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  Gary Nagurka


Home Selling Tips

Things you can change

Things you cannot change

  • Location
  • Style
  • Size
  • services
  • Schools
  • Neighbors
  • The general Real Estate Market

Preparing The House's--Exterior

  1. Overall appearance: Remove any junk or clutter from the yard. This includes tree limbs and leaves, but especially goes for junk cars or parts, lawn tractors, etc.
  2. Overall appearance: If the exterior of the house is dirty or moldy, power-wash it. If it is in need of paint, get competitive bids if you can't do it yourself.
  3. Grass: If possible, reseed any bare areas of the lawn.
  4. Landscaping: Trim all shrubbery and plantings. Trim trees if necessary, especially dead limbs.
  5. Driveway: If the driveway is stone and looking lean, add a coat of gravel. If it is asphalt, consider resealing.
  6. Decks and porches: Powerwash and seal, stain or paint.
  7. Gutters and downspouts: Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are clear and functioning properly.
  8. Lights: Make sure that all exterior lights are operational.
  9. Landscaping: If the season is right, plant colorful flowers where appropriate.
  10. Landscaping: Add mulch to planting beds and around trees. An inexpensive but very effective way of freshening the look of the yard.
  11. Windows: Make sure the exterior (and the interior) of windows is clean and operational.
Preparing Your House--Interior

If you get the buyer into the house, it is important to make their visit as pleasant as possible--and that means having the whole house ready. You want them to be as comfortable as possible, and to linger in the home. A "turn off" will send them scurrying quickly to the next house on their list!

Room by Room

  1. Entry: Must be especially inviting for your guests (your potential buyers). Make certain it is well lit, clean and has nothing laying around either inside or outside. Paint the front door if it even remotely needs it.
    If you normally use a back or side entrance to your house, pay particular attention to the front entry. You rarely see it but this is where the buyers will enter!
    Living Room or Great Room
  2. Living Room or Great Room: If possible, keep furniture at a bare minimum so that traffic flow is easier and the room does not appear smaller than it actually is.
    If bookshelves, curio cabinets, and the like are overflowing with books and knick-knacks, remove some of them.
    Family Room or Den.
  3. Family Room or Den: If this is the room you live in the most, make it look inviting but not overly lived in.
    Keep furniture at a minimum but make the room look like a comfortable place to spend time.
  4. Kitchen: Clean the exterior of all appliances. Clean the oven interior.
    Clean or replace the stove hood filter. This is often overlooked, usually dirty and greasy, and looked at by a lot of buyers.
    Clean cabinet faces. Make them shine!
    Remove all clutter and unnecessary items from countertops and clean all countertops and backsplashes thoroughly.
    Clean vinyl or ceramic floor.
    If you have ceramic tile elsewhere in the kitchen, pay particular attention to the grout--make sure that it's clean. If it is discolored, there are "grout whitening" products that are available.
  5. Bedrooms: Remove all clutter. If you don't need it, store it or pitch it!
    Arrange or remove furniture to maintain good traffic flow through rooms. Remember, there may be three or four people in each group that walk through your house.
  6. Bathrooms: Make sure all bulbs are working and have the highest wattage available and safe for each fixture. Brighter is better!
    Clean all ceramic tile. Check the grout for cleanliness and deterioration.
    If faucets drip, fix them.
    Thoroughly clean sinks and tubs. If rust spots are on the porcelain, attempt to remove them.
    Remove any evidence of mildew from the shower and bathtub. Products are available that spray on and quickly kill the mildew.
  7. Basements: If the basement is damp or musty, consider a dehumidifier.
    Give prospective buyers room to move around. Clutter...well, you know the drill!
    Garages: Remove all junk: broken tools, old car parts, toys from the 1960's, etc.
    If floor has oil marks, clean it (cleaning solutions are available at most home improvement stores and work with a normal garden hose).
  8. Miscellaneous: Replace the furnace filter.
  9. Staging: Home staging, also called Home Finishing, is the furnishing and/or "dressing up" of a home for sale in the real estate market. It is the art of re-working and re-arranging your home furnishings, breathing new life into your decor to promote a neutral and welcome air. Stage House Design, in Old Tappan, New Jersey or Makeover and Move in Wyckoff, New Jersey can help!


General Interior Preparation

  1. Painting: When it comes to preparing a house, painting gives you the best return for money spent. Which rooms should you paint? Any that have dirty or marked walls or any rooms that are currently painted in dark colors. Keep it neutral--offwhite or antique white is the best.
  2. Carpeting: At the very least, all carpeting needs to be steam cleaned. Any worn, stained or foul smelling carpet should be replaced. You may be tempted to give a "carpet allowance" and that may work. Just remember, most buyers do not have vision.
  3. Operation: If you are not having a whole house inspection done, check all faucets, toilets, and electrical items for correct operation.
  4. Safety: Make sure that your house is safe. Not only can a wobbly railing stop a sale, it could also cause an injury to a potential buyer who is not familiar with your house (and is spending time looking instead of being careful).
  5. Clutter: If an item is not necessary for your day-to-day life, box it up and store it or throw it out!
  6. Fireplace: Have a professional fireplace or woodstove cleaning and inspection. The buyer will most likely request it anyhow. Getting it done in advance impresses the buyer and makes the home appear cleaner and fresher smelling.
  7. Closets: Make sure all closets are neat, clean, and organized. See above item on clutter.
  8. Doors and Windows: Check all for smooth operation. Replace any cracked window panes.
  9. Cleaning: Even though you may consider your house clean and tidy, a thorough cleaning--including dusting, washing, and waxing everything--will always make a house more appealing.
Showing time!

Your house has been checked, inspected, and cleaned from top to bottom. You have priced it at what you feel is a fair price. The marketing and advertising program is in full swing. Now it is time to put all of the preparation into action: showings! All of the work that you have done up to this point will only have an effect when a buyer walks into your house for the first time.

  1. Showing Your House To Maximum Advantage
    Give all family members assigned jobs in advance that will go into action when a short-notice showing is scheduled. Everyone must know their duties and carry them out, so that you don't end up banging into one another trying to get everything done quickly.
  2. Open every window covering. All drapes, curtains and blinds should be positioned to let in maximum light. Buyers like a house to be "light and bright," so accommodate them! Turn on as many lights as possible.
  3. Make sure the house smells good. Baking cookies, often recommended, may be overdoing it, but pet odors, smoke, or greasy cooking odors definitely will not work! Air out the house just before the scheduled showing, but close the windows (unless it is a perfect day) before they arrive.
  4. Six very important words: no clutter, no clutter, no clutter!
  5. Make sure that everything is spotless. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and the kitchen. In the bathrooms, towels should be fresh and clean, sinks and baths scrubbed, and the floor freshly cleaned. In the kitchen, make sure all dishes are put away and countertops and sinks cleaned.
  6. Check the thermostat to make sure that the house is at a comfortable temperature.
  7. Remove pets from the house, or at least, keep them outside. Pets under foot will quickly put a damper on an otherwise positive showing.
  8. Make sure Fact Sheets are available and easily accessible. (The dining room table is an ideal place for them).
  9. Leave the house; let your Agent to do the presentation! If this is not possible, make yourself as inconspicuous as possible. If it is comfortable outside, go there until the buyers leave.

Setting the Price on Your Home

Along with location and condition, the pricing of a house is a major component of the reasons why a house will--or will not--sell quickly. Although the pricing should not be dealt with lightly, some sellers have a tendency to put too much emphasis on the price and not enough on the condition, ending up with a house that is overpriced for its current condition and the overall market. Even if you find an unaware buyer that appears willing to pay the high price, when the buyer applies for a mortgage, the chances are good that the lender's appraisal will force the price back down to market value.

It's important to get it right the first time

Care and time should be taken when establishing the original listing price for several reasons:

  1. If the house is overpriced, it won't sell. If it doesn't sell and sits on the market the listing quickly becomes stale.
  2. If you overprice the house with the intention of reducing the price later just to "see what the market will bear", when the price of the house is lowered, it signals to buyers that it was (and still may be) overpriced.
  3. If the house is carefully, it most likely will sell quickly--to the detriment of your net proceeds.

Some factors that affect the price of a home

  1. Location: You can't get away from this one. If your house is located in a desirable area that is in demand, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.
  2. Condition: A house that has been better maintained and shows better will always sell for more than one that has had deferred (neglected) maintenance and needs work.
  3. Desirable amenities: If a house has amenities that are currently popular in the marketplace, it will bring a higher price.

Methods of setting the price

CMA (Comparable Market Analysis): A comparison of similar properties in the same general area that compares actual sold prices.

Call Gary for a free CMA on your property; (973) 214-5507