How to make your house more attractive to buyers in Newburyport! While the coronavirus temporarily disrupts our economy and day-to-day routine, it also represents an opportunity. Oftentimes when I speak with sellers about moving, they are overwhelmed with the process of figuring out what personal items to take, to donate or sell. Are you interested in our Getting Ready To Sell Guide?
That process, depending upon how you live, can take anywhere from a month to three months. Here, we are focusing on how to make your house more attractive to buyers by focusing on your house, and what, if any, deferred maintenance has occurred, so you can get top dollar in any market.
Do you need to address every item, no, you do not. However, understanding the buyer’s perspective and what the home inspector will flag, is helpful, so you as the homeowner can spend your time wisely.
Studies are published every year, trying to pinpoint what the buyers prefer, but many of these terms are the same features, just with updated labels. All in all, there are five home features to focus upon. They include curb appeal, natural light, neutral paint colors, neutral flooring and de-theming.
For curb appeal, know that buyers drive by your home as soon as it hits the market. If they like what they see, they will make an appointment. This element is one that must be custom to your home, and have a big impact from the street. There are so many applications, it would be impossible to list them all here, but no matter what you choose, the curb appeal should be well maintained, clean, fresh, current and unique. Placing a small pot of flowers from the grocery store on the entry stoop will probably have minimal impact, so take some time and do it right.
Buyers love natural light, with big windows and the sun shining in. Sunlight makes people happy, but not every house has huge floor to ceiling windows. However, there are simple things to do to brighten up any home. Replace old, dim light fixtures and install additional light fixtures or lamps. Remove curtains and drapes, and replace them with sheers to let the light stream through the windows. Place a mirror opposite the window to reflect light, and trim tree limbs that shadow the house, and if you do have this situation, know the home inspector will flag it as well. And finally, wash all the windows inside and out.
Paint colors are a big draw for a buyer, so let’s take time to neutralize the interior. It allows the buyer to focus on two elements, the house features and the layout. Wall paint colors should be soft and neutral and light. Light reflects light, therefore, it’s tied to the natural light discussion. Additionally, this step will allow the buyer to make a decision more quickly and not return for as many showings, which is an inconvenience for you as the seller. If you want to add a bold color on a wall, make sure it is the hot new thing. Say goodbye to any wall holes and chipped paint. Door jams, trim, baseboards and doors, they all need to be in good shape. If you want the door jam from the kids’ heights over the years, replace it and take the memory with you. I’ve seen some really neat ideas online.
Neutral flooring and hard wood are favorites of buyers, so, if you have the orange shag carpet, even if the buyers like the 1970s retro look, it’s probably pretty old and dirty, so replacing it is a good idea.
Remember the chicken theme a few years ago? Your style is yours, but your buyer is buying the house, not the style or the contents, so show them the home. You want your buyers to say I can see myself living here. I remember, too, when we first moved here, we looked at a house with John Deere tractors all over the place, and there was even a cake on the table with a John Deere tractor on it. That’s all I remember looking at the house. Looking back on it, it was really sad for the seller, because it takes a lot of time to clean and get ready for a showing, so, you get the point. It’s time to make the house a blank slate.
Deferred maintenance is often overlooked because the packing up of the personal items takes so long and it’s a lot of work, but actually, this part of the process should be done first. You need to hire the appropriate licensed professionals, and while you’re waiting for them to complete the job, you can spend your time on packing up your personal property.
Home inspectors have a checklist, and they go through it meticulously. They are looking to make sure the house is safe, structurally sound and they point out all deferred maintenance. Typical red flags include water, pests, fire risk and hazardous materials.
Water is one of the most damaging natural elements to our home. Inspectors look for wood rot, stains on the inside of the roof, stains on the ceilings, cracks in the foundations that are over half an inch wide, and water in the basement. Water leaves a mark, especially with our hard water, so they can tell if the water has been present, and obviously, if the water is still there. Dead giveaways are a musty smell, mold and mildew. Inspectors also flag leaking pipes, so check all the faucets and pipes throughout the home.
Pests are a huge and big turn off for buyers. Oftentimes, you don’t even notice it, because it doesn’t become evident until you start moving stuff you rarely use. So, thoroughly review your basement and attic, and your house sills for debris left behind by mice, bats, bees, wasps, carpenter ants and termites. Most of these pests hide in the dark and damp places within your home, so take time and really look for them. From a buyer’s perspective, they oftentimes think the home has not been well maintained, which is not necessarily true, and when agents try to say well every house has these types of issues, the buyers don’t trust the agent and thinks they just want the sale to go through, so, get these critters out before a home inspection.
Let’s touch on electricity. Every outlet and light switch will be tested during an inspection, so do these tests yourself prior to placing the house on the market. Start by replacing burned out light bulbs, and make sure every outlet is grounded. They sell these testers at all the local home stores, and it’s really very simple. Now, sometimes there’s a switch that controls the plug, and sometimes there’s two switches, so put a sticky note on the light switch if this is the case, so the inspector and the buyer know how to activate the electricity in the room. Have your electrician check the wiring and ensure the breakers are up to code. Codes have changed and so you want to make sure that you have the right gauge wire feeding into the right breaker. This will alleviate any potential fire safety issues.
The home inspector will mention that there are certain home materials that have hazardous materials in them, and the only way to know is to test for them. These materials include asbestos, formaldehyde, lead, radon and oil. Asbestos was most commonly used in exterior home siding, insulation that was wrapped around pipes, blown-in insulation and flooring tiles. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation was also used for insulation, however, newer forms of foam insulation are not hazardous.
Lead was commonly used in paint until it was banned in 1978, but here in Massachusetts, much of the housing stock was built prior to ’78, so this is a very common issue.
Radon is a natural occurring element that is found in water and in the air, and the only way to know if a property has radon is to test for it. One house can have high levels, and the house right next door does not.
Common practice years ago was to bury oil tanks and over time, the oil tanks rust and leak oil, and the oil can leak into the ground and contaminate the water shed, so, when the oil tanks are discovered, they need to be removed.
It’s a lot of work to make your house more attractive to buyers, and I have lots of checklists that make the process easier. Reach out to me and we can get started, as the best time to sell your home is when you’re ready and together we will make your house more attractive to buyers in Newburyport, MA.