Condition is everything!

    Condition is everything!

    Jun 20, 2018

    Why does one house sell and another one not sell?

    Why does one sell for more than another?

    Obviously, there are numbers of beds and baths, square footage, location and amenities.

    But every day we see how condition affects sale prices, or in unfortunate cases, prevents sales.

    What follows are some simple things that buyers see that sellers often overlook.

    Curb appeal

    You drive to your home every day. You walk in the front door, but do you ever step back and look at the siding, screens, window frames, roofing?

    Cleaning up the front to make it more welcoming is often a minimal project with huge benefit. Our first home in Ann Arbor was involved in the 1998 derecho wind event. We lost a quarter of our shingles and had other damage as well. When the insurance agent came to adjust for the repairs, he neglected to credit us for the shutters (can you tell it was a 1977 home yet?). If you've ever seen an aluminum-sided home without shutters, it looks very plain and a little off. I won't lie, I was intimidated by this project. But it turned out that shutters were an easy fix. I drilled a couple holes and then pushed in the included push-pins and we had great-looking black vinyl shutters that really jumped off the white-sided front of the home. That curb appeal helped draw in prospective buyers and our home had an accepted offer within a week.

    Every buyer is different. Some don't mind rolling up their sleeves to get a yard back to life or clean the siding. Others may decide that they would hire out all of that work. That latter type of buyer would like to see the home at its best. So consider a workbee for the exterior of the home or consider hiring a company to power wash the home and decks and have a landscaper come over for a spring cleanup.

    Just paint

    When buyers go through homes, I counsel them to remember that room colors can be changed with just a few hours of painting. Sellers are often resistant to painting prior to offering their home for sale for two reasons. First, they don't want to paint someone else's home. They're done with the home. Second, they don't want to try to guess what might be appealing to buyers. Here's the thing, though: clean is always more appealing than soiled. So spend a few bucks on paint -- particularly on the entryway and the kitchen.

    Kitchens and baths

    You hear it, read it and see it on TV. Kitchen and bath makeovers are where the bang for the buck is. But right now, we are in a sellers' market. So do you really want to undertake a project for what will be someone else's home? My advice is to get things clean and tasteful. If that means that you and your kids are using Rubbermaid totes to store your 32 shampoos and body washes and loofas while the home is on the market, that's what it means. Get everything out of the tubs and showers, everything off of the counters. The kitchen should be free of clutter and not too personalized. Clean the magnets off of the refrigerator. Wherever you normally keep your prescriptions, put them out of sight -- preferably in a gun safe or fire safe. Kitchens are so important. Survey after survey shows that the majority of buyers consider kitchens the most important room in the home.


    One thing I recommend to sellers because I know that we'd have to do it to sell our current house -- rent a storage unit. I have a couple of teenagers and we just have too much stuff for their hobbies and sports and such to show our house. Take all of those things that you shuffle around your current home and hide from company and put them in totes. Take them off the property. Winter clothes, skis, snowshoes, anything that you can get out of the home or garage or attic or basement -- just move it. Your home will look more spacious. You might even wonder why you're selling once you're done!

    Clean, clean, clean

    If it's not clean enough for you to have company over -- your boss, your parents, your in-laws -- then it's not clean enough to sell. A lack of cleaning is where many homes lose value. If a home looks clean and fresh, people can focus on how they'd use the space, which is exactly what we want a buyer to do.