Sunday, February 28, 2010

Avoid ‘Un-Appeal’ – 13 Ways to Get Buyers Inside the Home

I’m sure you’ve all had that experience with a client where you drive up to a house and they don’t even want to go inside. It’s an immediate “un-appeal.” In today’s market, where lots of choices in housing are available to the buyer, why should they even walk into the home?

Here are some easy, inexpensive fixes that will help create that outside appeal and get you one giant step further to a sale:

- Paint or stain the front and garage doors, especially if they show any weathering. These are the first visuals where a potential buyer focuses. If garage doors are metal and dented, they may need to be replaced.

- Any old, basically abandoned sheds or small structures must be removed, the area graded and the grass replaced.

- Change any dated, outside light fixture(s).

- Fix that driveway. If it is blacktop, make sure cracks and crumbling areas are dug out and filled and then the whole driveway sealed. If it is cement, have large cracks filled and repaired professionally.

- Make sure landscaping bricks are in their proper placement. Mowing and weed-whipping sometimes moves them. While this is something the homeowner rarely notices, it makes the property look unsightly.

- Fill in bare dirt under large shade trees. Plant shade-tolerant plants in defined planters or groundcover. Landscape properly for that area.

- All landscaping beds should be cleaned out and updated for the time of year it is in your region. Place new bedding material down.

- Have trees and bushes pruned and trimmed. If a bush or tree is looking old or about to expire, remove it and replace it with a similar size and type if you can. If there are tree limbs over the roof, have them removed.

- If the house needs painting and a full paint job is not in the cards, have it touched up professionally in the worst, most visible spots. Paint shutters and fix them if they are hanging crookedly.

- If the house is sided, have it power washed and have gutters and windows cleaned. Window cleaning inside and out makes the house feel updated and fresh, rather than old and dingy.

- Make sure grass is in good shape, weeds are removed and trimming is done regularly. So many sellers fall down on this job the minute the house is listed, and this is critical to selling a house quickly. In snowy climates, removal must be done regularly, too. If owners have moved out, make sure you have a home warranty to reassure buyers.

- Decks should be washed and repainted or resealed, plantings around them cleaned, weed-free and looking good. Patio furniture should be in excellent condition. Even though it is in the backyard, this is the area where the family can envision enjoying warm days in the new yard.

- If the roof has missing shingles and they can be replaced inexpensively, suggest this be done as it may save negotiation over a completely new roof.

Remember, most home buyers cannot visualize even these simple changes and clean-ups in a house, and the ones who can, will be looking for a reduced price.

So to sell the house at top dollar and quickly, make it “appeal” to the many who will be seeing it rather than the few who are looking for a “fixer upper.” These people know what they want, go after it and need less assistance.

Finally, have neighbors or friends look at the finished results to see if you or the homeowners have missed anything key that would be quick and easy to do. Use this article in your listing presentations so they can get started right away on these easy, inexpensive fixes and adapt the ideas to their home. When that home looks great, update its picture on the Internet.

Commentary by David Sobel

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