Imagine putting a ton of time and effort into preparing your house for sale, only to have it ignored by prospective buyers. How frustrating! To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, follow these fail-safe recommendations to assure your property gets the attention it deserves.
1. USE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS (OR AT LEAST REALLY GOOD ONES)
Turns out, it takes more than a good camera to take a good photo. It actually requires some knowledge of photography. If you want to compete for the short attention spans of those browsing “properties for sale” online, you need excellent photos of the interior and exterior of your property. Lighting, camera angle, and composition can make a huge difference. And frankly, bad photos can be worse than no photos.
I’ve seen amateur mistakes like homeowners capturing their own reflections in windows or mirrors, prominently featuring garbage cans in front of their homes, photographing kitchens with sinks full of dishes and cluttered counters, and tilting the camera so it looks like the house is about to slide down a hill (when the house isn’t situated on a hill).
Professional photographers know how to use a wide-angle lens to capture the whole room, how to balance the exposure of the indoors and the view looking outside a sunlit window, how to use a tripod to get images that are straight and tack-sharp, and more. If you want pictures that sell, you’ll need to know more than how to simply “point and shoot.”
2. USE ENTICING DESCRIPTIONS
High quality pictures are important, but they aren’t enough. Most people interested in buying real estate search websites like Zillow and Trulia. Once your pictures grab people’s attention, you need to paint a picture with words to describe the features that aren’t readily apparent in those photos. Is your house in a safe neighborhood? Near great schools? A short walk away from shopping and restaurants? Is there a year-round creek that will lull you to sleep each night? Pay particular attention to the first five to ten words if you want to grab prospective buyers before they click over to the next property.
All that being said, please leave some details to the imagination. Describe the “big back yard, perfect for entertaining.” Don’t say, “There’s a patio and an old swing set and a dog kennel and an oleander bush and a rose bush and a lawn…”
3. STAGE YOUR HOUSE
Staging means placing furniture to display your house to its best advantage. People do this professionally—mostly interior designers with an eye for light, color and style. By staging your house, you can make rooms seem bigger, closets seem more spacious, and the whole house seem more inviting. The trick is to put the right furniture and décor in just the right spots.
Most of us collect stuff over time, much of it with sentimental value. However, that strange little table you bough during your trip to New Mexico, you know, the one that looks nothing any of your other furniture, probably isn’t going to help you sell your house. Get a storage unit if you have to, but clear that stuff out.
In fact, if you plan to stage the house yourself, the first thing to do is remove about a third of the furniture. Then make sure the kitchen countertops are clear and the cabinets are comfortably filled, but not overfull. Go to your closets and remove everything until there’s a little space between each hanging item and the shoes aren’t stacked on top of each other. Packed closets look small and no one likes small closets.
If you follow these tips, your property is likely to get a second look.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. If you send me an idea I use in a column, I’ll send you a $5 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.