Karen Lawley's Blog
You’ve heard all the sayings: “Location, location, location,” and the line in Robert Frost’s poem, “Good fences make good neighbors.” You’ve even made Abraham Lincoln’s saying your motto, “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can.”
Yet here you are, trying to sell our home, and the neighbors simply are not cooperating. They park vehicles in front of your house so that the “For Sale” sign is hidden, or they leave stuff in their yard that makes it unattractive. In your urgency to get your home sold, you take everything as a personal affront. What happened to those nice, friendly neighbors you’ve shared barbeques and fun with over the years?
It May Not Be You
It’s probably not even on their radar that their everyday actions cause you sleepless nights. The stress level is yours, not theirs. Here are some best practices for being neighborly when you put your house on the market.
Let them know what’s happening. Tell them that you’ve gotten a job change, or are getting married or whatever the case is and that you need to sell your home. That way, they can be ambassadors for you. If they have friends or family that want to live near them, this is the perfect opportunity.
Let them know what to expect. If your agent schedules an open house, let the neighbors know. After all, the street will have more traffic, and parking may be at a premium. The last thing you want is to have your open house the same day as their family reunion with no parking available for anyone.
Invite them to visit your home during the open house. Neighbors are curious. If your homes are similar, upgrades you’ve done might spark ideas for their home. On a few occasions, neighbors have bought the house next door. Perhaps because it’s a better fit for their family, or it lets them remodel theirs without living in it.
Let your neighbor know what will help your home sell, such as keeping the street in front of your house clear. Tell them that the more you sell your house for, the more it improves their home value. See if that doesn’t get them on our side.
Introduce Your Agent
Take a few moments to introduce your agent to your neighbors. That way, they’ll know who’s coming and going, and if it’s okay for people to be in your house when you’re not there. It also gives your agent a chance to talk about neighborhood values and point out the lovely features in your neighbor’s yard. A little flattery goes a long way toward promoting extra effort to make things look nice.
When you own a condominium, even if you’re entrance is street level, you're not really in charge of the common area or the building's exterior. All the entries look alike, and some even enter from hallways. So, how do you differentiate your home from the four or five others that are for sale in your complex?
Try these simple steps to give your place the edge:
- Mind the door. While you may not be able to paint your condominium door a bright, trendy color, you can take a few moments to make sure it is clean and free from scuffs and finger marks. Use a whisk broom to brush off all dust, debris, and detritus that collects in the grooves and trim. If the door is wood, use a mild solution of a wood-safe soap to wash down the door, inside and out. Then, shine the door up with furniture polish so that it glows. If the door is metal or painted, use a gentle mixture of dish soap and water to remove grease and grime.
- Make it shine. Clean any glass in the door or sidelights with a vinegar and water solution or an appropriate glass cleaner. Use a metal cleaner on the door handle, deadbolts, and any metal trim, including the trim around the peephole, and shine up the fisheye lens too.
- Don’t forget the threshold. With a clean door, you’re already ahead of the game, but take a moment to sweep off the threshold (the wood or metal strip below the door), and all around the edges of the stoop or entry. Even when your doorway is in an interior hallway, the regular building cleaners may not get that extra dust and leftover dirt in the corners. Use your vacuum cleaner to suck away the last crumbs.
- Be welcoming. Set a fresh new welcome mat in front of your door and add a flower pot of bright blooms if you’re allowed. For interior doors, a tasteful wreath or swag on the door highlights your entry. Be careful to avoid going “over-the-top” though. Simple and elegant is best.
- Clear the entry. Your real control of the "appeal" starts once the door opens. Keep the entryway as open and uncluttered as possible. Move furniture away from the entry area to give it a more expansive feel. Keep décor simple, warm, and inviting. Avoid anything the potential buyer might bump into upon entering as that tends to leave the impression of small and crowded.
- Lighten things up. Put the best possible light on the subject. Take time to upgrade the bulbs in your entry lights (inside and out) to “daylight” LEDs for a friendly, well-lit glow.
A warm, inviting entrance sets the tone for the rest of the home, so give yours the edge it deserves.
Putting your home on the market is not for the faint-hearted! As many people discover along the way, the road to selling a home can be rather bumpy -- especially if you attempt to sell it on your own.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do, right away, to make the journey shorter, smoother, and more rewarding. Here are three strategies that will greatly increase your chances of success.
Find a seasoned real estate agent. An experienced real estate agent will not only help you navigate state and federal regulations, negotiate with buyers, and get a handle on paperwork, but they'll also schedule showings of your home and provide continuous marketing help.
Enhance your curb appeal: When it comes to finding prospective buyers and setting up appointments, your real estate agent will do the lion's share of the work. However, it's mostly up to you to make sure your house looks its best and that the appearance of your property catches the eye of house hunters.
Once your home is listed online and a "for sale" sign is planted in your front yard, potential buyers are going to immediately take notice of how your house looks from the outside. Sometimes people browse listed houses from their cars, so it can really pay to make a great first impression from the street.
Some of the things that matter the most are a meticulous-looking yard, a clutter-free property, and a house that looks like it's well maintained. Adding a fresh coat of paint, displaying some colorful potted flowers, and taking care of unsightly weeds and overgrown bushes are a few things you can do to make your property look a lot more inviting.
Stage your home's interior: Once you've cleared the first big hurdle (curb appeal), your next priority -- or perhaps a simultaneous priority -- is to make the interior of your home look inviting and appealing. As is the case with boosting curb appeal, your real estate agent can provide you with cost-effective advice on how to get the most mileage from your efforts.
Some of the tried-and-proven methods of staging a home include reducing clutter, arranging living room furniture in "conversational groups" to depict a cozy, intimate environment, and letting plenty of natural light stream in to make your home appear as cheerful and bright as possible.
Fresh coats of neutral-colored paint should be applied to walls and ceilings on an as-needed basis, and all floors, tables, and counter tops should be kept immaculate. Home staging consultants often recommend removing (or toning down) certain decorating themes -- such as sports, religion, or even too many family photographs -- which may alienate some potential buyers.
The overall objective is to make it easy for house hunters to imagine themselves owning and living in your home. If there's anything about the appearance, decor, or smell of your home that makes people feel in any way uncomfortable, that could make it more difficult to find a committed buyer -- which, of course, is your ultimate goal!
Getting your house ready to be sold can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Like any large project, though, if you take it one step at a time, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
The ideal scenario involves having everyone in the family pitch in to keep your house looking its best for each showing. When you divide the labor and work as a team, things get done a lot faster and more efficiently.
Keeping your lawn mowed, bushes trimmed, and house clean on a consistent basis are among the many challenges of always being ready for the next showing. Another common necessity involves applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and other surfaces. That relatively inexpensive step can help make your home look dramatically brighter, vibrant, and more appealing to prospective buyers.
One thing to keep in mind when preparing to put your home on the market is that you (the owner) are probably "too close to the trees to see the forest." In other words, you may be overly accustomed to the appearance, the imperfections, and the décor of your home to be able to identify what needs to be upgraded, fixed, or changed. An experienced real estate agent can help you develop a cost-effective plan for staging your home, enhancing curb appeal, and making necessary improvements to maximize your home's appeal and marketability.
There are dozens of inexpensive things you can do that often have a major impact on the impression you make on potential buyers. Having your carpets, upholstered furniture, and draperies professionally steam-cleaned, for example, can make a world of difference! So can adding a few colorful flower arrangements, inside and out. Lots of light -- both natural and artificial -- also helps make your home look more cheerful and inviting. Keeping your windows crystal clear is another way to make a positive impression, as well as cleaning out your closets to avoid a cluttered, unkempt look.
A few other critical things homeowners sometimes forget to do is clean up dog droppings in the yard, fix squeaky hinges, and remove visible mouse traps from the basement and garage -- especially if there are mice in them! The cleanliness of your cat's litter box is another major priority that can easily be overlooked.
Even the most meticulous, conscientious home sellers can forget to clean, prepare, or organize important things before potential house buyers come to visit, so it's useful to create checklists and routines to get ready for scheduled house showings.
While some homes pose more of a challenge than others when it comes to getting ready for real estate showings, the goal is to make the most of what you have, and do so within your available budget and timeframe.