Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Selling your Manhattan Beach-Beach Cities home....First impressions are important!

Selling a home in today's Manhattan Beach-Beach Cities real estate market truly depends on three things.... price, location and condition.  The days when you could list a property in a poor location and in bad shape and expect a great price are gone.  

Over the years I have shared information about making your home market ready. In fact some of those posts are why sellers call me when it is time to list their home.   Most sellers know that in this market they need to make a home market ready... they just aren't sure what that means in terms of getting the most for the money they have to spend. 
Last week I met with some folks who are thinking about selling their home.  They had lived in the house for about 25 years.   They had maintained the property  fairly well but they had not done much in the way of updates over the years and the home just felt tired.   The yard was blah,... lots of green but few  flowers.  The interior and exterior were shades of brown, tan and Navajo white.  The carpet was worn and the entire home was in need of  freshening. 

As I talked with the owners about things they could do to perk up the house,  I could see they were a bit skeptical  about what I was suggesting.  They were worried that a new buyer would not like the paint or carpet colors they picked.   They wanted to know if they could just credit the buyer for carpet and paint because they were worried they "would spend all this money and the buyer would redo everything". 

This is a concern of many sellers.  They know their home needs some work but they are not sure what to do.  What they don't realize is that it doesn't matter if they put in new carpet and the buyer wants wood floors.  It doesn't matter if they paint the house gray and the buyer repaints it yellow.  What matters is that the house looks and feels clean and inviting when the buyer tours the  home.  If the buyer changes everything later who cares.  What is important is that the buyer  decides to buy the house!

There is a big difference between sprucing up a home and doing a major remodel.   I rarely think sellers should remodel the  kitchen or baths but if the counter tile is cracked and broken they may need to think about  new counters. 

I usually recommend interior painting and possibly exterior paint depending on the condition and color of the exterior. Fresh paint is the most cost effective thing a seller can do to a property.  I always recommend new carpet or refinishing hardwood flooring if the floors are worn. I 'm also a big fan of new faucets/fixtures in baths and kitchens. Light switch plates are another inexpensive item that make a home look better as are new door knobs if the existing ones have paint over-spray.

New landscaping is one of the most important and inexpensive items you can do with the exterior. Colorful flowers are one of the best investments a seller can make. Most buyers make half their buying decision on a property before they go through the front door. Appraisers also are influenced by the way a home looks on the exterior.  Remember... you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Another reason to spiffy up your home is that buyers are not really sure of the cost to put in new carpet, wood floors, or paint the interior and exterior.  Often buyers believe the cost to be  far higher than the actual cost.  This  is especially true if the house hasn't had anything done prior to being put on the market.  In a buyer's mind the cost to re-carpet is more if the carpet is old and stained then if it is newer.  

Often buyers won't actually do much to a home for a year or so after they purchase if it appears to be in good shape.  Buyers feel more comfortable with a home that doesn't need a lot done immediately.  Dated and clean is usually fine for awhile.  Buyers will pay more for a home that is clean and in good shape than for the same home that looks old and worn.

Property condition can't make up for a bad location or a price that is too high.  However if you and your neighbor down the street are on the market with a similar floor plan and price,  the condition of the house  will often be the deciding factor.

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