Press-Republican

May 27, 2013

Small touches can help house sell faster

STEVEN HOWELL
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — On the market … get set … sold! 

Tis the season for selling your home. But there are some actions you can take to help it move a bit faster, experts say.

“There’s a lot of inventory right now,” said Heather Wright, a real-estate agent with Fesette Reality. “But the gap is slowly closing between buyer and seller.”

Springtime is a good time to buy — or at least start looking.

“Get your ducks in a row,” Wright said. “And, by that, do your financing now. A lot of people like to buy and close in summer because of the school year.”

Wright says there are a few steps you can take both inside — what’s called staging — and outside — better known as curb appeal — to sell your house faster.

PLAY UP ASSETS

Tip No. 1: Accentuate the positive.

“Exemplify the nice things about your property,” Wright said.

“Don’t ignore the weaknesses, but downplay them if you can.”

The biggest home-buying positives?

“Kitchens and baths,” Wright said. “They’re also the biggest house-buying negative.”

SMALLER UPGRADES

Wright says that if you can’t afford a major renovation, there are still options that will make a difference.

“If your wood cabinets are dated and old, give them a fresh coat of paint,” she said. “White paint will really brighten up a kitchen.”

Replace the hardware, as well.

“That’s a very simple, inexpensive fix,” Wright said.

Another easy fix: Change the covers on light switches and electrical outlets.

In fact, a fresh coat of paint throughout the whole house goes a long way. And stick to neutral colors.

“These quick fixes can make your house go from 1970 to 2013,” Wright said. “And there’s a big difference between retro and dated.”

CUT THE CLUTTER

The next big tip? Remove yourself.

“De-clutter and de-personalize,” Wright said. “This is equally as important as the simple fixes.”

Wright says that buyers need to visualize the space as their own. And that means putting things away in their proper place.

“But that doesn’t mean throw everything in the closet or basement,” she said.

If you have a catchall room or space, define it. For example, turn it into an office, kid’s room or sewing room.

“Again, help the buyer visualize,” Wright said. “As a seller, you don’t want to make it look like you don’t want to sell or move.”

The de-cluttering helps for one important reason.

“First impressions count,” Wright said. “You want the buyer to immediately think, ‘Oh, this is a nice space.’”

De-personalizing means “removing your emotional attachment to your house.”

Take your refrigerator, for example, which is often chock full of magnets and schedules and photos. Get rid of most. Keep it simple.

Wright says each room in the house is candidate for a de-cluttering and de-personalizing. And nothing beats a good old-fashioned spring cleaning.

SENSES

All of the senses come into play when buying a house. Wright recalls a recent seller who created a warm atmosphere at a recent showing with a clean house, a bright space with all the lights on and subtle opera music playing in the background. Add to that an inviting sense of smell, such as a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies.

“The sense of smell plays a big factor,” Wright said. “But don’t overdo it. Nothing too overpowering. Too many air fresheners sometimes leads to the question, ‘What are you trying to hide?’’

Unsavory house smells can often be summed up in one word: pets.

“But the problem is that the owner doesn’t even realize there’s a smell,” Wright said. “You get used to your own house.”

ENTRANCE

First impressions count outside, as well, and many of the same rules apply.

“You want your front door to be a front door,” she said “Make no confusion as to how to get in the house.”

Clean and spruce up the porch or entryway, add a few flowers, and a fresh coat of paint on a front door can do wonders. Wright enjoys a penchant for a freshly painted red door.

“Make it inviting,” Wright said. “Make it easy for the buyer, and make it sell-able for you.”