1) NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS UPGRADING: Door hinges, vent covers, cabinet knobs and light fixtures are good places to spend because they’re small fixes that make a big difference in appearance. Think about other small, easy upgrades you can make. Focus on above-grade improvements over below-grade. Finishing that basement won’t make a difference. If you’re not sure about where to put your money, stick to kitchens and bathrooms. Check with me first to find out exactly what to do in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Also, don’t hide your house behind those ugly bushes. If the lawn is brown, think of drought tolerant landscaping. Give your home a fresh coat of paint. Seal the driveway. Make a good first impression because you’ll never sell your home if you can’t get a buyer through the front door.
2) HOME STAGING COUNTS: If you can't declutter, it might be better to move out. Really. It’s difficult to imagine yourself in a home made up for someone else. It might be your ideal style, but it probably isn’t anywhere close to the buyer’s taste.
Focus on keeping the staging as clean and simple as possible. If it’s going to be difficult keeping things cleaned up, move out. Clutter and mess won’t sell your home.
3) APPRAISALS ARE STILL A CHALLENGE: Prices are still going up faster than appraisals. If you think you can haggle with the appraiser, you’re in for a surprise. But your agent might be able to provide the data the appraiser needs if he/she is on it and does their homework.
No matter what you do, you might not get the valuation you’re looking for. The appraiser won’t budge from his or her final assessment and risk losing his or her license for being anything but impartial. Do what you can to increase the value of your home, but don’t get hung up on it. Just remember, the number the appraiser gives you won’t be the one you were hoping for.
4) HOME INSPECTIONS: I'm a big fan of getting your own home inspection as soon as possible. Take care of problems now. Don’t wait. You’ll thank yourself later. Are you worried about the cost of the inspection? Every home has problems. They’ll almost certainly find something worth the cost of looking, saving you time, money and stress. In any case you will be far better off dealing with things up front rather than later on. Home inspections can kill deals and then you are back on the market.
5) PRICE YOUR HOME TO SELL: The data is fairly conclusive that properties that are presented well and priced to sell get multiple offers and are in escrow rather quickly. In fact, in some neighborhoods 70% of the homes that go into escrow the first 15 days sell for over the asking price with multiple offers. First 30 days it could be still be over 50%. There is also a ton of evidence that the longer the listing is on the market the more likely it sells for a discount to the original list price.
6) YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS, VIDEOS AND EVEN A 3D TOUR: Web appeal is the new curb appeal. I'm still shocked at the number of unprofessional photos that show up online. Even though your iPhone may take a better shot than digital cameras of ten years ago you are not a professional photographer.
7) OPEN HOUSES ARE A SALES TOOL: This is a change from previous markets. You want to get as many people in as possible and create a sales environment. There is no better way to get a bidding war going then to see other buyers vying for the same listing at the open houses.