Most of us have had a car to replace on occasion during our lives. When its time to dispose of your old car, you know that you will always get more money if you take the time to clean the car out and repair your wear and tear before you take it in to the dealer. Kelly’s Blue Book will always yield a higher payment to you if the car is found to be in “excellent” condition than if it is only “fair,” and that can mean thousands of dollars (perhaps as much as 20%) to you on your return. And yet, what seems so logical to most of us when it comes to our cars often seems so foreign to many when it comes to a home!
Put the shoe on the other foot and imagine yourself buying a used car. Will you be likely to consider, never mind pay as much for, the one that has not been reconditioned as compared to the one the dealer has spruced up for you? Are you the car buyer who will say “its ok – there are some dings and dents and a few tears in the leather, but I’ll still buy it and pay top dollar as well?” Likely not. Would a dealer who actually wants to sell you a car even show you the one that hasn’t been spruced up? Likely not.
What is true for cars is also true for homes. Sellers who want to sell need to think about their home as if it were a car for just a few minutes! If you wanted a good trade in value for your car, you would take the time to get your care in shape and you should do the same with your home. You have lived in and enjoyed your home. During that time you have “used” the home and that use will likely be evident to a fresh pair of eyes. Things like scuffed baseboards, caulking around doors and windows, scratched floors, damaged or stained carpets, worn cabinetry all make a home feel tired and used. If you want a buyer to be receptive to your home and pay top dollar, than you need to approach the entire home with a fine toothed comb and repair any wear and tear you have brought to the home. Freshen paint to remove scrapes and smudges, replace stained or worn carpets, touch-up nicked cabinetry. Make you house new again and it will reward you just like the car dealer does when you trade in your (newly) shiny car!
One last thing…don’t assume you can make the corrections later if the market isn’t fooled into paying top dollar for your not-quite-ready home. Just like the car dealer knows he has little chance of selling that used car that hasn’t been prepped, your agent knows and should advise you that unless what you are selling is a rare commodity at a bargain price, failure to prep means failure to sell.