Attention Home Sellers! We want to help you get interested Buyers. Here is some helpful information for preparing to sell your house.

Sometimes, even a few small mistakes can make a potential buyer not interested. Even during times that the home market may be deemed positive, it can also mean that sellers can be quite demanding and choosy.

When selling a house, look carefully for each advantage that can count. While some homes may be ready for the market without a lot of effort – if yours requires more than just a little fixing and preparation – then listing your home when it is not fully ready could mean it may sit on the market for months.

Carefully observe any conditions that could cause delay in selling your home quickly:

How is the exterior of the property and the surrounding neighborhood?

Begin looking at the exterior of your property. The outdoor areas need to be free of debris and overgrown trees and shrubs. Make the entrance, the porch, or steps clean and inviting. Windows should be clean and any gutters, as well as  the roof, should be clear of excessive leaves or pine needles. Check to make sure there are not any missing shingles or noticeable peeling paint. A lack of curb appeal may not necessarily kill a sale, but sometimes, if the exterior of the home or the yard is a mess, then potential buyers may assume the inside is not very nice either.

Hopefully any area neighbors are friendly and keep their adjacent yards in decent condition. If they are in poor health or simply unable to mow or rake – possibly offer to do it for them before showing your property to potential buyers.

If some of your neighbors are the furry kind, such as dogs who may bark loudly and frequently every time someone approaches the area, it could be a deterrent for some potential buyers. Barking is a natural occurrence, but incessant barking on days that you have an open house is not very welcoming. An idea could be speaking to your neighbor and asking that they keep their dogs inside for the hours needed. Or, you may offer to pay for a day at a doggie day care, or a nice long dog walk with a professional dog walker on your showing days. (If the conversation with your neighbor does not help, or you suspect that the dog, or dogs, are left outside 24/7 – you may want to call an area animal advocacy agency or the local police – if you feel that it is enough for a nuisance complaint.)

For any neighbor issues such as overgrown or messy yards – local regulations may exist regarding trash or unkempt lawns. If your neighbor has a fence that is visibly in disrepair – unless your community has a statute regulating fences – you cannot force them to replace the unsightly fence or other fixture in their yard. If trimming a tree slightly would help to improve your view, or branches are hanging obstructively over your property line, you may ask your neighbor to trim up or offer to pay for it to be done. Always get written permission first.

If the neighbors are renters and are not respectful to others in the neighborhood, you may start by reaching out to their landlord. Information about property ownership can be looked up online by searching local land records, or by visiting your county assessor’s office. The landlord may have no idea that any problematic behavior is occurring and they could be of help in the situation.

Ready to take buyers inside for a showing?

Of course the first action to take is to ensure cleanliness. Sweep, dust, vacuum, wipe, scrub, and work to remove any nasty smells that may linger from pets or cooking odors. If you have not fully moved out yet because your new home depends on the sale of your existing home, you may need to rent a storage unit for a little while to store excess items. Having too much furniture may make your home look smaller, so aim to declutter each room. Clean out any cabinets, closets, and the garage or attic or basement. Buyers love to open doors and drawers to look inside and examine closets and cabinets. If these spaces appear crammed or messy, they may assume that there is not enough storage space for their own stuff.

Aim as close as possible to presenting a sparkling clean kitchen and bathroom. Fixtures that are scratched, chipped, or stained may need to be refinished or replaced to ensure a sale. Repair any visible damage to walls, floors, countertops, and other areas as needed, but be honest about any of the property’s known faults. Trying to just cover up problems will generally come back to reflect on you, as buyers may request to renegotiate or choose to walk away without further consideration or inspection.

Unless you offer your house for a price that will make buyers focus on the good and ignore the bad – it is going to need some work. Big problems in your house can be deal killers, but they can also be deal savers if you are reasonable. If your inspection uncovers plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems (or all three) and you are honest and willing to negotiate, you may still earn a decent sale.

Ask your Realtor and some friends to provide you with an objective opinion about the interior. It may be ideal to paint the walls with neutral tones or plain white in preparation for the sale because potential buyers should be able to imagine their own furnishings in the space. They need to be able to picture themselves living inside – so help them do so by removing any really distinctive decor or pictures. Do leave the curtain rods, drapes, specialty light fixtures, and certain appliances – unless you specify differently in your listing agreement.

Keep in mind that just because your neighbor’s home sold quickly at a premium price does not mean that yours will too. The real estate market goes through ebbs and flows – so listen to your Realtor’s advice when it comes to completing recommended repairs and marketable pricing.