How to make sure every first impression is a good one.
First impressions are incredibly important in real estate (and everywhere else, actually). Home sellers should strive to make potential buyers feel welcome, comfortable and able to picture themselves living in the home.
How do you do that? Start by taking a careful look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. What jumps out at you first? Is there anything that could be a turn off, or signal potential problems? By going through each room in your home with this type of critical eye, you’ll be well on your way to creating a “picture perfect” environment for potential buyers (important, as photos are often a buyer’s first introduction to your home).
With all that said, what are some things you can do immediately to make your home more appealing to buyers? Let’s take a look:
Get the Pets Under Control
This means tackling 3 key areas: odors, clutter and containment.
When it comes to odors, ask your real estate agent, or a friend, if they notice any pet-related smells when entering your home (you may be “nose blind” to any odors). Be sure kitty litter is always fresh and the litter box is in a good location to minimize odors. Wash pet blankets, bedding and the like to keep things fresh. You can also read our post on how to keep your home smelling fresh.
Clear away the clutter by making sure you have a place to stash toys, treats, food, supplies…anything related to your pet. You don’t have to hide them, but keeping them neat and organized in a designated place will help to make your home look neater and cleaner.
Lastly, you’ll want to have a plan for your pets during showings. Will you be taking them out of the house with you? Crating them in the garage or another room? Whatever you do, make sure your agent is aware of the plan so he/she can give clear showing instructions to agents who will be showing the home.
Declutter & Depersonalize
Of course, clutter isn’t limited to just pet paraphernalia. Many of us are guilty of letting things pile up here and there. So, see how much you can clear off your kitchen counters, the island, bathroom counters, the table next to the front door…you get the idea. You don’t necessarily have to go full Marie Kondo, but keeping your home as neat and tidy as possible while it’s on the market will go a long way to helping it sell.
Along the same lines, take some time to depersonalize your home. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in your home. If there’s a reminder of the current owners at every turn, it can be that much harder for buyers to visualize. You don’t need to take everything personal down, but if you have a whole lot of family photos, religious icons or items that are very unique to your lifestyle/hobbies, you may want to stash them away. If you’re a hunter, for instance, those trophies mounted on the wall may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Granted, you’ll be taking them with you when you move. But for a buyer that’s looked at 5 or 6 homes during the day (even more over the course of several days), those trophies may be the only thing they remember from your home…and it may not be a positive memory.
This is also a good time to talk a little bit about safety. Keep in mind that photographs of your home will be posted on a number of sites on the internet for anyone to see. If you have your child’s name painted on the bedroom wall, and lots of photos of the family that can be seen in photographs, you might want to put them away. You can also ask your agent and his/her photographer to blur names, or any personally identifiable information in the photographs. It’s just one more step to keeping yourself and your family safe.
Along the same lines, remember there will be strangers touring your home. Be sure to put away bills, credit card statements, prescription medicines and other sensitive information/items. And, if you’re a gun owner, please be sure that those guns are locked up tight in a safe, or taken off-site for showings.
Focus on Curb Appeal
Lastly, don’t forget the exterior of your home. It’s truly the very first impression buyers will get of your home as they pull up. Keep the lawn trimmed and manicured, add fresh mulch, if needed, trim the hedges, and get rid of weeds. Sweep away cobwebs, leaves and dirt at the entryway, and maybe add a new welcome mat. Consider a fresh coat of paint, if needed, and sweep/power wash driveways, walkways and anything else that needs cleaning.