There’s one way to increase your chances of maxing out the sale price of your home: Look as good as your comps.
The San Francisco market has been strong for the past several years, and the list-low-sell-for-more strategy prevails. Many home sellers have walked away with huge net proceeds, often amidst multiple offers and quick closes.
But that doesn’t just automatically happen. The tricky part is that buyers won’t pay your dream price just because you want it; you have to create the desire for them to do so.
Take a deep dive into other comparable sales and note how those properties were presented. If most of the comps look like outtakes from Dwell, that’s a heads up that your home better be on that level before the first professional photo is taken.
There are typically five basic things you need to do to get top dollar:
1. Paint. There are two parts to this: Paint, and do so in neutral tones. Buyers don’t want to be distracted by crazy-ass colors on the walls and schemes that are overly personal. Stick with whites and greys. You can often get away with painting the walls and baseboards and skipping the ceilings if they look presentable. Don’t force your painter to match colors. If your walls haven’t been painted in several years, they’ll be impossible to match and the result will be patchy.
2. Stage. Like it or not, your furniture probably won’t come off looking that great in photos. Let a stager create the look all the buyers want. You’re selling the dream—a well-designed, clutter-free home that most buyers won’t achieve once they move in. Staging is not inexpensive, but it’s essential.
3. Spiff up the floors. Banged up hardwood floors and dirty carpet will get you nowhere. Refinishing floors is huge; replacing carpet in bedrooms is also a good idea if need be. If you have carpeting in the living areas, seriously consider installing hardwood floors. When most buyers walk into a property that has carpet in the living spaces, their first question is whether there are hardwood floors underneath. If not, they immediately mentally knock at least $20,000 from their offer price.
4. Fix stuff. Buyers can’t help but notice things that may be in disrepair—oven burners that won’t light, an electric heater that doesn’t operate, tub grout that sorely needs to be replaced. Fix these basic things. You don’t want to leave buyers wondering what other, more substantial deferred maintenance might be in store for them.
5. Have your place professionally cleaned. This is the last step, and you can’t underestimate it. Once you move your stuff out, there’ll be dust and grime in places you never knew existed. Stagers don’t want to bring their nice furniture into a dirty house, and buyers don’t want to step into one.