Do you remember the first time you met your spouses parents or the last time you went on a job interview? If you’re like most people, I bet you gave some thought into what you wore, or how you styled your hair. I can’t remember the specifics of getting ready for either of these scenarios in my personal life, but I guarantee you I was stressing about my appearance. I likely tried on multiple different outfits, played with my hair up and down, found unique ways to hide my tattoos and added a slight spritz of perfume before walking out the door. Preparing your home to go on the market requires the same amount, if not more energy, but if you follow these steps you can avoid the stress.
First things first, you want to fix anything that is obviously wrong with your home. Is there a back door that the dog scratched up or a leaky faucet? Fix or replace it now. If you leave it as is, the perceived cost to a buyer will be far greater than the actual cost to fix it. If there are other eye sores that make your home appear dated, you may want to consider making some changes. Updating lighting and plumbing fixtures or changing out knobs or pulls is an easy ways to modernize your home that is relatively low cost, and you can even spray paint them if replacement isn’t in the budget. One of my favorite ways to modernize a home is to add new address numbers. You can buy modern chrome numbers for about five dollars a number on Amazon and the difference they make in the perceived value of your home is incredible.
The first impression is usually the exterior of the home i.e. the front door. When a buyer arrives to see your home, the agent is struggling to open the lockbox and the buyer is looking around, taking it all in. Make sure this area is appealing! Spiders are not a good look-even if it’s Halloween. Oh, and that reminds me, if you’re selling around a holiday, please don’t decorate this year. While you may love Jesus and have a full nativity scene complete with LED lights that you put up every year, your ideal buyer may not. Your goal is to make your home appealing to the largest pool of prospective buyers possible. Make your entrance attractive by making sure the door is clean, the patio is swept, and a nice door mat greets your buyers. Clean your exterior windows, and add some flowers to make your house instantly scream, this is the place I want to call home!
Selling your home is about much more than selling a place to live, you are selling the idea of a better life - and this life does not include dirty dishes in the sink. You want your home to show it’s best self from the moment a potential buyer lays eyes on it. I once showed a home with feminine care products all over the master bed (luckily they were unused), but this did not make a great first impression on me or my client. So, first things first you want to clean, de-clutter and de-personalize the space. Although you may enjoy the framed photo of your grandparents that rests on your mantle, you want buyers to envision themselves living in your home, so remove all personal items. Countertops in the bathrooms and kitchen should be cleared off with the exception of a few items to add color and personality to the space - think a luxury hand soap or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. I recommend my clients place bath products that are used daily in a caddy or plastic bin that can be tucked under the sink out of site when not in use.
Furniture placement is key too! First, you want to re-configure every room back to its original purpose. Have a bedroom that you use as an office? It’s time to pack up the file folders and bring in an air mattress on a frame. It doesn’t need to function as a bedroom, it just needs to look pretty! You also wan’t to make sure your furniture is best placed to maximize the natural features of the home. You don’t want a large bookcase blocking the gorgeous ten foot window, and you also don’t want bulky furniture that makes the space appear smaller. Any furniture that is ripped or broken needs to go. That’s not something I see in my “dream life” and it’s probably not something a prospective buyer sees either.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to figure out which items need to go, or how to arrange the furniture. That’s why I offer a complimentary staging consultation to all of my clients. I say offer, but really, it’s mandatory. I want to do a good job so that you are happy! That means we are going to work together to make sure your home looks picture perfect for buyers while also remaining functional for your life. If that fourth bedroom really needs to stay an office while your home is on the market, we will simply make sure it is the best looking, Pinterest-worthy office, and that buyers know it could be a bedroom too.
Last, but certainly not least, photographs are incredibly important! Almost every buyer who visits your home decides to because they saw the photos online first. That is why these photos need to be top notch. I know, you think that you can take wonderful photos with your iPhone 10 and its fancy camera, but this will not cut it. You need a professional photographer to make buyers fall in love at first sight. This is why I always provide complimentary professional photography for my listings- the pro has crazy lenses and tripods and a boatload of experience in photographing houses.
This may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really not that difficult. Just put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and use that process to guide you as you make your preparations. Still feeling like you don’t know where to start? Contact me, and I’ll walk you through the details step by step.
If you’re looking at buying a brand new home, you may think you don’t need a REALTOR. In fact, you may even think that buying a new construction home without a real estate agent will save you money. However, new home communities usually have a marketing budget for the entire community and REALTOR fees are paid out of this budget. This money has already been allocated by the developer whether you choose to have representation or not. Using a real estate agent to help you purchase a home in a new construction community will actually save you money and make sure your best interests are protected.
You may also think that the sales agent at the community is working for you. This is not true! The sales agent works for the builder and is looking to represent the builders best interests. He or she may be very nice, incredibly friendly, and offer you snacks and drinks while you peruse their inventory; however, at the end of the day, the sales agent is looking out for the builder’s best interest.
The Texas standardized resale contract is written to protect the buyer. There are more than twenty “buyer outs” or ways the buyer can get out of this contract and still get their earnest money back. However, new home communities almost always have their own builder contract, and as you might have guessed, this contract is designed to protect the builder’s best interest. It’s important that you have a professional by your side that can make sure you know exactly what you are signing.
When you sign a contract to purchase a brand new home, the sales agent is usually going to offer incentives for using their lender and or title company. A good real estate professional will recommend that you look into their preferred lender option, but also, check in with a few others too. Going with the builder’s recommended lender may offer you $2 K off the sales price, but what if his interest rate is a point or two higher than another lender’s or the origination fees are so high it’s criminal. It’s important to check the fine print on these “incentives” and make sure they are really helping your bottom line.
Throughout the building process, a REALTOR, has one job - to look out for your best interests. Whether that’s making sure you’re informed of the current timeline, pointing out imperfections that need to be addressed, or recommending an inspector - a REALTOR ensures peace of mind when buying a home.
Thinking about buying a new construction home in the Austin area? Contact me today to start looking at communities that meet your needs.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.