So you've found the perfect listing agent to sell your home, decided on list price, and signed your paperwork. Now what? Many sellers think their work is mostly done at this point. However, it's crucial to get your home show ready before the photos are taken for your listing (and certainly before your first showing)!
After showing well over a thousand homes to buyers in the Charleston South Carolina real estate market, we've gotten pretty good at gauging buyer feedback and predicting what are both the selling points and the turn offs for a listing since we hear some of the same comments again and again. These tend to be the most common problem areas for listings:
- Curb appeal matters: You'd be amazed at how many times I've pulled up to a listing, and my buyer clients have said they don't even want to go inside based on how the home looks on the outside. First impressions count. If you want to sell your home, improving curb appeal is one of the most important things you can do. Keep your lawn mowed, edge and sweep your sidewalks, blow away leaves in the fall/winter, spread a layer of pine straw or mulch on your flower beds, and power wash your home's exterior. A fresh coat of paint on your front door and porch railings is also an inexpensive way to spruce up your entry because buyers will be examining this space as their Realtor keys in the lock box and opens the front door.
- De-clutter and de-personalize: If it looks like you've outgrown your home, then buyers are going to think there's not enough space for their stuff, either. We see this often with sellers who are listing their first home, whether it was a townhouse or a small single family home. The sellers are ready to move up to a larger home and have every two foot space filled with stuff. The bottom line is that when buyers walk through your home, they need to see the home and not the stuff in the home. They need to be able to imagine their furniture and style in the house, and this is difficult to do when there are framed pictures of your family hanging on your walls, cards and kids' drawings on your fridge, toys littered everywhere, and trinkets crammed on every table or shelf. Think of it this way: you'll be moving soon, so go ahead and start putting your personal belongings into boxes! This is especially important in the kitchen, where buyers want to see lots of counter space. A good rule of thumb is to allow only 3 items on the kitchen counters. So if you use a coffee maker, utensil holder, and toaster every day, make sure these are the only things visible!
- Buyers worry that an odor will convey with the home: Even buyers who have indoor dogs or cats don't want to smell someone else's pets when they tour a home. In such a dog friendly city like Charleston, these doggy scents are probably the smells we encounter the most. When listing your home, be sure to keep your dog regularly washed and groomed to cut down on smells and fur. Vacuum and sweep regularly, clean nose prints off windows, and wash sofa throw pillows and blankets. Other odors that tend to ward off buyers come from cigarette smoke, refrigerators, trash cans, and diaper pails.
- Brighten up dark rooms: Dark rooms can feel small and uninviting to home buyers. Be sure to keep your curtains and blinds open during your listing period to maximize the windows throughout your home. If you want to maintain a sense of privacy, feel free to leave blinds half open so that some light comes in without making you feel like you're living in a gold fish bowl! Also, walk through your home to make sure there aren't any burned out light bulbs because switching these out is an easy and inexpensive fix.
- Paint is cheap: Many buyers simply cannot overlook a bright or overly dark wall color. I can recommend professional painters and try to point out good features in a room (like big windows or gleaming wood floors), but sometimes buyers get stuck on color. Whether you're toning down a red room or simply touching up scuffs, paint is an inexpensive way to freshen up a room.
- Clean, clean, clean: With all of the new construction homes in Charleston SC popping up, know that your home's strongest competitor is a brand new home that's never been lived in. Those homes look, feel, and smell new - which is why I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to clean every room in your home before it's listed. And I'm not just talking about a simple vacuum and mop job because potential buyers will be inspecting every corner of your home. Wipe down base boards, windows, and the inside of your fridge and microwave. Dust the blades on your ceiling fans. Scrub your showers, tubs, toilets, and sinks, and consider recaulking any of these that have mildew growing. And if you don't have time to give your home a deep clean, hire a maid because this will be a lot less expensive than a price reduction!
If you're considering selling your home, contact The Keadle Group! We can meet with you to discuss pricing, marketing, Charleston housing market trends, and time frame with no obligation or pressure to list with us. As one of the top selling teams in Charleston, we know our local market and have the kind of experience you'll benefit from!