So, your home is still on the market 60 days after the listing. Your real estate agent tells you to be patient and schedules an open house. A few tire-kickers show up, but no one seems interested in buying. Another 30 days go by.
Don’t give up – get to work. There are solutions to almost every problem that could be delaying a sale.
Problem: No curb appeal
Solution: Get to work or hire a handyman
You’re used to the way your house looks.
The torn screen on your storm door has never bothered you. After all, you use the side door, not the front door. You thought about digging up the half-dead, overgrown yews crowding your front walk, but it seemed like too much work. Last year’s holiday decorations are still up – even though it’s April – but you’ve convinced yourself they look festive.
It’s time to see your home through your buyer’s eyes: think of it as their first date with their potential new home. A lack of curb appeal could turn them off from the first time they see photos online or drive past your house.
A few hours and a few bucks could make all the difference. Trim the hedges, mulch the flower beds, ditch the dead potted plants, and dig up the dandelions. Paint the front door and the porch railing. Replace the outdoor lights and rusty old mailbox. Put your kids’ toys in the garage and move the doghouse to the backyard.
More extensive repairs and chores include replacing broken doors, replacing an aging garage door, cleaning out – or replacing – gutters, trimming dead branches from trees, and fixing loose siding.
Stand back and look at the results of your efforts. Ah, that’s better, isn’t it?
Problem: You skipped upgrades
Solution: Put together a budget and a plan
It seemed silly to put money into a home you were selling, right? So, you kept the mismatched kitchen appliances, cracked laminate countertops, and the carpet your dog tore up as a puppy.
Few homebuyers are looking to buy a home, then spend more on upgrades. Perhaps you’ve inherited grandma’s house, and it looks pretty much the same as it did when she bought it in 1965. Rethink keeping anything that’s a decade or older, unless original features are a selling point for your style of home.
Not sure what is worth the investment? Get advice from your real estate agent. Check out homes for sale in your neighborhood. If the other houses have been upgraded, you’re going to have to upgrade to compete. Think granite or quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, deep farmhouse sinks, and energy-efficient windows.
Put together a budget and a timeline for projects you’re willing to complete to interest more potential buyers. Then update your online listing descriptions and photos.
Problem: You’re messy
Solution: Store, sell, donate
Clutter has never bothered you; in fact, you find it comforting to be surrounded by piles of possessions. But clutter screams “too small, not big enough for my stuff!” to potential buyers.
Although you don’t need to go all Marie Kondo in your home, it is time to bust out some boxes and totes. Think about how good you felt in your home those first few months before the clutter began to creep in. Ruthlessly edit children’s toys, your kitchenware, personal items such as photos and knickknacks, and your overstuffed closets. Rethink furniture placement: is it easy to move around each room? If not, rearrange or remove some of the furniture. And don’t forget the garage and your deck or patio.
Don’t want to part with your collectibles, decades of clothes in various sizes, and the oversized bedroom suite crammed into your guestroom? Rent a storage unit nearby, load up the minivan, and clear it out until your move. The investment will be worth it when you sell your home.
Problem: Uhm, your house is smelly
Solution: Clean and deodorize
You love your two dogs. Ditto for your three cats. When your dad visits, you let him smoke cigars in the family room because it makes him feel welcome. Your bathroom has had that musty smell for as long as you can remember.
What’s the big deal?
Potential buyers have likely been turned off by a house that smells like it has problems. Pet smells could mean costly carpet replacement. A musty bathroom could signal mold issues.
It’s time to reclean the carpets, take down curtains and throw them in the washer. Take the pet beds to the laundromat every week and toss their food and water dishes into the dishwasher. And for goodness’ sake, clean the cat box at least twice as often – or even more frequently – than you want to.
If smoke, consider instituting a new no-smoking-in-the-house policy for everyone, including guests.
Problem: You need a new marketing plan
Solution: Expand your online presence
Your real estate agent put a sign in your yard, but it has fallen over. They had some photos shot and posted them on their office’s website and on Zillow. You’re not crazy about the description, but you figure they’re the pro, so you left it as is.
Homebuyers shop online: If your home isn’t showing well on the internet or is posted on too few sites, it’s not getting the views you need to sell.
If you have a real estate agent, ask them how much they are boosting – advertising – your posting online. Make sure your home is posted on sites such as Zillow and Trulia. If you make upgrades after those initial postings, be sure to take photos, upload, and update your postings.
Things you can do: create a posting on Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, and local buy/sell sites. Share a link to your posting regularly, and ask everyone you know to share it with their contacts and friends. Change the featured photo and headline each week then repost.
For people who need to be enticed in person, make sure the for-sale sign is in good shape, and the yard around it looks good. Ask our agent about scheduling and advertising an open house at a time when buyers are most likely to stop in.
Problem: Your home isn’t showing well online
Solution: Have a pro shoot new photos
About 90% of home buyers start their search online. Professional photos that show off your home’s attributes and minimize its issues are a must.
Did your agent hire a so-called professional photographer whose photos make your home feel darker, more cramped, and older than it is? Or did you go the cheap route and shoot your pictures with your cellphone? Perhaps you didn’t like photos and chose to upload only a few, leaving potential buyers wondering what you’re hiding.
If you’ve made some upgrades or got rid of clutter and extra furniture as suggested above, don’t rely on showings to share these enhancements.
It’s time to hire a pro. You may not need to reshoot all of your home but should take new photos of any upgrades and newly decluttered rooms. Get new external shots if the images you posted were taken in the winter when the foliage was dead and brown.
Not sure who to hire? Check out other homes listed with your agent or for-sale-by-owner homes. If you find photos you like, ask who shot them. Then call that person. Bonus: hire a real estate photographer who uses software that creates a 3D virtual tour of your home.
Quick Sale Option
Sometimes, you just need to sell your home quickly and not be burdened with renovations, decluttering, professional photography or even a real estate agent. This may be the case if, for example, you’re dealing with an out-of-state property you inherited or a slow home sale is holding up a divorce. Or perhaps you’re tired of maintaining a clutter-free home or your job is taking you out of state – tomorrow.
If you need to sell quickly, give us a call at 301-944-SELL.