WHAT do your manners have to do with selling your home? More than you’d imagine! Based on the decades of buyers and sellers I’ve met, witnessed and helped buy or sell a home here in Greenwich, I’ve seen several home sellers self-sabotage a potential sale by letting emotion or behavior get the best of them. They can sometimes lose a sale in the process.
With the right attitude and consideration for the emotional pulls and tugs a home sale can evoke, you can anticipate many of these concerns and plan how to address them before they happen. This saves you and your team potential heartache, time and money. And there are plenty of proactive considerations that show a prospective buyer you appreciate their time and interest in your house. Here are some tips to attract buyers in Greenwich, CT.
- Show your home—and yourself—in the best possible light.
Don’t waste people’s time by putting your home on the market before it’s truly ready to shine.
Has your realtor or a trusted friend said, “It would really help if you repainted the living room/removed half of the furniture in the bedroom/cleaned out the basement/put in some shrubs around the foundation”?
And maybe you’ve decided these fixes aren’t necessary? If so, be prepared that a prospective buyer’s feedback may sound like this: “The paint in the living room really needs a refresh/the bedrooms seem really small/it’s hard to get a sense of the basement because it’s so full.” No one is going to say “I told you so,” but…they told you so.
You’ll find more warm-weather clean-up tips here.
2. Encourage free speech and set expectations for post visit feedback and follow up
Let your realtor know BEFORE showings start what you expect for post-showing follow up. Many sellers report feeling frustrated and disappointed when they ask their realtor how a showing went only to hear “Great!”
Assure your realtor that you want all of the feedback—good and bad—and that he or she should encourage prospective buyers to give their honest assessment of your home.
Talk to your realtor in advance about what you’d like them to ask potential buyers to solicit the feedback you most want. Do you want to hear the negatives along with the positives? Can you set emotion aside so you can hear the feedback which will give you the best chance to sell quickly and at the price point you want?
And to avoid post-visit let down, ask your realtor now what happens after a prospective buyer visits? I’ve had clients say they want to know which focal points of the home most impressed and which negatives where beyond their control (location, lot size, school district, property taxes). How and how often does your realtor follow up and what else can be done to encourage the buyer? Ask now, so you’re not tossing in bed at 2 am wondering if this visitor is “the one,” and if your realtor is doing enough to follow up.
3. Be Ready to Leave the Premises
Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but you, the seller, need to leave during an open house or showing.
It’s hard for a potential buyer to see themselves in your home if you are there. It’s not easy to leave but this will happen often during the selling process. Have a few places in mind where you can quickly escape to—like a friend or family member who will let you into their house when they aren’t there, a book store or local coffee shop. Consider having a go bag with a book or some work you need to do to take the sting out of having to leave your home on short notice.
4. Let the dog out.
See above and add the dog park, or any pet friendly stores and spaces to your “go to list” if you have a pet. Someone with allergies, who isn’t into dogs or cats (they do exist) may conjure up negative associations when they see a pet—is the house really clean? Will it smell like wet dog in here when it’s humid or rains? If your dog stays and barks throughout the visit, the prospective buyer may rush the tour. Remove those concerns by taking the dog with you.
5. Park here.
As a consideration to your guest, leave ample and obvious parking for the buyer and the realtor. Let the realtor know ahead of time where to park.
6. Encourage buyers to take pictures and ask questions.
Some sellers are uncomfortable with prospective buyers taking pics of their home. Pictures are crucial to a buyer considering multiple properties; so tell your realtor to encourage prospective buyers to snap away. It’s also fine for you to request that those photos don’t go up on social media. Make it even easier for your visitors to fall in love with your home by leaving out some pictures that you’ve taken over the years that showcase the beauty and uniqueness of your home through the seasons. Updates, additions and renovations that have been documented can be left in a photo album for visitors. Put out documentation of the practically brand new refrigerator and stove that you plan to leave.
7. It’s true. Freshly made cookies don’t hurt.
Making prospective buyers feel welcome does make an impact. It encourages someone to linger, to envision themselves in the home. Engage ALL of the senses to make the experience complete.
Have a question about the ups and downs of the current real estate market? Wondering what your home is worth? Or are you thinking about buying or selling your home before winter? Give me a call! I’m always happy to chat. And sign up for my newsletter, won’t you? I share Greenwich real estate updates monthly.
Note: The beautiful and sophisticated home featured in the image above is 15 Mountain Laurel Drive here in Greenwich. Just bring your toothbrush because it’s move-in-ready home. Learn more here. Open house on Sunday, October 6 from 1pm – 4pm.
This may not be the summer you want to sell your Greenwich home, but most homeowners know that summer is the time to show your home some TLC and put in some home maintenance hours. Kept in good repair, what is likely your most significant asset will maintain its value over time and it’s your best defense against unexpected (and often expensive) house hassles that can eat up your fun time. When you are ready to sell, you can rest easy knowing that your home has been properly maintained—one of the best ways to achieve a swift sale at the right price.
How do you assess the importance and potential return of trading some sand, sunshine and smoothie time for home maintenance? And how do you fit in all in? Here are some real estate tips to set priorities and goals.
- Lawn, landscaping and garden. Whether you pull the weeds and plant the flowers yourself or farm it out to a teenager or hire a service, weekly attention to your lawn and seasonal attention to your landscaping are unavoidable. This is a passion area for many, so spending time and money on landscaping, such as fountains, raised gardening beds, vegetable gardens, flower gardens can become a focal point of your summer. What’s the value proposition? Research shows that money invested in landscaping shows a strong ROI. Focus on efforts that enhance “curb appeal.” Necessary: Weekly lawn maintenance and a onceover of your overall landscaping. Optional: Gardening, advanced landscaping
- Pressure Washing the House. I categorize this as necessary. For a quick and eye popping spruce up, give your home a pressure wash. This inexpensive service can help to spruce up the dirtiest of homes by effectively removing built-up dirt, sediment and other debris while eliminating things like mold, mildew and algae, which can result in long-term wear and tear on a home. There are two ways to do it: hire it out or do it yourself. Pressure washers can be rented or purchased. If you’re a fan of washing your car at home, you’ll likely enjoy owning a pressure washer and will suddenly find all kinds of things that need a solid cleaning. Fortunately, pressure washing is easy enough to hire out as well, so if this is not something you want to do you don’t have to. Necessary: Pressure wash the outside of your home annually. Optional: Purchase a commercial grade pressure washer and washing everything and anything you can shake the wand at.
- Cleaning the windows – interior AND exterior. If you’re starting to sense a theme here……cleanliness matters. Anything you do that cleans or de-clutters your home is a win for home value. Again, the glorious news is that this does NOT have to be a DIY project. And if you have to use a ladder to access most of your windows, the best way to avoid injury is to hire a pro. Many homeowners have made the mistake of underestimating the skill required for a high-quality squeegeeing, and been dismayed to find streaks marring their window panes after a long and tiring day’s work. Ideally, windows should be cleaned 3 times per year. Necessary: Cleaning the interior and exterior of your windows. Optional: Doing it yourself.
- Pool Maintenance. Pools are one of the most controversial home elements when it comes to the “return on investment” equation. Many realtors and home owners will tell you a pool is nothing but a liability and one that requires expensive regular maintenance. However, on a 90 degree summer afternoon, you’ll be hard pressed to find a kid or adult who wouldn’t love to enjoy a beautiful backyard pool. (Check out the pool at one of my newest listings here in Greenwich, CT.) Pool maintenance typically includes clearing debris, water analysis, monitoring and balancing water chemistry, brushing and vacuuming and installing backwash filters as needed. Necessary: Pool maintenance is unavoidable, but can be hired out. Optional: Doing it yourself. Think carefully before committing to a pool.
Summer is an opportunity to display your home at it’s very best. The vibrant green of a well-kept lawn, the beckoning of outdoor spaces for rest and reflection and cooking on the grill. What’s not to love? Of course, here are a few, ahem, “concerns” to address before that for sale sign hits the front lawn. Make sure your home looks “purchase perfect” by acknowledging some of these troublesome items that could derail an open house or turn off a prospective buyer.
- Water drainage: We’ve had a rainy spring in the northeastern part of the country and with the ground in many places fully saturated, even homes that have never experienced the problems of excess water are now wondering if they are susceptible to potential damage. Sometimes it’s a nearby home or property with water run-off that has the potential to impact your own home.To assure a dry basement and yard, it’s worth consulting a professional to assess your risk before putting your home on the market. There are many products that can be discreetly installed and effectively keep water at bay such as grates and catch basins, channel drains and trenches, standard drains and water discharge emitters. Residential ResQ is one example of a company that can assess your risk and recommend preventive measures as well as solutions to any existing problems.Even the front yard and walkway contain plenty of options to create functional water drainage on your property. Check with a local expert.
- Critter control: Fortunately here in the Northeast, we don’t often have problems with snakes and other creepy crawlers that are prevalent in other parts of the US. (If you’re brave, watch this video of a snake at someone’s front door. Ugh.) Unfortunately, we’re not completely rodent and insect free, especially in the summer! When your home is inspected and treated for hornet nests, seasonal bugs, mice, ticks, carpenter bees and termites, it’s guaranteed insurance against any unexpected guests showing up at your open house or home showing. Plus, paperwork that proves you’ve maintained a pest control protocol tells the buyer that your home’s welfare is top notch no matter the season.
- Bird house fan or foe? Bird houses – Many people love birdhouses; others don’t care for birdhouses and the mess they can create without regular cleaning. To some, it’s a real turn off. Plus, dirty feeders can also have an odor, which can attract unwanted pests, such as wasps, raccoons, rats, and other visitors that will damage or destroy the feeder. Google “birdhouse maintenance” for tips to keep your birdhouses clean and attractive. A tiny detail, but something that can stand out in the summer and easily turn off an eager buyer.
- Creepy Lawn Ornaments: Everyone has a lawn ornament memory they just can’t shake. Whether it’s a positive memory of a wagon planter that you and your siblings sat on for a picture every summer or the neighbor’s creepy gargoyle that gave you nightmares, lawn planters and ornaments have much more staying power than expected. Do a careful walk through of your property, maybe even ask a friend to weigh in—is there anything on your lawn or deck that needs to go ? If you’d like for me to take a walk through your home to dole out advice for YOUR “purchase perfect” home this summer, give me a call: (203) 550 6082. Or send me an email.
Winter brings out the nesting instinct. So once you can move away from your fireplace and hot chocolate – what house projects are you up for? Are you itching for some sledgehammer action a la Chip Gaines of Fixer Upper? Or is a complete style and color overhaul of one room calling your inner weekend warrior?
The best home improvements give you a feeling of accomplishment and increase the value of your home. Here are a few worthy of the pain, suffering and pennies that will likely deliver a resale return here in Greenwich, CT.
Add a Bathroom
Add a bathroom, add value. Every real estate listing starts with these two key stats: how many bedrooms and BATHROOMS. Little known secret to family harmony: one bathroom per teenager and spouse. It may seem excessive—until you’re the one desperately waiting to get in.
You can indulge your home improvement spirit animal and take on the job yourself, but it’s a good idea to talk with a contractor about your home’s layout and the best spot to add another bathroom. For a few hundred well-spent dollars, a contractor or designer can help you create a plan and avoid heinous pitfalls. Even a half bath added to the mudroom or off the kitchen adds resale dollars and keeps dinner guests from having to wander your home in order to find and use the facilities.
Return on investment: High
Update a Bathroom
Did you do a kitchen makeover recently? Your bathrooms are jealous. Lose the early aughts (or older!) décor and enhance your home’s market value. Functionality options for bathrooms are endless today and you’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in even the smallest spaces. Browse on HGTV.com, Houzz.com, or any of the big box home stores websites. Regardless of your budget or style, you’ll find endless bathroom cabinet, shower & tub options.
Return on investment: High
Get Rid of Rugs and Consider Hardwood, Laminates or Tile Flooring
Modern flooring options offer great benefits: they are easier to clean, they don’t hold on to dust and dirt the way carpet does, and it’s a proven way to reduce allergens in the home. A definite plus for buyers and another update worth the investment.
Return on investment: High
Not up to those big changes but itching to start some renovations to get your house on the market? Consider these:
- Paint the front door;
- Install crown molding (try it in a bathroom and see how you like the results);
- Consider implementing some tech: auto shades, charging stations, tv mounts, HVAC updates;
- Clean out the linen closet and/or master closet and install better shelving.
Happy New Year! Is this the year? Are you excited to put your house on the market? Whether you’re selling your dream home to downsize, swapping a starter home for a family home, or making a lateral move to get into the GREAT Greenwich neighborhood you’ve always wanted to be in, I’d like to be the realtor to help you sell your house fast in 2019.
Here are five steps we need to take together. Of course, each of these breaks down into multiple steps – and I can help you map it out. Read on…
- Plan – Selling a house takes planning on your part and planning on my part too. The sooner you link up with a knowledgeable and trustworthy realtor, the better support you’ll have to identify and complete the necessary tasks. You’ll need to find the right lawyer, home inspector, mover and maybe even a home stager (more on this in future articles). You’ll need to understand what goes into setting a realistic “sell-by” date. There’s more than a few things to sort out, but we’ll do it together to make it as easy as possible.
- Repair/Replace/Upgrade – I can’t help you unless you can trust me. And that’s not going to be easy when on our second or third “date” I’m going to come into your home and critique it from top to bottom. I’ll assess all the unique and wonderfully special aspects of your house; but I’ll also give you constructive feedback on the work that needs to be done to make your home sell. Are you dying to replace that kitchen countertop as well as the pasta pot dented sink? Nope. But it’s my job to let you know that a beautiful stone counter with a new stainless steel or ceramic sink will help your house to sell in weeks instead of months. A moderate kitchen upgrade is one of the best tweaks you can make that speaks directly to potential buyers. It says: “We’ll be hanging out in here with wine and cheese.” I’ll point out simple fixes too – a new coat of paint on the front door is magic! Replace the outdated lamp shades on your sconces and see a dramatic light change. I’ve seen hundreds of small and large improvements ranging in price from $10 – $10,000 and I’m going to share all of the tips and tricks I’ve learned.
- On-Point Price Point – Because I’ve been a full-time realtor and broker for 15 years and have toured and sold hundreds of homes, I know what people are looking for and what they’re willing to pay to get it. I know the market, the economy, and Greenwich. Your home is unique and PERFECT for the right person. It’s my job to find that person. I do an in-depth market analysis that takes all of this into consideration and then give you recommended
- Clean and De-Clutter – Once you’ve repaired and replaced, it’s deep cleaning time. Do it yourself? Sure, if that’s the kind of thing that makes you jump out of bed with joy. Otherwise, hire someone to do a deep cleaning (Need recommendations? Just let me know). Then you need to keep it clean while it’s on the market. This is another point where trust will be important and why you should choose carefully when you select a realtor. Because it’s going to be my job to point out any problem areas in your home that relate to cleanliness and clutter. Yes, there is a funky smell in the downstairs carpet. No, you can’t leave your collection of 74 antique tea cups and saucers on display in the kitchen while we show your home. I don’t love this part, but I’ve said this before in a previous article – you may not always like what I have to say, but I’ll always be honest with you especially when it can impact our combined goal of selling your home for the best price.
- Stage it – When we open that front door for the very first prospective buyers, your house needs to scream THIS IS YOUR DREAM HOME. The last 15 years of reality television have made many of us aware of “staging.” Staging is a blossoming industry with national accreditation programs and partnerships with high-end furniture lines for experienced stagers. Staging is an added expense, but stagers remove (some or all) of your own furniture and décor and bring in items to create an atmosphere that has been shown to reduce the time required to sell a house by as much as 50 percent. It’s an added expense, but depending on the state of your interior design can be worth every penny spent. There are certain tricks to this – great lighting, ample space, clean windows. I’ll work with you on this, and can recommend excellent staging companies in our area.
Get a jump on this list. Let’s talk ASAP if you want to put your house on the market now or in the spring. Let’s start off 2019 off with a bang!
Your home is on the market. And it’s the holidays. How should you decorate? Should you decorate at all? Some real estate agents and home staging professionals advocate no decorations during the holidays, as to not offend those who don’t celebrate a specific holiday. Others say definitely decorate—a festive house may sell faster.
We recommend an approach that celebrates the season but doesn’t exclude.
- Front door and entryway. There are endless ways to dress up the doorstep, door and entryway. Ideas run the gamut, but when your house is on the market, subtle sells!
- Use greenery. Use nature-inspired green to enhance a room with subtle décor. Think of winter elements.
- Use garland to highlight a specific feature. A curvy stairway or other area can become dramatic feature when highlighted with garland.
- Set a festive table. If your home includes a formal dining area, set the table for a celebratory dinner. I beautifully laid table encourages buyers to imagine their own family and friend gatherings in this space.
- Holiday goodies may make buyers linger. The time-honored real estate tradition of using the scent (and offer) of freshly baked cookies to encourage visitors to check out the kitchen one more time, gets kicked up a few notches in December. Offer up some holiday treats to visitors. Filled candy bowls and cookies will be a welcome surprise and may make buyers want to linger.
And do please let me know if you’d like to go look at houses in December – or if you’d like to put your house on the market. I’d love to help. Look at listings here. I’d especially like for you to look at this charming home at 63 Wildwood in Greenwich. And Happy Holidays!
Many of my current listings showcase beautiful mature landscaping and carefully tended gardens that are breathtaking in the spring and summer. Here in Fairfield County, when we make that transition from summer to fall, we are fortunate to experience spectacular fall foliage. But once the trees are bare, there’s really no way to avoid the fact that everything green is ready for hibernation. So, if you’re selling your home, consider some easy greenery to clear the air and add beauty.
Houseplants help fill the “green void” of late/fall/winter/early spring and keep the air in your home clean, even helping those in your household with allergies. There’s so much you can do inside to still reap the benefits of plants even when the weather outside is, well, frightful. Plus, potential buyers that tour your home will notice that a home filled with well-tended plants doesn’t have that closed-in stale air “scent” that sometimes lingers when we can’t open the windows for months at a time.
These houseplants are easy to grow and can generally withstand erratic watering, uneven or bad light and fluctuating temperatures. They’ll thrive in kitchens, home offices and sometimes even dismal corners.
1. Spider plants (Epipremnum pinnatum ‘aureum’)
2. Snake plant and Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii)
3. Golden pothos vine (Chlorophytum)
4. Dracaena floor plant
5. Succulents and cacti
Even the plant-killers among us can have success and reap the benefits of indoor plants. How many months till spring?
If you’d like to look at a few of my listings with beautiful yards…click here.
The home seller/realtor relationship is a crucial element of my business. If we don’t trust each other, feel comfortable in each other’s presence—if you look at your phone and see that it’s me calling and you DON’T want to answer or if you look at your phone and wonder why I haven’t called to update you —I’m not doing my job well.
Good, consistent communication prevents issues before they start. So I start new home seller relationships with a promise—consistent communication, strong market analysis, and my honest assessment and advice.
It’s that last part – honest assessment and advice – that might lead you to disagree with my recommendations and maybe even get annoyed. I always treat my customers with respect, but it would be a disservice to tell them white lies that can delay or prevent the sale of their home—the outcome we both want.
So here are the five times during the house selling process that you might not like me:
- My price recommendation when the house is put on the market. I study the real estate market very carefully. I look forward to monthly real estate market reports the way other people look forward to Golf Digest. I understand the realities and trends of the market and work to offer my sellers the best possible price point.
- Clutter eats equity. Remove half of the stuff in your house to make it look open and inviting.
Yes, it’s painful to figure out where to temporarily remove your collection of antique teapots or the stacks of bestseller balanced up against the study walls. It’s annoying to have to rent a storage unit to store your great-great-grandmother’s Victorian furniture (which is stacked in a guest room). The visual clutter has go. There is nothing potential buyers like more than the ability to picture themselves in the space they are going to buy with their own stuff.
- When I tell you your home is a unique property… expect it to take a longer than normal to sell. See above. I’m speaking from decades of experience. Certain properties take longer to sell. If your home includes a bowling alley, a medieval turret, a large workshop, pond or other unique feature, then you are searching for a buyer who is willing to pay for that element. So sometimes, it takes longer to find that person.
- Your bathroom, landscaping, flooring or paint needs an upgrade before you put it on the market. You want top dollar for your home. That’s what I want for you too. I’m going to be very realistic with you about what number will get your house sold in the timeframe you need. And, I’m also going to tell you what you need to do to your home we can go from listing to selling ASAP. An upgrade – not a complete renovation – can really make a huge difference. Yes, it costs money to replace counter tops and enhance landscaping – but you’ll sell your house faster and most probably get a higher price point.
- Hire a professional cleaner. I’m not insulting your home cleaning routine. People are busy. Selling a home is stressful. But you need to know that an immaculate home sells more quickly. Hire someone to give your home a deep clean. Plus, it’s relaxing to live in a really clean house, which will help with that stress.
Do you hate me already? Hope not! If you are the kind of home owner who likes honest assessment and clear communication, and you’re looking to sell your home in Greenwich or internationally, I very well may be the realtor for you. Learn more about me here. And if you are on Facebook or Instagram, please follow me there.
I’ve helped hundreds of people over the years to buy their dream homes. Over and over again, I share these tips with my clients here in Greenwich CT and internationally. Some of these tips are common sense, others may be new to you.
So here we go, my top ten tips for buying a home!
- Location. Location. Location. It’s an oldie but a goodie. You’re not going to change where your house sits – so make sure it’s what you want and WHERE you want. Is it near the schools that your children go to? Is it close to friends and family (if you want to be close to friends and family ;>). Is it not too close to a busy road or nestled in the community you want to be in?
- The orientation of the house. I’ve written an entire article on this topic – it’s something I never get tired of stressing to home buyers. If light is important to you, you should buy a home that faces south or southwest. This is where all your light will come from.
- Flow. How you move between rooms in your home is important – and not easy to change barring major construction. Think about how the rooms relate to each other.
- Does the price make sense? Buying a home can be a very emotional process. And choose the right home can be overwhelming AND exciting. How do you judge if the price makes sense? You might feel that you really want the home, no matter the price. What I like to do with all my clients is a comparative market analysis to make sure what they’re asking – and what you’re offering – is on target. I help clients to navigate the impulse and emotion of home buying.
- Is the home peaceful? A home that is relaxing and serene is so important for most of us. Life is stressful and busy – our homes should be comforting and peaceful. And peaceful doesn’t mean you have to live in a silent vacuum. It means that it is comfortable and soothing for you and your family. For example, a train might go by in the evening. You might love the sound of a distant train. Others might not.
- Go for the best possible kitchen. Sure, you can buy and then remodel your kitchen: people do it all the time, either immediately or down the road. A kitchen remodel is a significant expense. So search for your dream kitchen in your ideal location and get it right right away.
- Dream master suite. When buying a home, make sure the master bedroom and bathroom meet your needs. Like the kitchen, a master suite renovation is an investment. And where does it sit? At the front of the house or at the back? Next to the kitchen or upstairs away from all the other rooms? You’re best off finding your dream home with the right master suite and kitchen (a la tip 6). NOTE: Sometimes location (tip 1) trumps many of the other criteria. Don’t worry, I’ll help you work through all this.
- Hire a good inspector. Yes, the seller has the home inspected – but that inspector is working for the home owner. Hire a good inspector who you know is representing your needs. I can recommend several good inspectors here in Greenwich.
- No home is perfect. No matter your budget, your dream home will have a quirk or two. Honestly: It’s okay not to be perfect. Don’t let those little imperfections deter you if the house is meeting all your other criteria.
- Make sure you have an outstanding real estate agent and a lawyer representing your needs.