The cliche runs "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression". This is never more true than in marketing your home. A good first impression may not sell your home, but a bad first impression can most assuredly ruin the opportunity to sell it.
We're in a tough market right now; money is fairly cheap, but there is a flood of homes available. Ask yourself: If your first impression of the home you are driving up to see is one of junk, disrepair and neglect, how excited will you be about going inside? When I work with buyers I promise them I will let them see all the homes that fit their criteria; I don't promise them that I will take them inside every home. I give my buyers the MLS sheets on all the homes, tell them to do drive-bys of them, and narrow the list to 4-6 they would actually like to visit. Its amazing how many possible visits we eliminate by the buyers driving by the homes.
Here are a few "first impressions" stumbling blocks and what you can do to remove them:
- Neighborhood: Okay, I listed this first as there is really little you can, in the short term, do about it. If your neighborhood is plagued with junk cars, untended lawns, trash everywhere--well, that may be why you're trying to move, right? The best you can do here is make your home the "rose among the weeds". Believe me, there is someone who will buy your home at the right price; you have to make sure that that first impression of your individual home doesn't immediately run off prospects.
- Lawn: Mow it!!!! Nothing says indifference and neglect more than a weed-choked (lets be honest; its seldom actual grass that gets out of hand) yard. Prospective buyers want to imagine enjoying the yard, not trying to fight their way through a jungle.
- Toys, junk, etc: If you have kids with Big Wheels, etc., get that stuff out of the front yard. Get it off the front porch. For pity's sake, don't leave soda bottles, cigarette butts, drive-thru garbage--ANY trash must be gone!!! Also get rid of broken swing sets, broken porch swings, broken lawn furniture--hopefully by now you get the picture.
- Disabled cars: Need I say more? I you must have an out-of-commission car, at least keep it around back or at the end of the driveway, not in the yard or on the street.
- Exterior maintenance: You'd be amazed how much investing in a little bit of paint, buying some replacement shutter, fixing a few roof shingles will repay itself.
- Landscaping: I'm not talking about turning your home into an English garden; just buy some cheap flowers (petunias or pansies do nicely and are quiet hardy, as are zinnias in the summer). If you don't have any bushes around the house (on the flip side, don't let those you have get out of control and grow too large) buy and plant a few. A few bags of black mulch will also help immensely for drive-by lookers. You might also consider a hanging basket or two on the porch; ferns or, again, petunias or pansies.
Hope this helps. I'd love to show my clients your home, but you gotta help them want to see it.