Lake home buyers are not as plentiful as they once were, so it is critical that we don’t miss a single opportunity to impress when we put our lake home on the market. Here are some proven steps to help make the sale:
1. Clear out the Clutter. If you sell the house next week…you have to move it all out. Get a head start and you will definitely help getting the house sold. Visualize yourself looking for a lake home. Do you want to see bills stacked on the counter, tables cluttered with bottle collections and dishes? If you have a trophy buck on the wall…you may want to box it up for the transition. Organize cabinets and closets to emphasize storage space. Move out the extra chairs and furniture and remove personal items so the buyer can visualize their new lake home.
2. Don’t forget outbuildings. Clear out the boathouse, garages and storage buildings. Leave only what you must.Also, if you have a crawlspace& attic, take a look to make sure it is clutter free and dry. Again, create an environment that attracts buyers…don’t scare them off.
3. Let the lake in. Thoroughly clean all windows, fans & light fixtures and eliminate all cobweb collections! Consider moving furniture one last time to maximize lake views. Also, a professional cleaning is always a plus. Remember, first impressions are typically lasting ones.
4. Consider a professional home inspection. This may be the best $200-$400 you can spend. Don’t get your handyman neighbor to do it on the cheap. Almost EVERY buyer will have one ordered. A licensed inspector will evaluate your home’s major systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, roof, etc). Having this prior knowledge gives you time to make the repairs if you choose and alleviate issues that may come up during a buyer’s inspection. Often after a home goes under contract, for less than asking price, the buyer willrescind their offer after learning about costly repairs. Buyers then make a new offer at an even lower price or with stipulations for repairs to be completed or they may just walk away. On the positive side, if systems show up as being in good working order after a pre-inspection,you can use this information as a marketing tool.
6. Order a Georgia Power inspection. Even if you are not on a Georgia Power lot, call the lake land office to be clear about the property transfer and any issues before you get your first offer. Surprise regulations regarding building, additions, boathouses, boat ramps etc…have killed many deals. Address objections before they arise.
7. Don’t forget the sense of Smell. All our homes have their own aromas. Most home buyers aren’t used to the smell of your house. But we all love the smell of baking cookies, new leather, scented candles or cedar. The dollar store has every fragrance you can imagine. Bring in a few sticks of liter wood, or cinnamon in a jar in the kitchen & baths. Also, if your house smells like mold or mildew, you really must get that professional home inspector to seek out the cause and repair.
8. Break out the pine straw. It’s amazing what 50 or 100 bales of pine straw can do to the appearance of a lake home. Your landscaping is the very first impression a prospective buyer gets. Trim trees & hedges, edge beds & remove extra yard art. Pressure wash all docks, decks, outdoor furniture, boathouses and of course the home. Clean gutters & repair problems and remove eyesores. Make sure gravel drives are smoothed and paved areas are clean.
9. Hire an experienced Lake Home Realtor: Lake homes are unique in many ways. Make sure your Realtor has the tools to markets your property not only statewide but nationally. Also, a Lake expert has specific knowledge on pricing, regulations and buyer demographics. Putting up a sign and listing a property is just the beginning. An experienced agent will have the knowledge necessary to give you the most leverage in the market. Have your Realtor explain exactly where and how your house will be marketed and to whom. Also, price your home to sell. If it is overpriced it will not sell. Discuss a clear strategy with your Realtor and be realistic when setting the sales price.
10. Get ready for the first showing before the phone rings. Walk the home with your Realtor prior to listing it on the market and make a to-do list. Research shows the activity of a house spikes when it is first listed, so it needs to be ready for that initial surge. If the home is not ready, most of those buyers will not be back to view it when it finally is. That’s why it is essential to put your best foot forward from the get go. Consider staging your home if you are moving before it sells. The cost of staging a home is usually less than your first price reduction, and can be an effective tool in selling your home. As an added bonus, furniture helps hide blemishes in carpeting and on the walls.
If this list seems daunting, your Realtor should be able to offer referrals to all needed help. You can always call a Property Management Services Company, a landscaper or your favorite handyman. Local churches will pick up bags and boxes of items for their annual sales and neighbors & family will surely pitch in.
The most important thing to remember is that you usually only have one chance to catch the eye & heart of a buyer. Take these 10 steps and you will more likely sell faster and closer to your asking price.
WALLY CAWTHON, REALTOR®