People buy what they see. That's why used car dealers spend a
time and money detailing their cars before putting them on the lot. The
detailing process doesn't make the car run like new, it just makes it
look like new. Selling real estate is no different. A house that looks
like new is assumed to be like new. A clean house is assumed to be a
Repair and Maintenance
Most buyers don't have a lot of extra money to put into their
house, so they want one that is move in ready. Those that do have the
money to put into renovations and are willing to buy a house that needs
work will expect to buy it at a discount. The bottom line for the
seller is that whether or not they spend the money to fix up the house
it doesn't change the fact that the money is lost. It will be lost
either in a lower sales price or to the cost of repairs. The key is
whether the repairs can be done for less than what the buyer perceives
the cost to be and thus bring a return on the money spent for repairs
through a higher purchase price. We help our sellers by assessing the
cost vs. return differential to determine whether it is better to make
the repair or lower the sales price. Our access to contractor discounts
on materials and labor help our sellers save money on repairs.
The most influential repairs as far as buyer perception is paint and
flooring. In most cases new flooring and paint, when needed, are money
makers for sellers. Buyers perceive these areas as being more expensive
than they really are. For instance, when buyers think of the cost to
replace carpet they look at the cost of a medium to high grade carpet.
Sellers can replace worn carpet with a low to medium grade that has the
look and feel of a more expensive carpet. Besides, the seller has
access to contractor pricing while the buyer usually does not. Many
other cosmetic repairs can be made with little monetary cost and a
small investment of time. We can advise you on what to do and how to do
it. Below is a list of repair and maintenance items that cost little to
do, but make a big impression on buyers.
- Trim the landscaping and keep the yard
- Plant grass in the bare spots.
- Add mulch or landscaping rocks
as needed to
keep the landscaping
- Plant flowers as needed.
- Over water the lawn if it is not
condition. Watering the
lawn twice a day for two weeks will usually turn a brown yard green.
- If the house is dirty, wash it.
Avoid using a
power washer if the
paint is old and do not powerwash the trim. A car wash brush attached
to a garden hose does a nice job.
- Touch up any trim that has minor
- If the paint is bad, paint the
house. Use a
that is currently in style to make the house look updated.
- Keep the concrete clean. Use a
cleaner if needed
to remove grease.
- Decks should be clean and if
stained have a
fresh coat of stain on it.
- Make sure the house has nice
curb appeal and
the exterior sends a
message to the buyer that your home is well cared for.
- Make sure floor coverings are
clean and in good
- Walls can be cleaned with TSP.
to remove dirt,
smudges, and marks.
Before you paint you should try TSP., the walls may able to be cleaned
rather than painted. Do not use household cleaners!
- If you repaint use a flat paint.
looks richer and hides
wall imperfections. It may be harder to clean, but you aren't going to
be cleaning it anymore.
- Touching up painted sections
usually does not
look good because the
new paint doesn't blend in well with the old. Sometimes it can be done
successfully using the "dry roller" technique.
- If you have stained woodwork you
scratches by rubbing
the affected area with a mixture of 70% linseed oil and 30% turpentine.
The turpentine makes the linseed oil soak in easier.
- If the wood is painted, touch up
and an artist's brush.
- Make sure all doors and windows
open and close
appliances work, furnace does not make funny noises etc. Everything in
should work properly.
- All light bulbs in the fixtures
should work and
should be high
enough wattage to brightly illuminate the room.
- The basement should be looked at
see if there are
signs of water entry or mold. If there is evidence of water have the
water problem fixed, buyers hate wet basements. Minor mold can be
killed with a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water. Mold growth is an
indicator of moisture.
- Make sure that gutters are clean, and downspouts have extensions that are at least 6 feet from the foundation. Keeping water away from the house minimizes the chance of getting water in the basement.
- If the basement is finished it
maintained in manner
similar to the up stairs living areas. If it is unfinished, it should
be neat and clean.
- Do not do a slip shod job on
workmanship is worse
than not doing the repair. If there are signs of poor workmanship on
previous repairs or upgrades they should be corrected.
When finished with repairs and maintenance ask a friend or your agent
to walk through the house with you to get their impression of how the
Staging has become popular. If you watch the home and garden
you can see the huge difference a little staging can do on the
impression a house makes. If your house has been personalized with
vivid colors or decor, you may want to consider changing it to be more
neutral. Remember, people buy what they see. The ideal decor is one
that appeals to the highest percentage of buyers. You are no longer
decorating for your tastes, but are decorating for the tastes of
the average buyer. If you have ever toured model homes, you
probably know first hand the impact of staging. They are staged with
furniture that is the right size and style with floor and wall colors
reflecting contemporary tastes and there is an absence of clutter. The
house looks like it isn't lived in.
If you have an older house, keeping the decor up to date makes the
house appear newer than it is. While paint is cheap, buyers tend to
focus on what is rather than what could be. We can assist in the
staging process. In most cases a house can be staged with minimal color
changes and with the seller's own furniture. Below is a list of simple
staging ideas that cost little to nothing.
- Clear closets until they are 2/3's full.
This makes the closet look bigger. While there is a lot in the closet
it still looks like it has plenty of room.
- Minimize the number of
furnishings in a room to
make the room
- Remove excess clutter.
- Have display cases and
bookshelves neat and
orderly with plenty
of open space on the shelves.
- Have counter spaces as open as
- Do not use the refrigerator as a
- Minimize pictures and other wall
They should only be
used to accent the wall.
- Coordinate styles and colors
within a room.
- Add rugs and other accents as
- Consider replacing out dated
and fixtures to
make the house look more modern.
When finished, ask a friend or your agent to walk through the house
with you to get their impression of how the house shows.
A house in showing condition is clean, free of clutter and with
everything put in its proper place. Of course, no one actually lives
like that, but it gives the buyer the impression that your house is
meticulously maintained and cared for. Keeping a house in showing
condition takes work but it pays off in the end.
Sometimes agents don't give us much advance notice for showings, so it
is recommended that each morning the house is left in showing
condition. That way the house is ready on short notice. If possible,
before leaving to accommodate a showing turn the lights on and open the
blinds or curtains. Doing so helps provide a strong first impression
and lets the showing agent concentrate fully on the showing. Below is a
list of things that can enhance a showing.
- Turn the lights on to brighten the room.
- Open curtains and blinds so
buyers can look out
of the windows
and natural light can come in.
- Leave the blinds drawn if there
is a view that
is best not seen,
like a close up of the neighbor's garbage cans.
- Clean the windows, inside and
- Make the beds, pick up the rooms
shouldn't be seen.
- Vacuum and clean as needed, the
- Buyers will look inside
appliances, so keep
them clean and don't
use them for storage.
- Drawers, cabinets and closets
should be kept
neat and orderly.
- Pack anything you are not using.
It is OK to
neatly stack boxes
in the basement or garage, but it is better to store in an offsite
- Don't have fans, space heaters
where they can be
seen. Fans and heaters call into question the effectiveness of the HVAC
system and dehumidifiers hint at water problems.
- Avoid heavy air fresheners or
could be seen as a
cover up for odor problems. If you need to enhance the smell of the
house bake some cookies and leave them out for the buyer. Everyone
likes free food. NEVER smoke in the house!
- If you have a sound system it is
OK to play
ideally, classical music (90.7 FM)
- Have flyers, and disclosure
documents placed in
- Keep the yard clean and trimmed.
- Leave the house at least 15
minutes ahead of
the scheduled showing.
In a highly competitive market making a good impression on the buyer
can mean the difference between selling your house and not selling it.
It can influence the buyer's perception of value and net you a higher
sales price. The best house salesman is the house itself. Use it
Offices in Omaha, NE U.S.A., Licensed
Iowa & Nebraska Realtors
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experts in Omaha and Lincoln, NE & Council Bluffs, IA
Serving Bellevue, Bennington, Carter Lake, Council Bluffs, Elkhorn,
Gretna, La Vista, Lincoln, Omaha, Papillion, Ralston and surrounding