Christine Lindemer's Blog
While it's not always possible for conditions to be "perfect" when a real estate agent is showing a home for sale, things usually go more smoothly when homeowners are not present.
There are several reasons for this, including the fact that the family's presence at a real estate showing may make the prospect feel self conscious and uncomfortable.
Among other things, the potential buyer may feel like they're intruding and being an imposition. Some buyers also find it harder to concentrate on the many details they need to focus on to evaluate the home.
The ideal scenario happens when house hunters are able to picture themselves as the future owners of your home -- perhaps imagining what it would feel like to cook dinner in your kitchen, entertain guests in your living room, and relax on the back porch. However, when you and your family are there, it makes it more difficult for them to conjure up those images in their mind. So, to the extent that it's possible, it's often a good idea to take the kids out for ice cream or go on a short trip to the mall when a showing of your home is scheduled.
Granted, it may be a little inconvenient -- especially if the visit was set up at the last minute -- but you don't want to unintentionally dissuade someone from making an offer on your house. You never know what might "upset the apple cart!" There's a lot at stake and every prospect is a potential buyer.
Ideally, prospects should feel unpressured, unhurried, and free to express their opinions about what they're seeing. If they feel like they have to weigh their words carefully and be discreet about every reaction, then their discomfort may spill over into their feelings about the house, itself. Since buying a home is often an emotional decision, any negative feelings in the prospect could potentially derail the chances of a purchase offer being made.
Real estate agents not only serve as knowledgeable "tour guides" and objective sources of information for house hunters, but they're also there to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative aspects of a property. One of their main objectives is to put prospects at ease and help them appreciate all the desirable aspects of your home.
There are dozens of details, property features, unique attributes, and flaws that potential buyers are trying to assimilate and remember, so the fewer distractions there are, the better! That's why it makes sense to keep the atmosphere as uncomplicated as possible. It can be a bit of a delicate balance for real estate agents to maintain, but most have the training, experience, and finesse to keep things on an even keel and moving forward!
Although your real estate agent will do the lion's share of the work involved in selling your home, there are several things you, the homeowner, can do to help move things along.
By making sure your home is always ready to be shown at a moments notice to prospective buyers, you will be helping to "tip the scales" in the direction of a faster sale. Since making a great first impression is crucial to the sales process, it's important that your home always looks its best -- both inside and out. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you decide to put your home on the market.
Order versus chaos: Every time your real estate agent sets up a showing of your house, it's an opportunity to attract and engage potential buyers. When your house and property look organized, clean, and well cared for, it sends a series of positive messages to prospects.
Admittedly, it can be a little bit of a hassle to keep your house looking (and smelling) immaculate all the time, but doing so can definitely work in your favor when it comes to making a great impression and getting your house sold faster.
To the extent that it's possible, try to eliminate or significantly reduce anything that could be described as "clutter." Clutter can include anything from excessive furniture and wall hangings to knick-knacks on your shelves and too many containers on kitchen countertops.
The ultimate effect you want to achieve is one of spaciousness, tastefulness, and organization. Anything which detracts from those desirable qualities could potentially work against you. As the classic 1980s TV commercial for a well-known dandruff shampoo reminds us: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression!"
Remember curb appeal: Actually the real first impression happens before prospective buyers even enter your home or step on your property. In many cases, it occurs before they even get out of their cars!
Making sure your house and property look as impeccable as possible from the street can help attract potential buyers and put them in a more receptive state of mind. Maintaining a manicured, clutter-free lawn, highlighted by a few splashes of floral color, can be an effective way to create eye-appeal and make a positive first impression.
One thing home sellers are either unaware of or forget about is the fact that prospective buyers sometimes do a preliminary "drive by" before picking up the phone and calling your (or their) real estate agent to schedule a showing. If they do not like what they see from their car, they probably are not going to take the next step and arrange a full tour of your home.
When you come to the realization that every person who drives by or visits your home is a potential buyer, you'll be more motivated to take care of the many details that either attract of send away prospective buyers.
If your house is on the market or you're preparing to put it up for sale, you probably feel like you have 101 things to do!
Fortunately, the list is much smaller than that and you can enlist the help of a real estate agent to handle many of the details.
To increase your chances for a fast sale, your agent will offer you suggestions on ways to enhance the eye appeal and curb appeal of your home. Although many of the things they point out may seem minor and superficial, the cumulative effect they'll have on the marketability of your home could be significant.
Minor flaws will be noticed by potential buyers and could easily give them the impression that your home hasn't been updated, properly maintained, and well taken care of. While that may not be true, remember that presentation is everything. And, if I may slip in one more old, but true cliché: "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression!" That is as true in real estate sales as it is in making sure you're breath is fresh!
With that in mind, here's a list of some of the relatively inexpensive improvements you can make that will help you favorably impress prospective home buyers.
- There are a lot of cheap or relatively inexpensive repairs you can make, such as repairing and painting over damaged walls, oiling squeaky hinges, and replacing cracked windows and bathroom tiles. Toilets that run and faucets that leak are other examples of minor problems that can make a bad impression on potential buyers.
- Lighting, both natural and artificial, sets the mood in a room and can have an impact on how people perceive your home. It's usually advisable to let in as much natural light as possible and increase the wattage of lightbulbs in dark rooms and hallways. On the other hand, harsh lightening can also make an unfavorable impression, so it's necessary to find the perfect balance between glaring and dreary lighting. Most real estate agents are attuned to minor (or major) changes that need to be made to elements like lighting, décor, and furniture arrangement.
- Avoid the appearance of clutter, disorganization, and chaos in any part of your home! This would apply to everything from closets and cabinets to counter-tops, desks, and bedroom dressers. If your basement or attic is a "disaster area," that could reflect negatively on you and the attractiveness of your home. A good, general rule-of-thumb for controlling clutter is "less is more."
- Be prepared to do at least a little painting and a lot of cleaning to prepare your house for successful showings. A certain amount of landscaping and lawn care is also necessary, with tasks such as mowing, pruning, and weeding at the top of the list.