If you’re getting ready to put your house up for sale, consider this exercise as it can prove a very helpful tool. Make a list of the pros and cons of the home–that includes the house itself (maybe the closets are small, but the finished basement is awesome), the property (maybe the lack of landscaping isn’t great, but the pool is) and the larger neighborhood (the commute is rough, but having the neighborhood Halloween party and the book club are huge pluses). Then take a look at the list. Let’s start with the cons. Think creatively about which ones are changeable. Things like location, a sloped lot and freeway noise are hard to overcome. However, might small closets be reduced in importance if the bedrooms are large enough to house an armoire? Can less-than-great natural light be offset by replacing all bulbs with high-wattage ones? Can “tired” hardwood floors be spruced up with a layer of finish? As I say, try to think creatively. Ask your agent (we have a LOT of practice at this!). Now, of course, you’ll need to evaluate whether the cost/effort will be worth any expected increase in sales price or in a quicker sale. Do the obvious stuff too: have the windows, carpets and gutters cleaned, make sure the shrubs and lawn are trimmed and tidy, reduce clutter, etc. (see more on the “regular” tasks you should do in preparation to sell your house).
Once you’ve dealt with the negatives, look at the list of pros. These are the features you want to market. Have your agent include the highlights in the text that’s on the MLS and affiliated sites, but also remind visitors of them–I put table tents up for things like “radiant heat in bathroom floors” or “wallpaper to be removed prior to closing”. If you live in a neighborhood that has gatherings or book clubs, save flyers advertising them so buyers know about the great community. Have you replaced the furnace? Updated the bathroom? Painted the entire exterior? Put together a list of all the improvements you’ve made (with costs, if you have them). One of my favorite marketing tools is a “Why we’ve loved living here” sheet that I ask sellers to create. Remember, you know your house and community best. Share the most appealing features, whether it’s the schools, the yard, the wonderful light in the kitchen, the access to great shopping…whatever you think might be a selling point.
So try to be brutally honest with your pro/con list. While it can be hard to write down “bad” things about your house, the idea is to mitigate them as much as possible ahead of listing. While you can’t change certain aspects of the property, there may be ways to compensate for some of them, and, of course, you’ll want to draw as much attention as possible to the positives. Good luck!