How to Present Your Home to Prospective Buyers

So, you’ve finally chosen a Realtor to list your home—now what? Most Realtors will guide you through the home selling process with organization and timeliness. Occasionally, though, details are overlooked. Beyond the paperwork needing to be completed, there is now a necessity to prepare your home for newfound attention. Photographs, open houses, and showings are coming soon.

For effective marketing, your home will need to be photographed for the Multiple Listing Service and other online entities and print publications. Treat photo sessions like open houses. Many sellers forget that the interiors of their homes are going to be photographed. Online photos will likely provide potential buyers with a first impression of your property—make sure they’re flattering. Photographers often have unpredictable schedules, and the last mistake a seller or a Realtor wants to make is being unprepared for a photo session. I am privy to stories where both Realtors and sellers were to blame for bad photos. In one unfortunate case, I remember thinking: “Wow! Just because the seller left the kitchen sink and counters cluttered with half-eaten food and dirty dishes doesn’t mean that those particular images needed to be shared with the world.” Be ready!

Interior staging and exterior curb appeal need to be strategic. Cleanliness is critical. Inside, (unless you’re working with a sizable budget) use the furniture and décor you already own to stage your home. Often, simply removing clutter and functionally arranging furniture can do the trick. Outside, keeping up with yard work and temporarily removing unnecessary decorations and/or controversial items is recommended. When selling your home, it may not be the best time to visually display your stance on social/political/religious issues or to bring the frame of your “project car” out from the garage to the driveway. Remember, you’re trying to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Helping California save energy is commendable; however, when it comes to open houses or showings, hospitality is key—don’t make potential buyers sweat or shiver. You want buyers to envision themselves living comfortably in your home. I have been greeted at open houses by profusely sweating Realtors suffering a seller’s request for a specific thermostat setting. Uncomfortable buyers remember being miserable, not the great features of your home. Similarly, be sure to use any fragrances or air fresheners minimally. You don’t want possible buyers nervous about what you’re covering up with those five strategically placed scented candles.

Believe it or not, most people are ill-prepared to have buyers enthusiastically peruse their homes at a moment’s notice. When listing your home, though, it can often seem as though this type of preparedness is standard practice. In reality, there is only so much time to devote to readying your home for sale. Have a quick plan for dealing with clutter, keep up with cleaning and yard work, and be sure to showcase your home’s best features. Finally, take a break during the Realtor’s events—go out for a cup of coffee or run a few errands. Buyers are not comfortable looking at homes with the owner present (and, besides, your Realtor should earn his/her commission).

William Menke is a Realtor with the Guarantee Real Estate Flex Office. He can be reached at [email protected].

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