Real estate professionals talk about the importance of curb appeal, that subjective, intangible quality that has buyers thinking emotionally rather than logically. We’ve all experienced it: You know, that singular moment when you drive up to a home and it’s love at first sight. Something about it has your heart beating just a little bit faster. Perhaps it’s the way the home sits on the property, or the mix of clapboard and fieldstone, the expanse of grass carpeting, the stately columns, the boisterous symphony of greenery and brilliantly colored flowers. Something calls to you and you respond, “Yes. This is it. I don’t care what the inside looks like. I want it.” That’s curb appeal. Curb appeal extends to neighborhoods as well. Meticulously maintained homes in the estate section of town enjoy solid curb appeal, whereas poorly kept neighborhoods do not. Interestingly, even your neighbor’s state of curb appeal can positively or negatively affect that of your home.
So how can you tell where your home registers on the curb appeal scale? One way to find out is to take pictures of your property from various angles. Show them to friends, family, colleagues, anyone known for providing painfully objective feedback. Find out what’s appealing about the home and grounds, and what needs improvement. Take the photos to a nursery for a professional landscaper’s opinion. Even more important, consult your real estate agent. A local real estate professional has experience selling homes in your area and can be a great resource. Ask the agent to walk around the property with you and view it from across the street. Develop a “to do” list to bring your home up to show condition, then brainstorm easy, cost-effective solutions.
Surprisingly, even small enhancements can make a big difference. Building on your home’s curb appeal might be as easy as replacing a broken screen and planting a few flowers near the front door.
Here are some ideas to get you going.
- Paint and polish. A fresh coat of paint breathes new life into a tired-looking home. If your home looks dull or suffers from pealing, cracked or chipped paint, a paint job is a great investment. Realtors suggest using neutral colors such as white or gray. A point of interest: According to a survey by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), white homes sell faster than others. Whether or not you paint, you’ll want to polish the doorknocker and mail slot on the front door, as well as any light fixtures by the entry.
- Go over the grounds. Mow and edge the grass, and trim the trees and bushes. Also, clear away dead leaves and flowers, and mulch and weed the beds. Check to see that tree branches are not touching the home’s roof or outer walls. You can spruce up the property by hanging flowering baskets and placing planters of flowers in strategic spots.
- Make needed repairs. Work your way through your “to do” list. In addition, see if anything is unhinged, loose or just an eyesore. Fix everything including broken fencing, windows and screens. Try the doorbell. Check stairs and railings. Test doors for squeaks and rusted hinges. Don’t forget to take a critical look at the property at night. Make sure the lights work, and replace dim and burned-out bulbs.
- Unclutter. Now’s the time to have a garage sale, not when you’re about to move. Throw out everything you can. Organize the garage and any out buildings. Put away lawn and garden equipment and tools. Tidy up the deck, patio and back yard. Clean up the barbecue area. Eliminate any “evidence” of Fido, and restrict him to the back yard when showing the home. Move extra vehicles from the view of passersby.
- Clean. You want buyers to think the home has been well maintained. To make a bright impression, clean the windows, inside and out, wash down the walks and driveway, and hose down the siding. Clean outdoor furniture and cushions. Check for oil spots on cement surfaces, especially the garage floor. Remember, a sale can be made or lost as a direct result of your home’s curb appeal. So exert a little elbow grease now and you’ll captivate buyers at the curb. It’s a sure way to a quick sale.
For more pointers on polishing your home for optimal curb appeal during the selling process, contact a Starkville Properties sales professional today.
Do I need a marketing plan to sell my home?
Marketing your home is more than placing a sign in your yard and placing an ad in the local newspaper. To get the most exposure for your home, you should have a marketing plan that has clear objectives and specifically outlines the resources that will be used to reach potential buyers.
Each marketing plan should be designed around your property and capitalize on its most desirable features. Therefore, you need to be honest with your real estate professional about the condition of your home, and what’s the final price you will accept for your home. Your real estate professional may advise you to get a home inspection upfront to determine the current condition, so that you have time to make any corrective work. This can make your home more salable and help avoid unpleasant surprises and expenses later on.
Rarely is the successful marketing of a property the result of a single activity. Therefore the marketing plan should list the types of tools that will be used to expose your home to buyers. Yard signs, newspaper ads, and listing with a Multiple Listing Service should only be the beginning. Other resources may include company tours, Open Houses, “Just Listed” postcards to clients and surrounding neighborhood, and referrals.
And don’t forget technological tools. Studies show that more and more people are using the Internet during their home search. Your exposure can now be worldwide instead of just contained in your neighborhood. So you want to make sure that your marketing plan reflects how you will reach that audience. Besides listings on their personal websites, your Starkville Properties real estate professional may list your home on a website such as Realtor.com.
When marketing your property, there are really two audiences you are trying to reach: home buyers and other real estate professionals. Make sure the plan includes action steps on how each audience will be marketed to.
An effective marketing plan will also spell out specific dates for marketing activities such as company and broker tours, Open Houses, postcard mailings, and newspaper advertisements. Yet, it should leave room for unscheduled events such as following up with sales professionals or brokers who preview or show the home.
The action steps should also include checkpoints, possibly at the 15-, 30- and 45-day mark, to review activity on the home and determine if changes need to be made to the marketing plan.
As the home seller, you should be kept in the loop on activity of your home. The marketing plan should state how (such as by mail, phone email, or even through a website) and the frequency (daily, weekly).
Of course these are just guidelines, but can give you an idea if the marketing plan your real estate professional has proposed to you has to be refined. You need to be comfortable with the marketing strategy for your home. An effective plan will not only put you at ease, but give your home maximum exposure so that hopefully you will have a quick sell.
What types of contracts are used in the real estate transaction?
Now that you’ve chosen a real estate professional to sell your home, you’ll need to work together to complete a listing agreement. This legally binding contract authorizes a broker and his or her sales associates to find a buyer for your home, according to the conditions specified in the contract.
Starkville Properties offers three standard agreements: Exclusive Right to Sell (which is the most common), One-Time Show, and Exclusive Agency.
Types of Contracts
Exclusive Right to Sell – This popular listing agreement allows the listing agent to market the home to other real estate professionals who represent buyers. Your agent will receive a commission no matter who actually sells the home, even if you sell the home. Listing agents prefer this type of agreement because it guarantees that the cost of marketing the home would be covered.
One-Time Show – This one-time agreement is similar to the Open Listing in that it’s used by a real estate professional when showing a “for sale by owner” home, and it guarantees the commission should his customer purchase the home. It’s essentially an Open Listing with a very short window, usually one day, and restricted to one client. The agent is not responsible for marketing the home.
Exclusive Agency Listing – This agreement, which tends to be popular in hot markets, allows an agent to list and market a home, while a seller also has an opportunity to produce a buyer. The agent can market through the MLS, provided that the local MLS does not have a prohibition.