Listing Presentations and Scripts – Give These Checklists to the Owners
A Home Warranty is a Great Idea
A home warranty is becoming a greater and greater incentive to prospective home buyers. These warranties are purchased by you, the seller, at the close of your property. Most often, a basic package is below $500 and guarantees a number of different home features for a year. These could include major appliances, electrical, plumbing, and heating and air systems, among other things.
Consider a Quick, or Not so Quick, Face-lift
No one wants to pay top dollar for an old, grungy looking home. If you really want to sell your house quickly and for the absolute best price, you should consider making some updates and repairs. Now, this doesn’t have to be a full home remodel from top to bottom, but it never hurts to spruce things up a bit.
Squeaky Clean is Your Ace in the Hole
I can’t stress the importance of a junk-free, impeccably clean home when you’re bringing in potential buyers. No one wants to pay for something that’s dirty, and you certainly aren’t going to get the best price if your home isn’t super-clean. When following your deep clean checklist, think of what you would want to see if you were buying a home.
Your Deep Clean Checklist
- Cobweb everything, and do it first so that you don’t have to re-dust furniture and re-vacuum rugs.
- Vacuum and shampoo carpets. Mop and polish all slick floors to a mirror finish.
- Wash all linen, including curtains, bedspreads, sheets, etc.
- Dust from the ceiling fans down to the baseboards. Don’t forget the blinds.
- Clean all glass services, including windows, glass doors, television screens and even china cabinet doors.
- Polish all wooden furniture.
- Make sure all kitchen appliances are immaculate.
- Actually, make sure your entire kitchen is immaculate. Kitchens sell homes. Get rid of all of the extra counter-top junk, the mountain on top of the refrigerator and even the message center hanging on the fridge.
- Bathrooms are imperative in the cleanliness department. Actually, they are just as important as the kitchen. Make sure everything gleams and smells fresh.
- Clean out all closets, cabinets, drawers and storage spaces completely.
- Eliminate dirty smells such as greasy food, animal odor and day-old trash. Smell sells, or if your home is stinky, prevents your sell.
- Make sure that if you smoke you begin taking your breaks outside. Non-smokers detest the scent, and it can actually break a potential sell. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a scented candle or two will trick non-smokers. Believe me, they won’t.
- I always hate to say this, but you need to erase all proof of inside pets before showing. I know, I know – it’s heartbreaking But, it’s also only temporary until your home is sold. Before viewers show up, remove doggy dishes, litter boxes, puppy pads – you name it – and take the pets somewhere safe and out of sight until the visit is over. Be wary of animal smells, too.
De-clutter and Sell Faster
De-cluttering is often the most difficult task that home sellers face. It’s hard work, but it is also well worth the effort. A good majority of homes that sit on the market endlessly do so simply because the sellers refuse to get rid of their piled up junk. Don’t make that mistake, and follow the checklist below.
Your De-cluttering Checklist
- Use the 50% guide. Pack, trash, sell or donate at least 50% of your stuff. I just ripped that band aid right off, didn’t I?
- Rent a storage building a little larger than what you think you’ll actually need in a well-lit, safe environment.
- Eliminate furniture that is unnecessary to open up your rooms.
- Organize everything, including what isn’t readily seen (like the insides of those closets and cabinets you just cleaned out). Coordinating baskets, containers and other organizational tools all aid in a more unified, neat appearance.
- Go ahead and pack up seasonal clothes. The less in your closets, the better.
- Try to get everything off of the closet floor. Doing so makes them appear larger.
- Depersonalize by removing framed photos, memorabilia and other items that shout your family’s personality.
- Go for a neutral mood throughout your home. Your goal is not to show just how wonderful you and your family are, although I’m sure that you’re quite lovely indeed. The goal is to present a fresh place for your home viewers to visualize their own wonderful families in.
This is touch and go, really, but it never hurts to do a little freshening up throughout your home. You have to find that happy medium of what you can afford to do, what is actually going to help increase the value of your home and what isn’t going to drive you insane. However, there are some small to medium projects that really can put you at the front of the game when you have a lot of competition around.
You’re Face-lift Checklist
- Painting is a great way to give your home a clean, new feel. Go for neutral tones, such as beige, creams and greys. This is a good project to tackle, too, because it’s relatively inexpensive and most folks can handle it themselves.
- Floors are important, but can also be costly. If you can get by with a thorough cleaning, you might just want to stop there. However, if there are very worn spots, faded carpets or other unsightly damage, you might consider replacement instead. Hardwood is always a favorite, and can add value to your home, but is also expensive. Don’t be afraid to use linoleum, vinyl floor tiles or ceramic if you need new floor coverings on a budget. Any of those are preferable to flooring with holes in it.
- Buy new hardware, or refurbish your old ones.
- Make sure all tile grout is either thoroughly cleaned and/or repaired.
- Replace anything that is incredibly outdated, damaged or simply non-functioning.
- Think about thoroughly cleaning or replacing your outlet covers.
- Lighting fixtures can really make or break a room. Inexpensive types are available at all of your big chain stores such as Lowes and Home Depot. Even Wal-Mart and Target have them. Adding a brighter, nicer lighting fixture to a room can really make a world of difference.
- Exchange all of your old light bulbs for new ones. I know it sounds crazy, but when you brighten up your spaces, they appear cleaner, bigger and more comfortable.
- Add new blinds. Old, stained and broken blinds can really make a room look dreary and even dingy.
Improve Your Curb Appeal
- Make sure your lawn is neatly trimmed.
- Pay attention to debris, even something as small as a cigarette butt. Those things make your home look far less inviting.
- Trim up all of your shrubs and trees.
- Make certain your flower beds are weed-free, and colorful. Dead foliage and fauna are huge turn-offs.
- Neat, clean landscaping is far more preferable to out-of-control, over-the-top landscaping any day.
- Repair your walkways. Not only is this safer, but it also gives your home a much more comfortable feeling. Perhaps add lighting or flowers to accentuate them.
- Repair or replace anything that is broken, such as porch railings, outdoor lights or shutters.
- Pay attention to your front entrance especially. A solid door with a nice wood or paint finish will lend your home the look of security that home buyers crave.
- Don’t forget the less than wonderful aspects of the outside of your home like the guttering. Clean them out and repair them. Make sure your screens are in good shape. Things like that matter.
- Repaint or replace worn out and rusty outdoor furniture.
- Make sure there are no pet reminders all over the yard. Having a viewer step in a stinky land mine is not the way to make friends or sell homes.
- Help your children to keep all of their outside toys picked up. Parents are used to seeing five balls in the bushes, a skateboard on the steps and baby dolls enjoying a day at the spa in the birdbath. Buyers, on the other hand, aren’t going to appreciate these little eccentricities so much.
Pay Attention to Details
Really, details do matter. Don’t look at your home from the eyes of a person who is used to their surroundings. Try walking through your yard and home with a fresh perspective.
Pay attention to the smallest issues (the mailbox letters look shabby), as well as the largest (the garage door doesn’t open). Take notes, and take the time to make necessary changes. Your buyers will appreciate it, and you will come out far more profitably.
Marketing is not easy, nor is it necessarily cheap. The main reason you probably have chosen the FSBO route is to save yourself a good bit of money, so you’re going to want to heavily consider your marketing strategy.
There are all kinds of tools at your disposal, from the traditional signage to information packets to Internet listings. You’ll want to set a budget for your marketing, and stick to it. This is where a realtor really does come in handy. I think you’ll probably be quite surprised at how much time, money and effort it takes to make effective marketing happen.
Using Listing Services and Internet Ads
Even if you aren’t a computer age guru, you can likely handle posting your home with any number of online listing services. Often, you get more space for details at a cheaper price than with printed publications. There is any number of different sites available to help you market your home for sale. A qualified real estate agent would know precisely which ones to choose for your home and for the area in which you live.
You can go with the freebies, like Craigslist and Facebook – but beware of scammers. There are also places like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com who will advertise your home for a fee. Those programs that add your home to the Multiple Listing Service sometimes offer additional help with things like paperwork and pricing. Of course, those services cost extra.
Compiling Information Packets
Often overlooked, information packets can really help you out when you want potential buyers to remember your wonderful home more than anyone else’s wonderful home. You see, most folks looking to buy a home take a peek at more than one place before settling on their favorite.
If you have graced them with a simple information packet loaded with photos and details about your property, they are very likely to look closely at it…and remember your home.
Make sure that you have your information packets available on your sign, but also hand them out whenever someone comes by for a showing. If you decide to throw an open house, have plenty available there as well.
Your Information Packet Checklist
- Lots of high quality photos
- Your contact information. Be thorough, and give several contact methods such as home phone, cell phone and email address.
- Home address
- Price of the property
- Number of bedrooms and sizes
- Number of bathrooms
- Point out special features, such as outbuildings and whirlpool tubs
- Square footage
- Elaborate on improvements and updates
- Size of lot
- Community details
- School district
- Information on neighborhood association, if applicable
Showing Your Home
At last, you reap the rewards of all of your marketing work. People begin to call and ask questions about your property. Now, you need to answer their questions honestly while also getting a feel for whether they’re just browsing or if they are seriously interested in buying.
When it feels right, invite them to come by and take a look. When a seller chooses to go with a real estate agent, they are typically given 24 hour notice when someone wants to come and look at their home.
FSBO’s have more leeway with scheduling showings, in a sense, but there are a couple of things to consider before penciling in a showing three days from now. Have you ever heard the saying, “Get it while the getting is good?”
Your callers may be totally interested in looking at your house today, but in three days’ time, they could very well have been tempted by another property. You also shouldn’t be surprised in the least to find that you’re sitting in your living room speaking with a prospective buyer who turns out to be sitting in your driveway.
Once you ask if he’d like to come by and look, you are going to have a hard time explaining that he needs to wait until another day. I mean, he’s right outside. As such, keep your house in top-notch shape so that interested folks can come by at any time without you suffering from extreme embarrassment or jeopardizing a sale.
In the event that you are welcoming buyer’s agents to show your home, you will likely want to invest in a lock-box. This will allow you to leave the premises while the agents are showing your home, and give them a secure way to enter.
Hosting an Open House
An open house is more or less advertising all over the place that anyone who wants to have a look at your lovely home may do so at such and such time on such and such date. Your most successful open houses are usually going to be on weekends between 12:00 noon and 5:00pm.
In order for your open house to draw in an adequate number of viewers, you need to publicize it like mad. Make sure you put out plenty of high quality signs for people searching for your home to follow. As guests arrive, give the grand tour of your home as if it were Buckingham Palace. Hopefully, you’ll hook a big one!
You’re Open House Checklist
- Sign-In Sheets – This is very handy for knowing who came to your home, how to contact them and whether or not they’re working with an agent. Keep several sheets near your entrance with plenty of pens, and request each visitor to sign in.
- Information on Sales Price – Hire a real estate agent to work up your CMA, or do the research on other similar homes in your area. Have this information in writing handy so that you can justify your sales price if need be.
- Give the Kids a Vacation – Everyone loves their kids, but an open house really isn’t the best place for them to be. It can be overwhelming for the little ones to think of selling their home, and they may cause a fuss. Additionally, some viewers may find the pitter patter of little feet non-pleasing. Take the kids to a safe sitter, like grandma or a trusted neighbor, for the day. An added bonus is that you’ll actually be able to focus on the open house rather than your little ones.
- Preparation is Essential – There are tons and tons of questions that you’re going to have to answer during an open house. Think about the potential ones beforehand and be prepared. The best way to do this is to think of the things you would want to know about a property if you were thinking of purchasing it If you don’t know the answer to one of these questions, find it before you open your doors to the public. To get you off on the right foot, common question topics are:
- Shopping opportunities
- School information
- Various services (recycling, trash pickup, etc.)
- Utility costs
- Examples of financing options
- Neighbor friendliness
- Touch Base Later – Once the open house is over, and you can breathe again, you’ll be glad that you had sign in sheets. You’re going to want to contact each visitor to see if they’re truly interested in your property. You’ll also want to see what they thought of your place. Don’t be offended if you get some critical answers. You can use this valuable information to improve your home before more viewers come by. Another issue that is a real biggie when following up from an open house is whether or not the folks who are interested in buying your home are actually capable of buying your home. Without enough purchasing power, buying is a lost cause. For this reason you might consider qualifying your prospective buyers.