preparing home for sale
Although I will explain the 15-second rule for getting ready to sell a home, it’s something that agents who have sold thousands of homes can also do for you. You don’t have to do it for yourself. But let’s say you have hired an agent who has not sold thousands or even hundreds of homes. Then, you might want to try this exercise yourself. Because the number one thing I see many sellers do when getting ready to sell a home is they take on way more work than they should.
Sellers tend to want to fix things that have bugged them for as long as they have lived in the house. Or, they don’t want to fix things that should have bugged them but now they are used to it. So, it’s not a big deal anymore but needs to be. Point is they do the wrong things and not enough of the right things. Sellers often do updates they think a buyer would like if they were the buyer. Problem is they are not the buyer, they are the seller. And they can only think like a seller.
The 15-second rule for getting ready to sell a home should help sellers whose agents are not in a position to assist. It is simply this. Walk into a room, stand in the doorway and give yourself 15 seconds to assess the room. Whatever jumps out at you as odd or weird, well, that’s something you need to fix. If you don’t see it within 15 seconds, you probably do not need to fix it because the buyer won’t spot it, either.
What a seller should not do is get up close and personal with every item in the home. The only thing that sort of behavior accomplishes is to push you toward an obsessive compulsive disorder. All of a sudden, you can’t stand the way your baseboards are painted. Or, you fret about a cracked tile in a corner. Or, you decide at midnight to install a new fence around the house. Those little things are niceties but unnecessary.
Some of my clients I work with for several weeks or even months to help them with getting ready to sell a home. Not every home needs a lot of work but do be ready to spend a little bit and make a few little updates to make your home sale-worthy. Especially if you have neglected a certain repair you know deep in your heart you should have tackled. It’s amazing what we can overlook when living in a home.
Even sellers on a budget can make small fixes that will greatly enhance the ability to attract top dollar. Just make sure they are the right updates and repairs. If you’d like to know how much your home is worth, call your favorite Sacramento Realtor with more than 40 years in the business. Elizabeth Weintraub, at 916.233.6759.
Because I’m in full blown spring mode dealing with Sacramento home selling myths at the moment, I’ve noticed that I get asked somewhat the same questions from many sellers. At first I wondered where are they getting these ideas? But then I decided there isn’t any one place, and much of it is arrived at within their own minds. It makes sense to them. Even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, those beliefs, so I try to be even more patient and understanding.
One of the most common Sacramento home selling myths I hear repeated: seeing as how we have to pay commissions and closing costs, can we raise the price? The reason we listing agents get that question? Because sellers temporarily forget how we determined the sales price. And they honestly did not think about paying costs of sale. Raising the price seems entirely rational and normal to ask. When you think about it this way, you can see how a seller could come to that conclusion.
But it is a bad idea. You do not want to be overpriced or priced so high you won’t even get one offer much less the multiple offers sellers crave. When more than one buyer fights for the home, that alone can raise the price. The costs of sale also have no bearing on the sales price. The costs are whatever the costs are. The standard real estate commission in my neck of the woods that top producers charge makes perfect sense because we tend to negotiate better than inexperienced agents who charge less. We also tend to get higher sales price ratios and we eliminate more hassles for our clients.
A second common Sacramento home selling myth: oh, geez, my ceiling fans are so gorgeous and I love my Tiffany light fixtures; can I take them with me? Even if they seem incompatible with the seller’s new home, sellers believe someday they will use them again. Perhaps the fixtures have been part of the seller’s life for years. An emotional reaction. However, they are fixtures: a legal thing. They are also the things that makes the sellers’ home so beautiful. Without the gorgeous ceiling fans and Tiffany light fixtures, the home could lose some of its luster and appeal. It won’t be so pretty anymore.
Fixtures, basically anything attached in a permanent manner, should remain with the home. Buyers do not want to buy stripped-out homes with builder-grade low-end fixtures when they pay a premium price.
The third common Sacramento home selling myth: Must my house be 100% perfect to be for sale? Must all the appliances be brand new? Should we paint the interior and exterior? In our super hot seller’s market, the single most important thing a seller can do is clean the house and get rid of trash. Make it presentable and liveable and loveable. That does not mean sellers need to repaint in contemporary colors or fix minor defects that nobody will notice. Call your Sacramento Realtor today and get that home ready for sale. Spring awaits!
My wish for all sellers is for them to properly prepare a Sacramento home for professional photography. Unfortunately, it’s not the way every Sacramento Realtor operates. You’ve still got the agents who don’t feel their low-end clients deserve professional photos. Or, worse, they think they are saving money by walking around the house shooting vertical photos with a cellphone, of all things. I’m not sure where the cut-off price point is with some agents. Probably under $500,000, would be my guess, or thereabouts. They just think anybody selling a regular home that is not a luxury home, well, it’s just not worth it for the agent to pay for professional photos.
I often wonder how their clients feel about that. They probably look at the agent’s website and see how some of the other homes looks spectacular while their home looks drab and dull. Oh, who am I kidding? Those clients don’t look at their agents websites or there would be some agents waking up to a rock thrown through their plate-glass window. If clients don’t demand equality and professional service, they probably won’t get it.
My belief is every client, I don’t care if it’s bare piece of land, deserves professional photos. I try to brief my clients before I arrive at their home with my photographer. Yes, even after all my decades in real estate, I still try to attend every photo shoot if I can. It’s not that I don’t trust my photographer, it’s that I am there to help the photographer move around stuff that sellers leave in peculiar places. They don’t see it because they’re too close to the subject at hand.
Here is what I tell my sellers prior to the photographer arriving and how to prepare a Sacramento home for professional photography:
- Do not park in the driveway. Do not park any vehicles in the driveway. No cars, bus, train, motorbike, tricycle.
- Remove the trash receptacle from the kitchen. Take the trash with it.
- Turn on all the lights, even the lights over the stove or under the microwave.
- Open all blinds but leave the windows closed.
- Clear everything off the kitchen counters, coffee pot and all. Everything. Except that bottle of Pinot, which you can give to me.
- Hide the dog food bowls and kitty litter boxes and dog beds.
- Close toilet seat lids.
- Turn off all ceiling fans.
- Make the beds.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
You would think I would not have to tell people to clean up the house and put things away, but I do. If you are in a rush to prepare your Sacramento home for professional photography, just stick everything inside the garage. Buyers don’t spend a lot of time in the garage, and it’s a good place to stash extra furniture.
I recall a while back when I was shooting the home of a doctor in Campus Commons. When I was upstairs, the bed was made and everything was tidy. When I came back upstairs, he had pulled back the bedspread and dumped all of his dirty underwear from wherever he had been hiding it right in the middle of the bed. For photos! The bed looked a little lumpy as I smoothed the bedspread out the best I could, but I was NOT touching that pile.
Oh, it was just another day in paradise here in Kailua-Kona, thinking about replacing a kitchen faucet. When it comes to home improvement projects, I have developed over the years a strong affection. My husband might call it an obsession. It’s like a sickness or disease. The same affliction that causes my addiction to Sacramento real estate and my concentrated focus on providing excellence service as a Sacramento Realtor. Plus, both of those things are intertwined.
Those of you who regularly act on strong impulses to remodel know what I’m talking about. Those of you who are related to people like us also know what I’m saying.
I set off for Lowe’s, which is only a mile from our house in Hawaii. How lucky is THAT? I own stock in Lowe’s and dumped The Home Depot. Not to mention, The Home Depot threw a lot of money at Trump. Sometimes it’s best to go directly to the store rather than stare for hours at limited information online. I expected my project of replacing a kitchen faucet to go smoothly. Besides, I had questions about pull down vs pull out faucets.
OK, I know better than to expect answers from a clerk at a home improvement store, but I tried anyway. I had done enough research to suspect that when it came to pull down vs pull out faucets, I would lean toward pull down. The clerk stared blankly. He had never heard the terms. Being the kind of person I am, I showed him the differences.
A pull out faucet comes off with most of the head and handle in your hand. It is often attached horizontally. Which is why my kitchen faucet needed to be replaced. It no longer attached securely to its base, and just sort of hung its head in shame. Over time, this is what happens. This malfunction must be so ubiquitous that some manufacturers promote its “magnetic” strength on the boxes, but I don’t believe it.
A pull down faucet is released by pulling down vertically on the faucet head. The movement is also more ergonomically correct. When you couple a pull down function with a pre-rinse faucet, it means the faucet head rests in a clasp.
The other thing I discovered is when you have a 3-hole sink and do not want to cover all 3 holes with a plate, because that’s so 1990, what the websites don’t properly explain is all of the faucets tend to come with a plate cover even though the faucet is depicted as without. If your sink surface is gunky and damaged under the cover, you can install the cover in the box. Alternately, you can buy round plugs for the holes, or install an air gap or soap dispenser. You’e got choices. Much cleaner look without the plate.
I often advise my sellers who are preparing a home for sale to consider replacing a kitchen faucet, especially the white faucets, with a new stainless steel pull down, pre-rinse. It adds new life and functionality to the kitchen for very little money. One of the benefits to working with this Sacramento Realtor is the fact I have done many home improvement projects, not much I can’t do with my own two hands, and have developed a good eye for detail.
I leave you with these words of encouragement. If you look at your kitchen every day and wonder if it’s worth replacing a kitchen faucet, yes, go buy a new faucet. They are inexpensive. Easy to install. And you can always hire a plumber, like I did yesterday — hey, I am on my wor-cation in Hawaii, why do I want to install a faucet myself when I can pay for the end result — it will cost about $100 for the install.
Before fixing anything in your home to prepare that home for sale, you should ask a Sacramento real estate agent what needs to actually be done. Because your idea of making a home improvement repair might be different than a repair the agent might advise, not to mention, you could end up spending money that you don’t need to spend. This is a valuable service experienced agents provide to sellers, advice on what to fix and whether the home should be sold in its AS IS condition.
If your agent has little to no experience, you’re at a disadvantage when it comes time to sell. But a veteran agent who sells a ton of homes can be a god-send to you.
The advice for what to fix and what not varies from home to home and neighborhood to neighborhood and market to market. I recall way back when I sold my first home, and I grabbed the city home inspection report that I paid for when I initially bought the home. I combed through that report thoroughly and fixed every defect on it as a precursory to preparing the home for sale. What a waste of money, time and effort. Most of that stuff, I discovered later, were items the buyer didn’t give a hoot about.
Obviously, if you have visual distractions, those should probably be corrected but again, it depends on how much money it costs, what’s involved labor-wise and whether the market demands it. I have listing that’s coming on the market next week which has vinyl siding and in some places the posts have been chewed, a few J channels are busted or cracked and, in another area, the siding is missing all together.
It’s almost impossible to match vinyl siding panels on a reorder from the manufacturer because the sizes and colors vary. The seller doesn’t have any extra pieces. Not to mention, vinyl siding is not vogue anymore and stucco is considered a better exterior option. The cost to change out the exterior is more expensive than the return on this particular investment. Plus, for what this type of property is, the siding is OK. It won’t affect the sales price. Not for this home and not in this market.
If you’re thinking about preparing your home for sale on the market, hire the best Sacramento real estate agent you can find, and then follow her advice. Don’t spend more money than you need to spend.