Photo By: Above Photo Courtesy of Minkin Development bottom photos courtesy of Clarum Homes
Staging a house such as the Los Altos residence on Cuesta Drive, above, can help potential buyers envision the possibilities of the space without the personal clutter. Talented stagers can open up a home and make it feel inviting.
There is a secret to selling your home quickly and for top dollar. That secret has nothing to do with the house itself and everything to do with your mindset.
Yes, it is all about the position you take. The best thing you can do to encourage a quick sale for a good price is to turn the switch in your head from “This is my house” to “This is their house.” Without a doubt, this will be the hardest thing you do once you decide to sell your home, particularly if you have lived there for a while, but once you decide to let go, amazing things can happen.
Determining a price
Let’s start with the biggie, setting the price. When you think about all you have put into your home – blood, sweat, tears and dollars – there is a tendency to add it up to determine what you think the price should be. Fight that urge and the voice in your head that says you should price it at a certain amount because it will help pay for retirement or purchase the next house.
The price your home will sell for is simply what the buyer will pay. The buyer has no concern with what you plan to do with the proceeds. Put the right dollar amount on your listing and you should generate a great deal of interest and tempt several qualified buyers.
Select an amount that is too high and you will enter the zone of what I call the “Polluted Listing” – the house that sits for months and months, maybe a year or more, until one potential buyer saunters in with a lowball offer because the house has been sitting around so long they think there must be something wrong with it. (This is not the case for high-end luxury homes. Sometimes the pool of buyers is so limited for homes $20 million and above, it takes time for the right buyer to appear.)
How does one arrive at the correct price? It is really an educated guess based on data from successful home sales in your neighborhood, then adding and subtracting what you have or don’t have compared with the recently sold properties. This is called a “comp,” short for “comparable.” Banks and other lenders rely heavily on such data to underwrite loans. A comp analysis is also what a professional realtor provides for your review as a basis for establishing an asking price.
Selecting a realtor
Should you list your home with a professional realtor? Yes. There are many reasons why the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route could prove penny wise and pound foolish. For example, you still have to pay for marketing – and probably a lot more of it. Realtors with buyers in hand tend to shy away from FSBOs because they can be much harder to negotiate. Additionally, an FSBO may make costly mistakes that a professional would have caught. A realtor will handle the contract and his or her broker assumes some liability on the realtor’s behalf. This provides more protection for the seller than hiring an attorney who will only write up the sales contract.
Staging the home
Do you think staging matters? If you concur with the advice to switch from the “my house’” to “their house” mentality, it matters a lot.
While you might be in love with every decorative detail – that sublime teal paint on the walls in your guest room, that awesome collection of dancing frogs you inherited from your favorite aunt – these are all nonstarters for a potential buyer.
Most people have too much stuff and too much clutter for a buyer to imagine themselves living in the home. Most buyers have little imagination, so they either can’t or don’t want to see past the things that do not appeal to them. We have all seen the potential homebuyer on TV lamenting the color of the walls. Really? They won’t buy a house for that reason? It happens.
While professional stagers may be able to work with some of your pieces, the best results occur when stagers are left to their own devices to work magic with art and furniture. They can showcase and open up the home so that it appears at its most inviting. Yes, there will be new nail holes from hanging art, but those can be touched up after the house is sold.
Heightening curb appeal
Curb appeal cannot be overstated. As with the first impression when one walks through the front door, walking and/or driving up to an attractive, well-kept exterior and landscaping is the first step in capturing the buyer’s imagination.
Simple is good, as is balance. The landscape should be proportional and neat – no out-of-control hedges or weeds, which are a big turnoff. The front door should feel substantial and secure. Colorful plants in nice pots or in the ground along the walkway set a cheerful and welcoming atmosphere. Porches, patios and balconies should have places to sit and relax. Sell a lifestyle before the buyer walks inside and you will be one step closer to a sale.
By surrendering the “My house” mindset and embracing the “This could be your house” attitude, not only might you sell your home more quickly, but also possibly for more money than you originally thought.
Sherry Scott is an interior designer, stager and 30-year resident of Silicon Valley. For more information, call 207-6871 or visit www.modernstaginggroup.com.