We’ve heard it all winter, on the news, on social media, from our “knowledgeable” uncle, that this year the real estate market in Edmonton is a buyer’s market. Well, if you’re a buyer this year then lovely, but if you’re trying to sell your home then how can you increase your chances of making your home stand out so that buyers are clamoring to put in offers rather than tossing you that dreaded low-ball?
Firstly, and possibly most importantly, having a clean home is of utmost importance. It is probably the most cost-effective way to make your home appealing to buyers. Now we aren’t talking about the kind of cleaning one does to prepare for the in-laws. We’re talking the what’s-this-gunk-behind-my-fridge kind of a cleaning, and it extends to everycorner of your home. Smell clean, look clean. Is this a mandatory activity when listing your home? Nope. You could easily throw a party today and then put your home on the market tomorrow and no one would say a word. Literally. As far as offers go, you’d hear crickets. And that’s the point we’re trying to address. In a buyer’s market, having the cleanest home you can manage is just one inexpensive way to stand out from the crowd.
Secondly, you’ll want to declutter. This means putting away sentimental nick-nacks and family photos, pairing down the coats and shoes at the entryway, and other stuff we become blind to as we move through our day. Do you have a decorative bowl filled with miscellaneous stuff? Things like that should get cleared out. And don’t underestimate the buyer’s need to open the doors you close. Do you have a jam-packed linen closet? You might want to consider packing the excess away so that when the buyer looks inside they aren’t buried beneath an avalanche of towels and sheets. What about your designated storage areas? Are they well organized or packed so tight that the buyer has no concept of how big the storage space truly is? If you have a family member who doesn’t mind you taking up some space in their garage until you sell, that might be something to consider. Otherwise, consider it an opportunity to Marie-Kondo the heck out of your storage areas. Open up some of those boxes and ask yourself: why am I saving this? If you don’t come up with a great answer, chuck it. You’ll thank yourself when you get to your next home without having to lug boxes of unknown-contents along with you.
Thirdly, you should consider doing some minor spruce-up repair to your home. After all, you’ve lived there for a while now, and, like most of us, you’ve probably had some mishaps or just moved into a place with a dated wall colour or light fixture and made plans to change it that never panned out. Well, now’s the time. Chances are, if you moved in thinking something needed updating, the prospective buyers will too. And, if you’re looking to get the best possible price for your home in a buyer’s market, you’ll want to reduce opportunities for buyers to think “how much is this repair going to cost me?” Because whatever they come up with is what they’ll take out of their offer on your home. Little nicks in the wall should be patched up and painted over, if possible. Dark rooms with little natural light should be painted a light colour. And, speaking of paint, if you painted your child’s room bright pink or blue when you moved in, this would be a good time to change it. Instead of tears, you can make it a fun activity by letting the kids draw on the walls before painting over it, or, if they’re old enough, by letting them help! If you’ve got a light fixture from 1997 in your master bedroom, you should head down to home depot and find something more current. And if you’ve got a totally outdated cabinet-situation happening in your kitchen, you might want to look into whether a nice stain and some attractive handles might spruce them up. These are just little things, but they go a long way towards helping the buyer to see the best in your home, rather than adding them to a mental list of all the things that need doing.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider your staging. This can mean bringing furniture into a vacant property, or just taking a long, hard look at the furniture you currently have. If the property is vacant, there are many companies out there that do it all, from renting out the furniture to bringing it over and setting it up. And these staging companies aren’t just for vacant homes. They can even come in for a consultation, help arrange your own furniture to best suit your space, or even bring items to help decorate. Alternatively, if you have a family friend with a critical eye, it can be helpful to bring them in to look at the space. Maybe they’ve been dying to tell you that the velvet print of the dogs playing poker is hideous. Well, now’s their chance! If you don’t know anyone who’s itching to critique your decorating style (lucky you) then there are a few things to keep in mind as you scan your rooms. Start with Furniture. If your furniture is huge, your rooms will look small, and small rooms are not a selling feature. For example, if potential buyers have to shuffle sideways to get past your huge leather ottoman or stub their toe on that desk that sticks out of the corner then you might want to consider parting with them or putting them in storage until you move. The flow of your rooms is important. If there is large overhanging furniture cutting off one room from another, or blocking a beautiful window, how can a perspective buyer possibly get a feel for those finer qualities of your home? Having a good colour scheme with wide appeal is also important. Make sure your décor works with the space and there is nothing overly eye-catching lying about, like a nude sculpture or something. Furniture that functions as storage is also great because it helps keep you organized and your surfaces free from clutter. A well staged home gives the buyer a great idea of your home’s potential, and, since this is not the only home that buyer will be viewing, it is important to maximize the impression you’re leaving with them.
Most importantly, don’t underestimate the value of your realtor. They are a wonderful resource to ask advice from about what kind of TLC your home might need because they share your goal to get the best possible price for your home, and are able to anticipate what a buyer will say when walking into a home because they’ve shown so many to so many people. The comments buyers make are so similar, because we all want something clean and well-maintained with the potential to look nice. So utilize the expertise available to you! Your realtor should have access to different reputable companies and years of experience marketing and showing homes. A good realtor will also have a marketing plan that extends past just telling you they’ll sell the house for the price you want to hear. They should have access to the latest marketing strategies and a great photographer who can accentuate all the great pre-work you’ve done on the home.
As always, if you have any questions or would like a consultation on where to get started before you list your home, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I would be happy to set up a meeting.