"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." This old fact of life has been said millions of times in millions of contexts and there have never been truer words spoken when it comes to selling real estate. In my experience, people decide whether or not they'll buy a home in 10 seconds. They may grind over details for days or weeks but they always end up choosing the home I thought they would buy.
Home buyers all have imagined their next home and have subconsciously developed a picture of it in their mind's eye. They are searching for the home that matches this picture and they can usually decide whether they've found it very quickly. As sellers, we have to play into this buying process. We have to stage our homes in such a way as to allow buyers to mentally "move in" to our homes. This means we have to "de-clutter" our houses. This is a Realtor term for removing your personal stamp from your decor. All the nic-nacs and personal photos that should go first. It's subtle and subconscious but it's very powerful. Buyers simply cannot "move-in" psychologically to "your house". So, the more neutral we can make your home appear, the better our chances for selling it become. The general rules of good preparation are:
- Clean. Your house has to sparkle to sell. If it's not as neat as a pin, you don't have a chance. Thousands of dollars can be thrown away by skipping this step. The perceived value of your home plummets when it's not tidy.
- Fix it. If something is broken, fix it. You'll have to when the home is inspected so don't wait and allow a little problem to blow the sale of your property. Little things like closet doors that don't work right turn buyers off and they move on to the next property.
- De-clutter. We discussed this one above. Less is more when it comes to decor, picures, etc. Give buyers every opportunity to see themselves and their stuff in your home.
- Executive Neutral. Neutral sells. Visit any model home and you'll see the result of lots of experience and research. If your decor is unique and reflects your personality, that's a great thing - until it's time to sell. The odds that a typical buyer will share your taste are quite low. Remember, for buyers, this is a psychological and emotional thing. Logic doesn't apply.
- De-personalize. Remove any political or religious symbols. More than anything, these make it impossible for buyers to "move-in" mentally.
I've seen it a million times - staging your Marco Island property correctly will put more money in your pocket and get your home sold quicker. It's a tiny investment that delivers big returns. Do it.