Curb appeal — perhaps more important now than it has been in a long time
According to the latest housing market report from the Arkansas Realtors Association, sales have been up lately.
Of course, we’re well aware a lot of those sales were driven by the first-time and repeat tax credits for buyers that expired at the end of April. It remains to be seen how sales will fare now that the credits are gone, but we’re at least encouraged by mortgage interest rates that are reaching record lows.
When those rates are combined with generally declining list prices, we could well be looking at a situation where buyers will remain interested in the housing market. It’s clear that homes will continue to sell (they always do), but there’s no denying that inventory levels – the number of houses up for sale – have generally been on the rise all year.
That means sellers find themselves competing with each other for buyers. The rumors are, indeed, true – buyers are at a bit of an advantage these days as they’ve got more homes to choose from than in the past and they’re looking hard at prices.
Pricing a home well is very important, but making sure that house is appealing to prospective buyers is critical, too. Jonesboro Realtor Ken Helman has developed a list of six rules that sellers can apply to make their homes more attractive to buyers:
* Your home must have the best “drive-by curb appeal” possible so that buyers will want to come into the home and see the rest of the package. Trim up those shrubs, plant some flowers, rake the leaves and cut and edge the lawn to present a positive image. Go ahead and spend some money if the home needs to be pressure washed or painted – you only get one chance to make a first impression, after all.
* Keep your garage door closed even if it is tidy with everything in its place. You always want the focus to be on the front door of your home rather than the garage.
* Your home should have a pleasant smell when a prospective buyer enters. This odor is equated to “clean,” and a clean home is appealing to buyers. If there are pet odors, hire a professional carpet cleaner to take care of the problem. If a dirty carpet needs to be replaced, you may want put in a carpet of neutral color rather than offering prospective buyers a replacement allowance. A potential buyer usually sees what is present in a home and often cannot imagine an improvement such as new carpet. Also, placing a little cinnamon on an aluminum foil sheet and placing it in an oven at 250 degrees will make your home smell like fresh-baked cookies – always pleasing to potential buyers.
* Go through each room and remove as much clutter as possible. Go ahead and take off all the magnets, appointments, artwork and other items on the kitchen refrigerator. In the bathrooms, take all unnecessary clutter off the countertops, shower stall and bathroom sink and store them out of view. Place shoes on closet shelves and put children’s toys and books in toy boxes or on shelves. An uncluttered home looks larger, and this helps buyers visualize how their own furniture and possessions will look in your home.
* Check each light fixture in the home and make sure the bulbs are as bright as the fixture will allow. A bright, cheerful appearance of a home’s interior equates to a clean, crisp space for a family to live in and enjoy. Open the curtains or blinds and let the sun shine in.
* Clean each room thoroughly and if there are scuff marks that won’t come off with a little elbow grease, plan to do some touch-up painting.
Bear in mind that we’re right in the middle of the best selling season of the year. Make that home appealing, price it right and that home may sell quicker than you believe possible.
This column is part of the House to House series, which is written by Ethan C. Nobles and distributed weekly to newspapers throughout Arkansas on behalf of the Arkansas Realtors Association.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.