Report#6 – Pre-marketing makes all the difference

In this report, I want to briefly touch on the concept of pre-marketing.  Of all the aspects of a home sale, I can honestly say that few are as vital to a top dollar sale as the actions you do in the weeks before we hit the market.  Here we are working together to come up with the most cost effect means of presenting the most pristine product to the public.  Many sellers over the years have looked with me at some of the deficiencies in the property and said, “we’ll just give the Buyer a credit for that,” but it just doesn’t work well.  Buyers have a tendency to deduct way more than the value of the repair, and often assume that if x has been neglected, there’s probably a lot more that needs to be done that they can’t see.

Lets start with some obvious things.  First comes de-cluttering the home, inside and out.  This doesn’t just mean getting rid of things you plan to throw away, but more so excess furniture that makes the property look that much smaller.  One home I was working on recently has now had two large dumpsters, a moving pod, and three family members that came to take furniture.  You know what, it STILL looks a bit more cluttered than I’d like.  Can you imagine what it was like before?  By the way, it was meticulously clean, just filled with lots and lots of things.

Now that we have it de-cluttered, we will address the two different phases of the pre-marketing preparations.   The first phase is correcting things that are deficient in some way, or in need of repair.   On the exterior, we want to look at any rotted window sills, for example.  It’s much easier to fix those now, when you can do it with filler and paint, than to do it post inspection, when someone wants the entire wooden frame replaced over a tiny piece of wood rot.  We want to look for any areas where clapboards have popped out or cracked, and anywhere that may need touch up paint.  I’ll likely have my painter there anyway, doing work on the inside, so it’s not a big deal for him to do some outside work.   One place to pay special attention is the front door area.  After all, it’s the very first thing a buyer will see when they walk up to the home.  Speaking of entrances, lets look at the plantings in front of the house.  Time to get those trimmed back and shaped, make sure the walkway looks nice, and if needed, swap out the two main lights on each side of the doorway, for something shiny and newer. As we go inside, we want to look at areas that need paint, worn or torn carpeting, search all ceilings, including in the closets, for signs of water leaks, check the furnace filters, and in fact, wipe the whole furnace, HW Heater, and oil tank if you have one, with some windex, so they look shiny and newer.  Lets patch up holes in any of the walls or door frames, and paint those, and on the topic of paint, lets look at each room individually and see what needs painting   I love paint…everything about it.   It’s got to be the cheapest bang for the buck of any home improvement.  It makes everything look so fresh, neutral and ready for the next buyers touch.   We also want to check windows and skylights for any that may have lost their seal, evidenced by a foggy appearance.  In the electrical box, we want to look for any double tapped circuit breakers, meaning that there are two wires leading into one breaker.  If you see that, get an electrician to come out and fix it.   Obviously there are many, many more things that fall into this category, and when you’re ready, I’ll walk through with you and point out anything I see.  Remember that the goal isn’t to just start dumping money into a home you’re not even going to be living in.  Rather the objective is to look at things that are going to come up later anyway, and do them in advance, when you can control how they’re done, in the hopes of getting a higher price.

As I mentioned, there were two phases of the pre-marketing work.  What I discussed above was fixing deficiencies, deferred maintenance items, etc.   The next group of items is about making added improvements to the home, replacing things that are perfectly fine, in the hopes of getting a bigger rate of return.  in this phase, the object is o find things you can do where you can get back a return or two, three, four or five times what you spent on the item.  While it’s hard to quantify such returns in a black and white fashion, I can tell you that qualitatively, these items are great for impressing the Buyers, which in turn results in a higher sales price. Some of the larger ones would involve kitchen updates, such as granite counters or new stainless steel appliances.  While those are obviously big ticket items, they are really helpful, especially when dealing with homes in the upper price ranges.   Now, lets look at some really affordable items that quickly upgrade the appearance of a home – light fixtures and window treatments.   If your home is over 15 years old, chances are that those light fixtures which were so in style when the home was new, are showing their age – especially the ones in the hallways.  Fortunately, new ones can be purchased so affordably, and the install process is very easy.   for a few hundred dollars you can probably replace them all.    With respect to window treatments, you want to get rid of any old blinds or pull down shades, because they usually look dated.  Instead, pop over to Walmart and just pick up some nice drapery shears, that are in the under $20 range, and some pretty rods to put them on.  They add a really nice touch to any room, and again are so incredibly affordable.  I would also recommend going through and swapping out all of those energy efficient light bulbs that you put in.  Instead, put in some really nice, bright lights that really make the place shine.  Outdoors, you may want to just add some nice shrubs on the front walkway, or anywhere else you feel they would look nice.  They’re so affordable, and you can obviously plant them yourself in a few hours

As you may surmise, so much of this is just common sense, of course.  The key is in knowing what items are worth doing, based on the market, the competition, the age and value of the property, and a host of other factors.   The second price of the puzzle is getting the right people in to do the work.   That’s harder than you think, as you’ve probably found from calling repair people in the past.   The folks I use are incredibly good, affordable, and because I send them a ton of work, they will drop other things to take care of my clients first.

If you have any questions on this or any of my other reports, please reach out anytime.  You can reach me by email