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Preparing Your Home for Sale Just Makes Good Sense

Home Stager with Interior Concept Designs

Just think about this. . . . When the average person is ready to sell his or her car, they prepare it for sale.  The car is washed (perhaps even detailed), new floor mats are put in, the car is given a tune-up and anything obviously broken is fixed.  All this is done in the hopes of getting top dollar for the car.   

Isn't it amazing that most home owners spend relatively less time preparing their homes (probably their largest asset) for sale than their cars?  Why is that?  There are a couple of reasons:

1.  Frankly, we don't change what we don't see needs changing.  Let's go back to the car example for a moment to make this point. Cars are pretty uniform.  We all know what to look for in a "good" car.   A car is a 10' x 6' hunk of metal--if it's dented up and making funny noises, it's pretty clear what needs to be fixed.  

Our homes are quite different.  We live in our homes.  Very rarely do we see our home as a whole, as a buyer would.  We experience it room by room, even square foot by square foot.  I may love that there is a coat rack by the front door with all 7 of my coats hanging on it, it's very convenient.  I love my magenta-colored master bedroom.  Having my entire cookbook collection on the kitchen countertop means that I never have to go far to find my favorite recipe.  I'm delighted with my low-maintenance yard that has no shrubs or flowering plants.  I love my home, so when it's time to sell, I don't feel that there is much that needs to be done to get it ready.  We don't change what we don't see needs changing. 

2.  Many home owners realize that their homes could use sprucing up, but all the work just seems too overwhelming, so they decide to sell the home "as is."  The thinking goes, "There are plenty of buyers out there who are looking for fixer-uppers or who aren't that picky when it comes to appearances."  Let's look at these two points. 

Sure, there are buyers out there who don't mind putting some elbow grease into a home, but those buyers are also bargain-hunters.  They want to pay less money for a home in exchange for having to make improvements themselves.  That only seems fair. 

Now, let's address the second point.  Yes, there are many people who live in less than pristine homes themselves.  They aren't particularly concerned with good design, organization or even cleanliness in their own houses.  But, don't be fooled into thinking that when those folks become buyers that they don't care about such things.  Sid Davis says in his book Home Makeovers that Sell, "People buy homes based on dreams of how they would like to live, not their present reality."

So, let's see, where does all of this leave the homeowner who sells "as is?"  With bargain-hunters, that's where!  Is that really the market that most homeowners want to appeal to?

When homeowners are ready to sell, they should treat their homes as the valuable assets they are.  Homes need to be made ready for sale and, ideally, the work should be done before the home is put on the market.  Often, once the home is on the market, if it doesn't show well, it just sits there with no offers.  It then becomes one of "those" houses.   You know the ones.  Buyers hear that it's been on the market for 3 months and  figure that there must be something wrong with it, so they simply move on to the next house.  

There are a lot of good books out there that can help homeowners with staging their own homes.  Staging is just a real estate industry term for putting a home's "best face" forward.  Staging a home will help it to make a great first impression and appeal to a wide audience (not just those who like magenta-colored master bedrooms!). 

If sellers don't care to do the work themselves, there are real estate agents who can help with staging. There are also professional staging firms that specialize in preparing homes for sale.  Most offer a range of services from providing homeowners with detailed plans (specially tailored to the home's specific needs) that can be carried out by the homeowners themselves to full-service staging which may include furniture re-arrangement, help with de-cluttering and choosing paint colors. There is something to be said for getting help with preparing a home for sale.  While many savvy homeowners can accomplish the basics of home staging, there are often emotional attachments to the home and personal belongings.  This attachment can make it difficult to view the home as a buyer and identify all the items necessary to effectively stage. Remember, "We don't change what we don't see needs changing."

No matter which route sellers decide to take, it's important to remember that homes that show well (no matter where they are located) sell faster and often for more money.  The cost of home staging is typically much less than that first reduction in the selling price!

Here are a few home staging tips:

1.  Hire a professional cleaning service to thoroughly clean your house.  Surface cleaning is not enough when selling your home. 

2.  Make sure that your home is not only clean, but also free from any strong odors.

3.  Remove distracting items such as personal collections of dolls, trophies and medals.  Buyers should be able to easily focus on the great selling points of your home.

4.  Do not leave your house empty, people like to visualize how furniture will fit in a room. 

5.  Remember curb appeal-some buyers won't even view the inside of your house if the curb appeal is poor.      


Lanita Whitehurst

Professional Home Stager with Interior Concept Designs

Comments (1)

Christina Williams. REALTOR® TN property search & local insights
First Realty Company - Crossville, TN

Well put! I agree that the sellers should go the extra mile to prepare their homes for sale.

Good job.

Apr 15, 2007 02:53 AM