How buyers experience your home
If you are selling your home, you know you have to be prepared for showings. Consider what visitors will be paying attention to when they tour your property: what they see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Let’s assume that no one is tasting your house (and if someone is, you probably won’t want to enter into a transaction with him or her anyway).
How your property looks is going to be the number one thing buyers focus on. Your agent will probably discuss staging with you, advise you to reduce the number of knick-knacks and personal photos you have out, tidy the closets, etc. You should also outfit all light fixtures with the highest wattage bulbs it can take and, of course, make sure you have no inoperable bulbs. These suggestions will help it look its best, both in pictures (the main tool for procuring showings) and in person.
Obviously, your house needs to look its best, which includes being clean. That includes power washing the exterior and any patios or decks, attending to landscaping, having your windows washed, having the rugs cleaned and having the inside professionally cleaned, top to bottom. There are liable to be some repairs/improvements your agent suggests, like tightening loose hinges and other hardware, fixing that leaky faucet, touching up paint, re-caulking n tubs, replacing any broken window panes, etc. You will need to discuss the return on investment on projects, especially larger ones like replacing appliances or carpeting. Your agent should be able to give you guidance.
Some people leave music or tv on. Don’t. Just don’t. Often it’s done to cover external noise, like the hum of a nearby highway. All it does is draw attention to the fact that it was left on to mask other noise. The result is that it ensures people will be worrying about noise they might not have otherwise even noticed. It also makes you seem sneaky and not open and honest. Finally, your choice of music might be distasteful to the buyer which could negatively affect the showing experience. So, I repeat: don’t.
While, in theory, people shouldn’t be touching your things, they might want to open kitchen drawers or closets; make sure they won’t get splinters or mystery sticky strawberry jam residue for their efforts. Also make sure railings and stairs and decks feel sturdy and safe.
Here’s the sensory experience sellers most often overlook. Let’s talk about a few specifics:
- Pets–if you have pets, the house can smell like them. Make sure you’ve had any carpeting professionally cleaned just prior to beginning showings. Also, empty not only any cat litter, but take out food bowls because they can leave an odor. The same goes for dog beds or crates. Air out the house if possible as well.
- Cooking smells–while it is understandable that you will need to prepare food if you are still living in the house, do your best to not make fish or other very strong smelling foods just before a showing. Use your kitchen fan, open the windows if the season allows for it.
- Perfumed plug-ins, incense, sprays, candles–not to be redundant, but don’t. Same reasons as for the music; it only accentuates the fact that you are covering up an unpleasant odor. And even if that’s not the case, and you just like them, take my word that buyers will suspect bad smells are lurking in the background of any kind of scented air.
- Recently used bathrooms–like using the kitchen, you need to use your bathroom. But when a prospective buyer walks into a steamy bathroom that is damp from a recent shower and smells like wet towel, it’s not likely to make a good impression. And other bathroom smells, well…I’ll leave it to you to sort that out as well as you can.
When you are getting your house “show-ready” think about all the ways we take in information: four out of the five senses will be heavily relied on by visitors. So take the time to try to, objectively, mirror what their experience would be in your home and make any necessary adjustments. Good luck selling!
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