Phoenix Real Estate Primer: Tips to Attract Buyers Part 2
Tips for Phoenix Home Sellers – Part 2
A few postings ago, I offered a list of ideas that Phoenix real estate owners can do to attract more buyers and faster, higher offers.
This is the continuation of that posting, which was born from an article I read about was to turn off homebuyers, which you can read here. While I definitely agree with the list, I have several other ideas and additional commentary to add to the mix. It never ceases to amaze me that, as broadly-covered as this topic has been, so many Phoenix and Scottsdale property owners fail to capitalize on these easy-to-accomplish tips.
To recap, here are the previous tips:
Tip #1: A Clean Home is a Happy Home
Tip #2: Eliminate Odors and Freshen Up!
Tip #3: Update Any Dated Fixtures
Tip #4: Neutralize Wall Coverings
Now let’s get to the next batch of suggestions…
Tip #5: Say “Goodbye!” to Popcorn Ceilings
There is a time and a place for popcorn (acoustic material) ceilings. Unfortunately, it was in 1975. And for the many, many homes that have been slathered in this most unfortunate of finishes, it’s time to consider a good stripping!
You see, not only is the material unsightly and dated looking, it’s porous and highly absorbent. There’s no better way to absorb and preserve off-putting odors than popcorn ceilings. And we know that foul odors are a no-no! (see Tip #2) So to bring your home into the 21st Century and enhance it’s fresh appeal, remove the popcorn!
It’s very important to be aware, however, that your popcorn ceiling material may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. In fact, anyone engaging in removal should assume it does and take necessary precautions to avoid risky exposure.
Tip #6: Depersonalize
One of your many main goals when staging your Phoenix real estate to sell is to try and present an environment in which prospective Phoenix home buyers can easily imagine living. The more personalized the environment, the more challenging it becomes to do that.
While you might be tempted to think that this tip only pertains to your award-winning, 67 unit Snow-Baby collection that’s proudly displayed in your living room, that’s just part of the story. Yes, put the Snow Babies on ice, but also remove family photos, diplomas, awards, ‘unique’ artwork and furniture, and anything else that brands the home as “YOU”.
Besides conflicting with your goal of helping the buyers imagine the property as theirs, personal effects can also be distracting. “Oh, honey, look!” (Prospective buyer points to diploma on the wall) “He went to ASU, too! I wonder if we know him? Look, there are some photos over there…let’s take a look to see if we recognize him…” Don’t laugh. It happens. A lot.
Tip #7: Leave Already!!
Another goal of any Phoenix home seller is to do what you can to get buyers talking about your home while they’re at the property. I emphasize while they’re at the property because by the end of a long day of looking at homes, they’ll forget a lot of the details of yours.
What does this mean for you? Do your best to leave your home when it is being shown. That encourages home buyers and their agents to discuss the property freely — the pros and the cons — while they’re onsite. Dialogue gets proverbial ‘juices flowing’ and ensures your home has the opportunity to shine while it’s in the spotlight.
Tip #8: Don’t Misrepresent
In real estate, I think of misrepresentation as being closely tied to disclosure. There can be a fine line between showing your home in the most positive light and actually taking proactive steps to hide negatives. The former is encouraged, while the latter can get you in big legal trouble!
Licensed real estate agents consistently have the message, “Disclose! Disclose! Disclose!” driven into their heads. The message is conveyed to us, among other ways, in continuing education, from various associations and groups that we belong to, from the Department of Real Estate, the contracts and forms that we use, and from legal verdicts.
A good REALTOR will advise their clients to disclose anything and everything that could be of potential material importance to a prospective home buyer. In fact, your agent is obligated to disclose any issues that they’re aware of, even if you instruct them not to. You authorize them to do as much in the Listing Agreement. But that’s another posting for another day…
Back on topic. If you know there’s a carpet stain in the living room that you’ve unsuccessfully tried to remove, then don’t you think it’s reasonable that a home buyer might want to know they’ll need to budget for carpet replacement? Because of the potential financial impact on the home buyer, it’s a material fact. If you intentionally cover the stain with an area rug and fail to disclose it in writing to the buyers, you’re asking for problems after the sale when the buyers realize they’ve been tricked.
Here’s what I recommend to my Phoenix real estate clients: By all means, enhance the cosmetic appearance of old repairs and do an additional repairs that financially make sense.
That old water stain in the garage ceiling from 8 years ago…the one that signaled it was time for a new roof, but that you never got around to painting over after the roof was replaced? Paint over it! Then disclose it to the buyers when you receive an offer.
The toilet in the master bedroom that runs constantly? Fix it! Then disclose it.
The baseboard under the vanity in the bathroom that swelled like a balloon when you had that leak last year? Replace it! Then disclose it.
See the common theme? You can repair and enhance your home, but you need to disclose the issues so the buyer has an opportunity to do their due diligence, such as hiring a roofer to confirm the roof was properly installed or hiring a plumber to confirm the pipes were re-connected properly.
Tip #9: Curb Appeal Matters
I like to say that the key to a successful Phoenix real estate sale begins at the curb. Others say that “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Regardless of the credo, the fact remains the same: To sell your Phoenix property, you should create the best possible experience from the front of the property through to the back yard.
Pull weeds, rake up leaves, sweep gravel off the sidewalk, keep the lawn green and neatly trimmed, ditto for shrubs, replace dead plants, add some colorful flowers and a new welcome mat at the front door. You want home buyers to say, “WOW!” before they ever set foot inside your home. A little attention to your front yard will go a long way in accomplishing this goal.
Tip #10: Declutter
This tip really goes hand-in-hand with Tip #6 (Depersonalize). If, like many homeowners, you’ve outgrown your current home and are bulging at the seams with overflowing closets and a disaster of a garage, then consider renting a storage locker on a month-to-month basis. Remove everything you can live without, within reason. You can leave your coffeemaker and toaster oven on the countertops in the kitchen, but remove the gelato machine, food dehydrator, and baby food maker that you haven’t used in 6 months.
Eighteen sets of towels? Store ‘em away.
Extra china settings packed in the pantry? Store ‘em away.
Tools, boxes, and equipment in the garage that you forgot even existed? Store it away.
Winter snow gear in your closet and it’s June? Store it away.
Do your best to create the appearance of space everywhere you can: closets, counter tops, drawers, cabinets, and shelves.
Tips #11 and Beyond: Staging Tips and MLS Success
There are a number of other recommendations that I can make to help sell your Phoenix real estate that weren’t covered in the original article. The first tips relate to staging your home.
In keeping with the notion of encouraging prospective buyers to stay in your home as long as possible and creating a pleasant environment, consider the following:
- Remove pets from the property, especially noisy ones.
- Leave the thermostat at a comfortable level (even if your home is vacant!): Nobody will spend long in a Phoenix house in July if the AC is off!
- If you know there’s going to be a showing: turn on all lights and ceiling fans, open up window coverings to let light in, light a few aromatic candles and/or spritz some unoffensive air freshener, and turn on some soothing music when you know your home is going to be shown. Even though everyone will know it’s a contrived staging, it will work.
Finally, let’s talk about the most important piece of staging your real estate for sale: your property’s listing sheet. The listing sheet is your home’s face to the world. Not only is it used to attract real estate agents to your property, but many people don’t realize that the MLS information (including photos) are automatically distributed to affiliate websites through IDX agreements. So the way your home appears in the MLS is also how it will appear on Realtor.com and Zillow, among hundreds of others. Prospective buyers will see your listing sheet.
I’ll cover these in detail in an upcoming blog post, but here are some tips for a successful MLS listing:
- Lots of photos and compelling photos (optimized, if possible, and taken AFTER improvements to property, if any)
- Virtual tour
- Accurate directions
- Accurate mapping in the MLS system
- Room measurements
- Compelling verbiage
- Complete and accurate accounting of all features
- Avoidance of verbiage that makes you appear to be difficult to work with
- Disclosure of any terms that might be material prior to showing (e.g. “In the process of painting, to be completed by Friday.”)
Phoenix real estate is a tough business in any market. Indeed, even in the strongest of seller’s markets there steps that any home seller can take to get top dollar offers and help their home stand out from the crowd. Sure, it’s possible to not follow a single tip that I’ve listed and still sell your home for asking price on the very first day it’s listed. However, following the tips here might put thousands of dollars more in your pocket, and what seller wants to leave equity on the table?