Corpus Christi Home Seller Tips

As real estate professionals, your CORE Coastal Realty team has been engaged in countless homes for sale in the Corpus Christi and surrounding areas. A good portion of these listings have been exceptional, yet you would be absolutely amazed at how often we encounter a listing where even the most basic of prepping techniques have been neglected. Through a little work, you can establish a considerable advantage over comparable homes, and bring in top-dollar offers (in less time!) by following some fairly simplistic steps.

 


 

Disassociate with your concept of “the home”

 

The first thing you need to do relates to your own disposition and the way you view your home. As is the case with most sellers, your home represents so many facets of your life. It’s certainly not the easiest thing to do, but you have to be able to remove “home” from the equation and start focusing on what you’re going to be selling. From this point forward, you need to concentrate on what your potential buyer is looking for. Buyers are strictly interested in the property. They focus on the size of the lot, the structure, the layout, the functional aspects, and how the house might best fit their lifestyle. Your goal is to highlight features of the property that will help a buyer to envision themselves living there.

  • Mentally, prepare yourself to “let go.” Focus on the fact this house will soon belong to someone else.  
  • Imagine yourself happily handing over the keys to excited new owners.
  • Get yourself excited about decorating your new home, and creating new memories!

 

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The Buyer’s Imagination

 

This process is all about staging that will cater to a potential buyer’s point of view. As odd as this may feel, you have to reduce the amount of personal effects that are displayed throughout the property. Pack up all of those family photographs and heirlooms, take down any sports team memorabilia, and remove any form of taxidermy from the house. Buyers often have a hard time seeing past personal effects, and you want to minimize the distractions associated with an impromptu design critique. Your goal is to create an environment where buyers will feel like they aren’t intruding into someone else’s space. Buyers need to let their imagine run free, and they need to be able to visualize their own photos on the walls, their own furniture situated throughout the house, and how they might assign rooms to members of their family. Most buyers simply can’t get to that point if your house exhibits too much of your personal life.  Go for the look and feel of a model home. You need buyers to think, “I can see myself living here.”

At this point in the process, if there are any items that you are not planning on leaving in the house (window coverings, built-in appliances, fixtures, possibly a chandelier, etc.) please remove them now. If a buyer never sees these items, they won’t ever want them. On the other hand, if you have to tell a buyer they can’t have an item (after they’ve seen it), they’ll likely resent the situation and find another property. It’s better to avoid a conflict like that if at all possible.

 

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Clutter… Be Gone!

Most people tend to collect an amazing amount of ‘stuff’ over time, and what some people may view as perfectly normal can often be viewed as unsightly clutter to others. Clutter sources, such as notes and paperwork, to toiletries and cleaning supplies, to musical instruments and sports gear, to electronics or baking equipment can all fall into this category. They can be found everywhere: tucked in a corner, a drawer, a cabinet, under a bed, up on a shelf, in a closet, out in the garage, and the ‘storage place’ list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, potential buyers have a knack for picking up on these distractions, and they can put a seriously negative spin on how a buyer relates to your house. Think about it this way: if you haven’t used it for a year, you probably don’t need it. It would be a good time to think about a garage sale, or securing a storage unit until your big move.

 

Kitchens and Bathrooms

During a showing, buyers will spend a significant amount of time analyzing the kitchen and bathrooms. They’ll look through drawers, they’ll open the pantry, and they will explore in cabinets and under the sinks. They will also gauge the adequacy of counter space and any available closets nearby. Essentially, buyers are attempting to get a feel for how much space they’ve got to work with, and how easy it will be to store their ‘stuff’. It is with the utmost certainty that we stress these rooms (more than any others) to have the most impact on the sale of a home. At the same time, however, kitchens and bathrooms are also one of the most common places for homeowners to accumulate clutter.

  • Kitchens –
    • Remove virtually everything from the kitchen counters.
    • Open every drawer and examine its contents. If it’s not needed, throw it out or move it to your storage unit. Clear out that proverbial junk drawer, and use that space to more adequately spread out cooking utensils.
    • Evaluate each cabinet. Neatly stack dishes, plastic goods and pots / pans so that they are arranged in an orderly fashion. Glasses should be turned the same way, and coffee cup handles should face in the same direction. Organize spices and dry goods, and ensure that any spilled contents are wiped down. Your goal is to create space between items in the cabinets, and move unnecessary sets to your storage unit.
    • Completely remove everything from under the sink. Scrub the base of the cabinet, as this area is typically subjected cleaning supply dribbles. Buyers need to be able to easily see the cabinet base, so try not to put too many items back in there. Buyers will be looking for any obvious signs of water leaks, as well as general condition.
    • Pantries should be as orderly as possible. Avoid stacking food items, canned goods should be arranged neatly, and clear everything off of the floor. Loose items should be placed into tubs, and decorative glass jars are great storage containers for items like rice, beans, cereal, sugar and flour. Remember – Buyers want to see space, not a bunch of staked boxes.
    • The refrigerator – Nothing should be on top of, or taped to the outside of, your fridge. Single calendars, a shopping list or a recipe magnetically attached is okay, but try to clear everything else off. Don’t forget to vacuum the base, and between your fridge and cabinets.

 

  • Bathrooms –
    • Counters should be absolutely bare. If any telescoping makeup mirrors or hairdryer hangers have been installed these need to be removed, and the attachment points should be repaired. Bent towel bars and rings should also be replaced if needed.
    • Walls and shower doors need to be relatively clear. Remove any hanging shower caps, robes or soiled towels. As well, if you happen to have a shampoo hanger that’s seen better days, try to find a replacement.
    • Open cabinets, drawers and medicine storage areas, and toss out any old / unnecessary toiletries and medical supplies. It’s amazing how these items can really stack up! Try to wipe up any ring marks from items that may have spilled, and avoid placing too many items under the sink areas. Keep only the essentials.
    • Closets should be arranged, and towels should be folded in neat stacks of like sizes. If you have a clothes hamper, clear it out and don’t use it during the sale process. Extra sheets and bedding, large beach towels or anything that takes up large amounts of closet space should be moved to your storage unit.

 

Bedrooms

  • Bedding should always be neat and crisp. A couple throw pillows are typically okay, but avoid filling your headboard with numerous fluffy items.
  • Floors should be free of boxes, shoes and clothes.
  • Dressers and mirrors need to be clear of knickknacks, jewelry and electronic devices.
  • Walls and ceilings need to be free of any posters, stickers or hanging memorabilia.
  • Bedroom closets should have hanging clothes arranged neatly, facing in the same direction and like items grouped together. Shoes need to be lined up by type, and items on shelves need to be minimized. Storage boxes need to be moved to your storage unit to open as much space as possible.

 

Furnishings

  • Almost every house shows better with less furniture. Remove any pieces that block or diminish pathways throughout the house and put them in storage.
  • Bookcases need to be cleared off and nearly empty.
  • Depending on the size of your kitchen or dining room, remove extra leaves from tables to make the rooms appear larger.
  • Don’t forget about your patio furniture. We’re located on the coast, and rust is a common problem for outdoor items. If your patio furniture has seen better days, you may want remove it before showings start. In this situation, a blank slate is more effective than an eyesore.

 

Garage

  • The intent of a garage is to park vehicles inside – out of the elements, yet these spaces can easily become overrun with all sorts of things. Often times, the garage becomes the default storage spot for anything deemed too dirty to take into the house, and can become a fairly cluttered environment altogether. Buyers want to see plenty of garage space, and if it’s full of ‘stuff’ then it’s time to get busy.
  • Remove yard tools, mowers, trimmers and blowers.
  • If you have bicycles in the garage, make sure they are either hanging on hooks, or parked out of the way.
  • Shelving should not be overrun with paint cans, bottles of oil, gas containers, bug and weed killers, or hand tools.
  • Garage floors are inherently dirty, and a good sweeping can make a huge difference!

 

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Clean, Clear, Orderly

 

This list is far from exhaustive, but these are some of the most prevalent items that buyers key in on, and take issue with. None of these points are difficult to correct, yet you would be astounded at how often they are overlooked.  When encountered, buyers tend to automatically assume the worst. The underlying connotation implies neglect, and buyers will become concerned about what they can’t specifically see. They will begin to wonder if the air conditioning unit has been cared for, if the appliances and plumbing are in good working order, and if pest prevention has been kept up with. It’s always best to knock out these issues up front, and avoid any undue concern.

  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Clean out cobwebs. (Don’t forget those corners, or any window ledges way up high!)
  • Dust furniture, blinds, ceiling fan blades, light fixtures and AC returns & vents.
  • Install new air conditioner filters.
  • Wipe down doors – especially around the doorknobs to remove any grime.
  • Replace any stained caulking around tubs, showers and sinks.
  • Remove any calcium, lime and rust deposits from in or around showers, toilets and sinks.
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.
  • Clean out the refrigerator, and minimize what’s in there. (Even if you’re taking the fridge with you.)
  • Mop any non-carpeted areas weekly and vacuum carpet daily.
  • Bleach dingy grout.
  • Replace or remove any worn out rugs.
  • Hang up fresh towels and fasten them with decorative ribbons.
  • Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a huge deterrent, and it’s surprising what some people pick up on. Homeowners can easily become used to specific smells (especially pets), and become somewhat oblivious to them. Oder neutralizing spray, scented candles and carpet freshener can help immensely. Just try not to go overboard with strong scented (especially floral) air-sprays. You don’t want to create the impression that you’re trying to cover something up.

 

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Repairs and Maintenance

 

Let’s face it. Houses require maintenance, and sometimes small issues can be put off for longer than we’d like. Before you officially list your property, you should get serious about catching up on any lagging repairs or maintenance items.

Virtually every buyer will use a home inspector, and the inspector will be looking for anything out of the ordinary. Each property inspector has a different approach, and some of their reports can be devastating to a potential offer. The unfortunate aspect of these reports is that quite often the items mentioned within them are somewhat trivial in nature. It’s not uncommon to receive pages upon pages of small items that are depicted as dire repair needs. Experienced buyers can often sift through the unimportant items of concern; however, there are times when a new buyer reads an inspection report, and their anxiety simply overcomes them. It’s always best to address as many repair items as possible up front. You certainly don’t want to break the bank to get these done, but in many cases, you don’t have to. Most of these repairs are inexpensive, and simply require some effort. However, if you are unable to complete these repairs personally, we’ve developed a substantial list of reputable Contractors in our area. These resources are able to help with virtually any circumstance.

  • Interior Repairs –
    • Fix, paint, or re-stain any scratches or gouges on cabinetry.
    • Tighten hinges, or replace striped out screws (go one size larger) for any cabinet doors that might not be aligned.
    • Patch holes or cracks in walls. Pay specific attention to doorknobs that come into contact with walls.
    • A new coat of paint can work wonders for the interior appearance of your house. Have you ever experienced a water leak that’s stained the ceiling or walls? Are the kids rooms painted in pink, purple or blue? Hit these areas with good quality primer & sealer. Then, consider painting your walls a light beige or light neutral color, especially if you have grown accustomed to bold decorating tastes. Your decorating colors may be beautiful, but buyers might not be into your color scheme. Simply put, light – neutral colors make rooms feel bigger and brighter.
    • Replace cracked floor or counter tiles. Have you looked in your attic for spares? Many times, builders will leave some spares specifically for this reason.
    • Carpet repairs are usually a must. Depending upon the severity of any worn areas, they may just need a professional cleaning. Otherwise, replacement may be in order. A new carpet allowance for buyers is never as compelling as having it completed. If you intend to do something with your carpet, replace it before you put your home on the market. Stick with a neutral color, and stay on the economical end of the price range. It will smell like a new house and look great!
    • Plumbing Fixtures – The Coastal Bend area has fairly hard water, and fixtures wear out more quickly than in some parts of the state. When selling a house, fixtures need to operate and look brand new. If yours don’t, you can easily swap them out. Don’t forget about the shower heads too. There are economical options for replacements, and they take minutes to install.
    • Fix squeaky doors that don’t close properly, doorknobs that stick and locks that don’t engage. Usually, these are fixed quite easily with a slight adjustment, some lubricating oil, or thicker screws for hinges that are pulling out of the frame.
    • Replace all burned-out light bulbs, and ensure that each light switch works.
    • If you’ve considered replacing a worn bedspread, now would be the time!

 

The following section is THE MOST IMPORTANT to address. The exterior of your house (its Curb Appeal) is a make or break issue for most buyers. As a buyer drives up to the property, this is where initial impressions are formed, decisions are made, and the entire tone of the showing is established. In fact, if buyers don’t like the exterior, they won’t even get out of their car to go inside! If you are unable to complete these repairs personally, we’ve developed a substantial list of reputable Contractors in our area. These resources are able to help with virtually any circumstance.

  • Exterior Repairs –
    • Repair and paint any signs of wood-rot. This is most apparent around doors and windows, soffits and eves, and siding near chimneys. Most of these repairs can be completed inexpensively, and can have a dramatic effect.
    • Rain gutter damage can be an eyesore, and will immediately pull someone’s attention from the nicer attributes of a house. Make sure that gutters are properly attached to roof-lines, and check to make sure downspouts are not broken off.
    • Loose or faded shutters and missing window screens can also throw up flags for buyers. If you really want to bring out the color of your house, pull down the shutters. Clean them off really well, and give them a new coat of paint.
    • Front Entries are incredibly important. If the door is weathered, faded or has discolored hardware on it, it’s time for action. Remove the hardware, give the door a nice new coat of paint, and replace the old hardware with a new set. Many of the new lock systems also allow you to key the lock with the same key you use on other exterior doors. It’s a great way to spruce up the front of your house, and ensure that a showing agent isn’t struggling with the lock to get into the house.
    • Exterior Lighting can very easily date a house. Take a look at the fixtures near the front porch and garage. If they are severely sun baked, or if the glass is broken or cracked it’s time to replace them. Exterior lights are very inexpensive, yet they can completely change the look of a house.
    • Clear off the front porch, roll up and store yard hoses and make sure the entire porch is swept off. You don’t want anything to be on there except for a nice new WELCOME HOME mat under the front of the door.
    • Trim bushes and any low hanging or dead tree limbs. This is especially important for anything that might obstruct a clear path to your front door. If there are bushes near the front entryway, make sure that they are cut back to provide ample passage.
    • Mow and trim the lawn and keep it manicured during the sale process. If there are any dead-spots in the grass, make sure you put down some sod to fill these in. Some people will try to use grass seed, but those rarely work well in our coastal environment. Sod is actually quite inexpensive, and with adequate watering it blends right in with the surrounding grass. If you’re looking to get your St. Augustine to green-up a bit, make sure you use a fertilizer high in iron content. Just BE CAREFUL with where you’re spreading this stuff!! Iron tends to stain walkways and driveways with rust-like spots, so make sure you sweep any excess off of your concrete surfaces!!
    • Plant some colorful flowers in your flower beds, and make sure they are free of weeds. As well, adding some fresh mulch is never a bad idea.
    • Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks, the driveway and exterior of the house (siding, brick, stucco, etc.). Power sprayers can yield dramatic improvements, but be especially careful around windows and soffit air vents.
    • Lastly, make sure potential buyers can clearly read your house number, and easily see your yard sign. Often times, buyers will drive neighborhoods they’re interested in to get a feel for what’s on the market. Inevitably, they will spot a house that fits with their wish list, but if it’s hard to gather information quickly they might just keep driving by. You need to make sure they have an unobstructed view of your address (and your Agent’s sign). When they start making calls the buyer should be able to tell agents exactly which house they’re interested in.

 

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Constructive Criticism

 

A helpful final step in your preparation for sale is to call in the experts. So who are these experts? They’re family members, friends, neighbors, and especially your CORE Coastal Listing Agent. Ask for constructive criticism tips, and ask for honest feedback! Have your experts role-play as a buyer, and walk the property with you. Remain open to any and all advice that’s shared with you, and don’t get discouraged or dismiss any of the opinions that are offered. The preparation phase of a listing is extremely important, and you need honest feedback. Buyers come in all shapes and sizes, each with differing tastes and backgrounds. Different people see things in different ways, and multiple opinions can be very valuable to your success!

  • First, turn on every light in the house.
  • Walk down the street with your experts, and turn to face your house. Take a look around. How does your house compare with nearby properties? Does yours have a nicer curb appeal than the surrounding area?
  • Stand in your yard, and face the main entry. Does the house look inviting, and does it welcome potential buyers?
  • Enter the house from the front door. Can you easily travel from room to room without having to walk around furniture or obstacles?
  • Spend some time in the entryway of every room. Does the furniture arrangement fit, or does something need to be moved to create a better flow?
  • Examine the window coverings, blinds and any remaining wall art. Is everything level, does it look like it fits the room?
  • Does the space look like it belongs to someone specific, or does it exhibit a clean slate that a buyer can envision living in?

 

 

In order to have a shot at that perfect offer, it requires careful planning and a keen understanding of how to present your home so that it will have buyers scrambling to sign a contract. If you apply the home seller tips contained in this section, you will have created a significant advantage over a majority of the Corpus Christi Home Market. CORE Coastal Realty welcomes the opportunity to assist you with your needs, and we look forward to hearing from you.

 

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