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Show Your House Or Condominium Like A Pro And Get It Sold

Feb 10, 2008
In order to be successful in today's sluggish real estate market, a seller should put every effort into showing off the property's good points and minimizing its' flaws. Whether you handle the listing and sale yourself or enlist the services of a competent real estate agent, careful planning and preparation is essential.

A facelift will make your house or condominium more marketable. Take stock of what items need repair or refurbishing and address as many as can fit into your budget, but do not go beyond your expected net gain on the sale.

Things like repairing torn screens, broken or cracked windows, leaky faucets, sticking doors, loose floorboards, and making sure all the appliances work are quick improvements. Fresh paint, in soft or neutral colors, inside and out can make a huge difference. A well kept home helps to reduce investor low-ball offers.

Immediate buyer turn-offs include: strong pet odors, cat boxes (especially dirty ones!), stale cigarette smoke, lingering food odors, piles of dirty laundry, rug stains, grimy walls or trim, smelly bathrooms, mold or mildew, and swimming pools that haven't been cleaned.

Things that can distract buyers are family photos and mementos, antiques, collections, and even your accumulation of notes and magnets on the refrigerator. By clearing these away, the buyer can begin to see themselves and their own possessions in the house and hopefully be thinking of making a purchase offer.

Don't forget the outside appearance. Too many sales are lost before they begin when a prospective buyer drives up to a house and sees a cluttered, overgrown yard, leaking or missing gutters, untrimmed bushes, weeds, rusty toys, discarded tires, etc. It's enough to make a person keep right on driving.

Most buyers will ask about the age of the roof, furnace, air conditioning, water heater, pool pump and filter, etc. have this information available. They may also ask what the annual property taxes and average electric bills amount to.

Be safety conscious! It's wise to have at least two people help in the showing of your house. You should not allow potential buyers to look around unaccompanied and of course, all children should be kept under a watchful eye. Keep your cell phone or cordless phone handy. Refuse to show your house after dark.

Turn on all the lights before buyers arrive, including garage, basement, hall lights and ceiling fans. Open window blinds and draw curtains back---unless the view outside is objectionable.

Before showing, remove the following items from sight or lock in a secure cabinet: prescription medications, guns, ammunition, other weapons, pocketbooks, checkbooks, bank statements, credit cards, passports, loose change, jewelry, expensive or breakable items, expensive collections, small safes.

Animals can be a hindrance when showing your house. Barking or aggressive dogs can stop buyers from coming inside. Don't take the chance a pet will be let out by mistake or a cornered cat will scratch a child. Take animals off site when showing, if at all possible.

Closing animals in a room, or any locked room for that matter that is off limits to buyers, is not going to help sell the house. It only causes concern that the owner may have something to hide.

Put pet dishes, toys, beds, and cat boxes out of sight and vacuum any lingering cat or dog hair. If you have birds or fish, make sure the cages and tanks are scrupulously clean. If there is a strong pet odor, even after cleaning, lightly spray the room with a deodorizer and open nearby windows if it's mild weather.

Babies and small children may require special attention while you're trying to show your house, so perhaps a friend or family member could be on hand to care for them or take them off site for a few hours.

Older children should be advised to refer any buyer questions to you and not get into any long conversations with the visitors. They should also not play with any children of prospective buyers while showing the house.

Is an Open House worth doing? It can be, under the right conditions. Don't schedule an open house if bad weather is predicted. Major holidays and the day before or after can also be counter-productive. You might even want to reconsider the date if there is a big sporting event on the same day! Sunday afternoons from 1-4 o'clock p.m. Is a popular time, but Saturday may also bring out eager buyers.

These will help create a welcoming atmosphere; fresh flower arrangements (not artificial!), fresh baked cookies or smell of cinnamon, windows washed until they sparkle, a clean and organized garage, and soft music playing in the background. Supply a Visitor Sign In Sheet and include space to write their phone number.

Our advice is to choose a competent real estate sales agent who will conduct your open house for you as part of your listing agreement, freeing you and your family up for other activities. By not being present, it allows potential buyers to feel relaxed, take more time to look around, and ask questions of your agent.

If you live in a condominium should the same care in preparations be taken? Absolutely! With other units in the building, any selling competition is that much easier for the buyer to check out and you'll want your home to be the one that impresses the most. However, there may be certain restrictions on posting signs, visitor parking, etc. so check your rules and regulations or contact an association board member for details prior to showing.

Copyright (C) 2008 by Susan Bicksler, all rights reserved.
About the Author
As a professional real estate sales associate, property investor, and past condominium association president, Susan Bicksler gained experience and insight into the world of sellers and buyers. For tips and the inside scoop visit Condo Info Live today for a special offer.
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