Once you decide to sell your home, you want to make it happen as easily, quickly, and cheaply as possible. The process of selling a home maybe more lengthy and costly than you realize. Luckily, having a good realtor and home stager can help expedite the process and get you the most money for your home. Sometimes, though, realtors and home stagers have to deliver honest news before the home is listed. I have collaborated with Lori Hicks of Cbus Agents at Keller Williams Greater Columbus to share a few truths about selling a home that you might not want to hear. Although some of these points involve spending money or taking more time to prepare your home for sale, it will spend less time on the market and sell for more money if you heed this advice.
#1 – Price it right
Sellers often think pricing a home at $299,900, for example, will sound less expensive to buyers than listing it for $300,000. In reality, pricing the home at a dollar amount ending in -900 will significantly decrease the number of potential buyers who come across your house in their search. Hicks explains that “most people search for homes in increments of five, ten, or twenty-five thousand dollars.” So, buyers who search in the $300,000 to $325,000 range won’t see a house listed for $299,900. However, if you price the home at three hundred thousand, then both buyers who begin their search and buyers who cap their search at that price will see your listing, giving your home more exposure and a greater chance for a quick sale.
#2 – Curb appeal matters
“It’s the first impression,” Hicks says. While it may be tempting to skimp on the landscaping or forego that fresh coat of paint on a house you no longer wish to live in, you’ll lose money every day your house is on the market. If the house doesn’t make a good first impression–if it doesn’t have curb appeal–then it could be sitting on the market for many, many days. A bad first impression can be difficult to recover from, even if the inside of the house is pristine. But if the outside of the house is less than remarkable, the inside more than likely has flaws, too, and potential buyers will be primed to look for imperfections after experiencing the disappointment of seeing a drab, dingy exterior.
#3 – Have professional photos taken
Hicks insists that professional photos “are a must” when selling your home. More often than not, home buyers begin their search online, and they decide whether or not to schedule a showing only after clicking through the pictures. Professional photographers understand how to make rooms look spacious and well-lit; snapping a few pictures on your iPhone won’t achieve the same effect. If the rooms in a home appear small and dark in photos, potential buyers won’t want to see it in person, let alone buy it. You’ll end up costing yourself more money in the long run than if you had spent a little extra on attractive professional photos. As an added bonus of hiring a good realtor and home stager, one or both will often provide professional photos for you.
# 4 – Virtual staging is a trick
Virtual staging is equivalent to catfishing. Buyers think they’re going to meet a home as handsome as Brad Pitt, but upon arrival, they find the rooms without furniture about as attractive as David Spade. I’m mixing my metaphors, but you get the idea. It’s a real let down for a potential buyer when they walk into an empty house after having seen photos in which the home is staged with furniture and accessories. Their expectations will not be met when they step through the threshold, and their opinion of the home will likely decline. The home’s flaws will be more evident, and the buyer won’t be willing to pay as much for the home–if they decide to buy it at all.
#5 – Cheaper staging isn’t better
The old adage is just as applicable when staging your home as anywhere else: you get what you pay for. Staging is an investment. While it does cost money to have your home staged to sell, the home will sell faster and for more money, and you’ll make a profit in the end. When deciding on a home stager, it may be tempting to go with the lowest bid, but paying a lower price means accepting less planning and effort. You want a home stager who will take the time to carefully develop a plan for each room to be staged and execute the plan with an acute attention to detail, minimizing the home’s flaws and emphasizing light, space, and potential–all of which buyers love. Home staging done by an experienced professional is worth the cost–you will make your money back and then some. It really comes down to a decision between saving money and making money.
#6 – You don’t have to like it
Staging a home to sell is about appealing to the target buyer, not the seller’s personal tastes. If you want to achieve the goal of selling your home, then it’s important that the home is attractive to the next person or family who will live there. If you don’t love the furniture, art, or accessories the stager chooses, remember that they’re temporary, and they’ve been placed with the express purpose of helping potential buyers visualize themselves in the home. Buyers aren’t interested in your family photos or the souvenirs you brought back from vacation; when they walk through a home, they’re evaluating whether the home meets their needs. A home stager objectively depersonalizes a home so that it invites a broader range of potential buyers.
Selling your home should be about making money, not breaking even. While the above considerations take more planning and effort up front, they will decrease the amount of time your home spends on the market and increase the amount of money a buyer is willing to pay.