Every week I tour about twelve homes. I go with a group of at least three other agents. People talk. We comment, we discuss in the car. After five years of doing this, here is what I have heard.

1. Smell – this is number one for me and a lot of folks on tour. Some agents can not even make it through the entire house. Pet smell, smoke smell, musty house smell, lived-in smell, whatever the smell, an attempt can be made to remedy it. Try new carpet, new paint, remove furniture. The is a big one and needs to be dealt with head on.

2. Darkness – In the PNW, light is key. Your home may be too covered in trees, cutting them down, taking down dark drapes, or installing a solar tube or skylight will do wonders. Lighten up your paint colors. I just went into a house that had great vaulted ceilings, but the whole room, ceilings and all were painted a dark barn red. And, just this week I previewed an 1800 square foot home with small rooms on a dark lot, and the entire downstairs was painted forest green. One agent later commented that he needed a head lamp to get through the house. Ugg, a no, no. Spending $100 to $200 for a paint consultant to come over for a couple of hours could make a major difference in how others perceive your home.

3. Cramped Feeling – get rid of some furniture. You may need the sofa, love seat and chair, but take out one of them and you have a larger feeling family room. People want to navigate the home easily and too much furniture can hinder that.

4. Linoleum – Once linoleum ages, it is pretty much done. If it has cuts or is curling up in the corners rip it out and replace it with tile, marmoleum – the options are endless.

5. Electric coil stove-tops – These are out of date, but also hard to clean. If you have one, you are ten years behind the times. A $250 update to at least a flat electric cook top is worth it. Overall, people who care, want gas and for some reason, even if people do not cook, it is sort of a status symbol. Gas burners are packaged in the “oooh and aahh” bundle of stainless steel and granite.

6. Dirt – A clean house, no matter what the finishes, goes a long way. People are so impressed with clean, even if it is a 1970’s condo in original condition, clean can sell. If your home is priced right and clean, I mean sparkly, clean smelling clean, you have two strikes in your favor.

7. Mossy walkways and decks, ok, moss in general – You want people to come in the home and if the walk-way looks like a challenge, we are getting off on the wrong foot. Two words: power washer. Around here moss covered roofs are called raised garden beds. You don’t want one of those.

8. Rickety-ness – Squeaks worry people. Do what you can to nail down creeks below carpeting, tighten up stair-rails and, the biggie: work on any wobbly steps up to the house.

9. Seven types of flooring – this goes to flow. If the entry is tile, the family room carpet, the hallway Pergo, the bedrooms all different colors of carpet, and the bathrooms lino, we’ve got issues. It not only makes people dizzy, dizzy because they are adding up replacement costs in there head, it chops up the house making it seem smaller and feel dated. Make an attempt to pull out a few and unify rooms as much as possible.

10. Miss-matched finishes – A brass doorknob here, a chrome faucet there, but wait, over there is a new brushed stainless steel faucet. Swapping out the old and making an attempt at cohesive finishes is a good idea. Unfortunately, one new facet alone, does not qualify your home as a remodel.

The bottom line is get some other eyes, ears, and noses in your home before you put it on the market. Preferably honest ones. You only have one chance to make a first impression with a buyer. When I list a home, not only do I give my sellers a list of suggested improvements, but forty other agents from my office will preview the home and give feedback as well. These changes are not always easy, but in the long run, two thousand dollars spent before a home is listed could earn you ten thousand at close.

On July 11, 2009, in Real Estate Business, by

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