7 Deadly Sins Of Unprepared Sellers

| By Peggy Crowe |

You plan ahead personally, right? Then it only makes sense that you would do so when selling your most valuable asset. Preparing your home to show and be its best is a sure-fire way to net the most money in the shortest amount of time. This will not only make the process go smoothly but also give buyers a sense of peace about spending more money on a home that is well cared for.

Peggy Crowe

In my April 2017 column, I discussed the best ways to bring value to your home. Those were more cosmetic; now it’s time to dig deeper. Repeat after me: “I am now a home seller and not a homeowner.” Having an open mind to see your home through the buyer’s eyes will align you with the Girl Scout’s motto to “Be Prepared.”

What’s involved? Selling is like preparing for a party but now guests will look through everything and make sure things work. A REALTOR® will be the objective voice of reason and guide you through the steps so the financial benefits far outweigh the time spent. This also starts the selling process off on a footing of trust, honesty, and personal pride.

All issues with your home must be noted on the Residential Property Disclosure so it is better to take care of problems on the front end. The buyer automatically will have a sense of ease if something is new. However, if you are not in a position to fix items, you will know what to anticipate. You can then price your home knowing these issues will resurface in a home inspection once you are under contract.

How To Lead The Pack In The Seller’s Market:

1) Clean – Everything: When you sell your house you will probably be buying another. I’m certain you will expect the home you purchase to be in tip-top shape. That’s your goal now. The most important areas are the entry for its first impression; then the kitchen and bathrooms as cleanliness and functionality are expected

Clean out your drawers and the inside and outside of all your appliances. In the bathroom, scrub anything that smacks of mildew or soap scum residue: shower curtains, grout, and caulking. Your mirrors should shine. Get into the corners of every room and porch to make sure that dust bunnies and cobwebs are removed. Wipe down fan blades, blinds, and lighting fixtures. Clean your windows inside and out, brightening each room. Speaking of brightness, make sure that all lighting fixtures function and have working bulbs.

Pressure-wash your deck and vinyl siding. Nothing turns buyers off more than green sheen. If the deck needs re-staining or painting, it will be well worth the effort. Remove any yard debris that will distract your buyers.

2) Walls and doors: This is often where minor scratches and dents have the most subliminal negative effect on buyers. Dents can be filled and painted over like they were never there. Touch-up paint creates a miracle that buyers can sense even if they don’t realize it.

If your walls are vivid colors you really do need to paint them a neutral palette so your buyers can start placing their furniture in their minds. Remember that you have transformed from a homeowner to a home seller and the goal is to excite your prospective buyers. You’re going to be moving; they will be the ones staying. Paint.

Patterned wallpaper is dated and has to go. Ask a professional about the best way to strip it or have them do it. In the long run it will make an unbelievably positive difference in the reaction of buyers and your bottom line.

3) Flooring: Hardwood floors are the rage and especially valued in homes built before the 70s. Take the time, effort or money to make them look outstanding. It may just take some elbow grease to bring back its luster. But if they have become lifeless, then bringing in a flooring specialist to revive them translates to a huge return on your investment.

Carpets are more obviously susceptible to stains, odors, and wear and tear. If the problems aren’t significant, having them steam cleaned will make them look new again. But if there are tears, pet or smoking odors that won’t come out, they should be replaced with neutral color carpeting. Either way, that “new car” smell will lure them in.

Stained tile grout is also important whether it’s in the kitchen, laundry or bathroom, including the shower stall. Try cleaning it with a grout cleaning solution first. If that doesn’t work, you may need to have them re-grouted.

4) Pest inspection: A buyer will have a pest inspection; so should you. If there are termites, it is better to treat them now rather than have your buyers freak out. The service agreement will transfer to the buyers for a nominal fee paid by them, which gives them peace of mind.

5) Mechanical Systems: Have your furnace and air conditioning unit tuned up and all of the filters replaced. Check all your systems, like garage doors, appliances, garbage disposals, home alarms and hot water heaters to make sure they are up to snuff. Any machine that is permanently attached, such as a dishwasher, comes with the house and will be expected to function.

Keep in mind, with aging systems – mechanical as well as roofs – that buyers will expect at least a split concession to offset their replacement costs in the near future. It is in your best interest to have several quotes for similar items so you are prepared when they ask for a discount.

The Deal Breakers:

6) Structural Issues: Foundation problems are an issue for both buyers and their agents. Buyers see cracks and assume the worst, as this is what their future home rests on – literally. Have a structural engineer inspect and report on the status of your foundation. They can determine if the cracks are truly a problem or simply from initial settling when the home was built. If there is a problem, they can instruct you on how to fix it. If the price is reasonable, by all means fix it. If it is serious and you cannot afford to remedy it, you will know what to disclose up front so that buyers are aware from the beginning. No surprises are a good thing.

7) Water Intrusion: Water entering the house can be one of the biggest deal killers and is one of the most vexing of home problems. Rainwater drainage is most often the culprit. Sloping the dirt away from the base of your house, adding or cleaning out clogged gutters, or moving the drainpipes so they flow away from the house can often take care of the issue. Then you can add a dehumidifier to dry out the space prior to being shown to buyers.

But if there is a strong mildew odor, the foundation block is wet with mold, or water is standing in your basement or crawl space when it rains, it’s not so easy. According to Mary Palermo, of Rainbow Restoration and Cleaning, “For a minimal fee you can have a healthier home inspector identify the source of the problem and how it can be corrected.” If you have the means to fix the issue, that is preferable. Either way, you won’t be surprised when the buyers negotiate having it repaired.

Water can also cause rotted wood on the eaves or other exterior portions of your home as well as general destruction to the integrity of your home. This should most definitely be taken care of. If they can see obvious issues then they won’t pursue an offer unless it is a low-ball one.

If there are leaks in the roof, either replace it if it’s old or in bad shape, or patch it. Check your internal water systems for leaky or nonfunctioning faucets, showerheads, drains, or running toilets, and repair or replace them.

The Bottom Line

Are these a bit extreme? Maybe, but they will give you a good roadmap of what’s important. If you can’t take them all on, tackle the ones that will show your house in its best light and “Be Prepared” to handle questions when they arise.

Remember this is temporary whereas the money you put in your pocket is not.


Peggy Crowe is a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker King. She loves being a “forensic realtor” who can ferret out problem areas so that you can get the most bang for your buck. Call her at 828-318-4423 or email her at peggycrowerealtor@gmail.com with any questions you might have. You could make more than you dreamed possible.

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