The time to list your home for sale is NOW!! There are more buyers than good homes for them to buy.
So, how do you make sure your home is ready for the market? As the trainer for one of Michigan’s largest real estate companies and the author of You Gonna’ Sell Real Estate or What? The Guerrilla Guide to Real Estate Today, I have created a Property Marketability Checklist for Realtors, which will help you get your home ready to sell quickly and for TOP DOLLAR.
When you are ready to sell, call me!
The following is excerpted from my book, You Gonna’ Sell Real Estate or What? The Guerrilla Guide to Real Estate Today. Available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and more.
Property Marketability Checklist
Print this checklist as-is or customize it to make it your own. Carry it with you on a clipboard to and during the listing appointment. Check those items which need the seller’s attention.
1. Neighborhood and Surroundings
- What are your observations as you approach the home?
- Is getting into and out of the neighborhood easy or are there traffic snarls?
- Are the homes in the neighborhood in good condition?
- Are there homes in close proximity to the property which could negatively impact your listing’s marketability – barking dogs, semi tractors, travel trailers or commercial vehicles parked in their driveways?
- Does the home’s deck overlook an industrial park?
- Does the home conform to its surroundings?
- Is the home noticeably larger or smaller than the other homes in the neighborhood?
- Is its architectural style unusual for the area?
These factors may not be in the seller’s control but deciding to leave the neighborhood is in the buyer’s control.
2. Front Exterior
- Are the home’s exterior colors outdated or faded?
- Do the colors have broad appeal?
- The home’s exterior must be crisp and clean. If they are not, repaint.
- Is the roof smooth and flat?
- Are the shingles starting to curl?
- Is moss growing on it?
- If the home has eave troughs, are they bent or crooked?
- Are the lawn, shrubs, mulch beds and flower beds neatly trimmed?
- Are trees overgrown or blocking the view of the home?
- Can they be trimmed or should they be removed?
Driveway and Sidewalks
- Are the driveway and sidewalk cracked or uneven?
- Is the front door a focal point?
- Does it catch your eye … in a good way?
- If not, repaint or replace it.
- Are there warped panels or peeling paint on the garage door?
In short, don’t lose the buyer at the street. Make them eager to get inside!!
Remember that clutter not only hides the positive features of the home. It is also distracting. Your objective is to keep the buyer’s eyes focused on the home, not the seller’s ceramic statue collection.
- Does the home look cluttered?
- Are the kitchen counters loaded with small appliances?
- Is the refrigerator covered with magnets and post-it notes?
- Does excess furniture or furnishings make the home seem cramped?
- Are the shelves throughout the home filled with knick knacks or family photos?
- Are the closets jammed with clothes?
- Are the basement and garage so full of stored items they appear small?
- Does the home smell bad?
- Cigarette smoke odor?
- Pet odor?
- Cooking odors?
- Diaper pail or garbage cans?
Cigarette smoke and pet odors are the most frequent offenders but pungent cooking odors, diaper pails and garbage and disposers may be odors to which the seller is desensitized. Tell them to wash or re-paint walls; wash all curtains, drapes and bedding. Use Febreze® on cloth furniture saturated with odor. The seller may need to replace carpeting if shampooing does not eliminate the odors.
- Do the basement or bathrooms have mildew odor?
Suggest using bleach or pine cleaner to clean them. Recommend they use a dehumidifier to keep those areas dry. (Remember, cleaning does not cure the cause of the underlying dampness or more serious, hidden mold. It only makes the home smell better.)
- Does the home look fresh and clean?
- Do the windows sparkle?
- Are the curtains and blinds crisp and dust-free?
- Are the wood floors polished?
- Is the carpeting shadowy in high-traffic areas and on stairways?
- Are there walls yellowed from smoke or dingy from age?
Wash the windows inside and out. Wash or paint smudges on walls. Clean curtains, drapes and mini-blinds. Buff up wood floors and shampoo carpets which appear shadowy from high traffic areas. Replace carpeting that is stained, worn, dirty or outdated. Recommend they paint walls which are shadowy or yellowed from smoke.
- Are the home’s colors up-to-date?
- If not, suggest they re-paint with current, neutral colors. Don’t be afraid to add a little pizzazz by adding dense accent colors sparingly.
- Do the kids’ rooms have bright colors or painted murals?
- Buyers with young boys will see a paint job in their future if all the bedrooms are Barbie-doll® pink.
- Is there a lot of wallpaper?
- Buyers hate to remove wallpaper when they buy a home. Encourage your seller to remove excessive wallpaper. No wallpaper is best.
- Are the carpets in good condition and contemporary in style and color?
If the carpeting is avocado shag, it does not matter how well it has worn – replace it, preferably with carpeting which appeals to most tastes. Avoid room-by-room carpeting. If most of the home needs new carpeting, it is best to re-carpet throughout with one neutral color. Add excitement with area rugs and throws. Steer clear of dark colors; they make the room shrink.
4. Basement and Garage
- Are the basement and garage packed with stored belongings?
Urge them to clear out everything they don’t absolutely need. Throw away old paint cans; the colors won´t match now anyway. Wood scraps they have been saving to build a birdhouse should be tossed. Nobody wants their collection of nails, screws, bolts and assorted fasteners. Tell them to pack them away for their next workshop.
While you are in the basement, check the mechanicals – furnace, electrical system, hot water heater, foundation and so on. You do not need a contracting license to see that something does not look right.
- Is there mold or mildew or evidence of water?
- Is there rust on the furnace?
- Caked-on lime where the humidifier is?
- Are there loose wires and open junction boxes?
If you have any reason to believe there is a problem, suggest the seller hire a licensed contractor to check it out further.
Buyers will not pay top dollar for money pits. Tell them the truth: Fix the problems before you put the home on the market or be prepared to concede more than the cost of repair in the sales price of your home.
6. Back Yard
- Is the back yard inviting?
- Is the deck worn and dull?
- Is the patio cracked?
- Are the fences in good condition?
- Does the lawn look lush and green?
- Are there overgrown trees and shrubs?
- Does the patio furniture enhance the back yard or detract from it?
When selling, it is best to redecorate, not remodel.
Occasionally, however, a home will need more than de-cluttering, cleaning and painting. In most cases, however, the seller will not recoup their investment in a kitchen or bathroom overhaul – new fixtures and appliances, countertops and tile.
- Is the kitchen layout non-functional by today’s standards?
- Are the appliances well past their life expectancy?
- Do the kitchen cupboards and countertops need replacing?
- Do the bathroom tiles and fixtures show the age of the home?
- Is the floor plan of the home choppy or disconnected?
If the home’s appeal is significantly hindered by an inconvenient floor plan or outdated kitchen and bathrooms, selective remodeling may be necessary to improve its marketability. If remodeling is required, be sure the investment conforms to the value of the home. Installing a Jacuzzi ® tub and Corian® countertops in a $100,000 home is not a prudent expenditure. Conversely, remodeling with cheap components in a $500,000 home will do more harm than good.
If you consistently take listings which are in marketable condition or priced to compensate for their limited marketability, your ratio of sales to listings will increase dramatically and quickly.