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Preparing Your Home

The following items should be read and studied carefully. Much care should be taken in preparation of your home for market. We would like to emphasize that it is very important to accomplish as much as possible prior to placing your home on the market. First impressions are extremely important!

Make sure everything about your property appears as close as you reasonably can to "new, neat, clean and neutral"! Homes that are decorated in unusual colors (black, red, dark blue, purple, etc) attract few buyers. If possible, paint all walls and ceilings a neutral white, off-white or light tan color. If not too expensive, make sure all carpets are a neutral color. This allows the prospective buyer to better visualize their special items and furnishings in the rooms of your home. Neutral colors give the appearance of spaciousness. A little (or a lot) of paint, a bit of wallpaper, and/or a carpet replaced can make a difference in attracting that "one buyer"... and costs very little.

Make certain your home is absolutely clean and free of any unpleasant odors- especially any animal odors. Most people love their pets, but pets can be, and often are a real "turn off" to prospective buyers. Remove your animals when you are showing your home. Many people feel threatened by a strange barking dog.

The following are a list of items to assist you in the preparation of your home for sale:

Make sure all light fixtures have working light bulbs.
Ensure the doorbell work and the mailbox is in good repair.
Oil any squeaky hinges and see that all windows open easily.
Wash all windows, inside and out. Clean dirt and dust from window sills.
Make sure carpets are clean. Have carpet areas stretched and curling edges tacked down if needed.
Have all bathroom and kitchen counters free of clutter & looking immaculate. Repair dripping faucets.
During the day, have all curtains pulled open to maximize natural outdoor light. At night, have lights turned on.
Provide adequate lighting in basements, attics and closets.
Keep rooms and closets neat, uncluttered and spacious looking.
Have furniture arranged to maximize a look of spaciousness in every room.
Clean and repair storm windows. Remove screens during the winter. They will last longer and let more light in.
Seal and repair any foundation or driveway cracks.
Foundation vents- make sure they are intact and clean.
Roof- remove any debris and nail down any loose shingles.
Gutters and Downspouts- clean and repair holes and any separations from eaves.
Windows- check for loose caulk, chipped paint, broken or cracked windows.
Make sure all outdoor lighting works.
Trim overgrown shrubs and have all landscaping in top condition.
Plant blooming flowers in flower beds, if season permits.
Care for lawn of nearby vacant properties and common areas.
Insects- better that you discover and remove them than your buyer. Look for telltale signs in all wooded areas.
Remove any firewood or lumber that is near or against the house. This is a breeding ground for termites. Home inspectors will report this as a discrepancy and will recommend that you treat the property for termite infestation.
Look for standing water in the crawlspace. This is indicative of improper drainage, a broken water line, or more. Corrective action will need to be taken before the property is placed on the market for sale.
Make sure your address is visible and easy to read from the street.
Showing Your Home

Get comfortable with the idea of showing your home to buyers. Rehearse your own techniques by going through your home when you are there alone. Homeowners have been selling "for sale by owner" for many years, and showing your home is not that difficult. Just be yourself.

Generally speaking, it is best to greet prospects at the door with a friendly smile. You want the potential buyers to feel as comfortable as possible when viewing your home. If you are showing your home to a couple, give them the space to discuss features amongst themselves. You may want to leave them alone intermittently. It is not a good idea to allow strangers to roam about your house unescorted. Use your own judgment here. After they have completed their tour, ask if they have any questions. At that time tell them of the special features and interesting highlights of your home. Listen carefully to their comments and questions. Answer their questions in an honest, straightforward and sincere manner. It is important to reveal any known defects (such as wet basements, leaky roofs, plumbing problems, etc.) that are not apparent or easily detected. This can eliminate many problems, even law suits, in the future. This will add credibility to your answers to their questions.

Avoid long, lengthy detailed descriptions about features that are really very apparent. Brief statements about things they would not pick up on - extra insulation in the attic, a fireplace flue that's already been cleaned for the season, etc. - are great!

One request - PLEASE don't say, "this is the kitchen, this is the dining room". They can see that!

The following is a short list of important items to remember when showing your home:

Be patient and above all- don't argue with prospects. If their attitude is bothersome, just smile, you don't have to sell your home to them.
Schedule visits 30-45 minutes apart. This will give prospective buyers the feeling that your home is being shown on a frequent basis and they will need to make a decision soon.
Put any loose valuables in a safe place out of sight. Out of sight - out of mind.
Don't oversell. Buyers do not appreciate a pushy seller. Don't emphasize how nicely decorated your home is. Although it will improve the showing of your home, buyers will want to envision their own decorating taste.
Be knowledgeable about your neighborhood and its amenities and desirable features.
Make certain there are no "pet" odors or other unpleasant odors such as garlic, curry, etc.
Try to have pleasant aromas such as bread, cookies or potpourri in the house prior to showing.
Turn on the lights in every room. This lightens up the interior to your home and makes it appear larger and more friendly.
Marketing Your Home

The most important part of any marketing effort is gaining the interest of the potential buyer.

In the real estate industry this can be accomplished through several marketing strategies.

A Professional Yard Sign A must have for every seller! Over the past 15 years in the Tidewater area, we have seen homeowners use everything from tomato stakes with a stapled cardboard "for sale" sign to a very professional image worthy of a buyers confidence. Anyone can purchase a cheap sign at the local discount warehouse, and look amateurish. We endorse using a professional sign that will instill confidence in the buyer, and keep them from seeking out the services of a real estate agent. Make sure your phone number is legible. Don't use a magic marker since they have a tendency to bleed and will look "old" in just a matter of days.
Directional Signs-Even though a professional yard sign will gain attention, unless you live on a major thoroughfare, you will need directional signs to lead the buyers to your property. These signs should match your yard sign in appearance so that the buyers can see them from down the street, and know that they belong to that home. Place them strategically at intersections off the major roads, and on every corner leading to your home. In many areas of Tidewater, placing any signs off the property is against the law and could draw a fine. Check with local city ordinances.
Informational Flyers/Brochures- Flyers/brochures are an important tool when selling your home. They provide the potential buyer information about your property long after they have left the area. Once at home, buyers will look through the flyers they have collected, refreshing their memory about the property. If you don't provide a flyer, how will they be reminded of YOUR home? We always encourage sellers to use flyers, but to only put about 25 in their information tube or brochure holder each day. This way buyers will be able to take the information home with them, and the seller won't run out very easily. Putting 50+ flyers on display only looks like the seller is desperate to sell, or no one is looking at the house. The last person of the day, should be picking up the last flyer in the tube. Count on your neighbors taking one (you would) just to see what you are asking for your property. They are just curious, however, they may know someone who is interested in buying in their neighborhood. Color flyers look great, and you can print them right from our website once your home has been advertised complete with photo and all the information we have gathered from you.
For Sale By Owner Magazine- Since 1988, For Sale By Owner magazine has quickly become the most popular real estate publication in the Tidewater area. Featuring color photographs, and placing all homes in ascending price order, this magazine is easy for the buyer to read. For Sale By Owner is so popular that we have to deliver three times a week to our high traffic locations. You'll find For Sale By Owner in Farm Fresh, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harris Teeter, Kroger, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Regal Cinemas, PX's and commissary's throughout the Tidewater area. Advertising rates can be located inside the front cover of the magazine, or on the Order Form here on this website.
The Local Newspaper- Although Century 21 reports that only 1% of all home sales comes from the classifieds, you can see that real estate agents advertise in the newspaper. Frequently agents do this to show the home seller that they are advertising somewhere outside the multiple listing service. On the positive side- the weekend newspaper is read by many buyers. However, you can count on being lost amongst the hundreds of other homes that are offered for sale. Usually the newspaper will offer a 10 day package that will include Saturday and Sunday. I discourage anyone from taking this package due to the fact that not many buyers are looking in the weekday paper for a new home.
For Sale By Owner Services of Virginia, LLC - More than just an ad, it's a Service!

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