Since I make design decisions for about 75 houses per year (including landscaping), I tend to rely on my go-to choices over and over again. Knowing what today’s homeowner wants in the DC, MD & VA market is critical for making quick, accurate and intelligent design decisions. The choices that are made for each house will have a large impact on our company’s bottom line, so every decision is made with great consideration. Here are a few insider tips anyone can adopt when preparing your house for a quick sale.
Know your product and your competition.
Now is the time when you must start to detach yourself from your home emotionally. When you are planning to sell your home, it is no longer “your home.” The house has now become a “product” on the market and it has “competition.” I would say one of the largest deterrents to any homeowner selling their home quickly and profitably is their inability to grasp this one, major concept.
Before any renovation choices and design decisions are made, I pull up the tax record of our subject property. I look to see the year it was built, the living square footage (which does not include the basement) and how many bedrooms and bathrooms are legally listed. Interestingly, when I did this for my own home, I learned that the tax record was actually incorrect. An inspector needed to come out to my house for an inspection to correct it. Now, if I should ever go to sell my home, the information potential buyers will see regarding my property will be correct. Make sure you confirm how others will view your home/product.
Compare Apples to Apples
Now that you have your accurate tax record in hand, look at your competition. Compare apples to apples. Find information available for other homes similar to yours within a one mile radius of your house. Look for homes that were built close to the same year, have approximately the same square footage and were built on the same type of lot. If you have a garage, look for other homes that also have a garage. It’s best to stay within your school district too, since schools tend to drive home sales.
You can use many of the online websites for your research or you can contact a local real estate agent who can use the Multiple Listing Service to help you see what your competition looks like and what their asking prices are.
Of course, it’s advantageous to look at recently sold properties to fully understand a good asking price for your home too but more importantly, active listings will let you know what you will or will not need to do to get your house ready to compete in today’s market.
Renovating and Updating
After doing some research on your local housing market, you may find your home has already been updated and renovated enough to keep up with today’s housing market. But you may also find that to maximize your home’s potential profit and sell it quickly, you need to make some renovations or updates before you put it on the market. This is where your recent research comes in handy.
Although I attempt to honor the existing style of the home we are renovating, I always look to its competition to lead me in the right design direction. I tend to categorize homes as traditional, cottage, transitional or contemporary. I am generally over-joyed when the competing homes are in alignment with the style of my subject’s home. This was the case of our most recent renovation on Wendell Drive in Alexandria, Virginia.
Some of our competition did not have white kitchen cabinets, but since my research tells me that white cabinets and light counter tops are top sellers, I try to place those in as many homes as possible. Fortunately, this home is a perfect fit for white cabinets and light granite. Knowing buyers also love white marble, I searched for granite with the same look as marble. Marble does not perform as well as granite and it is often cost prohibitive, so I was quite happy to find this “Stormy White” granite at a good price.
The backsplash was a no-brainer given that we are using a white cabinet with a marble-like granite and moving in the direction of a cottage style. The 3×6 subway tile gives a classic look, is easy to clean, coordinates with just about any countertop and comes at a great price. We chose white tiles with white grout.
Taking the lead from the kitchen, the same look was chosen for the bathrooms. White subway tiles were used on every bathroom wall while changing the floors for a little bit of variety.
Stage it Well
Lastly, the competing homes in this area were all beautifully furnished. Knowing a vacant house does not photograph as well as an attractively furnished house, we called in a professional staging company to stage the main level and the master suite. This detail will help our home stand out from the other homes on the market and draw buyers into the property. Staging is a wise investment when preparing a house to sell quickly, especially for a vacant home.
Through this process, we understood what our own property had to offer and how to take the lead from our competition. Having a good grasp on this information allowed us to make appropriate design decisions. Not only did we add value to this home and its new homeowners lives, we added value to the entire community.
We did it! You can too!
Let us know what worked best for you in preparing your home for sale. And if you don’t have the time or resources to do all the necessary work, fill out the form below or give us a call. We’ll give you a fast and fair offer on your house in only seven minutes!
Tracy Kay Griffin is a member of Express Homebuyers Design Team. She was the Series Designer for HGTV’s “Get It Sold,” a Guest Designer for HGTV’s “My First Place” and the Lead Stager for Washington DC’s premier staging company, Red House Staging & Interiors.