BEFORE You List Your Vacation Home for Sale, Make Sure the House is Clean and Ready to be Shown
When a prospective seller contacts us about listing their Madeline Island home or cottage, one of the first things we do is to preview the property. And that first visit usually tells us whether marketing their property is going to be relatively simple or a huge challenge.
Here are the top problem areas we often encounter with photographing and marketing a new listing--
Yardwork - The lawn needs to be mowed, overgrown brush blocks or detracts from a view of the home, dead trees are down in the yard, saplings and brush obscure a prospective buyer's view of Lake Superior. You'll need somebody with a chainsaw and a trailer to cut and haul downed trees or large limbs.
House needs cleaning - Many vacation homes, if not most, are shut in during winter months. When the place is reopened in Spring, the owner encounters the usual mouse traces (signs that mice have been in cupboards or on kitchen surfaces), cobwebs and dead insects.
Windows are dirty - If you're trying to sell a waterfront home, the buyer needs to be able to see the water. Dirty or streaky-looking windows detract from the view and that can reduce your chances of getting an offer.
Carpeting or flooring is damaged or in need of repair - Check for obvious signs of wear or heavy traffic in carpeting and flooring. Carpet is relatively cheap and can make a big difference. We also see pet damage in some homes (stains, wear, scratches in wood or laminate floors) that requires attention.
Paint is inexpensive - A fresh coat of paint (or exterior stain) can work wonders. If walls and other painted surfaces look chipped or worn, or if the color choices are questionable, consider a trip to the hardware store for paint, brushes, rollers and masking tape.
Check the Roof - Take a look at your roof before listing your home or cottage. Look for curled or missing shingles, damaged gutters and downspouts, and tree limbs sitting on the roof. You may not need to replace the entire roof. Maintenance can often save you money in these situations.
Odors and dampness - Does your house or cabin pass the sniff test? Invite an impartial third party to put their nose to work and to tell you honestly if there's a problem in your home or cottage. A musty or mildewy odor in a vacation home is a warning flag to buyers. On Madeline Island, we're surrounded by four quadrillion gallons of fresh water (Lake Superior). It tends to be humid, and that means that waterfront cabins can feel or smell damp and musty. Some ideas: open windows to air the place out in Spring, turn the heat on, or run an air conditioner or dehumidifier to dry things out. Odors can be covered up, but that's a temporary fix. You need to get to the source in order to solve the problem. And pet odors or pervasive mildew odors may require professional cleaning.
Spongy or rotting deck boards and outdoor stairs - Is the deck or outdoor staircase spongy or bouncy when you walk on it? It's a good idea to power wash decks, patios and staircases in late Spring or early Summer. And apply a coat of deck sealant after the wood is dry. If wood needs replacing, hire a contractor and make sure that decks and staircases are safe to use.
NOTE: We can't even begin to photograph your home if it isn't clean and in good showing condition. Past and present clients tell us that our real estate photography and virtual tours are among the best they've ever seen. But how can anyone portray your vacation home at its best in photos or videos if the place is desperately in need of cleaning and maintenance?
Just as it is with primary homes, any home or cottage needs to be presented at its best in order to achieve the price you want. You can help us to help you by considering these cleanliness and condition issues before you list your home for sale.