Temperatures are on the rise, which means home buyers are shaking off their winter blues and hitting the streets to find their next property. As spring buying season goes into full swing, sellers will repaint rooms and fix up their front yards with flowers to help draw house hunters.
But local experts say more than curb appeal is needed to get a buyer to place a bid in this competitive market. Here are a few tips to help make your home stand out from the pack.
1. KEEP IT CLEAN: "Buyers buy with all their senses," said Al Perry, managing partner of Century 21 Advantage Gold. "If I was selling you my car, before you came to look at it, I would run it through the car wash and vacuum it out." Aside from putting away the kids' toys and any piles of clothes, go the extra mile by steam cleaning carpets, scrubbing kitchen counters and washing baseboards, he said.
2. DEPERSONALIZE: Perry suggests current owners take family photos off the walls and replace them with artwork that appeals to the masses. Put away the collection of beer steins or soccer trophies too. Even if the items are far from polarizing, they still serve as a distraction for potential buyers, who should be focused on envisioning themselves living in the property, he said.
3. SIMPLIFY WALK-THROUGHS: Sellers should skedaddle, even if it means sitting at the local coffee shop while buyers check out the property, said Kristin McFeely and Jeanne Whipple, realtors with Coldwell Banker Preferred's Philly Home Girls team. "If the seller is home, it makes people rush through and they can't speak candidly about the property," said Whipple, who also recommends removing dogs, cats or other uncaged animals from the home while potential buyers explore. Some people don't like pets and, for those that do, they may pay more attention to Fido than the floor layout, she said. Whipple also suggests replacing the door lock if it has a specific quirk that makes it difficult for others to turn the key and enter the home. "If the agent struggles to open the door, that can change the entire experience," she said. "The easier it is for the buyers to get in there, the more comfortable they will feel walking through."
4. SHARE HIDDEN GEMS: Most buyers hone in on a particular neighborhood because they are seeking out a particular lifestyle. Even though savvy house hunters may know all the restaurants ranked by Zagat, highlighting the local amenities always helps. "As a seller, you've had an opportunity to experience the property," said Perry, who added that cluing the realtor in on those well-kept secrets can help add a more personal touch.
5. GET A HOME INSPECTION: Typically the buyer pays for an inspection, which costs about $450, after putting in a bid. But McFeely advises sellers get it done before they list the property to avoid pricey negotiations and prevent buyers from having an easy out. "It is a small price to pay when the average negotiation is $2,500 or so," she said. The report gives the seller a chance to address any issues that could cause a buyer to terminate their bid and serves as a reference for the condition of the home's major items, like the heating and plumbing systems. "It puts people at ease," she said.