How to Reduce Home Showing Stress
This is the second column by Rappahannock County real estate agent Amy Sloane Timbers. Have a question about real estate matters? Write Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Amy Sloane Timbers
Selling a house can be a very stressful process. Sellers can be under pressure to move due to job transfers, or re-location demands. Buying or selling a house can be one of the most stressful events in life.
One thing a seller can do to reduce the pressure is to ensure the house is in good showing order. The house should be spruced up, cleaned-up, and picked-up so buyers can roll in at a moment’s notice.
It’s not easy to maintain a house in showing order but the following tips may help.
Sprucing up is the most time consuming and money consuming. These are the type of things that can be done in advance that will last: including re-painting rooms, fixing delayed maintenance items, fixing drippy sinks, up-grading outdated appliances, and landscaping. Projects like this will put the property in the best light. Prospective buyers can be turned off by a home when they see gutters that don’t drain, a 1970’s green stove, peeling paint in the bathroom, or a dead lawn mower in what was once a yard. The buyer might fear this indicates the seller hasn’t taken care of the house, and there could be other, perhaps expensive things in disrepair.
The seller also needs to clean up. This is the de-cluttering or de-personalization part of the job. Closets and cabinets should be cleaned and organized. The garage should be turned back into a garage instead of a storage area. Personal items and personal touches should be reduced.
Personally, I find this hard to do, but when it is done buyers will be able to see the house and not the seller’s personal belongings. This helps buyers to visualize their things in the house. However, it is possible to go too far in the clean up. Sellers don’t want to create an “unlived in” feel. Their house needs to retain some of their personality, just not too much.
Picking up is the day-to-day cleaning that so few of us really do day-to-day. I think of these things as something anyone would do when expecting guests. The problem is these guests, the buyers, want to see everything. When having guests over for dinner, I don’t worry about how the laundry room or the master bedroom looks. When prepping to sell your house every room counts, even the basement. The buyer will want to look everywhere. Bathrooms and kitchens are very important—no rings or dishes. If the seller has children, this can be almost an impossible task. Toys should be contained and crayon marks cleaned. Buyers should make allowances for children and most do so. Sellers also need to ensure there is no pet odor or hair. Pets, like children, make things trickier and each case is special.
Major repairs or updates are items that should be examined individually. Some repairs, such as a leaking roof or basement should be fixed. This type of repair might not make the property sell for more but it will surely sell for less if it isn’t done. Some updating is optional, such as re-doing the guest bath. However, some buyers many not want the guest bath re-done so they can put their own touch on the house.
Deciding whether to put on new wallpaper or re-painting children’s rooms are also debatable updates. You might want to discuss items like this with your agent first. Some of them are purely a matter of style so it can be difficult to decide if it is worth the time and money.
If the seller can spruce up and clean up, then the pick-up will be faster and easier. This will reduce some of the stress. It is even better if the seller can get into a routine of a quick pick up. That way you can be confident the house looks good when an agent calls and wants to show the house in 15 minutes to an out of town buyer.