“Curb appeal” is an old concept when it comes to selling real estate, but it’s as important today as ever.
It was the first phrase out of Nancy Avedisian’s mouth when she was asked what affordable improvements a homeowner can make to help sell the house.
“When you drive up, you want to see something green, hopefully,” said Avedisian, a 20-year agent and now with Barker Realty. She also is a property manager. “You want to see the gate working and not falling off, and any dead plants are out.
“It’s not hard to do. Even putting a few plants in a pot so that there’s color is a good thing.”
What’s inside is also important.
Realtors recommend taking personal pictures off the wall so prospective buyers can walk in and see themselves in the place.
And when you take those pictures down, you’ll need to paint over the nail holes in the wall. In fact, consider painting any rooms that aren’t perfect.
“Also, make repairs and maybe replace appliances that are a drag to look at when you walk through the door,” Avedisian said. “And it if needs paint, yes. Anything to freshen up the home. You don’t want someone walking in the door and saying, ‘Oh, my God. They’re asking this much and I’ve got to do all these things.’ ”
Avedisian said feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of “auspicious design,” is worth considering.
“If you walk in and something doesn’t feel right, like the couch is in the wrong place, or something else is wrong and you can’t quite identify it, it’s really good to talk to the owners about having a stager come in and look at everything and rearrange it, if necessary.”
It’s all about lightening things up, opening things up and creating a sense of harmony.
“I know that’s what I strive for, and I think even if its unconscious or subconscious, people do want to feel at peace where they are,” Avedisian said.
Avedisian hired a home stager when she decided to sell the beautiful, old adobe on Quintana Street that she had lived in and lovingly fixed up for years.
“Three months had gone by. I called her and said, “This doesn’t feel right to me,” and the day she came and changed it, the house sold.”
Avedisian also said it’s important to consider landscaping and patio areas — often, just for yourself. You’ll enjoy everything more, and your property will be ready to sell whenever you’re ready.
Clara Dougherty, a Realtor at Dougherty Real Estate, said the homeowner who is hoping for a quick, easy sale is well advised to get the house professionally cleaned or detailed.
“Curb appeal is most important, but so is cleanliness,” she said. “If the potential buyer sees that it’s clean and everything works — even if the appliances might not be the most beautiful in the world — the house should have no problem selling.”
And about those appliances: If they’re quite old but they still look good and still work, their age can be a selling point. Retro fixtures are definitely fashionable.
The seller really wants to prevent a buyer coming in and saying: “Oh, boy, if the general appearance is not in good shape, I wonder what the internal working of the house offers,’ ” Dougherty said.
Light fixtures matter as well. Even if you buy inexpensive lights, it will help everything look fresh, she said.
So will giving brick floors a fresh sealer treatment, to get them shiny again.
“People think it’s so hard, but it’s easy,” Dougherty said. “You just do an intense wash and a light go-over with the sealer, and it’s so pretty.”
She gave a typical example of the kinds of improvements that may be necessary, recalling a property she sold about a mile east of downtown.
“The people had been there 25 years. It was a nice house, but they had to completely repaint it. They changed a spa tub that was no longer functioning, and we had to redo the Saltillo tile floors because they hadn’t been done in years,” Dougherty recalled.
“It didn’t need stuccoing — which you really have to do if the stucco’s coming off in chunks — but all the exterior wood trim got either oiled or painted. We had it cleaned twice, we staged it, and I put up my sign and the next day it sold.
“In order to get your best price, it’s essential to prep it.”
Even if you don’t buy the whole staging package, you can always hire an interior decorator for just a couple of hours. Or ask your Realtor for suggestions.
Dougherty is one agent who doesn’t believe in the rule about removing all your personal stuff from the house.
“Not everything, because people want to know that there’s life there, that it’s a home,” she said.