Show me the money
Chances are as a homeowner you have a pretty good idea of what your home is worth. Finding an approximate valuation of your home with online services such as Redfin or Zillow is not a challenging task. Just open the newspaper and it’s clear to see that Seattle is a sellers’ market, and that home prices have risen by double digits all over King County. Any realtor can provide you with comps within a half mile over the last 6 months and produce a fairly accurate valuation of your home. But put data aside for a moment and let’s think: how do we realize this money? Any agent can list your home, but not any agent can really sell your home.
So, how do we get top dollar for your home?
Home Selling is a Visual Process
It’s seeing the home online, being drawn in to visit, and then actually visualizing yourself, the buyer, living in that home. Agent X hires a photographer at $500.00 a day to shoot the house, do drones shots etc. And Agent X may still not have a huge initial impact. Why? Because the real estate agent must tell the tale and choreograph the entire show. This starts well before the photographer shows up.
Declutter + Depersonalize + Neutralize = Excite
Let me give you an actual example. Client lives in a fairly nice house in a desirable Seattle neighborhood. However, the walls are painted the same color as when they moved in, which is a dated yellow color. Client also has held on to a leather couch which has kind of a post-college, single guy feel. So what am I going to do when I put this house on the market? I will paint the walls a neutral modern color, I will remove the leather sofa, and I will bring in the best home stager in town to furnish the house.
This client also has a few saxophones and a large vinyl collection. Guess what. That’s all going into storage because this is a 3 bedroom level-entry family house. I want single people to think this is the coolest pad on the planet, but I also want the young couple just starting out to visualize two little kids playing in the yard with their new puppy.
This is the stuff of bidding wars.
So we have accomplished our goals with paint, storage and staging. Other cheap things to maximize value are deep cleaning, window cleaning, yard work and spot floor re-finishing. Again we are talking about visual impressions.
People like clean and tidy, inside and out.
A note on staging
Staging can be wonderful, but it’s on a case by case basis. If you can create major impact with staging and have the house sell quickly, then definitely do it. You don’t want a staged listing to linger as costs will add up. A good stager wants to sell quickly too (so they can stage more listings). But often it’s just plain nice to see wide open, empty rooms.
Repairs. What do I need to fix ?
As a general rule, the fewer projects you have to complete as a seller the more buyers you will attract.
It’s not unheard of to re-do a quick kitchen or bathroom before a sale. But whatever you are re-doing should be commensurate with the value of the house. You don’t want a cheap kitchen in an expensive home. The old kitchen will do fine. But if we have an ancient kitchen in a low-priced house, then maybe a trip to IKEA is in order. But keep in mind a seller will see all the flaws in their home, so it’s important to get an agent who is objective in there to look at things. The avocado color tile in the guest bath may be just fine!
Time for the photos. The client’s house is your masterpiece.
Full disclosure: I had a photography business for 7 years doing commercial and corporate photography. I am highly trained and kind of snobby about it.
Let’s not forget no one cares as much about the listing as the agent and the seller. Photographers need to be directed. Do you think shooting houses everyday is fun? It’s not. It’s hard work and mind numbing. I don’t care how great the photographer is. Remember, the agent must have the vision.
I previewed a beautiful mid-century house the other day but online the opening shot made it look like a double wide trailer. I am sure the photographer thought it was an adequate shot.
I’ll share a story with you about re-touching photographs which I used to do for a famous artist. The general rule is that anything the detracts from the subject needs to be fixed. Any bright objects that compete for attention, we need to make those blend in. If the subject has acne or eye bags, that’s got to go. We are selling the subject, whether that’s a model, a sunset, or your home.
If a dirty wall is detracting, paint it. It the view is obscured by dirty windows, clean them. I approach everything like I am working on a masterpiece. And the simple and cheap fixes are often the most effective. You just need to have the eye and be able to tell the story.
As a general rule price the house to sell, but prepare and stage it to entice the most buyers. If it’s overpriced, people will know. If it’s underpriced, people will know. Why not put forth a very attractive listing package (staging photos etc) and price it appropriately! Do you want 20 offers on a house that’s priced 200k too low or do you want 5 solid offers on a correctly priced house? I would choose the latter.
To learn more about home buying and selling please contact Jeff Romeo at www.jeffromeorealty.com