Monday, August 03, 2015

Ready, Set, Sell!

Ed and I are always house hunting.  Often for fun, but sometimes with the thought that we'll eventually buy something outside of Arizona. I did a post a while back with some tips for realtors. I think it's time to do one for sellers.

I don't know what the hell some people are thinking when they list their home for sale. Pictures are blurry, the house is a mess, there are 15 pictures of the pool and yard and none of the interior - these are some of the same things I say to realtors since they're supposed to guide people selling a house.  But if you're having pictures of your home taken for the world to see - whether you do it or the realtor does - you should probably take a few minutes to tidy up before you snap a photo.

For example, what the hell is this?  First, 15 of the 26 photos are of the exterior, which has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  The yard is disgusting and the house has no curb appeal. The interior isn't any better.  Shit everywhere, empty boxes piled in front of the kitchen counter, crap all over the kitchen counter, papers on the living room couch, clothes on the floor in the bedroom, ball caps on the stair railings, unmade beds.  I don't understand how, when people know others are going to see this, they don't do something to clean it up.

You might think most people would clean their house knowing the photos will be on a real estate website.  Oh, no.  Not true. If you don't believe me, spend some time looking at home listings.  I'd venture to say the million dollar listings are better, since they often are much neater, but it's not always the case. Hoarding knows no bounds.

Another thing that always perplexes me are the colors people choose.  Blue rooms, pink rooms, lime green rooms, this turquoise/seafoam green living room, the blood red dining room. I know some people are trying to achieve a "look", maybe something they saw in a magazine or on HGTV, but they're usually huge fails. Often though, I have to wonder what they were thinking when they thought it was a good idea to paint an entire, major room, seafoam green. Whatever it may have been, when you're getting ready to sell, you need to dial back the Kandinsky. Neutral colors, people. A can of paint costs less than ten bucks.

Wallpaper borders?  In every room?? It's not 1984 anymore. Peel them off. Now.

I will never understand wood interiors.  Wood walls, wood ceilings, wood floors.  It's like living in a lacquered box. And it's hideously ugly.

Same with log cabins. Fun concept, cute for a mountain retreat, but logs on the inside of your walls? This isn't West Virginia circa 1864.

I'd be shocked if the owners ever sell this Frankenstein monstrosity.  Jesus Christ, what the hell is going on there??

"Cathedral Ceilings" are a real stretch when you're talking about a trailer.  Sorry to inform you ma'am, but your ceilings aren't cathedral, they're peaked in the center because that's where the two halves of your house meet.

Don't take pictures at night, don't use flash, and don't post blurry photos. You shouldn't have to be told this.

I like snow and wouldn't hesitate to buy in a snowy climate, but really? Where's the river view?  The large deck off the kitchen? The jacuzzi tub?  Because all I see is a car that hasn't move in a week.

It's really not brain surgery. Most buyers don't have vision, so the cleaner the slate, the better. Here are a few tips.

  • How about taking out the mop and doing the floors?  Or maybe dusting this century? Clean the windows, dust the ceiling fans and furniture, vacuum the cat's hairballs. People notice.
  • Take family photos out of the living space, hide the kids' toys, take the coupons and magnets and crayon drawings off the fridge door. No one wants to see construction paper art and you don't want your buyers to get distracted by your life.  You want them to envision their family living there.
  • Take everything off the counter tops in the kitchen. Stow away the blender, toaster oven, and coffee maker.  They don't have to see what you own, they have to imagine how what they own will look there.
  • Reduce the crap in your closets and organize a little bit.  Hang clothing neatly, stow stuff in shoe boxes or storage bins, make it look spacious.  Closets are important.
  • Put away all of your creams and lotions and hair gels and deodorants and curling irons and whatever else is crowding the bathroom counter. Take your bathrobe off the hook on the back of the door and get rid of used towels and washcloths hanging over the shower rod. Ewww. And put the toilet seat down!
  • Reducing clutter is a theme here, do you notice? Pack away books on the shelves and box up your Hummel figurine collection. Your stuff needs to be out of sight. You may think you have the greatest space, that your figurines are cute, that the books show you're well read, that your African art is exotic. It's not. No one cares.
  • If something obvious needs to be fixed, fix it. They will notice. And if you can't take care of the little things, a buyer might wonder if you've handled the big things.
  • Move unnecessary furniture if you can.  You want to give the impression of space, so if you have three TV tables lined up next to your La-Z-Boy (like my Mom does), fold 'em up and put them away.
  • And how about adding a nice scent? Burn a generic candle, bake cookies, simmer a pot of cinnamon sticks on the stove. Anything that makes it smell delicious.
There are tons of websites online that give tips on this kind of thing. I'm not sure how one person on this earth has gotten through life with at least a few hours of HGTV, even if it was watched by mistake, but if you want to sell your home, and you don't have any really super-amazing qualities that will make the average buyer overlook all your crap, you need to consider making it more attractive.

Here are five listings that got it right:

This is a beautifully decorated home.  Not entirely my style, but neat, clean, stylish.

Nice outside, even better inside. Good job, folks!

These people did a good job with the wood floors, neutral colors, bright spaces.

Beautiful. Bright, open, fabulous views. Clean house, nice decor, amazing presentation for a sale.  This one won't last long.

And last, outrageously priced and nothing I could afford in this lifetime, this place is gorgeous. If Ed wants me to live in Texas, this is the only way I'll go.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Squeaky Clean Reflection

2013: Bicycles Liberate, Espresso Invigorates
2012: Playing For Gas Money
2011: Faceted Beauty For Less Than Three Bucks
2010: Triple FFF-18
2009: Hot Tuna Doesn’t Get Any Play In My Truck
2008: Corn Fed Summer
2007: Eddie Breaks The Rules Friday
2006: The Chicks Of Dixie
2005: Text Me


Anonymous said...

Hi Salena, As someone who's been a realtor for the past 20 years, I must agree with many of the comments you made. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff I've seen since I started in this career. You helpful hints might want to include: put the sex toys out of sight and, pick up the dog shit that your vicious rottweiler left in the living room. Just a suggestion!

Gil said...

The stairs vetoed both houses for me. At my age one level is good. I do like hardwood floor as they are a bit warmer in winter.

dlg said...

Well, for starters, you would need a staff of gardeners. Richard and I are having to undertake maintaining our lawn since we lost our lawn care. And that was just two people. And as for the inside, I don't know how extensive a maid/butler staff would need to be. I know you are just kidding, but WOW! Oh yes, and the pool! We have seen a lot of these homes, and they are fantastic. Don't give up!

Marlaina said...

All great ideas. And I agree these properties are grotesque.

But pretty photos of well-staged, decorated homes can mask serious defects. The crappy photos can give a buyer a lot of information that the other interested parties, the owner and realtor, who want to make a sale for the highest dollar, want to diminish or avoid.

For instance, a full of crap home, could be a rental. Or if the owner doesn't care enough to clean up, then what other maintenance has been neglected.

Buyers aren't buying the color schemes or the furniture or the tacky taste, they are buying location and bones. As-is houses can languish on the market and result in good deals for the buyer who can see past the craziness.

The last two properties I purchased were clean but outdated with unappealing decor, but the locations were excellent, the buildings were sound, and I negotiated a price using the "appearance" factor.

Unless it is an incredibly heated market, chances are traffic will be low and purchasers will be looking to drive the price down, resulting in lower sales price and commission.

If the market is hot, nothing matters, it will be snapped up in the frenzy.

The free market at its best.