1. Remove Clutter From Crested Butte Home
To prepare home showings with the top 5 items, you must first think, what will people think when they walk into my home? Will people say “wow” or “eww” when they walk through your home? It can be tough after many years in your mountain home to get rid of things (some that you may still be using). Still, it’s best to take a hard look are your stuff and either throw it away or move it to a storage unit. The common advice is to make your home look like a “model home.” Buyers do not want to open a closet and see it packed with twenty-year-old ski clothes, gear, and games; they want to see how big the closet is. Can you make time to get to your home to do this? (There may be decisions about personal items that a property manager or maid service cannot handle for you.) Do you have plants inside? Get rid of them. Do you have a garage or basement shop area full of old stuff? Get rid of it. Do you have a refrigerator, freezer, or pantry full of food? Eat it, or get rid of it. Do you have walls filled with family photos? Take them down, fix the holes, and repaint the wall.
Do you still have any of those vintage bright-colored neon one-piece ski suits from the 1980s or 1990s?
Don’t they look funny now? Well, that one-piece ski suit is similar to what the buyer thinks your house looks like if it has vintage 1980s or 1990s furniture and furnishings. I am not suggesting you spend the money to replace all your vintage furniture, but fewer pieces will be better to reduce the impact of the old furniture, and to open up the space. You should also be sure to remove any old and/or worn pieces of furniture.
For more help to expert advice on how to remove clutter from your home click here
Winter Showings and Snow
If you have your home listed for sale in the winter you will need to take some extra steps to prepare your home for showings. Be sure your driveway gets plowed even when you are not there. Be sure to contract for shoveling the snow off the walks and decks and patios. Many potential buyers will want to walk out on the deck to see the views and if there is three feet of snow then this is a problem. Adding rock salt to icy areas is a good idea as well. If you have a heavy snow year, or you have snow that sheds from the roof in front of windows, then you should have this snow cleared as well. You want light to shine in and the views from inside to be seen.
Artwork and Personal Items
There are a few well-known artists in every mountain town, and their paintings of the local town and mountain scenes may be very expensive art. If you have some expensive or cherished paintings in your home and you plan to take them with you when you sell the home, then now is the time to remove them from your mountain home. It may sound very strange, but I have been involved with transactions where negotiations on a $2 million home were held up because of a $10,000 painting. There were hard feelings on both sides that made for an uncomfortable situation, and if the painting had been removed, it would never have been an issue.
Many sellers will want to keep their artwork and personal décor items in the home since they may still be using the home while it is listed for sale…
The question is what is more important: looking at the painting on the wall, or creating a potential conflict and possibly losing the painting when the buyer agrees to your final counter but wants that painting thrown in? Even though it is common to see a trophy elk head mounted on the wall, not everyone likes looking at elk heads. If you have a locked owner’s closet jam-packed with stuff, this would be a good time to remove all the items in it, or at a minimum remove the expensive items, any firearms, and clean it up so the buyer can see how nice and spacious the owner’s closet is. As mentioned previously, it may be a good idea to hire an interior decorator to provide an opinion on what to remove. This can be a good exercise for you as well, because you will be forced to make some decisions about what items in the home you will take and what items will be included (on the inclusion list). Finally, when you get an offer and the buyer says they don’t want any of your furniture or furnishings, don’t be offended. The important thing is that they want to buy your house, not your stuff.
Photos on the wall and throughout the home are common in mountain homes. After all, you have enjoyed years of fun times with family and friends and have cherished the photos capturing those fun moments, the big fish you caught, and the tops of the peaks you have climbed. Those photos are distracting to the buyer. Studies show that if a buyer can “visualize themselves” in your home, they will become emotionally excited to buy your home. You might keep a few current photos that sell the mountain lifestyle, but it is recommended to remove the “wall of photos,” fill the nail holes, and paint the wall.
Example – A Seller Who Lost Over $100,000 Due to “Stuff”
You may be saying: “This is a pain in the rear to de-clutter the house and deal with all of this stuff now. If someone puts an offer on my house, then I will fly in and deal with it.” This is a wholly rational point of view. From the seller’s perspective. I know a seller who got an offer on their home that was a cash offer and a two-week quick close (a rare dream offer). The buyer was motivated and was working against a deadline and wanted to have all of their family in very shortly after closing. Most sellers would be jumping for joy at the prospect of this offer. The home was being sold partially furnished, and there were many pieces of furniture, artwork, personal items and years of accumulated stuff that needed to be cleaned out of the 4,000 square foot home. The seller was out of the country on vacation and did not want to deal with the logistics and coordination of movers and sorting though all their stuff while on vacation. They had prior commitments and could not get back to their mountain home in time given their vacation and business schedule. They agreed to the terms of the contract, but they pushed back on the buyer regarding the closing and possession dates. The buyer walked. The home was on the market for another year until it sold for more than $100,000 less than the previous contract. The lesson here is clear: if you’ve decided to sell, be prepared to sell.
Plan to do a deep clean of your home. It’s best to hire a cleaning service to come in after all the “stuff” has been removed to clean the home from top to bottom. Yes, you should throw out all the junk in the garage, shed, and man cave. If you have old bags of fertilizer, oil, solvent, cans of old paint, cleaning fluids, broken garden hoses, bike parts, one snowshoe, etc., get rid of it. No, the buyer does not want this stuff, and it adds to the clutter. Be aware that chemicals must be properly disposed of, and usually there is a fee to dispose of these items. There may be certain times of the year that the dump won’t take these items, so pre-planning can be key in cleaning up your home in preparation for selling it. Don’t forget to ensure the windows are cleaned inside and out, though it’s not likely that the outside of the windows can be cleaned in the middle of winter. There are services that specialize in cleaning exterior windows; this makes a big difference when a buyer looks through your windows to check out the beautiful mountain views.
3. Cosmetic Updates
Stand outside your front door for five minutes and look around your door and entryway. What does this first up-close look at your home say to the buyer? Some common things that may need attention include the door, or trim that may need to be repainted, or a welcome mat that should be replaced, or the doorknob hardware may need to be replaced, or the house might need a power wash to remove the visible dirt and spider webs, or the doorbell may be broken, etc. Once inside the front door, you should ensure that there are hooks for coats, and a bench to sit on, and it’s good idea to have a hand-painted “please remove your shoes” sign on the wall – this tells the buyer you take care of your home, and ensures that you won’t get mud tracked throughout the home during showings.
Take the time to go through your home and take a hard look at every room. I bet you will find many items that need attention. Is there scuffed-up and old paint on the walls? Consider repainting with neutral colors. What do the walls look like around the light switches? You may notice the paint on the wall is discolored, or worse, very dirty. At a minimum, clean the wall and the light switch. Is there grout and caulk in the kitchens and bathrooms that is dirty or in need of repair? Look closely at the drywall; do you see cracks from the home settling or due to heavy snow loads on the roof? If you have hardwood floors and there scratches in heavy traffic areas or from dogs, then get the floors waxed and buffed to bring them back to life. Replace old worn carpet (at a minimum, have the carpet steam cleaned). Go through every room, closet and storage area and replace the burned out light bulbs. A clean, well-lit and freshly painted garage can also make a huge difference.
“This Home Feels Cold, Dark and Creepy!”
How does your home feel? That may sound like a weird question, but how a buyer feels in your home will make a big difference whether they like it or not. You want them to like it. You will have to change some of your normal routines to make your home welcoming and feel good. Many second homeowners leave the temperature in their mountain home set on 55 degrees Fahrenheit when they are not there so they can save some money on heating their home. It is also common to close the drapes, and I have seen some homes where the homeowner put sheets over the furniture so the furniture does not fade from the direct sun. This is great when nobody will be in the home, but when you have your home listed for sale, there could be potential buyers in your home at any time. It may not be possible for your real estate agent to get to your home and open up the shades, remove the sheets, and turn on the lights and music prior to a showing. You don’t want your home to be cold, dark, scary and smelly – instead, you want your home to be warm, well lit, and welcoming when the buyer walks in the front door.
4. Fix Things
The buyer will hire an inspector. The inspector will find all that is “wrong” with the home, including items that need repair and items that need fixing. It is likely that you will have to have these items fixed anyway. You should consider getting ahead of the curve and hiring an inspector long before you list our home to provide you a report, and then get a handyman or contractors to come in and make the necessary repairs (especially the items that are visible to the buyer). Do you have windows with broken seals? Replace them. Your home may have been built before certain codes were created, and the inspector will find all of these faults. Do all the electrical outlets near running water have GFCI outlets? Does your home have both working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? If they are battery operated, replace the batteries. It is so annoying to show a client a home and have that loud CHIRP sound every twenty seconds – the buyer cannot concentrate on your home, and they just want to get out as soon as possible. Let’s say you had a toilet overflow and the resulting water damage seeped through the floor, and discolored a spot on the ceiling below. The buyer will assume this is a major issue and that there is a leak in the roof and water leaking into the house. Their perception will be that your house has issues, and they will wonder what else is wrong that they cannot see. If they decide to make an offer, it may be a low offer – the buyer’s assumption being that they will need to spend lots of money fixing the house if they buy it.
5. Make It Easy for the Buyer
Is your home easy to show? Keep it as clean and as presentable as possible. It can be tough to have people coming through your home on short notice, especially if you have friends or renters staying in your home. Most agents realize that a twenty-four-hour notice may be necessary and respectful prior to any showing, but a buyer may call and want to see your home in three hours (right before they get on the plane to go back home). The more people you can get through your home the better.
Do You Have Renters in Your Home?
In most mountain towns, there is a lack of long-term rental options, and so the renters in your home are probably super happy to be there. They may not want to leave. They may not want anyone to buy your home and disrupt the good thing going for them. Your tenant can make a huge difference in the appearance and impression of your home. Your motivation to sell and the tenant’s motivation to ensure your home shows in the best condition may be in conflict. Listing agents get text messages like this frequently: “Hey, I drove by 101 Main Street and my buyer wants to see it before they leave town – can we get in there in one hour?” If the home is vacant, this is simple and your home will get one more showing, and you may suddenly have your buyer. If the home is rented, the listing agent or showing coordinator in the office will have to try to get ahold of the renter to see if it is okay to have a showing in one hour.
At a minimum, you should modify your rental agreement and make the renters aware that the house is for sale and that the home should be well kept and presentable for showings, and they should be accommodating toward showings. If you are not willing to terminate the rental agreement, then you should provide a discount (motivation to the renter) for their being inconvenienced. If you are renting the home via a third party property management company, this can also be problematic. Most property management companies do not want their customers to be bothered during their stay (especially short-term renters in very expensive homes), and may not allow showings when the home is occupied. If the rental company will allow showings, it may be a challenge to deal with them, as they are not motivated nor incentivized to rapidly confirm and respond to showing requests. Let your listing agent know when the home will be occupied and when it is vacant. Everyone would like to have their cake and eat it too, but if you want to sell your home sooner and for top dollar, my recommendation would be to provide a termination notice to your tenant or third-party management company subject to the terms in your lease or management agreement. You should look at your priorities and decide how important the rental income really is to you. Will accommodating your renters for six months equal the value of selling your home in that same timeframe?
How can I help you with your Crested Butte Real Estate Needs?
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Global Luxury Property Specialist
Coldwell Banker Bighorn Realty
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