First impressions important when selling house in a balanced, competitive market

by Todd Lewys
It’s been more than three weeks since you listed your home, and you’re wondering why it hasn’t sold.
There could be several possible explanations for it still being on the market: a balanced market that’s provided consumers with a greater selection of homes to choose from than was the case even just a year or two ago; poor weather; a summer market made tepid by everyone going on holidays or the beginning of school, which has (hopefully temporarily) distracted people from going house hunting.
As valid as those explanations might be, there could be another reason why your home hasn’t sold — poor presentation. 
Which is to say, what people are seeing when they first walk up to the home. When they go from room to room assessing the home, the experience could well be very underwhelming.
For argument’s sake, let’s compare buying a resale home to buying a used car. 
When you’re looking at the car, you’re looking for pride of ownership — an exterior that’s free of rust, dents, dings and gouges and an interior that’s clean, with no fabric tears or chunks out of the dash or other areas of the car.
Not only that, but all the different options should be working from the electric windows and locks to the windshield wipers, to the front and rear defrosters. 
Walk up to a car with a pristine exterior and interior, and you can almost predict everything will be in good working order. When you start the engine and hear it idle smoothly, you’re not surprised since the car has obviously been maintained well.
Conversely, if a car has dents, rust spots and gouges on its exterior and the interior is rather unkempt, doubts arise. It’s unlikely that you would buy the car because it’s apparent it hasn’t been looked after.
The same thing applies to the home you’re selling. Reality is, as the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to create a positive first impression. 
“These days, presentation is everything,” said REALTOR® Scott Moore. “Right after I list a home, I get it cleaned, painted and staged. 
“You can’t fool around these days with the market being so competitive. The bottom line is that a house has to look good from the front entrance on in in order for it to sell.”
Terry O’Rourke, a fellow REALTOR®, agrees wholeheartedly.
“With many more listings now compared to the same time last year, creating a positive first impression is critical,” he said. “That’s why when I list a home, the first thing I do is get a stager to go through the home and prepare a report on what needs to be done.”
The rationale for having the stager do the assessment is simple, added O’Rourke.
“I let the stager deal with the client because they’ve looked at the home objectively and will provide an honest evaluation of what needs to be done. It could be something as simple as adding or subtracting furniture, painting a room or two, de-cluttering closets or just making a kitchen or bathroom more neat and tidy.”
Moore said it’s important to note that sellers don’t have to do an all-out home makeover in order to make their home desirable.
“You don’t have to put in a new kitchen or blow out the walls to create an open-concept interior,” he said. “The whole idea is to make your home stand out above the rest. That means that it should be clean, well-kept and orderly inside, and that it should look good outside with nice landscaping, and be free of warning signs such as broken downspouts and eaves troughs with weeds growing out of them.”
“It all starts with the walkway, lawn and front entrance, and goes from there,” said O’Rourke in agreement with Moore. “Ultimately, our job is to generate offers for our clients. 
“It’s not fun, but sometimes we have to tell them while they might like the wallpaper in their living room, the rest of the city might not.”
O’Rourke said sellers have to understand that their home isn’t going to sell automatically, as was the case a few years ago.
“It’s not a seller’s market that it was several years back,” said O’Rourke. “To sell your home these days, you have to take away objections. 
“If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time selling your home, now matter how hard your REALTOR® works on your behalf. It’s that simple.”