When my husband and I put our first house on the market, we were determined to make someone fall as deeply in love with it as we were. We cleaned, polished, de-personalized and de-cluttered. Someone would surely appreciate our vibrant color palette (brick red in the hallway!) and consider the small bedrooms to be “charming” – or so we thought. When only three people showed up to our first open house, and not one showed any interest, we were dumbfounded. The house was in the best condition it had ever been. What was wrong with these people?
We realized, too late, that the problem wasn’t their expectations, it was ours. We let our heart do the work our calculator should have been doing. We priced our house too high. It didn’t help that the year was 2005, and the house was in Michigan, the exact time and place where the real estate market started to grind to a halt. We also thought that whoever bought our home would be carbon copies of ourselves – a young family. The person who eventually purchased our home was in her nineties. Her vision, without a doubt, was different from ours.
“There are four factors that affect the sale of your home,” says Lillian Montalto, owner/broker of Lillian Montalto Signature Properties in Andover, Mass. “Two of them you can control, and two of them you do not control. “The ones that you control are condition and price. The ones that you do not control are location and competition.”
In order to sell your home quickly and at the best price:
Focus on first impressions: “I can tell how a house is going to look on the inside by the way it looks on the front porch and front door,” says Linda Mildon, Realtor with RE/MAX Affiliates in Florence, KY. Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door. Cut the grass, trim the shrubs and add fresh mulch. “Curb appeal is huge,” she says.
Declutter: “Remove everything in the house that might be personal,” says Montalto. That includes photographs, plants, your children’s artwork and anything affixed to the fridge. Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and choose a muted color. That chair you always tripped over? Now’s the time to move it to the garage. “You want to have the least amount of furniture in the room, and you want it placed properly.” In the kitchen, hide drying racks, paper towels and tissues in cabinets. In the bathroom, remove plungers, toilet bowl brushes and rugs, which can make the space look smaller.