Just because there are slim pickings at the start of this spring's housing season doesn't mean sellers are in the driver's seat entirely. Today's homebuyers are a nit-picky, recession-scarred bunch, and they want to get serious value for their hard-earned cash. Sellers need to not only price their homes carefully, but prepare their homes thoroughly for the process. Here are some tips:
First impressions matter, and this is a first date you don't want to end up paying for. Clean up the landscaping and freshen up the flowers. Take down your tacky tidbits and decorative flags, and consider some color updates. One new coat on the garage can make a difference.
Nobody wants to see how you live and with whom you live. Take your babies off the walls and trade them for fancy-free, faceless photos that make potential buyers better able to picture themselves in the home. If you have seriously un-generic taste in art, put it in storage. It doesn't matter how pricy the pieces, buyers aren't art experts, and taste is entirely individual.
Don't just make the beds, but de-clutter and minimize. You might like the stack of magazines on the table, buyers don't. They don't want to know what you read. They might not agree with your fun pillow sayings. A little work and a big trash bag can make a huge difference. If your house is empty, you might have a professional come in and stage your home with rented furniture and design sundries.
Small projects = big returns
Don't do major renovations. You won't get the money back in the purchase price. Do choose some updates, especially in the kitchen and bath. Maybe you re-grout the tile, maybe it's a new countertop or backsplash. If you can, add space where it doesn't exist, like refinishing the basement. Believe it or not, a new front door offers one of the highest returns.
Check for cracks
Big cracks. In your foundation, in your stucco, in any structural area. Inspectors will come through and red flag this to potential buyers. Odds are it will cost you a lot less to fix it now than later, and you don't want buyers negotiating repairs into the purchase price.
Keep it cool
Don't turn up the heat on your buyers, especially if it's still cold out. They're coming in coats, and the hotter it is inside, the more they're going to want to leave. Warm doesn't always mean welcome.