by Todd Lewys
It’s amazing the difference choice — or a lack of it — can make in a real estate market.
Two or three years ago, when housing inventory was low, sellers could literally put their home on the market without doing anything to it and know that it would sell. But that’s no longer the case.
Today, in an increasingly balanced real estate market with far more homes to choose from, it’s essential that sellers prepare their home properly for it to have a chance to sell in short order.
That preparation entails making sure that the home presents well not only on the outside, but on the inside. While it might not be necessary to stage the home, it’s highly advisable to de-clutter its interior, said de-cluttering expert Susan Macaulay.
“I’d put it this way. When you’re getting ready to sell, you need to edit your belongings,” she said. “That means you need to create breathable space throughout your home.
“Basically, you want to make sure you don’t show your home with all your personal items out,” said Macauley.
“If your home is cluttered with all kinds of items, people will be distracted from seeing the home. People need to visualize living in a home.
“If they open up a linen closet and towels and sheets fall out, chances are they’ll remember that, rather than how amazing the home was,” added Macauley.
REALTOR® David De Leeuw concurred, saying that a little organization can go a long way toward making a sale.
“What I try to impart on sellers is the notion that an organized home calms a buyer’s mind,” he said. “When you’re selling a home — especially in today’s market, where there’s far more choice than even a year ago — you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
“Most buyers form their impression of your home within the first minute or two. If it isn’t a positive one, they will just have a quick look, and then move on to the next home,” added De Leeuw.
In many cases, a trained eye can spot clutter and remove it prior to a showing a home, added REALTOR® Charlene Urbanski.
“Sometimes, we see things with a more objective eye,” Urbanski said. “I had a client who had moved a large hutch into their bathroom to create extra storage space. The problem was that it took up over half the room.
“Prior to showing the home, I had them take it out and store it out of the way. Doing that opened up the bathroom, and made for a more spacious, calm feel.
“Doing things like that, or just cleaning up countertops and dressers can make a huge difference. It enables buyers to see a home in its best possible light,” she added.
The key to presenting a home properly is to go through it in advance to determine what needs to be removed to create as much breathable space as possible, added de-cluttering expert Macaulay.
“Go through your home ahead of time. Believe me, doing that will save you a lot of grief,” said Macauley. “Just listing your home for sale is stressful enough.
“By going through your home in advance and clearing out the clutter, you’ll be able to come home after work and clean and tidy it in short order before a showing.
“You should also get your home ready before your real estate agent comes over to do an appraisal. It will create less work for them, and for you,” she added.
De Leeuw said he couldn’t agree more.
“There have been many instances where I’ve told a client, ‘I can’t put your home on the market until you do this,’” he said. “There’s always work that needs to be done to make a home present properly — there’s no way around it.
“Do it, and your home might sell in two weeks rather than two months, or longer,” he added.
“I can’t stress this enough: an organized home puts a buyer’s mind at ease.”
To do that, you have to think like a buyer, concluded Macaulay.
“You have to assess your home objectively, then de-clutter its key areas,” Macauley said. Doing that will allow buyers to think about all your home’s wonderful features rather than how messy it was. Create a positive impression, and your home will sell that much quicker.”