At one time it was common for people to live their entire lives in the same house, but today not even a quarter of single-family homeowners have resided in their homes 10 to 19 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Whether you’re bursting at the seams and ready for an upgrade, or looking to downsize because the kids are grown, at some point you’ll probably need to list a home for sale,” says Brenda Daly, broker-in-charge at United Real Estate Aiken. “But before you enter a competitive market, you’ll want to do some advance legwork to make sure your listing is attractive to buyers.”
To make sure your property stands out among the myriad offerings vying for buyer attention, take these steps to prepare for the market:
1. Price a home right
Aiken's real estate market is strong right now, due in part to "Southern Living" naming Aiken "The South's Best Small Town" for 2018. But prices fluctuate as demand ebbs and flows, so it's essential to work with an agent who has a finger on the region's pulse and can spot trends early.
“Things change constantly, and for-sale-by-owner websites are rarely up to date with the most current prices or even close,” Daly says.
A cluttered home sends all the wrong messages to potential buyers. First, clutter makes rooms look smaller. Second, it’s hard for buyers to imagine themselves living in a place that has too much of the owner’s stamp on it. Finally, it’s reasonable for buyers to assume that if you couldn’t be bothered to clean up, you may not have stayed on top of routine maintenance, either.
3. Curb appeal
“Curb appeal is the first impression a buyer has, and they say first impressions really last,” Daly says.
Most people assume they can't afford to give a house a facelift before putting it on the market, but there are affordable improvements that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Squeaky clean windows and a fresh coat of paint do wonders. If you can't afford to paint the whole house, focus on the doors, shutters or eaves. Either way, make sure all exterior colors complement one another. A new doorknob, a welcoming doormat, and a charming mailbox make a home appear more desirable, too. Even something as simple as a new house number can give a home a modern look. And don't forget landscaping. Pull weeds, keep grass trimmed, lay fresh mulch, and place flowers and plants with diverse shapes and colors in places that either mask flaws or draw the eye to desirable features.
Staging, or strategically redecorating before listing, can make or break a deal. On average, staged homes sell 88 percent faster and for 20 percent more than nonstaged ones, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you’re on a budget, use your own furniture and accessories to create an enticing interior design. But if you’ve got some wiggle room, hiring a professional stager is often a good investment.
“If furniture is outdated or too large, getting rented furniture will boost the sale,” Daly says.
Experts know how to make homes feel larger and maximize their best assets. They can also work with your agent to target the most likely buyer. A suburban starter home, for instance, would do well to include a room staged as a nursery in pastel colors; whereas that same home in an urban arts district might better be presented with a home office containing contemporary furnishings.
The days when buyers began their search by driving around looking at listings are long gone. In the digital age, the vast majority of home searches start online, and only finalists are visited in person. If you want to make the cut, your web presence should be second to none. Professional still and video images are critical. Ditch the fuzzy images poorly composed on a mobile phone camera in favor of high-quality visuals that make buyers want a closer look.
If you’re looking for an agent to help sell or buy a home in South Carolina, United Real Estate is your local source for experienced real estate professionals.
Call 803-226-0120 or visit UnitedRealEstateAiken.com to learn more. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates.