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Laurie Gallagher


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by Laurie Gallagher



* Important must-dos to prioritize and help you get ready to sell, even if you are on a budget * 

When selling your home, it is important that sellers understand how their home will show to others.  An experienced Realtor can help you sell your home in many ways, including making recommendations about what you can do to make your home more attractive to home buyers.  If you are on a budget, the task can seem daunting.  However, there are many things that you can do that will improve your chances of selling quickly and for the best price.


If you are thinking of selling your home but are not quite ready to contact a Realtor, you might attend a few open houses in your neighborhood to see how similar homes are showing, or look at pictures of other homes for sale in your neighborhood.  


Important factors to home buyers: 

  1. Cleanliness.   Sellers may not be aware of how their home shows to others.  The first and least costly thing to begin with is cleaning.  Not everyone cleans to the same degree.  I’m talking about deep down sparkling clean.  It might help to use a top to bottom, left to right system.  Meaning, start at the top (think ceiling fans, tops of cub boards, picture frames, high windows inside and out) and work to the bottom, floors, baseboards, etc.  Then start left to right (think beds, counters, dusting, inside your refrigerator, windows inside and out and walls).  If you cannot afford to paint the walls, then clean them!  Get rid of those hand prints you’ve grown used to.  Then it’s time to look inside cabinets and closets.   Clean those appliances!  Many times, the refrigerator is included in the sale.  No one wants to put their food in a dingy, grimy refrigerator or oven or microwave for that matter.  And what is that smell?  It is imperative that you find the source of any odors and remove them.  Think pets, cat boxes, dog beds, etc.  If you can’t tell if you have odors, ask someone over for an honest opinion.  


Once you’ve cleaned the inside, it’s time to tackle the outside. It’s difficult to take a buyer through a home and have the buyer be turned off by dirt, dust, odors and clutter. Sometimes, they can’t see past the crud to see a home that might have been perfect for them. 


  2. Declutter.  Clutter is another obstacle to selling a home and it can be anywhere and everywhere, but you have to see it and identify it first.  Some people are immune to their own clutter.  It can stack up anywhere - on the kitchen table, a corner, a counter, a dresser, a closet, the pantry, the laundry room or the patio.  It can be piled up mail, coupons, items saved for a project half completed.  You might want to have a garage sale.  Get rid of what you can live without.  Sell it, donate it or even move what you can’t part with to a storage unit.  But decluttering is good for everyone’s soul and when you are considering selling, it is essential.  This might include removing some furniture.  Do you have a lot of large pieces of furniture? You might consider removing the full-size sofa and leaving the loveseat.  Now is the time to remove some of the artwork around your home.  If you have items that not everyone will care for, you might want to remove it – animal head mounts and off-color man cave signs come to mind. You do not need to showcase your belongings.  Basically, if you don’t use it regularly, remove it. Think bright open spaces.  Now that you’ve decluttered, go back and clean again!  Give prospective buyers the largest blank canvas you can so that they can visualize their own belongings in their new home. 


  4. Painting.  If you can afford it, painting can be most beneficial.  If you paint yourself, it can be much more cost effective.  Just painting can remove many odors and give your home a fresh clean appearance.  Choose neutral colors.  Remember that blank canvas.  Now is not the time to showcase your artistic flair.   I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken buyers through a freshly painted home only to have the buyer right off the bat talk about having to paint to cover up the brick red or blue accent wall.  Stick with light neutral colors that don’t contrast with the flooring to be most appealing to the most buyers. 


  6. Exterior.  Since the outside of your home is the first thing prospective buyers will see, make sure it is in tip top shape.  Clean up the yard and remove clutter.  Mow the lawn regularly (you would be surprised how neat and clean using an edger will make your lawn).  Trim bushes and trees, making sure to remove any dead foliage.  Pick up trash and declutter just like inside.  Replace and repair any rotting wood or boards and paint if necessary.  Remove unnecessary items from the yard as well. 


  8. Updates. Kitchens, bathrooms and flooring.  If your home is in need of updating, but you can’t afford it, you might consider updating some of the fixtures and lighting.  Make sure any plumbing, leaks and broken or cracked fixtures are repaired.  It is not expensive to replace a toilet seat, mirror or faucet.  Flooring can be expensive, but repairing cracked or missing tiles and making sure it is clean and sparkling will help.  Repair cracks and imperfections in the bathtub.  Consider a refinish vs. replacement.  Have carpets professionally cleaned and sanitized.  If you can’t update it, repair and clean it! 


  10. Lighting.   Lighting can be a fairly inexpensive way to update your home.  Fresh, up-to-date lighting fixtures can draw the eye away from some of the things you can’t fix.  If a home is dark, the right lighting in the right areas will help brighten the home and add some charm.  


  12. Other repairs.  Repair everything you are aware of and are able to repair.  If you are not sure, you might want to consider a pre-inspection.  Most home buyers will perform a home inspection.  It may be cost effective to have a pre-inspection completed to find any unforeseen deal killers like roof problems and water damage.  A pre-inspection gives the seller an opportunity to fix problems and avoid being blindsided while under contract.  It will also give you an opportunity to correct these issues or be upfront and disclose that which you cannot repair or replace. 

  13. Added touches and shortcuts.  If you are occupying your home during the sale process, there are some things you can do to make things more smoothly during showings.  You have cleaned, decluttered and updated to the degree you are able.  Now for some finishing touches.  


For daily living while your home is being shown, you might want to create a box marked for each room to quickly put away daily items to move out of the way and hide them during a showing or when you leave the home for work. When you return, you can take the marked boxes and return them to the rooms and items to their places. 


Kitchen:  Move appliances from off of the counters and into cupboards or pantry.  Neatly hang kitchen new towels.  Add a new kitchen rug.  Double check counters – they should sparkle.  


Dining Room:  Set the table!  Purchase a nice place setting including place mats, matching dinnerware, glasses.  Make it beautiful and keep it there.  Don’t use it.  Put it all aside to eat at the table if you must, then replace it.  You might want to consider eating at the bar or elsewhere to preserve your table setting.  


Bathrooms:  Remove makeup and styling products to a box that will fit under the sink.  Purchase some new fluffy towels and hang them in the bathrooms.  Make sure to remind family members that these are not for use.  Pick up and remove used towels and washcloths and wipe down counters and floors.  You might want to purchase a fresh clean shower curtain.  


Living room/den:  Vacuum and dust often.  You have already decluttered.  Make sure you continue to remove clutter.  Add a colorful throw and/or tasteful centerpiece. 

There are many things you can do. The internet has many articles. Pinterest has many DIY ideas for cleaning, decluttering, painting and updating on a budget. Then enjoy living in your beautiful home and look forward to that sale. 




Does "For Sale By Owner" Cost Sellers More?

by Laurie Gallagher

Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

A word about Internet home value websites:  For those who are interested in selling their homes, checking out Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin, etc. may seem like the perfect way to find out how much their home is worth.  These online valuation sites use algorithms of recent sales in the area.  However, these algorithms do not take into account the condition of a home, remodeling, modifications and updates and other specifics that might make a home worth significantly more or less than other homes in a given area.  While the valuations provided on these websites are interesting and may provide a starting point, these valuations should be taken with a grain of salt and with the knowledge that even Zillow reports their median error rate is an “average” error rate that can run in either direction.  This means that to obtain an average, there have to be higher and lower error rates. 

The reason these error rates can be damaging to a client is that if the property is valued too high, a client might have their heart set on that value and may not take a licensed realtor’s custom comparative market analysis valuation.  They may not want to move on a price that is too high and the home may not sell.  A value that is too low may keep people from putting their home on the market, when it might be worth significantly more.  That is not to mention the people who have their home on the market and a low estimate may prevent buyers from wanting to look at it. 

For example, an actual Zillow “Zestimate” provided a value of $778,623 on a property for which I provided a CMA.  However, a certified appraiser then conducted an appraisal and found the true value of the property to be $517,000.  Another very recent Zestimate showed a property valued at $230,475, the actual appraised value was $225,000.  Not all estimates are this far off, but clearly Zillow “Zestimates” and other online valuation websites should be used only as a guide.  While the actual value of a particular property is what someone is willing to pay for that property, Realtors use recent actual sold “comparable” properties along with other specific factors about the property’s condition to customize an estimated value that should be much more reliable and will provide the homeowner with a reliable estimated value.  And while Realtors are licensed to provide CMAs, I should add that a CMA is not as in-depth or detailed as an appraisal and will not take the place of an appraisal for a loan on a given property.  Realtors are not appraisers.  However, a CMA is a great tool to value a property for listing purposes and for buyers wanting to make the best deal on a purchase. 

These sites can be problematic for the home buyer as well.  All too often clients will contact me about a home they are interested in that they found listed on one of these websites.  I will then go and research the property only to find that it was sold or otherwise taken off the market days or weeks before and had not been updated. 

Bottom line is do not take automatic estimated values as gospel.  If you are looking for a true picture of what your home is worth, I invite you to contact us to arrange for a complimentary CMA. 

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Contact Information

Gallagher/Hannigan Real Estate Team
PRO-formance Realty Concepts
15331 W. Bell Road
Surprise AZ 85374
Lisa: 480-223-7696
Laureen: 623-910-8612