Selling a house can be a stressful point in your life, especially if it has been on the market for a while and just does not seem to be moving. There are ways that an owner can help their agent speed the process along. Right from the start, you need to take some matters in your own hands in order to get that house off the market and the money from the sale into your pocket. Most of the tricks to getting your house sold are fairly basic; they are things that should be done regularly anyway.
When people will be looking at your house
There are several ways in which potential buyers will go over your home to see if it is right for them. These different types of viewing are never mutually exclusive; in fact, buyers will probably look at your house with a combination of a few or all of the following strategies.
- Street Viewing. A for sale sign on your lawn communicates the fact that your house is for sale. A lot of the time it is the first thing that potential buyers are going to see; after that, their attention will be drawn to the exterior of your house.
- Open Houses. Although open houses have never been the best strategy for selling, they remain popular. The home owner will set aside a day (usually on the weekend) in which interested parties can tour the house on their own, usually with the owner present. A disadvantage here is that even though you may clean the house up nicely before entering, it might soon become dirty with people tramping through. Also, a successful open house will call attention to a crowded entryway!
- Viewings through appointment. These are the most common ways in which potential buyers make decisions to purchase a house. The viewings are set up between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. They give the owner enough time to clean up (if they still live in the house), or to touch the house up a bit (if they do not).
- Virtual tours. A new craze in the real estate business is the virtual tour. These are quickly phasing out the open house, in fact. Potential buyers can view your house from the comfort of theirs, and an infinite number of people can look at it without actually going through the house.
Preparing for street viewing
As soon as you put that for sale sign up, you need to start very close attention to the exterior of your house. If it is summer time, make sure all of your flower beds are weeded and the grass is cut to a nice length. Don’t leave anything out in the yard that can be moved (tools, toys, machines). In fall, rake up your leaves regularly, and in winter shovel every time it snows.
Check the paint on your house and if it is peeling, apply a fresh coat. Since you are doing all the other work, now is as good a time as any to clean the outside of the windows as well. Any trees or shrubbery should be pruned. Remember, this could be the difference in a serious buyer scheduling a viewing or passing by!
Preparing for an open house
The advantage of an open house is that you have plenty of advanced warning, and can do a really thorough cleaning of your house. Don’t leave anything out; dust, vacuum, mop, and scrub every room.
Before actually showing the home in any way, you might want to hold a yard sale. This will help you get ready for the move as well as making sure your house is uncluttered in the sight of potential buyers.
You should also be sure that there are no repair or maintenance issues with the interior of your house. The furnace and hot water heater should be in good working order; if they are older models, you might want to consider upgrading. Agents know to look for good heating equipment!
Preparing for a viewing
Viewings will entail a lot of the same preparation as open houses, but you will not have as much notice. It is best to keep your house in the tidiest conditions possible throughout the sale period, to avoid having to do a huge cleanup weekly (if you are going to have an open house, then it is a good idea to have it soon after the house hits the market. That way, you know the deep cleaning is out of the way).
Go over your house every time you schedule a viewing with an agent. Make sure that you and anyone else who lives in the house can go somewhere else during the time; it will allow the potential buyers to talk frankly with the agent and will avoid any potential leaks about disadvantages to the home. If you can, try to get your pets out as well.
Preparing a virtual tour
Virtual tours are a great way to show off your house. They eliminate the need for an open house as people can view the rooms from their own computers, or those of an agency. There are both video and pictorial tours; if you can get the video ones, go for it.
Virtual tours still mean that you have to clean up your house; you just won’t have to do it as often as with an open house, and the risk of theft is downgraded somewhat. Virtual tours will never replace showings; potential buyers will always have to see the house one-on-one. You might have to shoot the footage yourself; it depends on the equipment your realtor possesses. Be as thorough as possible, and some narration on the facts of the house (not anything personal!) will be of help.
Getting your house ready to be seen by potential viewers is one of the most important tasks you have as a seller. The way in which people perceive the house, and consequently the amount they are willing to pay, will depend in part upon the shape and cleanliness it is in. A spotless house will not always mean an immediate sale, but it is a step in the right direction.