I recently had the occasion to show a very nice home in one of the more exclusive gated communities in the Brevard County area. My prospective buyers were specifically looking for a gated community in the planned unit development of Viera located north of Melbourne.
They liked the home and the neighborhood. They did not like the gate guard's lack of friendliness.
I added a comment sort of like "Gate guards are like everything else in life.... they change."
Still, these particular buyers felt the attitude of the front gate reflected the attitude of the neighborhood!
While I do believe a personable friendly gate keeper is a positive I don't believe they reflect the neighbors in general.
Besides, this particular individual may have been having a bad day. We never know what is going on in a person's life and should not let one interaction define them permanently.
Still, the buyers checked the neighborhood off their list.
As a seller there are things you can control and others you can't. Your focus must be on the things you as a seller can shape.
Consider things like...
- Landscaping. Your yard needs to look appealing because as you heard as a child, first impressions matter!
- Exterior paint. At a minimum look at your front door. If the paint is recent make sure it is clean. If not, a new coat of paint is an easy fix.
- Lighting. When will your home be seen? Lighting is critical,e specially during the winter when it gets darker earlier. Light and bright is good. Dark and gloomy, not so good.
- Interior Paint. This goes hand in hand with the lighting recommendation. Light, neutral, non high personalized paint is best.
- Clutter. This can be thought of as just too much stuff including furniture. Extra furnishings as well as over-sized furniture can detract from a homes usable space. And this goes for the kitchen counters as well. Put away mall appliances and things that take up counter space.
- Cleanliness. Sometimes sellers do not have the funds to spend on new paint or whatever. But cleanliness costs little more than effort. The nose is key. Jokingly I like to say "if you can smell it, you can't sell it." Furthermore, once showings start refrain from cooking things that leave a smell for days.
- De-personalize. While this is sort of "clutter" related it deserves its own bullet point. By this I mean to take the "you" out of the house. Portraits, artwork, diplomas, collections/hobby items, pictures off the refrigerator, etc. Have buyers focus on the house not the occupants.
- Safety and Security. Think about risk management as well. Consider any trip hazards, security issues like personal weapons. Think about removing personal papers and medications. Remember, most real estate agents do not know their customers very well. This is especially critical if your real estate agent holds an open house where all sorts of complete strangers show up.
The last preparation item I urge sellers to consider is the pre listing inspection. If a house is more than five years old there may be hidden issues. A pre-listing inspection can bring to light issues that can be fixed or addressed in the marketing/pricing process.
Properly preparing a house for the market takes time. Sometimes sellers make the mistake of rushing a house to the market and doing preparation concurrently. While this may be necessary due to circumstances, avoid it if possible. Sellers usually only get one chance to impress prospective buyers.
As a seller you can (and should) control the product a prospective buyer sees from the moment they pull up front until they drive away.