10 Overlooked Secrets When Putting your Home for Sale:

I am about to share with you some secrets, when executed properly, down to the nitty gritty, will bring in multiple showings, thus leading to a successful sale. These are tried, tested and true. It’s like having a cheat sheet. Often time’s sellers are quite attached to their homes emotionally – rightly so – and cannot see past what they have done to their home, sometimes it’s doing too many changes or not enough is the catch 22.

The first key in any Real Estate Transaction is to have great representation, early in the game. In fact according to Fortune Magazine: 2015

“Most People aren’t hiring Real estate Agents or Brokers more than once or twice in their lives, making them uniquely incapable to gauge the quality of what they are buying…”

The above statement is so true to its core. Most people have no way to measure the quality of the Agent they are getting. They hire a great agent, often times recommended by others. They list their homes, only to sit on the market, making price reductions, while being blamed by this agent for not selling. I am sure you have seen at least one home on your street in the past that just sat there without selling?  Having listed and sold so many homes that did not sell the first time around, I burn inside my heart at the false promises and vulnerability that these sellers faced. So how do you find the right agent – HERE IS MY ARTICLE ON: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT REPRESENTATION?

 

Your job as a seller is to prepare your home in such a way that it brings out it’s best features a buyer may look for. The key here is to do all this with minimal expenditure while maximising your return. By giving you specific examples of what has worked and not worked, I will let you make your own judgements. In each of these cases, all of my experience was shared with these clients and eventually, their own decisions impacted the outcome. So without further ado, let’s talk about Pebble Singha’s secret tips, I would give my mother to get the home ready for sale.

 

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Overlooked Secret #9: Storage and Space.

Most agents overlook this important detail. In San Fernando Valley CA, most homes were built in the 1950’s. That meant tiny closets and smaller spaces. I quickly realised that in order to sell these 1200 – 1500 sq ft homes at top dollars, the first thing I had to showcase was “SPACE”. A simple trick to organise your home is to get rid of that clutter. Trust me, less is best. Space is the most important thing in the home, and don’t be shy to flaunt it. De-Clutter those overloaded closets. Get rid of anything you will not use in the next 30 days. Buy Plastic storage containers to fill up and slide them under the bed or store them in the garage. Have oversized furniture in the living & bedrooms, no worries, just take everything thing else out, but that one big piece. The longer you delay this, the more headaches you will have later. Garage filled up with all this de-cluttering? Great! It’s time to have a garage sale. For years I have held Garage sales for my clients and the neighbors on that street. It not only becomes fun, but it helps sell more stuff. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PICTURES OF MY SELLERS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS DOING GARAGE SALES. Space makes the buyer imagine their own lifestyle in it. Overlooking STORAGE & SPACE is a big mistake.

Overlooked Secret #8: “Let there be Light”

Sunshine is essential for the survival of our planet. Real Estate is not much different. According to my photographer (No, I don’t whip out my phone camera, like most weak agents and pretend I know how to take the best pictures. I hire a professional photographer to showcase all intricacies of the home), a light and bright home look spectacular in pictures. The first thing my amazing photographer does when he gets into stage and shoot is open all blinds, and let the home soak in the sun. Remember, homes that face North and East have limited light, so choose appropriate times to schedule your pictures. Homes Facing South and West get the most light during showing times.Open those expensive curtains, and for God sakes, clean the windows. Move that huge Armoire away from that window. Trim the bushes, foliage and tree branches to let more light in.

A Case in Point: Recently I represented a buyer in Wwoodland hills CA. The home had been on the market for over 30 days in a hot sellers’ market. My buyers almost refused to go see the property, based on the pictures they saw online.  The pictures were dark, all blinds were closed, and it was like some agent had whipped out their cell phone to take some quick, thoughtless, pictures. The answer was clear when we saw the property, people were just turned off by the pictures and the description was almost negligible. I was able to negotiate a smoking deal for my buyers in a hot sellers’ market, simply because the listing agent failed to highlight the home in the best way possible. Trust me, it will show in the pictures. In the world of Instagram, Facebook, and other Social Medias, a picture is worth a million words. Buyers want happy, sunshiny, light and bright pictures. Make no mistake, as a Real estate Broker I sell lifestyle, not homes!  “Let there be light” – it will make your home more sellable.

Overlooked Secret #7: In my dog’s words: “Home is where my hair sticks to everything else, but me”…..PETS Delima.

You might love your pet to the moon and back,“It’s really my dog’s house, I just pay the mortgage”. Being a dog owner myself, I feel you peeps. I mean, pets have a way of finding the emptiness inside of us and with that one smile of theirs, wooosh….  The emptiness is gone. I agree but, and a huge “BUT” with capital letters – understand not all buyers who are looking to pay you top dollars, like pets too. I know – I get it – how can they not love a pet?

A case in point – In 2015 I listed two homes at the same time in Reseda, CA. My first wonderful sellers had 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 small children and the loving young couple in a 3-bed townhouse. A very well presented home and quite upgraded too. The sellers refused to put their pets in a contained area during showings. The sellers insisted on being home during a showing even though there was a lock box, losing out on many motivated buyers who could not match their timings. All furniture had dog hair on it. The buyer’s agents consistently said the home smelled musky. Sellers would never open the windows because they said they couldn’t smell a thing. A classic smoker’s response. “I don’t smell smoke!” When I brought all this feedback to them in the very first week, they simply stated: “I guess, this home will be bought by someone who loves pets”. Guess what? This beautiful home with great upgrades ended up selling for less money than another home, almost similar in every sense w/ pets, except had fewer upgrades than the first one. Ouch! As your Broker, I am here to give you information based upon my experience of over 12 years being a top producer.

The decision is yours to make, you are the boss, and you have to live with the outcome of selling or not selling your home. So why was there a difference in the results?  The 2nd sellers recognised that there was a challenge and worked with an open mind, focused on getting results and above all looking to work with the brokers advise. Sure they had to check their emotions, but they knew it was for a limited time only. They ensured that the dogs were in a secured room during showings. They eliminated all the pet odors, by ventilating properly and using plugins. They even eliminated the pictures of their pets so the buyers can visualise their own.

They made the home available for showing with a lock box, making it available to buyers who were motivated and may not want to wait. If they happened to be home, they just took the pet for a walk.  Having said that, remember it is stressful for your pet, as it is for you. Don’t forget to talk to your Vet. Be advised that showing your home with a pet inside has liabilities. You are responsible for your friendly pet. In my career, I have seen many incidents that could have been avoided, that left a scar for both the parties. Understand – having a pet will make the showings tricky, but it’s no different than having kids.

 

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Overlooked Secret #5: Don’t go overboard on upgrades/ just showcase them:

Ever been to an open house in your neighborhood, where you come out thinking….. That’s Insane? The home is amazingly upgraded, but who in the right mind will pay that amount in this neighborhood? Then you see it sit on the market, day after day not selling. Be honest now! A case in point – I listed a home in Granada Hills, CA a few years ago. The seller was so enthusiastic having watched the HGTV shows and having drawn inspiration from it that the sellers felt they knew exactly what to do. Many Agents fed into this, encouraging these sellers to spend more money. I was out knocking doors in that neighborhood when these folks invited me in to take a look at all the stuff they were doing, preparing their home for sale…. Viking appliances were just installed, the home was painted in many different high-end colors, new a/c was being installed, tank-less water heater was being installed and many other upgrades. The sellers were going to spend $40k on a home that was already brilliantly remodelled, with just more expensive unnecessary stuff. I asked them if they were doing this for themselves, or just to sell the home. They answered – to sell the home and get more money!   Big Mistake!  I eventually ended up going for the listing appointment and turning it down, because the sellers had an unreasonable number in their minds, that I felt was unachievable. It got listed twice but never sold. The sellers decided to stay put in California. I still talk to them once in a while, because they appreciated my honesty with them. Your home is worth, what the market is willing to pay you, just because you added all those upgrades on, does not mean that you will make a 200% profit on it. Understand, the appraiser will come in and decide what your home will sell for in comparison to other homes with similar upgrades. A neutral can of paint throughout, a thorough cleaning of the home, rearranging furniture, decluttering and a nice curb appeal goes a long way. Don’t go overboard. This is a delicate and a fine line, if crossed, will cost you money. Make No Mistake about it. Stick to my Mantra: Less is better in a hot sellers’ market.

Overlooked Secret #4: Take your personality out of the home.

Ever been in a home for sale where you see pictures and memorabilia galore? When buyers enter homes, they are so fixated on your family pictures and memorabilia that they easily forget the things important to them, like space, storage, floor plan and emotions. They will most likely see several homes that day, and if they only remember the pictures you took on Mt. Kilimanjaro or that signed picture of Michael Jordan, it may not help your cause. One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of your pictures and memorabilia– put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Most homeowners are scared to take them down, just because it will show nail holes and stains. This is the time to paint those walls in neutral colors. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximise the use of space. Don’t forget, your job is to showcase the floor plan in such a way, that it will make the buyers want to make that space their own. Nothing more and nothing less.

 

Overlooked Secret #3: The kitchen and Master Bath is the center of attraction.

Please know that you may be selling your home, but the kitchen is what you are really selling. I can’t begin to tell you, that benefits of remodelling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll get a great ROI (Return on Investment). If your cabinets are in a good condition, just painting them and installing new hardware, can spruce them up.  Use a neutral color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. Most builders today go with a light Grey two-tone paint throughout the home. White country cabinets are back in fashion. Don’t forget to upgrade your outlets to GFCI. Master Bathrooms also give a good return on investments. Millennials like bigger modern bathrooms. They want space. New vanities are cheap. Go ahead be creative. Understand, that multi-Million dollar Hollywood hills homes, still have that quaint 1920’s kitchens and bathrooms with modern appliances, newer vanities, neutral paint, yet the old charm still remain. So if you are on a budget, you don’t have to break your back, choose your battles wisely. If you are on a tight budget, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one appliance only? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen, trust me on it. Here is to – extend your budget to the max. Here is a case in point. I recently represented a seller on Etiwanda ave, in Reseda, CA. They had interviewed several agents before me. They knew I was one of the top selling agents in the area and was invited for the 3rd interview. I came in with a fresh approach that saved my client money. He remodelled his entire rental unit for less than $8000 based on my recommendations, where other agents were giving him estimates at over $15,000. We sold the home in 7 days fetching him approximately $31,000 over original asking price. The seller netted a return of $23,000.

 

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Overlooked Secret #2: Always be ready to show

Your home needs to be ready for “Show – Time” from the moment it is placed on the multiple listing services (a.k.a MLS) – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher clean, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold. Be smart, place any expensive jewellery, cards, personal items, and electronics like I-pads, laptops, wallets, handbags and any items that are important to you in a secured place. Here is a case in point – My sellers were a super friendly elderly couple. They were not in favor of the lock box. Even though we did everything down the list mentioned above, they insisted on being in the home when the house was shown. They would get frustrated when cancellations happened, it was certainly frustrating for them to bake cookies and set the ambience, only for the buyer to cancel at the last moment after the seller had gone through hell to re-arrange their doctor’s appointment for another day. At other times, during showings they would insist on leading the buyers and their agents, telling them every little detail about the home, with lots of love and enthusiasm. When I followed up with these agents, they said that they were not being given the breathing space, which resulted in a lot of buyers leaving sooner and not being able to soak in the home. Well, we sat on the market for a week with many showings and no offers. Finally, we got into escrow and the buyers came back with a list of items that my sellers had promised to throw in during those showings. Now my sellers did not want to part with them because they accepted an offer lower than their expectations. Eventually, they had to part with some of them unhappily. A great example of why we brokers insist on sellers not being home when a showing takes place. Make the home available to be shown at a moment’s notice. You never know how motivated that buyer is. Don’t volunteer information that may come back to bite you. Be available to show when the buyer requests, isn’t that the whole idea, to bring in a motivated, qualified buyer? Be flexible. If you don’t want a lock box, have your Broker be present at all showings. In selling over 300 homes at top dollars, my biggest secret has been being able to show at a reasonable notice. It will get you good results.

Overlooked Secret #1: The first 5 minutes will decide if your home will sell that day, so make it count.

No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the front door. There is no second chance. Make that first impression count while it lasts. It starts with the curb appeal.  It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Pride of ownership in a home that needs TLC will fetch better results than an upgraded home with poor curb appeal. Spruce up your home’s curb appeal with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. Get rid of the cobwebs and that smelly trash bin. Entryways are also important. Have enough lighting, how about a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies to set the stage. Organise that back yard. Fix the dead or uncut grass, broken sprinklers and please clean the dirty windows. Go ahead let the pride be your guide. Trust me, Goodwill has tons of amazing accessories for a fraction of a cost. You can typically get a 100% return on the money you put towards your home’s curb appeal. Understand, buyers within the first minute of getting out of the car will decide if this home peaks their interest or not. The longer they linger around, the better chances of you selling that house to them. So find ways to keep them in the home. As soon as you decide to sell your home, you have to look at it from the eyes and emotions of the would-be buyer.

 

Final Thoughts:

A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. I am sure your best friends sister is an agent. I am sure there are agents promising you the moon. They will do anything to list your home. Most agents don’t have the qualifications or the experience necessary to represent and protect your interests. Most agents you meet will talk about Price, Commissions, and Marketing.  Trust me, you don’t need representation to sell your home, you can sell the home yourself. The reason you need a Broker is to protect you from the millions of things that can go wrong, before, during or after the sale of your home.

Here is what the National Association of Realtors says about their own industry in a report published by them in 2015:

“The delta between great real estate service and poor real estate service has become too large, due to unacceptably low entry requirements to become a Real Estate Agent”.

It is imperative for you as a consumer to know, that the chances of you running into a weak agent who will cost you money are very high. Every agent claims to be the best. I have to say, that my industry is riddled with many incompetent agents. I am embarrassed to be in an industry where the entry level requirement to become a licensed agent is so minimal. The most important job you have as a seller is to hire the right representation, who will be with you from the preparation stage to the recording of your home.

If you are in Los Angeles and surrounding areas and resonate with what I wrote, don’t be shy, reach out to me with any questions you may have. I would love to show you, guide you and take the necessary time to explain how it is done, with no expectations or bias. Call me 818.919.5656 or email me soldbypebble@gmail.com

 

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