The good news is that the Gainesville real estate market has remained relatively afloat as compared to the rest of the country. However, we are being affected by the media's constant barrage of negativity and buyer's from out of town are having trouble digesting the fact that they are not going to get a bargain basement deal here. It takes some educating to show the buyers "what they can get away with", and the greatest tool is a CMA (comparative market analysis) to show the buyer's what comparable properties are selling for.
Since buyers are being tough on the market, home seller's need to come out with guns blazing. No, don't shoot the Realtor! The Florida Association of Realtors posted an article today outlining some things sellers really should consider to not only capture a buyer, but to maximize the sales price for their home.
Time and time again, when I show property, the buyer's want to buy the home on our tour that is in the best condition, preferably updated, and is priced to sell. Obviously a buyer doesn't want to pay more to get less! When taking comparable properties (size, location, price), the buyer is going to gravitate towards the one that shows the best, is clean, has curb appeal, and is well maintaned. Kitchens sell, in my opinion. My buyers never fail to comment on the dated kitchen. Most buyers will look at the asking price, consider the amount of money out of pocket to upgrade/update/repair/etc. and decide they just aren't willing to pay the asking price if they immediately have to dump money into it.
The FAR article recommends seller's consider some of the following things to make their home stand apart from the competition and try to grab a buyer. These are suggestions I make to my customers, and most of us are aware of these things, yet this news seems to have eluded some of the homes I've seen on the market. These tips are relavant for any homes on the market, and not just for you folks in Gainesville:
1. Curb appeal - Like everything, a first impression is a lasting impression. Make sure the yard is kept up and choose attractive landscaping to accentuate the home and make it pop.
2. Kitchens & Bathrooms - The FAR article also agrees that kitchens are the #1 seller of a home for most buyers. Try to do anything within your means to update your kitchen, whether it be refinishing or cleaning existing cabinets, replacing dingy, damaged or dated countertops, cleaning appliances or replacing appliances that are older and not operating efficiently. Consider offering an appliance allowance at the very least if your appliances need updating.
3. Doors - Make sure your front door is painted and cleaned if necessary. Doors inside should be oiled if squeaky and painted or replaced if necessary. Make sure the hardware matches your home's other hardware. I was showing property to a customer who could not believe the gold door knobs, silver kitchen knobs and brushed nickel lighting fixtures that obviously did not harmoniously go together.
4. Flooring - A lot of buyers find wood and wood laminate to be a very attractive solution for flooring in the home. Make sure you clean any existing carpet you have in the home from offensive odors and stains. Make sure to have other flooring in the home swept, mopped, and clean so buyers don't get distracted with a mess!
5. Lighting - Dated lighting can be a distraction. Updating the lighting can help the home look more modern and attractive. Lighting can be an inexpensive touch to update the home.
The FAR article contains several more tips, but I think these are some of the most important, especially #1, #2 and #4.
Other Important things I'd like to add for your consideration are:
1. Declutter!! - I can't stress this enough. I have shown homes that have an overload of stuff and they tend to sit on the market a lot longer as they simply don't show well. A ton of stuff makes the rooms feel smaller and is extremely distracting to the buyer. You want the buyers to look at the architectural details, natural lighting, any of the positive things about your property, but most certainly not your clutter!! This is why homestaging can be so successful. Stagers choose tasteful furnishings and accent pieces that attract not detract. Minimilism can be a good thing. Also make sure to define the space's proper use with the appropriate furniture (hint: Your dining room is a place to eat, not your computer room).
2. Depersonalize - We are thrilled that you have a new dog, got married, had a beautiful new baby arrive, collect antique cars, etc. etc., but while your home is on the market, know that buyers get extremely distracted with tons of personal pictures on the walls and magnetic letters on the fridge, dog and cat toys, figurine collectibles, etc. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your home. They don't need to get caught up with what a cute _______ you have or what a nice ________ you have or what a nice (couple, family, eligible bachelor/bachelorette, etc.) you are. I've been in homes with tons of personal memorabilia/photos and buyers focus more on that than on the home itself. You DO NOT want to develop the stigma as the "home with all the ______ ." You want to be the "home we want to write an offer on!!"
Angela Elliott is a licensed Florida REALTOR® with Century 21 Classic Properties in Gainesville, FL. Please visit my profile for more about me and browse my Gainesville, FL real estate website for additional Alachua County information and listings. Your phone calls are always welcome at (352) 256-7038 as are your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. A portion of all my closed sales will be donated to the Alachua Co. Humane Society (View my mission statement).