When you read about the housing market right now, depending on the neighborhood, all signs are pointing to a seller’s market. Now, that can be great news, and it usually is.
Seller’s beware, however, it’s not a sinch that your home will sell at the first open house. Even if your home is priced right in a seller’s market and you have an open house scheduled you still have a lot of work to do in order to protect your home’s value and even the sale of the home, itself.
What? You may be saying. Yeah right, you may be thinking, but hear us out and head our advice if you want to keep yourself strong during the selling process.
First, let’s talk about the selling process. The selling process doesn’t begin when you have an offer, it begins when you list your home. Conversely, the selling process doesn’t end once you have an offer, oh no, that’s just when things get kicked into overdrive.
Think of this like driving a stick shift car..a 5 speed. The selling process starts when you’ve listed your home and others have found out about it. Think of this as first gear, where you’re not going too fast, it’s a speed at which you’ve just begun to move. Second gear is when you get some interest in the home, things are moving faster…but you’re not really moving yet. Third gear is your open house. During the sales process the open house shows your home off to the world and whoever wishes to see it in person. This is where, if you’ve ever watched HGTV, people come in to either pick your house apart – or fall in love.
The outcome of this can shift you back down to second gear or pole-vault you up to fourth gear. Fourth gear is when you have an accepted offer and now you may be looking for your next home, inspections are happening, banks are involved as are possibly attorneys, title companies and other vendors that you may need to work with in order to get to fifth gear. Fifth gear covers the span of time between when the offer is clear to close, you schedule the closing or closings if you’re settling on your next new house at the same time or you could be preparing to move wherever you have decided. Either way you’re scrambling and most agents who have been around will tell you, you really will have done so much and moved so quickly that you can’t remember everything that happened those few weeks leading up to the closing. You’re just happy to put up your feet without having to worry about anything real estate related.
What you don’t want is to go from the second gear of showings to the third gear of open houses and then back to second gear. Now, in some circumstances, it happens. It can’t be avoided it because there are so many factors that will lead a home to not get sold during an open house that they’re too many to list. A few examples are weather keeping people from coming to the open, a holiday, a traffic accident that creates a detour which doesn’t allow interested parties to even get to your home. It’s amazing what can happen that we have no control over.
Yet, we’re not talking about what you can’t control in this blog post. Oh no, we’re talking about what you can control. Check ou these 5 hacks to help you put your best foot forward during your open house.
The Five Hacks
- Think Hotel Lobby: The moment you put your home on the market, it becomes a product on a market for sale. Now, as hard as that is to say, it’s even harder for most homeowners to take this process, which Realtors refer to as depersonalization, in and take to heart. One good way to wrap your head around how your home should be presented in a ‘depersonalized’ fashion is to think of what you see when you walk into a hotel lobby. It’s welcoming, friendly, clean and inviting in a way that makes you want to rest but not want to stay forever. Just by looking around, you can see yourself staying here because you’re not thinking about who owns it. There’s no family pics or knickknacks or even anything that alludes that property has been tailor-made for anyone but you. This is the same way you should present your home to potential buyers so that no matter who comes through the door – they feel invited and welcomed. That way as they’re picturing themselves owning your property, they won’t be distracted by the family photos that are subliminally telling them to go away.
- Smell Check: How does your home smell? Do you really know? Ask someone who doesn’t live with you to close their eyes and stand in each room and take a deep breath. Have that person tell you honestly what the room smells like. You can then focus on the rooms that need the most work in the odor department. Remember as you go from room to room deorderizing that smells can be as personal as pictures. People have reactions to smells and what you like may not be the right thing for the person who fell in love with your property from the pictures. This person can quickly fall out of love once coming to the property and getting a whiff of it. One quick hack is to simmer vanilla in a saucepan on your stovetop a few hours before your open house. You could also back cookies right before the open house and leave the cookies as treats for the visitors of your open house, and for your Realtor of course.
- Fixins and Fast: Do you have a blown lightbulb? How about that squeaky cabinet door that you keep saying you’re going to fix when you have time? Well, now is the time to go around and make all those repairs. Anything that is broken and not fixed during an open house screams to potential buyers that this home was not kept up and small repairs that aren’t kept up mean that the big repairs weren’t kept up. At least that is what your potential buyers will think. You can’t blame them for it though, it’s human nature and part of our protective instincts to make sure that what we’re buying is worth our money. Don’t give them an inch so that they can take a mile. Get anything that needs to be fixed repaired before the open house, unless you truly can’t do so yourself. Then work with your Realtor in the best way to present this to potential buyers, because if you know it needs to be fixed – as a homeowner you’re required to tell that to a potential buyer. Everything else, make sure it’s working and in great shape.
- Lights, Camera, Contract: Lighting is important in an open house. You can have the most beautiful home, but if you don’t have sufficient lighting, who’s going to see it or worse if you have bad lighting your beautiful home can look like an average dwelling. Natural light is preferred for areas like the bedroom and living room. The kitchen and bath may need brighter lighting depending on how many windows they have and how the light affects workstations like a vanity or a countertop. One great way to hack your home to be called a ‘green’ home is to install lights that are both long lasting and good for the environment. Go to any home and garden center and they’ll give you all the 411 and then some on how to go green with your lighting. Remember that you have a budget though and a price you will want/need to take away from your sale so keep that in mind when shopping for lighting. Oh, and here’s another tip: take down any lighting fixtures that you don’t want to be included in the sale. Rest assured that if you have Aunt Sally’s crystal chandelier hanging in your dining room and you don’t take it down, but you direct your Realtor to tell folks it’s not included, those same folks are going to want Aunt Sally’s crystal chandelier and you’ll end up with it smack dab in the middle of your contract negotiations and that’s not where it belongs. No, take it down before the property even goes up for sale and replace it with something nice.
- Walk That Walk: Take a moment and drive up to your home as though you’re a potential buyer. See for yourself if your property has curb appeal and that the entrance to the home is inviting. The first thing you look at it is probably the first thing you need to work on and if you drive off, you have some serious work to do. Turn your car around and follow these steps. Clean your front yard and walkway, wash the windows and if you can, get your home power washed. One great way to spruce up an entrance is to paint the front door. Now if your property needs major painting on the outside – you should speak with your Realtor about this, but painting is a big part of curb appeal. If you don’t have a green thumb, consult a local landscaper to get some ideas on how to spruce up your home before an open house. A great tactic is to go over this plan with your Realtor who will guide you through what a potential buyer may or may not look for when they first see the home.
During the Open House
Get yourself out of the house, go somewhere that makes you happy and enjoy yourself for that time. Let your Realtor do what she’s best at and give yourself a break for a while, just stick close to your phone so that you’re prepared for any offers that may be coming in. Either way, you know you’ve done you’re best and now it’s up to the market and your Realtor to do the rest.