You have made the decision that it is time to move, you have interviewed Realtors and found someone you trust and have faith in, the house is going on the market, now comes one of your most important jobs, making the most of each and every showing that happens. There are a few simple things you can do.
Of course before you listed your home for sale you already did a thorough job of cleaning and making repairs. Here at the blotter we have discussed this at length in previous posts, but in a nutshell, dirt will cost you dearly. No one wants to buy someone else’s grime. Scrub fixtures, clean the roof and the windows. If it is broken, fix it. If you have neither time nor resources to fix things, price your house accordingly. At the right price a buyer will both repair and clean, but it will be a price less than you would otherwise obtain if these were not issues.
So this narrative assumes the house is both clean and repaired. Your house is on the market and your phone is starting to ring, now what?
Turn on all of the lights and open all of the curtains
People associate light with happiness. Especially as our days grown shorter, light is even more important. It is much easier for homes to look beautiful in June than it is in November. Turn on lights even during the day.
Replace your LED lights that have to warm up to be at full brightness. If you have multiple showings, there is a good chance that someone coming through early will turn off lights as they leave. You can put out a note to ask them not to. Just leave it on the kitchen counter. But I also recommend that when you have your house for sale, you need light bulbs that come on at full brightness the minute the switch is flipped.
Open all of the drapes and blinds to let in as much light as possible. If you have a bad view out of a window (I’m thinking neighbor’s garbage cans on the side yard), think about installing blinds that open partially. They can be opened, but not all of the way, to maximize light and also obscure issues you have no control over.
Make is easy for Realtors to show the house
The easiest showing instructions are “call first, use lockbox”. This means a Realtor can call or text you at a designated phone number, leave a message, and then go and show the house. Many homeowners want advanced notice, as much as 24 hours, or want selective showing hours, or want specific appointments where the Realtor must speak directly with the home owner and confirm the appointment time. I recognize that in some circumstances this is necessary and most Realtors will accommodate this, including me. But think about it. Put yourself in the shoes of the Realtor who may want to show your house. They have a list of 15 possible houses to show. They know realistically they can comfortably do 10-12 without everyone becoming too tired. So they go through the list. If a house is complicated to get into, they will forgo it to show a house that is move convenient. So making it hard to show your house will lower the number of showings that you will get.
Leave the house for the showing!
Never, never, never be at home when possible buyers come through. This includes sitting in your car across the street and watching them. When you are home, or obviously in the area, you are putting a big stamp on the property “This is my house!”. Potential buyers will feel cautious about looking around. They will see you in every room, even if you are in the back yard. It is awkward, awkward, awkward. This actually happened to me.
My Mom and I were both Realtors here in Lake Oswego in 1998. I was wanting to move from Sellwood to LO to get my kids into Lake Oswego schools. My Mom went on Realtors tour and came back to the office and told me she had seen the perfect house for me. On her insistence I called the home owner and went to see it. The guy who owned the house was home. He followed me through every room, even going so far as to say things like “this is the kitchen”. I came back to the office and told my Mom that I didn’t like the house. She was floored and insisted it was perfect. I told her about my experience and she suggested I go and see it again and politely ask the home owner to leave. I did. This time I went through the house and was able to see that it had everything I was looking for. When I walked through the yard I could see my kids playing there and my family barbecuing on the big patio. She was right, it was my house. We have lived in it for nearly 20 years. Good thing my Mom had the good sense to get me to make the owner leave!
I know I said never, but there are occasional exceptions to this. Particularly with elderly people or people with disabilities. If it is absolutely necessary for a home owner to be at home, so be it. Realtors are people too. We will work with you and make the best of the situation. Just realize that it can compromise both the number of showings that you get and the quality of the showings.
This advice is relevant no matter the time of year, but when the market slows down, like during the holidays and during a buyer’s market, it is particularly important. I hope you find it helpful. Don’t hesitate to call Linda, Whitney, or myself if you have any questions.