All posts by shannon@kdinteractive.com

Summer Home Showing Tips: How to Sell Your Home in the Heat

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home buyingPlants and home listings have a key commonality during summer: they both pop up everywhere during this hot real estate season. If your listing is one of them, it can seem incredibly challenging to make your property stand out from the crowd. The process may be simpler than you think, however, if you use these basic tips for preparing your home for a showing.

Cool your guests down.

When the temperatures are so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, it’s hard to focus on anything; your potential buyers are in the same boat. Cool them down by keeping your AC at a comfortable level (not too hot and not too cold). If you don’t have AC, leave the windows open if there is a cool breeze or use fans to keep your home—and your visitors—comfortable.

Keep your flower beds and planters neat and tidy.

Your goal is to get potential buyers in the door so they can see and fall in love with your home. Help them focus on the door by impressing them with the curb appeal. Fill in cracks in your driveway and sidewalks. Weed any flower beds and prune any bushes to make potential buyers want to come in.

Mow frequently.

Buyers shouldn’t have to feel like they have to brave the jungle to get to the property. Mow and trim your lawn as often as possible, or hire a lawn service to take care of the lawn. Use this curb appeal checklist to make sure the exterior of your home creates a favorable first impression.

Make key home features stand out.

There are key features that set every home apart; features that make a buyer want to purchase a property, such as ceiling beams, high-quality flooring, and spacious rooms. Clear the areas around these key features so buyers notice those key features without having to search for them.

Lead your buyers to any outdoor spaces.

Attractive decks and patios can be the difference between an offer and a pass. Make sure any entrances to those spaces are clean and easy to access. Power wash deck boards and concrete patios and add comfortable seating so your buyers can picture themselves enjoying them.

Take cleanliness to a new level.

Deep clean your home as much as possible, especially the kitchens and bathrooms which are vital to a home sale. If you don’t have time, contact a cleaning service to make your home like a clean space buyers want to live in (and don’t have to clean themselves which can lead to lower offer).

Make your home smell pleasant.

Don’t let unpleasant odors drive potential buyers off. Make your home smell like a pleasant summer day, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your home buyers to think you are covering up a problem.

Change your light bulbs.

While the summer days may be longer, don’t make your buyers rely entirely on the late summer daylight—and think that you don’t take care of your home. Check all the light bulbs in your home, and replace bulbs as needed (inside and out).

Ask your real estate agent for recommendations.

An experienced real estate agent can help you walk through your home like a potential home buyer. Ask for their recommendations on ways you can impress home buyers and make them think about the home—and not the hot summer temperatures.

Negotiation Tips: How to Deal with a Difficult Home Seller

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woman dressed in white shirt screaming while looking at phone because home owner won't negotiateThey won’t negotiate. They don’t respond to your offers. They won’t accept your offer with any contingencies. Dealing with a challenging home seller can be difficult, especially when you’re in love with the property and the home seller keeps putting up road blocks to your home sale.

We’ve been part of a home negotiation or two (or three or hundred or a few thousand or…) and we’ve put together some tips to get through a home buying negotiation with a property AND your sanity.

Know your math

Before you put in an offer—and even after—do your math with your lender. Find out the difference between the monthly payment amounts between a $150,000 and $155,000 price tag, or between $200,000 and $225,000—whatever your budgeted amount—so you know how high you can go with your offer. It’s also helpful when you and the seller are a few thousand apart; that math can give you all the information you need to decide whether you can accept the offer or make a counter offer.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin (contingency-wise)

As much as you want that property, be careful about making an offer without a contingency. For example, if you make an offer contingent on the sale of your home but the seller doesn’t want to accept with the contingency, make sure you can afford to pay two mortgages before you accept.

Be creative

If price is the key point of disagreement, find other ways to get the most for your money. Ask the home seller to include other items of value to the deal (your real estate agent can assist with this), such as furnishings, pool equipment, or lawn maintenance equipment. Remember, most home sellers are focused on the bottom line, making them more open to a creative deal.

Make sure you’re not the problem

We all want a deal, but you can’t always expect to get a home for nothing. Be realistic about your price (find out what factors play a part in determining a fair price for the home you’re buying) and realize that the price may not be negotiable. If you can’t settle on the price you were hoping for, ask your real estate agent for other ways to come to a compromise (i.e. asking them to play closing costs, etc.)

Be prepared to walk away

Whenever you make an offer on a property, you have to be prepared for the chance that you may need to walk away from the deal. If the home seller won’t bend, and the sales price is beyond your means, it’s time to ask your real estate agent to look at more homes. The right home is out there with the right home owner who wants to sell.

All Your Home Selling Questions Answered

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Home sold with high resale because of home improvement projectsIf you’re thinking of selling your home, it’s normal to be overwhelmed.  The stakes are high; you want to get through the process quickly with the best final selling price. This is likely one of the most expensive transactions you’ll go through, and it’s common to have lots of questions (we hear it from our clients regularly). If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers (and emails to answer any other questions you may have).

What factors play into a home selling price?

Deciding upon a fair home selling price is not an exact science, because there are five factors that contribute to the asking price:

  • Location. In the case of your home’s value, the neighborhood, proximity, and sense of community all are part of determining the asking price of your home.
  • Condition. Both the interior and exterior condition of the home are part of determining the asking price; a home in excellent condition is usually worth more than a fixer upper (if they are both the same square footage).
  • Square footage. This factor is not just confined to your home. The size of your home and lot are both part of the selling price equation.
  • Improvements. Any recent home projects can increase the value of your home, such as an updated kitchen or bathroom. This applies within reason; talk to a real estate agent to make sure you don’t spend more on your project than you can recoup when you sell your home.
  • Market. This is where the state of the market can make a real impact on your asking price (and the final selling price)—and where it’s important to hire an experienced local real estate agent who knows your local market. An experienced local realtor can give you a list of comparable sales in your area, and use those recent sales (and other asking price factors) to recommend a fair price).

How much can I sell my home for?

Unfortunately, you can’t base your selling price on the amount you paid for the home or the amount listed on your property tax bill.  If you want to find out the final selling price, contact a local real estate agent for a free evaluation of your home.  The real estate agent can also give you tips that help prepare your home for the real estate market.

What do I need to do to get my house ready for sale?

What a seller does to prepare for the real estate market and showings is up to them. To make the property appear well-maintained, use this checklist to ensure the property has excellent curb appeal so potential buyers want to come in and see the home. On the inside, the home should be deep cleaned and treated for pests to keep potential buyers from running out the door (and not making an offer). A real estate agent should be able to give you other tips to prepare your home for sale.

What is a pre-listing inspection?

A seller can choose to have their home inspected before they put their home on the market to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.  A home inspector does a thorough going over of the property, and look for red flags that a buyer’s home inspector may find (and could lower the final selling price). If the home inspector does find any issues, the seller can choose the contractor (and the price) that resolves any issues. Finding and resolving issues before the home is on the market also can expedite the selling process later without any delays for repairs.

What is a condition report?

There are quite a few documents that need to be filled out in Wisconsin when you decide to put your home on the real estate market; one of those is a Condition Report.  A Condition Report is required in Wisconsin and needs to be filled out by the seller—NOT the agent.

The Condition Report details any issues that could affect the value of your property, such as unsafe well water, roof defects, or electrical issues. Even if the issue was resolved, it still needs to be listed on the Report—and what was done to resolve the issue.  For example, if the basement flooded, the problem needs to be listed EVEN if all the damage was repaired.  List the problem, the cause of the problem, any damage that was done, and all repairs that were done during the clean-up (especially what was done to ensure that the flooding never happens again). If the property does not have a defect in one of the categories listed on the form, and has never suffered damage from the defect, the seller can indicate that the property is clear in that area.

6 Steps to Buying Your First Home

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Hand of young woman showing home key of new homeReady to buy your first home?  Watching home buying shows and reading articles may be fun, but only gives you half the picture of the home buying process (and often skips over the “technical stuff”). Since the path to home ownership is different for everyone, the steps may vary slightly when you buy your first home; however, in general this is the usual order of steps in the home buying process.

Contact a lender

Before you can close on your first home, you need to get pre-approved for a loan.  Choose a lender that can give you a good mortgage rate, but know up front that you don’t need to apply to find out the lender’s rate (be aware that the actual rate might vary over time and after they determine your eligibility).  Remember, that a good mortgage lender offers more than a just good rate; a good mortgage lender gives you not only a loan, but an education and a smooth home sale process.  Make sure you also ask about any other charges over and above the mortgage rate; you don’t want to be surprised by “extra” fees.

As you choose your mortgage lender, ask yourself if you are more comfortable with an in-person lender or online lender and how much assistance you need as you navigate through the approval and closing.  Whether you choose in-person or online, make sure you vet your lender choices to ensure that you are choosing a reputable mortgage lender.  Once you have a list of potential lenders, ask each lender these questions:

  1. What is the current mortgage rate you offer?
  2. What other fees do I need to pay?
  3. What kind of loans do you offer? (Some lenders may not offer certain kind of loans, such as a HUD or veteran loan.)
  4. How long does the process take? What kind of documents do I need to proceed?

Once you have provided all the necessary documents, your lender should provide you proof of pre-approval, as well as the amount you are pre-approved for.  From these documents, you can decide what the budget is for your first home.

Choose a good real estate agent

Once you have a pre-approval letter in hand, it’s time to find a real estate agent that can assist you in finding properties. Choose a local real estate agent with a lot of experience to assist you as you navigate through the process; finding the right property is more than just showings and signing on the dotted line. A good real estate agent should know your ideal location in and out, and have the experience to help you if you encounter any bumps as you work your way through the process.

Make a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘wants’ to take into your first meeting with your real estate agent.  Do you need three bedrooms? Would you really like a large yard? Are you open to the idea of a condo or townhouse?  Your list helps your agent get a clear picture of what you really want in a property so they can choose appropriate properties. Be aware that what you want may change as you look at homes—and that your ‘must have’ list may not fit with your budget.

Let the search begin…and end

Once you have a pre-approval letter and budget number, ask your real estate agent to set up showings at properties that fit with your ‘must have’ list.  Depending on the market you are searching in and your budget, you may need to prioritize your list.  What do you want the most?  What feature is the most important?

As you tour homes, look for red flags that could signal you are purchasing a money pit. Don’t be afraid to ask more questions about anything you see that might concern you (your agent can forward your questions to the seller).

Make an offer

Once you’ve found the ‘one,’ it’s time to put an offer (purchase agreement) in on the property you are interested in. An offer is the document you submit to the seller that contains an asking price and any contingencies, or conditions, of the sale. For example, a common contingency is a financing contingency which means your loan must go through for the sale to be final. Another common contingency is an inspection contingency where the house must pass a home inspection or both parties come to an agreement on how to handle an issue that arises during the home inspection. There are other contingencies that can be included in your offer; discuss your options with your real estate agent.

Your offer may also include an earnest money amount. Earnest money shows the buyer you are serious about the property; if there is a lot of interest in the property, earnest money can set your offer apart. Earnest money is applied toward the balance of the home at closing; if you offer $215,000 with $5,000 earnest money, the final amount to pay at closing is $210,000. Ask your real estate agent how much earnest money they would recommend you should include.

Get a home inspection

A home inspection is a safeguard for buyers; it is a chance for a home inspector to look over the home and alert the home inspector to any potential problems.  A home inspector can let the buyers know the home needs a new roof, there is an electrical issue, or if there is maintenance that needs to be done soon.  If the home inspector does find a major or minor issue, the buyers can ask that the item be repaired or negotiate a lower price because of the issue.  Your real estate agent can assist you through any snags found during the home inspection.

Close on the sale

The final step is closing day.  This is the last step to homeownership; it’s also the day to sign a stack of documents so be ready with your pen.  You may also need to bring documentation to closing day; make sure you ask your lender and real estate agent exactly what you need (if anything).  If everything goes smoothly, you should receive the keys to your first home—and be home to head to your first home to enjoy it.

10 Documents to Have Ready Before You Buy a Home

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Mortgage application with approved stamp on it after lender has received all docs and approved home buyerAs a first-time home buyer (or a more experienced buyer!), it’s fun to look at houses online.  It’s fun to watch TV shows about buying homes.  Both options make buying a home look easy (and it can be if you have the right real estate agent in your corner) but the shows and websites tend not to delve into one of the most complicated part of the process: applying for a mortgage.

One of the hardest parts of applying for a home mortgage can be collecting and supplying the document your lender requires for the application process.  Here are 10 documents to start compiling as you start the process that leads to home ownership. (Be aware too, that some lenders may ask for more or less documentation depending on your situation.)

W-2’s

Most mortgage lenders ask for your most recent W-2’s, though some may ask for two or more years worth.  Ask your mortgage lender on the phone for the exact amount so you can expedite the process.

Pay stubs

Another common proof of income your mortgage lender may request is recent pay stubs.  This is especially common if you have been at your job for less than a year.  Your mortgage lender may also require your human resources department fill out a form for verification of employment.

Business profit and loss statements or 1099

If you do freelance work or own your business, your mortgage lender is going to ask for your business and profit loss statements or 1099’s stemming from your work.

Bank statements

Your mortgage lender is going to ask for documents that detail your assets.  One of those documents is bank statements with your available balances.

Tax returns (1-3 years)

Tax returns are a common request from mortgage lenders; some lenders also have you sign a form so they can request a copy direct from the IRS.  They use the two documents to verify that you have supplied the correct information and to get a full picture of your financial situation.

Investment statements

If you have any mutual funds, CDs, stocks, bonds, or other investment accounts, your mortgage lender is going to require investment statements the verify the balances.

Titles (automobile,real estate, etc.)

Your automobile and real estate titles are an important part of giving your mortgage lender a complete list of assets you own and any recent liens.  Some lenders may not require this information; ask your mortgage lender if you need to provide titles.

Canceled rent checks (or proof of payment from landlord)

Past residency is another question that needs to be answered.  Depending on your specific situation, your lender may ask for the name of your landlord, address for the past two years, and for canceled rent checks if you were a tenant.

Gift documentation (if part or all of your down payment was gifted)

If part or all of your down payment is going to be gifted from a friend or family member, your mortgage lender needs proof of the gift.  This documentation may include an account statement and letter from the individual giving the gift.

List of debts

Your mortgage lender may be able to get this from your credit report.  You may have to supply new loans or additional information in a list.  Include any student loans, alimony, child support, credit cards, or other debts along with the creditor name and contact information (including address).

If you have any questions, ask your lender.  Once you are approved (or during the approval process), your real estate agent can help you find your home and go from mortgage applicant to new home owner.

7 Spring Maintenance Tasks to Tackle this Weekend

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beautiful house after spring maintenance tasks completedSpring maintenance may be one of the most non-glamorous parts of home ownership.  Let’s be honest: very few homeowners (if any) sign on the bottom line so they can clean their gutters.  While it may not be the most exciting part of being a home owner, spring maintenance can actually prevent costly repairs later and maintain the value of your home (who wouldn’t get excited about that?). That’s why it makes cents (pun intended) to tackle these spring maintenance tasks now that the weather is warming up (even a little!).

Clear out gutters and downspouts.

It’s time to get out the ladder.  Spring is the ideal time to clean out the leaves, twigs, pine needles and other debris that fill your gutters and downspouts. If you don’t have the time, hire a handyman to check this spring maintenance task off the list.

Inspect your roof.

Between the wind, snow, and sleet, your roof has had to withstand a hard winter.  Now that all the wintry weather is gone (mostly), it’s time to look for shingles that are warped, buckling, loose or damaged. If you’re nervous about heights, hire a roofing specialist to evaluate your roof, repair damaged shingles, or replace the entire roof if needed.

Have your fireplace and chimney checked.

It’s spring!  Time to move those cozy fires to the deck or patio.  Since you’re giving your fireplace and chimney a break, contact the professionals to make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and safe.  A professional can also make any repairs so you’re ready next fall.

Stop the leaks.

If you don’t want all your AC’s cool air to fly out the windows, inspect your windows and exterior doors for leaks.  If the gap around one of your windows and doors is bigger than a nickel, fill the gaps with calk or hire a handyman to perform this spring home maintenance task.

Check your AC.

Before it’s time to flick the AC switch on, clean your AC and furnace, inspect the lines, check your refrigerant levels. If you don’t have the expertise, contact the pros to clean and maintain your AC and furnace so your units are ready for use when you need it.

Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

If you haven’t already, check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they work when and if you need them.  Practice your fire escape plan with your family so you are all prepared in case of emergency.

Prep your lawn mower.

All our spring rains are going to green up our lawn. Before you have to start it up, now is the time to sharpen the blades, clean out last year’s lawn clippings, and pick up some fresh gas for your next mow.

Of course, if your home is on the market, you have to do all these spring maintenance tasks and more (a complete list of curb appeal to-do’s is listed here) to prep your home for the market.  Add contacting a real estate agent to the list so you can find out how much your home is worth, and your home can be sold before our spring turns into a hot Wisconsin summer.

Condo or House? 4 Questions that Help You Decide Which Home to Buy

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new home owner receiving key in hand after buying homeIf you’re like many first-time home buyers, one of the biggest decisions in your home-buying process is whether to buy a single-family house or a condo.  While you don’t have to make that final decision until you sign on the dotted line at closing (though it’s advantageous to ask your agent to see both your options), it is important to ask these questions as you compare these different types of homes.

Are you okay with shared spaces/common areas?

This is a key part of every home buyer’s decision, since many condos have shared indoor or outdoor spaces.  That space may be a lobby or outdoor yard, all maintained by the condo association.  If you are not comfortable with these shared spaces or think they are too much like an apartment, ask your agent to find condos with minimal common areas or single-family houses where you don’t have any shared spaces.

Are you comfortable with shared walls?

Whether above, below, or side walls, condo owners inevitably have to share walls with their neighbors.  As you tour a condo, decide whether you would be comfortable sharing walls with neighbors—or if there is any reason your neighbors would have problems sharing walls with you.  If you love to practice with your band in your home (loudly) or need loud music to relax after a late shift, you might want to look into purchasing a single-family home.

Do you want to take on yard maintenance?

Owning a condo comes with a huge perk: a permanent vacation from exterior maintenance.  One of the key features that sets a condo apart is the fact that the building and grounds are maintained by the condominium association.

However, if you like to mow the lawn or want to plant a huge garden, a condo may not be the home for you.  In a single-family home, it is your responsibility to do all the maintenance that comes with keeping up your home and yard.  Because these areas are yours to maintain, you can also plant the garden you’ve always dreamed about or paint your home whatever color you want (unless you buy in a subdivision with homeowners association guidelines-ask your real estate agent before you tour the property).

Have I budgeted for condo fees?

Condos may be maintenance-fee, but that maintenance does come with a cost.  As a condo owner, you are required to pay condo fees that cover the costs of maintenance, repairs to the building, and any amenities that may come with the condo.  To find out the fees, ask your real estate agent for the exact amount before you tour the property.  Budget accordingly; though condos are typically cheaper up front, the condo fees can make the total price more expensive than a single-family property.

Single-family homes do not commonly come with these fees, unless you purchase a property covered by a homeowner’s association (HOA).  Talk to your real estate agent before you tour a home to see if there are any HOA fees associated with the property. A quality real estate agent can help you decide whether a condo or single-family home is right for you—and help you find the right property for you.

Is spring the best time to buy a home?

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brick home for sale in spring“When is the right time to buy a house?” “Is spring the best time to buy a home?”  When temperatures rise so does the interest from home buyers—and the amount of questions about when is the right time to purchase a new home.  The answer to this question is not as cut and dry as it seems (or as most buyers want to hear).  Here is the complete answer for anyone looking for the ideal time to purchase a new home. (If you have any other questions, we’d be happy to answer those questions too.)

Pros

Buying a home in spring comes with a list of advantages.  Traditionally, more homes come on the market in spring so buyers have more homes that fit their criteria.  In Wisconsin, it’s easy to see why: spring weather is better (translation: not snowy and freezing) so more buyers are willing to venture out to find a new home.

Spring is also the ideal time for families who want to be in their new home before the new school year.  Starting the home search spring gives families ample time to put their existing home on the market, close on the new home, and register in the new school district before the first day of school.  When kids are involved, it’s easier for everyone in the family when they don’t have to bundle up before every home showing.

For home buyers, there is also some reassurance in shopping for a new home in the spring.  It’s easier to see the home you are touring (including the blemishes) when it’s not covered in a blanket of snow.

Cons

Because spring is such a hot time for home buying and selling, market prices tend to be slightly higher simply because of supply and demand.  Because there is more activity, there tends to be more competition for a property.  Put simply, more buyers mean more offers on a desirable property and a higher purchase price than during fall or winter.

Takeaway

Your answer to this question is going to depend on the circumstances and reasons you are purchasing a new home.  If you want to be in a home in a new school district, the time to buy is spring or summer.  For a shopper looking for the ultimate bargain, fall and winter are the best times when inventory is low and the competition is minimal.  If you want a lot of options, spring is traditionally when a lot of new homes are put on the market.  To find out exactly what the state of the local market is right now, contact a local real estate agent to find out when is the best time to buy a home in your area.

7 Home Projects that Increase Your Asking Price

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home with dollars for roof and walls that can get full asking price at saleNot every home needs a complete gut job to fetch a high resale price when you put it on the market.  A few select home projects can get you that dream asking price at sale—or at least closer to that target asking price.  The best way to decide where to put your remodeling dollars to get more funds when you sell? Ask your real estate agent.  An experienced real estate agent should be able to give you recommendations that help you choose the right project (or projects) from the list of remodeling projects that can increase your resale price.

Front Door

A new front door makes complete cents (pun intended) as a home project that can make an impact on your home sale.  Why? Your front door directly contributes to your curb appeal.  Plainly put, it’s the first part of your home that potential home sellers see when they come to your home.  A door that’s falling apart or fading is not going to get home sellers in the door—or make them question the quality of your home before they’ve even stepped in.

Bathroom Update

Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes.  That’s why an outdated bathroom with pink toilets or a vanity with degrading vanity doors should be at the top of your list of home projects.  In neighborhoods where vintage and historic homes are valued, classic floors and tiles should be cleaned and preserved.  A mint green shower surround, however, can be swapped out with a look that potential home buyers want to pay for.  Often, your bathroom can be updated (if the layout is functional) affordably if key parts of the room are in good condition.  A new vanity, counter top, shower surround or tile, light fixture, and mirror—whatever is needed—can make your bathroom look like a new room.

Kitchen Face lift

Remodeling your kitchen for sale should be done with caution.  As much as a gourmet kitchen would sell your home, investing too much in your kitchen face lift can leave you at a financial loss; you may not recoup every dollar at the home sale.  If your cabinets are in good shape, new counter tops, floors, and a back splash may be the only projects needed.  Cabinet boxes in good condition can be refaced or the doors can be painted to make your kitchen look ready for the new owners.

Finished Basement

Another bedroom, family room, or media room adds to your overall square footage and makes your home more appealing to potential home buyers.  Additional square footage adds to your asking price, and is an excellent selling point when you put your home on the market.  Just like with your kitchen remodel, make sure you only spend what you can recoup at sale.  Your real estate agent can give you recommendations on what basement renovations can get you the most bang for your buck.  As you select the flooring and décor, make sure you make neutral choices that the next homeowners won’t have to change after sale.

Deck/Patio

Almost everyone enjoys a good grill out from time to time, which is why outdoor space is highly sought after by most home buyers.  Make sure your deck or patio is in good repair and ready for sale by asking your real estate agent to connect you with a home inspector that can give your home a pre-listing inspection.  If your deck or patio is in good shape, use a power washer to make sure it’s clean and ready for sale.

Attic Bedroom

Additional bedrooms can get you a higher asking price at sale, as long as the bedroom is legal and of quality construction.  Finish your attic to add another bedroom to your listing and additional square footage that sells your home.  Make sure your attic has adequate head space, and add a bathroom if it is easy (and cost effective) to run the plumbing.

New Floors

Dirty carpets, damaged wood floors, and worn hard floors can send potential home buyers to the door and make them wonder how much it is going to cost them to replace.  If your buyers are adding up the cost of projects during the showing, they may offer you less than asking so they have funds for projects.  Have your carpets shampooed or replaced if they are in terrible shape.  Refinish any wood floors that are stained or faded so your home looks move-in ready and worthy of a full-price offer.

7 BIG Mistakes Home Sellers Make Before a Showing

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for sale sign at home ready for showingA cockroach. Disgustingly dirty tub.  The list of things that send potential home buyers running from a home is a list that you don’t want to add to when selling your home.  Here is the list of the most common mistakes we’ve seen home sellers make before a showing—and how you can avoid it.

Not clearing the walks.

Driveways and sidewalks that are full of lawn clippings, leaves, and snow block potential buyers from your home, and keep them from making an offer.

What you can do: Clean your sidewalks before every showing.  Because potential home buyers don’t always give you a lot of notice before they want to walk through your home, try to keep your driveway and walks clean at all times.  If you have to leave your home vacant, make a regular trip over to the property or hire a local company for periodic exterior maintenance.

Not worrying about curb appeal.

Buyers make a snap decision about your property from what they see on the outside.  Cracked driveways, overgrown hedges, obnoxious colors, or a rotting front porch can make potential home buyers not want to go in and see more.

What you can do: Your real estate agent can give you names of local home inspectors who can give your home a comprehensive once-over and identify any issues that could make a dent in the amount you take from your home sale.  Use our curb appeal checklist to make sure your home looks it best, and practically pulls potential buyers in the door.

Making your home smell too nice.

Some home sellers bake cookies, others use air fresheners or candles to make their home smell pleasant.  It is possible to overdo it, however, and leave your potential home buyers so preoccupied with their allergies that they don’t see your home as a possibility.

What you can do: Make sure your home has a pleasant smell, but be careful about the strength of the scent.  Strong odors can not only repel potential buyers, but make them think that you’re hiding a problem.

Not taking the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness” to heart.

A dirty toilet, tub, or countertop is pretty hard to look past—or can make your buyers wonder how low you’ll go so they can afford to replace any dirty items.

What you can do: Give your home a deep clean that makes your home look new.  If you don’t have time to take on all the scrubbing and elbow grease your home needs, hire a cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom.

Making your rooms look small.

Your prized knick-knacks and furniture may seem like a logical addition to any room, but can make your rooms look tiny because of the clutter.

What you can do: Clear your floors and shelves of all the “stuff” that takes up room.  You can leave a few items on shelves, but try to keep your floors clear to make the room feel larger.  Put any excess items or furniture in storage or in a friend or family member’s home.

Not checking all the light bulbs.

Home buyers make snap judgments about your home ownership from what they see as they walk through. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to check the plumbing, light switches, and windows to see if there are any red flags.

What you can do: Replace all light bulbs (interior and exterior) and make sure your faucets work properly.  Get any issues or major systems repaired before you put your home on the market.  Hire a home inspector that can check your home for any issues that could be a home sale deal breaker.

Not hiring an exterminator.

A dead mouse or bug—or even any sign of an infestation (i.e. droppings, traps, etc.)—can leave potential buyers wondering about the extent of the problem or heading straight for the door.

What you can do: You want potential buyers to be wowed by your home, not disgusted by it.  Hire an exterminator if you have an issue, and make sure your home is clean and free of any pests. If you want to make sure your home is ready and completely prepped for a showing, ask your real estate agent to walk through your home and make recommendations. An experienced local agent can also give you their recommendation of a fair selling price—everything you need to take your home from a good home showing to a home sale.