I don’t care if you’re in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Miami or anywhere in between — there are always four aspects behind why a home sells for how much it sells for. And they are true in every market.
If there is one overriding “granddaddy of all reasons,” it’s how the home is priced for the current market. This is based on several factors. Comparable Sales (i.e., “comps”) show a definition of what other similar homes are selling for. Average market time for surrounding homes is a definite consideration. The current trends for that specific neighborhood and the larger overall area are important too. And, let’s not forget the oldest axiom in the book: Location! Location! Location! The realtor who gets this wrong will cause clients a lot of heartache and substantial cold, hard equity.
This is the least exciting (but equally important) aspect of how a home sells. Rarely does condition increase the value of a home, but if not up to snuff, it can certainly cost you. They include the paint — yes, it’s worth touching up. If the carpet is stained or the hardwood well-worn, that can be an issue. Windows and doors should all open and close correctly. The appliances and mechanicals should all function as expected. The countertops and cabinets are expected undamaged. And without question, cleanliness is a must — grout and tile being infamous problem areas that can get overlooked.
Disorganization and clutter are enemies of any seller, so just remember the saying that clutter eats equity, and get to work on making the home look like a Pottery Barn ad. Even unseen aspects, such as the roof, play a part. Bottom line: anything having to do with functionality a buyer will assume should be in good condition and will judge negatively if not. Those closet doors that don’t close? You said you’d get around to it one day … Well, getting it done prior to going on the market is that day.
Finishes can either add value, subtract from it, or be neutral. Whereas the Condition was what shape something is in (good, fair, poor), the Finish has to do with how that brand or finish compares to others out there (fancy, standard, low grade). I don’t care if you have the nicest Formica ever made, it’s still Formica. If you have the kitchen and baths that are all the rage these days, you are in the best possible position.
Whether regarding flooring, appliances, countertops, cabinets, lighting fixtures, toilets, bathtubs and showers, know that your home will be judged against the competition and hopefully will be viewed favorably. Whether you win or lose depends on how the finishes compare to the current trends, and how recently the changes were made.
The presentation and the perception of the home is the sizzle. A home can really set itself apart with staging. The art of staging is about finding or using the ideal furniture for the space, which hopefully you already own. Do not try to rationalize how that oversized couch you got ten years ago still works great in your now-too-small home.
The staging really must be aligned with the current tastes of the market. If this does not describe your current furniture, or your home will be vacant when selling, then hiring a stager is the best way to go — although this can get expensive, depending on the stager. If your realtor has a knowledgeable eye and can offer staging tips with what you do have, great. If they also know a stager who doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, this can be a great option and often gets the home sold more quickly and for more money.
Yes, marketing is important too. But it won’t make a home worth more. Marketing has to do with how the general public gets to view your home, whereas each of these aspects is integral to the actual value and successful sale of a home.
Condition is the easiest to overlook because you’ve lived there and gotten used to it, but don’t fall prey to “it’s good enough”. Finishes can help or hurt depending on how far above or below the standard is, but bear in mind that replacing something (i.e., a new kitchen) just before selling rarely recoups the cost of doing so. Staging is putting the absolute best foot forward in making the home look its best. And Pricing, after taking all aspects into consideration and determining a razor-sharp value and appropriate list price, should yield the best possible outcome.