called "crisp cotton". You may also try a quarter section in the disposal and grinding it up.
5. Make all necessary repairs. Buyers expect everything in their new home to operate safely and properly. Picky buyersdefinitely will notice-and likely magnify -- minor maintenance problems you've ignored for months or even years. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, painted-shut or broken windows, inoperable appliances and the like should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These repairs may seem small, but left undone they can lead buyers to question whether you've taken good care of your home. If roof shingles are missing, have them replaced before the home is placed on the market. If your ceilings have any water stains they will need to be painted. One thing that works for removing a water stain is a 50% Clorox solution applied with a paint brush, make sure the Clorox is not dripped on the flooring or carpet. This may take three or more coatings. Have a handyman repair the roof where the stain originated. If there are nail holes in the walls, fill the holes and apply touch-up paint where needed.
6. Introduce lifestyle accessories and make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible. Set the dining room table with your best dishes. Put out new "never washed" fluffy towels in bathrooms, and add pretty soaps. Make up the spare bed. Hang
some fresh curtains. Put some logs in the fireplace. Dress your home as if it were being photographed for a magazine. Use your
7. Get a buyer's-eye view. Walk up to your home and pretend you've never seen it before. What do you notice? How do you feel
about what you see? Does the home seem inviting? Well-maintained? Would you want to buy this home? Get friends and family members to do the same, just like proof reading -- they can see things you don't. When someone previews your home the words they use to describe your home should be Beautiful, Fresh, Cheerful, Clean, Attractive, Comfortable, Elegant, Impressive, and Organized.
8. The personalization of your house. When considering a home for purchase, the buyer often visualizes what it would be like living there. If the home is dominated by strong personal statements, buyers are less likely to feel comfortable. and therefore less able to visualize the property as their own. Personal statements are reflected in many areas.
Unusual wall colors or heavily patterned wallpaper.
Heavy odor from pets, tobacco or cooking
Sounds of loud music or television.
Noisy children or barking dogs.
Strong political or religious statements.
Unusual art or furnishings.
Any of the above may create a feeling that the house is dominated by someone else and may interfere with the buyer's ability to feel at home.
9. Before the showing (or open house) always hide anything a looker could pocket.