How to present your property for sale and save thousands
When it comes to presenting your property for inspection, simple touches, like putting the toilet seat down, could net you thousands of dollars. Seriously.
This is going to sound counterintuitive, but many people, in fact most, go through an open house looking for reasons not to buy. You read that right. They’re looking for ‘the one’. A place could tick the normal boxes of price, features, location and so on, but they don’t want to make a huge financial and emotional investment only to be unhappy down the track. This means that managing perception is vital. It’s a bit like online dating. So, let’s treat selling your home like trying to land a date because that’s going to get you the best return.
First impressions count
A buyer, or potential date, needs to be wowed, right from the start. Imagine Tinder (or whatever app takes your fancy) and there’s no photo of the person’s face. Keep swiping, move along, nothing doing here. It’s the same with listing your house. A good set of photos removes any doubt and suspicion in the buyer’s mind.
Get cleaned up
They’ve swiped, made contact, now it’s inspection time, so to speak. Your home might be reasonably presentable, but if you’re going on a date, are you aiming at reasonably presentable, or are you going to get a haircut, new shirt, make sure your jeans don’t have any stains and find a pair of decent shoes.
With your home, what would a person see if they pulled up out front? Take a step back and look at your property as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Is the grass mown? Is the garden neat and tidy, the garden hose rolled up, are cars parked where they should be? This matters. Tidy up. You don’t want people to take one look and drive off without getting out of the car.
Inside, clean the place top to bottom. Do the dishes. Pack away tools, toys and any other odds and ends you might normally like to have at arm’s reach. Spend the money to get any obvious stains removed from the carpet. Wash the blinds or curtains, scrub the shower and toilet like you’ve never scrubbed it before. And please, put the toilet seat down, people really do notice. If that sounds too big a job, consider hiring a professional cleaner, it will be worth it.
A note on renovations: Unless you’re going to get at least a $1 return on every $1 spent, don’t bother with major works. Don’t renovate the kitchen or bathroom, it won’t dramatically impact market appeal. Clean, neat, and tidy. That’s what we’re aiming for.
Look good, smell good
Now you’re looking pretty sharp ahead of date night. Before you head out the door, you’re likely going to throw on a dab of cologne or perfume. Your property needs to positively engage all the senses to make an emotional connection. Consider putting bread in the oven and having fresh coffee on, these are homely and inviting smells that evoke pleasant responses.
The bathroom and toilet need air fresheners, and if you have a gym or a rumpus room, air it out for a good few hours. The same goes for any places where pets do their business, or even just spend most of their time. Cat pee? Wet dog? No thanks.
Set the mood
Clothes, hair, makeup, smell check. You got this, you irresistible thing. Now for the icing on the cake, set the mood. We’re talking lighting, music, and temperature. You’re trying to make a good impression here. Start with ambient music at a low volume to create a bit of atmosphere. Ok, so no one actually likes ambient music, but it’s safe, won’t offend anyone, and sets a mood without being intrusive.
When it comes to lighting, think about the room, how it’s used, and how people should feel. Pull the curtains back to let the sun into rooms where people eat and relax. Turn on the lamps to create a warm and cosy atmosphere in areas that have a bit more privacy, such as a study or reading nook. The last thing you want is for people to be blinded by bright light or tripping over in the dark. Think about the room, how a person should feel, and adjust the lighting accordingly.
Did we say natural light? We did. Good. Once more for emphasis. You might find the afternoon sun on the TV annoying but pull back those blinds and let the natural light fill the home. In winter, any fireplaces or reverse cycle air conditioners should be lit or running well before people show up. In summer, keep the place as cool as possible and when it’s inspection time, open up the windows to let any natural breeds flow through. Comfort is key.
Rather than a person walking in, tripping over the doorstep, being met with the pungent aroma of wet dog, dampness or worse, multiple cats and their litter trays, and stumbling around in the dark, they’re entering a neat and tidy home with warm natural light. The only obvious smell is that of coffee or bread. There’s soft, ambient music playing, and the agent greets you with a warm, friendly smile. The buyer feels at home, and you’ve removed all barriers that would have them turn heel and leave.
I said at the start these small touches could save you thousands. That’s because your home, thanks to your spruce up, now has more appeal, and more appeal means more interest, and more interest means prospective buyers are not only interested, they’re likely jumping in with serious offers because they know this place won’t last long.
Should I call you tomorrow?
Some of what we’ve mentioned here might seem trivial, but in selling hundreds of houses, I can almost predict how the sale is going to go down based on the expression or reaction a potential buyer makes when they walk through the door. If you’re thinking that a hot market will still fetch a good price, maybe. But the combination of all those little touches is a winning combination and allows the agent to get to work selling the features and benefits of the home.
In the course of selling those hundreds of houses, I have seen time and again, where something as simple as a place not smelling nice has meant at least one potential buyer has walked out and that could have easily lost them $10,000 in net proceeds for your typical family home. We’d all put the toilet seat down for $10,000, right?
Nothing excites me more than hearing the phrase, “it can’t be done”. To outsiders, selling real estate can look like a straightforward business, but there are numerous challenges and pitfalls that always make it interesting. But I love a challenge. I love working with people and helping solve problems. I’m the sort of person who takes on a sale that others have put in the too-hard basket. What I get out of it is the satisfaction that I’ve helped someone with a major moment in their lives, passing on my knowledge and experience gained from 23 years in the industry to help clients achieve their property goals.