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Downplay the Negatives

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Posted on: January 2019

Magicians are masters of illusion who can direct your eyes away from the trick – distracting you from seeing the strings, mirrors, drop floor or sleight of hand they use to accomplish magic.

Diverting buyers’ attention away from undesirable elements in your home for sale, on the other hand, is a trick that isn’t so easy to pull off. But with the right guidance and planning, you can get home shoppers to focus on the positives instead of the negatives in your property and, hopefully, garner greater interest and a bigger profit.

First, the hard facts: “It can be challenging to sell a home that’s outdated or that lacks in-demand amenities because even things that seem small can be a large deal to the buyer,” says Rick Gehrke, real estate consultant with RE/MAX Executives in Nampa, Idaho. “Rooms that need repairs especially stand out to the buyer.”

Dave Mele, president of Homes.com in Norfolk, Virginia, says selling a home in a poor or outmoded condition limits the selling price you’re likely to fetch and the buyers willing to purchase.

“You’re more likely to attract flippers or contractors instead of families or first-time buyers who might be too intimidated to take on the headaches of renovating,” says Mele.

And even if your home is in fairly good shape, if it’s short on key features that today’s shoppers value – like a master bedroom, laundry room, garage, outdoor living spaces or energy-efficient appliances, doors and windows – it can reduce your pool of prospective buyers.

Shelly Place, a Triplemint agent in New York City, notes that inadequate kitchens and bathrooms are the most likely to stand out, “since technological innovations and trends in design change quickly for these areas. And lack of built-in storage and floorplans that don’t make the most of the home’s space are other common pain points for shoppers.”

If you lack the budget or motivation to undergo significant remodeling to correct the aforementioned shortcomings, don’t panic, say the pros.

“Work closely with your real estate agent, who should be familiar with current trends in marketing and staging and will know what has worked or not for recent sales in your area,” suggests Mele. “To minimize what your home can’t offer buyers, your agent can help you highlight what the home can provide.”

For example, if your bathroom lacks a tub (often prized by families with young kids), you can declutter the shower area and place a few spa-like items like fresh flowers or candles in the space, Mele notes.

“It’s also amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to rooms inside a house,” says Blayne Pacelli, a Realtor with Rodeo Realty in Studio City, California, who recommends selecting light neutral colors to make spaces appear clean, better illuminated and larger.

If your home lacks storage space, such as a tiny closet in a bedroom or a too-small garage, “get a corner armoire, and buy an exterior storage shed,” Pacelli recommends.

Spend a few extra bucks to improve curb appeal, too.

“Plant new grass, paint the front door, and replace any broken windows. If a home looks good on the outside, it’ll be more appealing on the inside,” Gehrke adds.

Properly staging your home — under your agent’s guidance — can work wonders, as well.

“You can move furniture around and get rid of bulky items to put your house in the best light,” says Pacelli. “At very least, you can virtually stage your home so that buyers can go online and visualize what the home will look like nicely furnished.”

Additionally, “work with your Realtor to emphasize your property’s top selling points — possibly the school district, walking distances, extra rooms and square footage,” says Aaron Crossley, Realtor with Kansas City-based Keller Williams North.

Lastly, set the initial listing price as fair and reasonable for the market.

“In today’s marketplace, there are plenty of buyers interested in remolding and restyling less up-to-date properties. But they expect that the price will fairly reflect the condition and work that needs to be done,” Crossley says.