Tips to Increase Home Appeal

What sells a home? Is it the price, location, or condition? The truth is that it takes a combination of all of these factors to make a sale in today's market. Unlike boom era transactions, the seller is now in the passenger seat. Buyers today have a great advantage. A glut of homes in many markets means that supply far outweighs demand. Buyers are able to be choosy and to negotiate sweet deals.

When your home is on the market you want to be noticed and for the right reasons. It's a competitive advantage that could mean the difference between making the sale or not. Let's look at five top ways to increase your home's appeal when it's on the market.

1. Stage for Photos: We are a visual society. Webcasts, virtual tours, and the Internet have made staging for photos and showings an integral part of any marketing plan. Pictures amplify problems. It's a moment frozen in time, available for a viewers deepest inspections. This means you must create a perfect moment in time. Remove any clutter or excess furniture. Rearrange furniture with looks taking rank over functionality. If your furniture has seen better days, consider budgeting for furniture rental. Add detailed touches, such as cut flowers, throw pillows, and lit fireplaces.

2. Clean: While smells and grime don't always translate in pictures, they will definitely be a buyer deterrent during showings. If your home needs a lot of scrubbing, either hire a maid service or work on one room at a time until they all shine. Buyers are especially turned off by dirty bathrooms, kitchens, and odors. Scrubs these rooms and burn candles or spray room fresheners.

3. Enhance Curb Appeal: Curb appeal is the first impression of the real estate market. Yes, buyers do judge a house by it's "cover." The outside must create a desire to see the inside. To accomplish this you may need to spend money to make money. Cosmetic enhancements go a long ways. Start small and work your way up. Powerwash the deck or sidewalk. Fix broken stones and plant new landscaping. Clean and mulch existing landscaping. Add new shutters, house paint, an accent color on the front door, an updated exterior light, and new patio furniture. Staging doesn't stop at the front door. It goes from property line to property line.

4. Price Competitively: Buyers are more dollar conscious than ever. Fears of a renewed recession and a high unemployment rate have them wanting the best deal for their money. Buying in today's market means low interest rates and high levels of affordability. Buyers aren't willing to pay more for an image or an idea. Be sure to be realistic about what your home is worth in today's market. Prices have changed, dramatically in some areas. If you price too high you run the risk of scaring away would be buyers. Price correctly from the beginning.

5. Hire an Agent: Perhaps this should have been number one. Many sellers may be considering doing a For Sale By Owner in an attempt to save money on closing costs in these tough times. That could be a big mistake. Buyers have the upper-hand in negotiations these days and without an experienced professional by their side, they could get taken advantage of. Agents also have access to a larger pool of potential buyers. Buyers seek them out when they want a home.

Selling today is possible. In fact, many areas are seeing increases in existing-home sales. Buyers know now is a great time to buy, you just have to convince them that they should be buying your home.

Published: September 9, 2011, RealtyTimes, reprinted with permission