Selling Strategies for a Soft Market #3

First Impressions

Last weekís Ask the Realtors covered the second step in successfully selling your home in our ìsoftî sellerís market - understanding what sells a home.

This weekís third installment of TEAM MIKEís 8 Keys to Selling Success ó Strategies for our soft market says you must understand the effect that buyerís first impression has on their interest in buying your Traverse City home.

Key #3 - First Impressions:

1. Pick it up

2. Clean it up

3. Finish it up

4. Paint it & Un-decorate it

5. Illuminate it

Regular readers of Ask the Realtors know that one of the Four Fundamental Factors of Traverse City real estate property values is condition.

The real estate industry statistic/urban legend says that a buyer formulates a strong first impression of your home within 15 seconds of seeing it. Multiply that by the ìInternet factor,î or the shortened attention span of most (real estate buying) surfers who are looking at property, and the importance of first impressions takes on its true importance. Unlike the location of your property (which you cannot change), you have direct control of the condition of your home.

Remember our discussion of ìShow Quality?î A home in ìShow Qualityî is clean, organized, and inviting. Pick it up and clean it up. Get rid of all but the last monthís magazines. Empty your property of all of the garbage on the premises. You may want to take this opportunity to re-establish your definition of ìgarbageî (and maybe your spouseís definition as well). Take all of the recyclable materials to the collection centers. Make sure all of the laundry is cleaned, folded, and put away in its proper place. If something does not have a proper place, you probably donít need it as badly as you need your house to sell.

Go after the garage and the basement too, while youíre at it. Remember, you want your home to stand out amongst the legions of other houses for sale in your price range, and this is an area that you can have a dramaticly positive affect on.

Clean your house like all of the church ladies are coming over with their white gloves on! There are several really good cleaning professionals locally that can give your home a sparkle it may have never seen before, and for the price, this is an excellent option almost every time.

Pay particular attention to the window glass. We humans are a visual species, and even a little grime on a window, inside or out, is easily detected and will give an impression of dirtiness regardless of how spotless the rest of the home is.

Weíll learn about the importance of illumination below. Suffice it to say that you want to utilize your daylight as much as possible with your squeaky-clean windows. TEAM MIKE cannot picture a home that is too clean.

My favorite is finish it up. Finish all of the little projects you have started, but never finished, around your home. You want to be selling your home as a finished product, not a work-in-progress. One of the best ways of soliciting low offers on your home is to have a list of items that are not complete. Buyers will ìnaturallyî deduct the expense of finishing your projects from whatever your asking price is.

Again, this is an area where you can directly affect the successful sale of your home, so no complaining about your lack of selling success with a laundry list of home projects that you are trying to pass off on an unsuspecting buyer. ìHoney Doísî can be very expensive for a seller.

Another great Traverse City real estate adage is: ìPaint is worth $20 in the can and $2,000 on the wall.î Paint it & un-decorate it. Even a fresh coat of whatever great color you have on your walls will go a long way, but pay attention to your trim in particular.

Un-decorate is counter-intuitive. Most people have too much stuff, particularly if you have collections of anything. Pack most of your stuff (whatever you cannot sell, give away, or recycle) carefully away in boxes and get it off the walls, floors, and shelves. De-clutter. Clutter makes rooms seem much smaller, and your house less bright and inviting. Peopleís tastes vary widely, so your stellar collection of lighthouses, seashells, and all things nautical may very well turn off a buyer who is more interested in a clean, bright, well-cared-for home and great location.

Finally, illuminate it. As we have already said, humanity is a visual species. All forms of illumination take a back seat to our heavenly source 92 million miles away. Sunlight is your friend. Open the blinds and curtains. Replace any burned out or low-wattage bulbs with fresh new ones. If you are able, turn on every light in your home before any prospective buyers are scheduled to come view your property for sale. It makes a big difference, even in photographs.

Incorporate these first impression builders into your solid, well-thought-out plan to sell your home and you will be on your way to selling success, even in a ìsoftî market.

Remember to leave your question as a comment below, or e-mail or

ÖAnd Keep Thinking Snow!

All the Best,

Last Updated: December 27, 2007