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People buy what they see. That's why used car dealers spend a lot of 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 well maintained house.

Repair and Maintenance

Most buyers don't have a lot of extra money to put into their new 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.

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 house shows.


Staging has become popular. If you watch the home and garden channel 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.

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 accomodate 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. You should never be present during a showing!!! Buyers like to view houses in private with their agent. Below is a list of things that can enhance a showing.

Our showing service will schedule showings. They will contact you at the phone number provided to us and can notify you by phone call or text, whichever you prefer. After a showing, a feedback request will be sent automatically to the showing agent. Any feedback received will be forwarded to you. Not all agents will respond. Some may not take the time while others may not have any useful feedback to share. All contact with the showing agent should be made through your agent. Remember, the showing agent works for the buyer. Any communication, verbal or non verbal, will be used to the buyer's advantage.

Open Houses

The open house is a tool for getting prospective buyers to see your house in an informal setting. Before the proliferation of the Internet they were an essential tool in exposing buyers to the market. Open houses are still relevant, but not essential. If you choose to hold an open house here are a few tips.

  If you find someone that is interested in putting in an offer direct them to www.mikesalkin.com/offer.txt and ask them to follow the directions on that page.


The purpose of the photographs displayed on line is not to show what the house looks like, but to show what it could look like. Each photograph should be composed, as if it were a work of art. The subject, the room or exterior of the house, should be properly staged. It may not be feasible to keep the house staged, so it is OK to move things around or away for the picture and then move them back. Most people like to live in their houses and not just look at them. Buyers on the other hand need to see the house in its ideal stage when they are looking online.

Photographs represent a three dimensional object in two dimensions, so space can get distorted. That can work in your favor with the right staging. Pictures aren't going to sell the house, but they have to sell the appointment. There should be enough of them to give the buyer a good feel for the house. Leave out rooms that are too small or don't reflect well on the house. If there are any major rooms that don't reflect well, you may want to consider correcting that.

If you are in charge of taking the online photographs please take a few moments to review the information below and then look at the photos for the houses featured on the "Our Listings" page to get an idea on how they should look. Please keep in mind that on some of the listings the photos will be taken by the seller and may not be an ideal example.

Below are some tips on creating photographs that will sell the prospective buyer on looking at your house.

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 effectively.


Offices in Omaha, NE U.S.A., Licensed Iowa & Nebraska Realtors

The real estate experts in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska & Council Bluffs, Iowa
Serving Bellevue, Bennington, Carter Lake, Council Bluffs, Elkhorn, Gretna, La Vista, Lincoln, Omaha, Papillion, Ralston and surrounding communities.



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Berkshire Real Estate
418 South 166 St. Omaha, Nebraska 68118
Phone: 402-397-2800