Preparing your Home for Sale

…is a very important step to get the highest possible price in the shortest possible time! Because the way you LIVE in a home is not the same way you “stage” your home when marketing it to the public. Would you try to sell an automobile that was filled with trash, children’s toys, and needed a wax job? Certainly not, and you need to be critically aware of how prospective buyers will look at your home.

If you retain Bill as your REALTOR®, he will be making very specific recommendations about what you can do to enhance the marketability of your Tulsa home.

Bill will provide a detailed analysis of what is needed

  • In the way of cleaning and minor repairs
  • To help you provide that lasting first impression
  • To economically improve the exterior and landscaping
  • To produce an exciting interior decor by proper “staging”
  • To properly LIGHT the home for maximum effect

Redfin asked for Staging Tips and Bill Leighty Answered

Redfin asked us for a home staging tip. Check out #7 in the article we were featured in: 10 Home Staging Tips for Sellers | Redfin then review the rest of Bill’s recommendations on how best to stage your home for sale.  

Hints to help enhance your home’s marketability.  These recommendations will be based upon years of practical experience, a full knowledge of what most influences buyer’s decisions and what the competition is offering. These subtle but important efforts can pay off handsomely for you!

The Home Enhancement Formula

Show and Sell. It is all about maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives. If you have dead limbs or shrubs, remove them. If you have wonderful views… make sure you can see them. Accentuate that which attracts and hide (not cover-up) which distracts.

One of the most frequent objections heard by Tulsa real estate agents is probably “the house seemed so dark.” You must do everything, we say again, EVERYTHING possible to show your property under the most favorable lighting conditions.

Try to achieve a light, fresh and airy appearance; particularly if you have dark walls, woodwork, floors or carpeting. Open every blind and drape in every room. Try to get as much natural light into the house as possible.

Utilize interior lighting to the extent possible. Cozy lamp light and other indirect incandescent lighting is preferred over ceiling and or florescent lighting. Keep window coverings open and key lights on even when you are away. You never get a second chance for a good first impression and if a prospective Buyer is following along as you or a REALTOR is opening blinds and turning on lights, you have lost the opportunity AND the initiative.

Delightful aromas add to the ambiance

Scented candles or potpourri and the aroma of freshly baked bread or cookies welcome a prospective Buyer. But don’t get too carried away because you don’t want to give off the impression you are attempting to hide pet, tobacco, cooking or other unpleasant odors. To the extent possible you need to extinguish these odors rather than mask them with artificial fresheners.

Many real estate professionals have a difficult time communicating with sellers about household odors. Please don’t take offense if someone must discuss these matters with you, it’s for your own good.

What about Pets?

At the very least you should confine your pets. In fact, if at all possible remove animals from the property when showing. If you price and stage your home properly it should sell relatively fast in today’s market. So, consider sending “Fido” to a friend or relatives while your home is For Sale, if that is an option.

Landscaping and Curb Appeal

The exterior appearance of a home is more important to some buyers than others. Suffice to say, however, that many buyers will overlook a multitude of interior deficiencies if a house has an outstanding exterior appearance and curb appeal. Small investments in landscaping almost always provide a generous return on investment.

Make certain that trees are trimmed so that the house can be seen from the street. Remove mildew or moss from walls or sidewalks with bleach and water or a commercial cleaner. Rid the driveway of stains with kitty litter or a chemical solvent. Pick up all pet droppings. In a prospective buyer’s mind, the front yard immediately reflects the inside condition of your house. The first impression is absolutely critical.

Are Major Improvements Needed?

Buyers want an up-to-date, well-coordinated decor. Neutral-colored carpet, walls and window coverings are always a safe bet. Paint makes the whole house smell clean and fresh. If your house has chips, exposed wood, or looks faded, it is time to paint.

If your carpet is worn, dirty, or outdated, you may need to seriously consider replacing it. Many houses do not sell because of this problem. Don’t think that buyers have more money than you have to replace it. They don’t. They simply buy elsewhere.

If funding improvements is a problem, then consider a second mortgage or some form of financing. It will mean more dollars in your pocket at closing if you don’t have to discount the price for paint & carpet and your home will sell faster. Corporate sellers learned years ago that paint and carpet is almost a must to achieve full value for a property. And if you plan any major expenditures for new carpet or paint, consider letting us consult with you before choosing colors, etc.

Clean, Clean, Clean

Nothing detracts more from a house’s value than dirt, clutter or an unkempt appearance. These distractions often prevent prospects from fully appreciating positive features. The value of much needed storage space is vastly under rated and often neglected. Don’t forget the closets, attic, garage and / or basement and other storage areas.

A neat, well-arranged look creates an impression of spaciousness and gives Buyers confidence that a property has been well cared for.   Consider a garage sale (or donations) to get rid of unused or unwanted items. Haul off debris and junk. Try to create as much floor space as possible. Remove any unneeded furniture, equipment or clutter.

Consider removing family photos and / or other items of a personal nature so that prospective Buyers may more clearly begin to imagine their things in the house rather than yours. If your house is squeaky clean, you will be able to sell it faster, and net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more.

Make Minor Repairs Now

Since most sale contracts require that electrical, mechanical and plumbing items be in normal working order at closing, it is generally best to do the repairs immediately. Un-repaired items are red flags to prospective buyers. Most of us worry about what we see and then we become concerned about what we cannot see.

Good Advice for Sellers

In conclusion we think it’s safe to say that having a home (particularly an occupied home) on the market is not one of life’s most pleasant experiences. The key to minimizing this inconvenience is to sell the house as fast as possible. The homes that sell quickest are those that are reasonably priced, clean, well-maintained and have an up-to-date decor.

Checklists to Help You Plan Needed Projects

The checklist below is provided to help you think of things you can do to enhance the marketability of your home. Do not be over-whelmed by it as nobody expects everything will be done. Just be advised that these are some of the things prospective Buyers will be looking at.

Yard and Landscape Checklist

  • Lawn fertilized, mowed & edged
  • Landscaping updated
  • Plants & trees pruned
  • Dead shrubs removed / replaced
  • Clutter & debris removed
  • Fence repaired
  • Pool, spa, lawn furniture cleaned & repaired

Home Exterior Checklist

  • Spruce up front door, entry & welcome mat
  • Tools & equipment stored and out of sight
  • Doorbell working
  • Potted plants on steps
  • Polish brass & hardware
  • Replace old house numbers
  • Windows washed (inside and out)!  Very important
  • Repair damaged glass & screens
  • Repair storm windows & doors
  • Secure loose guttering / downspouts
  • Repair garage door
  • Repair leaking faucets
  • Remove standing water / yard or paved surfaces

Bathroom Checklist

  • Remove personal items & drugs
  • Leaky faucets repaired
  • Hardware polished
  • Tub & tile caulked or re-grouted if needed
  • Broken or missing tiles replaced
  • Guest towels out
  • Vanities cleared of clutter
  • Replace worn shower curtains and Rugs

Interior Checklist

  • Carpets cleaned or replaced
  • All hardware in working order
  • Replace bad outlets and switch plates
  • Windows & mirrors cleaned
  • Lamps & lighting working
  • Plants healthy & cared for
  • Shades / drapes / blinds working
  • Remove or hide guns or other weapons

Kitchen Checklist

  • Repair leaky faucets
  • Clean everything thoroughly
  • Appliances cleaned & working
  • Counter Tops cleared of clutter
  • Cabinets cleaned & organized
  • Missing knobs / handles replaced
  • Stuck door / drawers repaired

Living Areas and Bedroom Checklist

  • Closets neat & organized
  • Excess furniture / clutter removed
  • Show Maximum floor space
  • Consider new bedspreads

Garages, Attics & Basements Checklist

  • Storage neatly arranged
  • Excess storage / clutter removed
  • Floors swept & cleared
  • Tools neatly arranged
  • Drains cleared
  • Musty odors removed
  • Handrails secure, cobwebs removed

Final Checklist Before Showings

  • Open drapes and blinds, turn on the lights
  • Freshen the air, make the beds
  • Carpet vacuumed, Floors mopped
  • Sinks and counters cleared, laundry put away
  • Trash emptied, TV’s & Radios turned off
  • Garage door closed

Some Do’s and Don’ts to Consider

Do try to maintain your home in immaculate condition.

Do NOT allow any prospects into your home without a REALTOR. Ask them to make an appointment through the listing agent.

Do try to cooperate with REALTORS who want to make appointments to show your house. Try to be flexible. Last minute appointments result in quick offers from busy prospects more often than from buyers who appear to have all the time in the world.

Do NOT get drawn into a discussion with prospects or any other REALTORS about the listing price or terms of sale. Refer them to your real estate professional.

Do try to vacate the property during all showings. Prospective buyers do not feel comfortable making comments in the presence of sellers. REALTORS need feedback to uncover and overcome potential objections.

Do NOT apologize for the appearance or condition of your house. REALTORS are trained to handle and overcome objections.

Do store prescription medications, jewelry and other valuables out of sight.

Do NOT attempt to discuss the sale of any personal property until after the Contract for Sale of Real Estate has been fully negotiated.

Do try to freshen and add warmth to your home’s atmosphere. Consider the use of fresh-cut flowers in several rooms.

Do confine or remove pets during showings. Many prospective buyers are either afraid or allergic to them.