Posted by: realtormarkpalace | February 9, 2011

Prep work key to selling houses in tough market

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Feb. 8, 2011 – “Do you want to put a sign in your yard, or do you want to sell your house?”

That’s the first question Marcile Sims of Oracle Real Estate in Mobile asks sellers.

“It’s so competitive now, and price is everything,” she said. “We’re having to turn down listings because some sellers are asking crazy prices. They would be wasting their time and everyone else’s.”

In today’s buyer’s market, it’s up to the sellers to bring out the best in their homes to stand out amid the glut of inventory, agents said. Translation: Refresh or revive a house before it goes on the market.

The house may not be old, but often it can look worn. Local home inspectors, house stagers and real estate agents offer tips for updates that help attract buyers with some curb appeal.

Walk around the house and look at the condition of the all the wood structures, seeking any minor damage that could be repaired prior to the house being put on the market, said James Elder of Elder Home Inspections in Mobile.

“A Realtor will say stand out on the street and look at the house, see what it looks like when somebody pulls up to the house,” he said. “Are there cosmetic repairs or touchup things that can be done to give the house curb appeal?”

Heating and cooling systems should also be maintained on a regular basis. Home inspector Bob Grafe of Daphne said that during a recent inspection, neither of the house’s two air conditioners had filters.

“Putting in clean AC filters doesn’t cost much money,” he said. “When I see that they are clean, I know the owners care enough to do the maintenance.”

A big problem in the area is water intrusion, Grafe said. Water decays and rots the wood when it leaks in.

“Homeowners should clean out the gutters. They are there to drain water, but when they get full of trash and have trees growing in them, it will start to rot out the wood.”

Leaky faucets, running toilets and those type of interior things are easy to fix, he said.

“The messier the house, the more difficult it is to inspect,” Grafe said. “Pick up and clean up the house and have it ready to go.”

A house that isn’t clean and looks worn out automatically make a potential buyer think upkeep has gone lacking, Sims said. “Get the carpet cleaned, get rid of the smells and get your air conditioner serviced. If you have a septic tank, get it cleaned and inspected. Any blinds that don’t close properly or burned out light bulbs need to be replaced.

“Take all of your pictures down and store them. Get rid of anything that makes the house yours – they don’t want to think of it as yours.”

If the house has furniture in it, make sure you de-clutter, said Angela Blankinchip of Showhomes Mobile/Baldwin based in Daphne. Often it’s just a matter of updating the accessories and rearranging the furniture to make the rooms look bigger, she said.

For vacant houses, she puts furniture in most all the rooms, and if it’s a two-story house she will furnish the entire first floor.

“Staging works,” said Blankinchip, who recently expanded her business and bought the Showhomes franchise in Pensacola, Fla. She has been busy staging model homes for builders, too.

“In today’s market, everyone wants a model home, and that’s usually the one people want to buy.”
AP Logo Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press, Kathy Jumper.

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