20 Tips for Preparing Your House for Sale [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible!
  • There are many small projects that you can do to ensure this happens!
  • Your real estate agent will have a list of specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

Posted by The KCM Crew

How to Prepare Your Home for an Appraisal

What you need to know about the process, from a veteran certified appraiser.

Getting your home appraised can often be a nerve-wracking experience. Your home and your handy work will be on display to be judged and valued so that you can move forward with selling your home.

But it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. With the right tools, tricks and savvy, the appraisal process can not only go smoothly, it can also help you make a giant financial leap toward a future in a new home.

Do your homework

“Just like anything else — for example, if you’re going to select a doctor, dentist, or lawyer — you do your homework to find out the appraiser’s market knowledge of the area,” says Rick Singh, a property appraiser in Orange County, FL.

Ideally, your appraiser will be a local who knows the area well and who has been around long enough to see changes in the market. It’s also crucial to hire an appraiser who is state certified.

Check your maintenance

Whether it’s a loose shingle, chipped paint or dirty carpet, be sure to take care of it before the appraiser comes. Anything obvious that needs work could potentially eat away at your home’s value.

Also, keep a list of maintenance work that has been done on the home. Have a running list of what you have fixed and upgraded in your home as well as the amount of money you have spent.

Maximize curb appeal

When you’re getting your home appraised, remember that your house should look like the nicest one on the block.

“Landscaping plays so much into making a good first impression,” Singh says. “And remember that a first impression is a lasting impression. Make sure [your yard] is tidy and up-to-date. Trim or replace dead plants, and make sure it’s nice and green.”

Ensure appliances work

Do you have a dishwasher that only works when you give it a little kick, or a refrigerator that doesn’t keep your food as cool as it used to? These malfunctioning big-ticket items in a home could be a huge disadvantage to your home’s appraisal value.

Show pride in ownership

Although your home isn’t necessarily valued on the interior decor, it doesn’t hurt to show that it’s well cared for.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to trade in your T.J.Maxx finds for a pricey interior makeover, but make sure your home is neat, tidy, and exhibits that you generally have an interest in keeping your home looking its best.

Know your neighborhood

Before you get your home appraised, be sure you know what comparable nearby homes are going for, because that can be a huge predictor of your home’s value.

Also, inform your appraiser of any extraordinary circumstances, like if someone in your neighborhood had to sell their home quickly. Sellers may have to lower the price of their home to get out in a timely fashion in the event of death or job relocation in another state.

It’s extremely important that both you and your appraiser are knowledgeable about your neighborhood to get as accurate a value as possible.

Understand that cost does not equal value

When you make improvements to your home, you hope that everything you’re upgrading will increase your property value — but this isn’t always the case.

“Sellers may think, ‘I spent $60,000 on my home and $20,000 on the pool, so the home should be worth $80,000 more.’ However, the market may say it’s only worth $5,000 more. Find out what the economic investment is, because the rate of return is so important,” Singh says.

If you’re not satisfied, reach out

If you’re dissatisfied with the appraisal value, Singh advises contacting the appraiser about your concerns. Make sure you have data to back up your claims when you call to voice your opinion.

“You can always get a second appraisal,” Singh notes. “If you really think something was done incorrectly, voice your concern to the appraisal board as a last resort. All appraisers are licensed, and they don’t want to jeopardize their license. However, I often recommend going back to the appraiser and showing [him or her] the facts.”

Posted by Jamie Birdwell-Branson on Zillow

10 Ways to Turn Off Potential Buyers

From above-ground pools to over-the-top fixtures, here are 10 features that could make your home less attractive to buyers.

Shutterstock ID 57172501

Shutterstock ID 57172501

As a result of our obsession with photos and visuals today, buyers make judgments of homes immediately. Many will do their first showing online, so if your photos turn them off, they may never step foot inside.

Sellers need to go to great lengths to get buyers in the door. If you can get them through, it’s the small (and often obvious) things that will keep them interested. Though it’s a home first and foremost, it’s also an investment. Make changes or alterations that could turn off a buyer, and you risk hurting your bottom line.

If you’re planning to put your house on the market, be aware of these 10 ways you might be turning off potential buyers.

1. Turn your garage into a family room.

A family room might be attractive — to a family. But if you’ve sacrificed the garage, the trade-off might be a turn-off, especially to people who don’t have kids or who live in dense urban areas, where parking is at a premium. Even in the suburbs, most people want a covered, secure place to park their cars.

Don’t forget that a garage often doubles as a storage location, housing everything from the lawn mower to excess paper towels and cleansers. If you go glam with your garage, you’re likely to force a buyer to look elsewhere.

2. Convert a bedroom into a something other than a bedroom.

Aside from location and price, one of the first things a buyer searches for is number of bedrooms. Why? Because it’s a fundamental requirement.

You might think that having a wine cellar with built-in refrigerators in your home will make it attractive to potential buyers because it was attractive to you. But that’s not for everyone.

And while it’s true many people work from home today, at least part of the time, that doesn’t mean they want a dedicated home office —especially one with built-in desks or bookcases they can’t easily remove.

If you must convert a bedroom into something else, make sure you can readily change it back into a bedroom when you go to sell. If you have lots of bedrooms, buyers might be more forgiving. But a buyer who needs three might see your custom home office as a turn-off.

3. Lay down carpet over hardwood floors.

People like hardwood floors. They look cleaner, add a design element, don’t show dirt as much, and consumers with allergies prefer them over carpets.

If you have gleaming hardwood floors, show them off. Let the buyer decide if she wants to cover them. It’s easier for her to purchase new carpeting of her choosing than to get past yours.

4. Install over-the-top light fixtures.

A beautiful chandelier can enliven a dining room. But it can also turn off buyers who prefer simpler, less ornate fixtures.

Did you fall in love with a dark light fixture on a trip to Casablanca? That’s great. And you should use it for your enjoyment. But when it comes time to sell, replace it with something more neutral.

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Shutterstock ID 244958839

Remember, you want to appeal to the masses when your home is for sale. You want to stand out from a crowded field of sellers — but in the right way.

5. Turn your kid’s room into a miniature theme park.

Little kids have big imaginations. They tend to love Disney characters, spaceships, and superheroes, and their parents are often all-too-willing to turn their rooms into fantasy caves.

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Shutterstock ID 233007124

But the more you transform a child’s bedroom into something resembling a Disneyland ride, the more you’ll turn off most potential buyers. Your buyer might have teenage children, and see the removal of wallpaper, paint or little-kid-inspired light fixtures as too much work.

If you can, neutralize the kids’ rooms before you go on the market.

6. Add an above-ground pool.

Does it get hot in the summer where you live? Wish you had a backyard pool, but can’t afford to have a “real” pool installed? Then you might be tempted to buy and set up an above-ground pool.

Shutterstock ID 57172501

Shutterstock ID 57172501

For most buyers, though, these pools are an eyesore. Also, an above-ground pool can leave a big dead spot of grass in your backyard — another eyesore.

If you must have it, consider dismantling it before going on the market. Of course, be sure you’re ready to sell, or you may be stuck without a place to cool off next summer.

7. Leave dirty dishes in the sink.

A kitchen full of dirty dishes is not only unattractive, but it sends a strong message to the buyer: You don’t care about your home.

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Shutterstock ID 3339927

If your home is for sale, buyers will be coming through, and you want to impress them. Would you keep dirty dishes in the sink for your in-laws or overnight guests? Probably not. Then why wouldn’t you clean up for your potential customers?

Putting your home up for sale, and keeping it on the market, is work. If you aren’t cut out for it, considering holding off until you are ready to clean up for the buyers.

8. Make buyers take off their shoes.

This turn-off cuts both ways. As an agent, I always hated being forced to take my shoes off in someone else’s home — until I sold my own. Not only was it inconvenient, but also I wasn’t happy about my socks picking up a random homeowner’s dirt, pet hair and dust.

Once I became a first-time home seller, and one with sparkling new hardwood floors and carpet, I couldn’t imagine allowing dirt and grime from the outside world to dirty up my floors.

So what’s the compromise? Shoe covers from a medical supply store. Buyers and agents don’t need to take off their shoes, simply cover them. It’s a win-win for everyone.

9. Smoke cigarettes in every room of your house — for years.

Over time, the smell of smoke permeates your home. It gets into the carpet, drapes, wood paneling — just about everywhere. And that’s a big turn-off to most buyers today.

Getting rid of the smoke smell can be a big job. If you’re a smoker, seriously consider how you want to present your home to the market. For a long-term smoke-filled home, it means painting, removing carpets, and doing lots of deep cleaning. If you don’t do it, don’t expect to get top dollar for your home.

10. Keep Fido’s bed and toys front and center.

Family pets bring a lot of joy to the home. But they don’t always bring the same joy to a prospective buyer. Dog’s toys, filled with saliva, dirt and dust, can be a sore both for the eyes and the nose.

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Shutterstock ID 152976569

If you have a pet, put a plan in place to move the food and water bowls as well as the toys and dog’s bed to a better location, like in the garage.

It’s your home — for now

Part of the joy of owning a home is that you can do whatever you want with it, to it, and in it. You should enjoy it. But if you want to sell it quickly and for top dollar down the road, try to picture how others might react to any renovations, additions or modifications you make.

The more specific you get — such as turning your kid’s room into a miniature castle — the harder it will be to sell your home later, and the less return on investment you’ll get. When considering changes to your home, always consider resale.

Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow

Beyond Pumpkin Spice: 8 Easy Hacks For A Great-Smelling Home

Make any space smell amazing (without the chemicals)!

Nothing is better than coming home to an inviting, fresh-smelling space after a long day. And a great smelling home is especially important if you’re looking to list your home, whether it’s a home for sale in Chicago, IL or an apartment across the country in Dallas, TX. While fragrant candles and plug-ins tend to be overpowering (and often full of chemicals), there are plenty of natural alternatives.

From citrus peels in the disposal to eucalyptus sprigs in the shower, here are easy homemade air freshener ideas that will subtly scent every room using essential oils and fragrant plants.

1. DIY air freshener

One of the fastest, easiest ways to eliminate less-than-savory odors at home is spray air freshener. To avoid chemicals, skip the store-bought stuff and DIY it. You probably already have everything you need for this recipe from One Green Planet: citrus fruit, water, baking soda, and a refillable spray bottle.

2. Stove-top scent

Another alternative to artificially scented candles and the like: this recipe from One Good Thing By Jillee for a simmering pot on the stove full of nutmeg, cinnamon, and other seasonal herbs and spices. After just a few minutes of steeping, it’ll smell as if you’ve been baking all day.

3. Tea leaves in cat litter

Litter boxes are tricky. No matter how often you clean them, their odors can quickly permeate and linger in any room. Combat this by sprinkling a few dried tea leaves into the litter next time you change kitty’s box.

4. Other tea bag tricks

In tight spaces that are susceptible to strong smells (the bathroom, pantry, laundry room, or closets), string up a few tea bags inside. They’ll help absorb unwanted odors and give off a fresh aroma — mint or jasmine tea works perfectly. Swap in new bags every few months or whenever the scent starts to taper off.

5. Herbal wreath

Whether hung on the front door or right in the kitchen, a wreath made of fresh herbs like this one from Adventures in Making is fragrant, festive, and functional. Try oregano, thyme, rosemary, or parsley and snip off sprigs to add to recipes as needed.

6. Shower eucalyptus

Hang a few sprigs of fresh eucalyptus in the corner of the shower, where they won’t get wet. When you shower, the steam and humidity will activate the natural oils, releasing a refreshing aroma. Instant spa! (You can find eucalyptus in most nurseries and flower shops.)

7. Disposal deodorizer

Garbage disposals are awesome. Sink smells are not. These easy-to-make DIY refreshers from Hello Natural are just the quick fix you’re looking for. The ice helps knock off any built-up food debris as citrus and white vinegar leave behind nothing but freshness.

8. Indoor garden

Planting herbs in Mason jars like Mommy’s Kitchen is a great solution any time of year for apartment dwellers but especially makes sense during colder months. Line them up on a windowsill to instantly freshen the air and brighten any room. Another idea: Arrange stems of mint, sage, basil, or rosemary in a pretty vase for a fragrant, affordable alternative to a floral bouquet.

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

 

Staging Strategy: 5 Reasons Every Room Needs a Clear Purpose

Help buyers begin to see your home as their own as soon as they walk in the door.

When staging a house for sale, it’s crucial to consider every space with the buyer’s perspective in mind. Once you’ve accomplished the five basic staging steps, make sure every room in your house has one clear purpose.

Defining how to use a room is incredibly important for buyers because it helps them connect to a home. Here are the top 5 reasons every room needs a clear purpose:

1. Buyers subconsciously feel lost if they don’t know what to do with a room

They will wander in and out of a room very quickly if they cannot easily tell what the room should be used for. The house will not feel comfortable, which will make it hard for them to imagine it as home.

2. Buyers don’t know how to place furniture in a room they can’t define a use for

When buyers walk into a room they feel comfortable in, they’ll start to picture their belongings where yours are now. A big comfy bed signals “This is a bedroom,” so buyers will be able to imagine their own bed in the space. This is exactly what you want them to do.

But if buyers can’t tell the room’s purpose, they won’t know if they need new furniture to fill it, or if they have something perfect for it already.

3. Buyers assume they don’t need a room they can’t see the purpose of

If a buyer can’t see what a room’s purpose is, they go one of two ways. They either assume they don’t need the space, or they decide your home doesn’t have a room that will serve a purpose they do need. Either way could cause them to pass on your house and go on to the next.

4. Buyers don’t have time or energy to figure it out for themselves

There is so much competition for buyer dollars – even in a seller’s market. Buyers have no time, energy or need to “figure out” a house. They can simply go visit the next one or go visit the new home builder they’ve seen advertised. You can bet the builder will show them exactly what every space is for and tell them why they need it.

5. Buyers can’t emotionally connect to rooms they can’t see themselves using

You want buyers to picture their sofa in your living room so they can start seeing themselves living in your house. This is when they truly connect with a house and decide they have to have it as their own home. This connection brings you the best offer possible.

Many homes today feature a “great room” that contains many spaces to be used as individual rooms. This is what the term “open concept living” refers to, and it is highly desired by modern buyers. Mixed purpose rooms can confuse buyers. They may think that if one room has to be used for multiple purposes, the home must be too small.

If your house fits this description, be sure to clearly define spaces within the great room to serve only one purpose. For instance, define a family room space and a dining space separately so that buyers know how they can use these areas.

Staging your house for sale is a lot of work. But as difficult as it can be, don’t skip it. The way you present your home makes a big difference in finding a buyer.

Posted by Lori Livers on Zillow