Friday, January 19, 2018


Buyers make their first decision in wanting to see the inside of a house by what they see on the outside.  Neatly trimmed bushes, mowed and maintained yards are the best way to make that presentation. Give a buyer a reason to want to see inside your home. It goes without saying that maintaining your front and back yards are important. Start feeding your lawn weeks in advance of putting it on the market, paint railings, decks, etc. if they need it. Trimming and even removing some ugly bushes may be necessary. Don't wait until someone wants to see your home, get it done before they show up. Buying potted flowers is one of the tricks that I have used in the past. Place them along walkways, in front of planters, around trees, you get the idea. Colorful hanging plants always draw people in.  The advantage of using potted plants and hanging baskets is that you can take them to your next home, technically they are not attached and therefore can be removed.  

Spending a few hundred dollars will definitely pay off in a better offer even though the potted plants won't be staying behind. Take the time to step out onto the street and take a hard look at your curb appeal and you decide what steps you need to take to convince a potential buyer that your house is worth taking a look at on the inside. 

Now for the part of preparing your home that nobody wants to deal with- DEEP CLEANING. Whether you do the deep cleaning or have it done by a house cleaning service, make sure that certain obvious areas are definitely taken care of. It is most embarrassing for you as a For Sale By Owner, showing your own home, having to explain why something is stained or left dirty. You really don't want to give a potential buyer a reason to suddenly want to leave your house before your showing is complete.  Bathrooms are usually the worst and often the most forgotten. Take extra time in cleaning bathrooms to completely clean, the floors, toilets and tubs. Stage the bathrooms with rolled towels and make sure hand sanitizer bottles are near the  sink. Have a non-staged  hand towel available for the buyer to use, inevitably someone in the buyers party will need to use a bathroom. 

Toilets are the most common overlooked areas for deep cleaning. A savvy buyer will check this area and will immediately draw their own conclusions about what they expect to find in the rest of the house. When you see a buyer drawing the shower curtain to one side, they are looking for tub stains and if the fixtures are clean and shiny. While we are in the bathroom, remove all medications, especially protected drugs form any cabinet and put them away in a safer place, like a dresser drawer, this is essential even if a real estate agent was doing the showing. 

Getting family and friends involved with the deep cleaning process can save a lot of time, but hiring a good cleaning service can be less stressful on you. Pay particular attention to areas that you would not normally clean like inside closets, behind doors, pantries, ceilings and laundry rooms. These tend to gather dust bunnies and are often overlooked except by the buyer. Make sure that wall pictures are dusted along with window trims, door trims, and ceiling light fixtures. There is something to be said for the "white glove test" when deep cleaning a house. 

After all the deep cleaning is complete, have the carpets cleaned, or do it 
yourself with a rental carpet cleaner. Of course the best will be a carpet cleaning service, as they will move furniture and do a complete job. Keep in mind that it is custom for the seller to do a final cleaning of floors before the new owners take possession of the house.

In review, you now have a price to get on the market, you have
de-cluttered and staged your home, and have completed the deep cleaning process. You are now ready to develop some signage and a marketing plan to implement, which will be the subjects of my next blog.

I did get an email asking me to clarify the part of my last blog that talked about  the seller getting and paying for an appraisal and a home inspection. I know that a buyer is the one that traditionally gets a home inspection done, but having one done is important so you the seller will know what to expect in repairs  beforehand is to your benefit. Being able to offer this inspection to a potential buyer is again to your benefit, so why not show that you, the seller, has taken the initiative to be prepared for the buyer and now that an inspection is done the buyer will no longer have to pay for one. As far as the appraisal, it was recommended because it will be the best way to get a fair market value and to prove to a buyer a realistic value for the house. A buyer that will need to borrow money from a lending institution will need to pay for a new appraisal. 

If you have or want a question answered, please contact me at or leave a comment in this blog. I check this blog often.

The For Sale By Owner Answerman
( The fsboanswerman)

Sunday, January 14, 2018


You have decided to sell your home as a For Sale By Owner, now it's time to change your home back into a house. The principles of preparing your home to sell are universal and have proven over and over again to be the difference between a success story and failure. Since failure is not an option lets review the principles of decluttering, staging and basic showmanship when presenting your home.

Decluttering is the key to Selling Success

There isn't a single buyer out there that wants to see your family pictures, plate collections or how many stuffed animals you can put on a bed. Buyers want to see open space so they can figure out where their family pictures, paintings, beer bottle collection, and furniture can go. They cannot do that if they can't see the space available. Decluttering is the basic principle in selling any property. You can start by removing all unnecessary and personal, wall items. Do not stuff these into closets as they must also be clean and organized.  In my last two moves, I had to rent a storage unit to house all my stuff that had to be packed away in order to declutter. This helps in three ways, you pack only the items that you intend to move,  secondly you can sort out the items that you no longer want and either donate them or have a massive moving sale (even at moving sales you have potential buyers show up), and lastly you now have the opportunity to stage the house for sale.   

As you can see in the above picture, they decluttered and staged the room at the same time. Staging is the simple act of taking away distracting items from view, in this case, the pictures on the wall and replacing it with an
attractive item such as a generic painting. Turning lights on for the showing is important to demonstrate how bright and cheery the room can be. Do not try to set a mood for the room by using dimmed lights and soft music. Try to envision yourself working for a furniture store and you are solely responsible for setting up displays. If you can do that you will be able to stage your home. 

Clutter can occur in all rooms, don't forget that men will gravitate to the garage and basement. Men want to be able to see the same available space and see themselves at that workbench, minus the clutter, and see the basement as a potential game room or man cave. If you are taking selling as seriously as a For Sale By Owner should, then this vital step in staging and decluttering is as important as any marketing plan you could develop. After all, if the house isn't ready to be sold, why would you expect a buyer to consider your home over one that was ready to be sold?

Assuming you took my advice and spent the money to get an appraisal, which is the best way to get a real market value if your having trouble getting to a market value, then I will also suggest that you get a home inspection done prior to putting your home on the market. A reliable home inspector will give you an honest opinion on the health of your home. The inspection should include electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC systems check, roof, and any obvious structural issues. The inspector will generally not comment on cosmetic issues nor will they judge the home on a new construction basis, but will let you know on the basis of its age and normal use which items that need immediate attention. Keep in mind that a buyer has the right to perform due diligence before buying the home. Due diligence is the right to inspect and ask for repairs based on that inspection. You don't want a buyer to back out of the deal because they discovered something was wrong with the house and they are now hesitant about the purchase. You want to be able to convince them that you have maintained the home, even to the point of discovering and fixing anything that would have posed a problem to the health and safety of the buyer. Trust me they will find some reason to cancel the contract if they don't have that trust in your endeavors to maintain your home.   

Assuming that you get the inspection done, you should plan to remedy the most severe issues before a buyer can find them. You can offer to show a potential buyer the report and show that you took care of the serious issues and offer to remedy the minor issues or leave money in escrow to cover the cost of repairs. Often times this is the best way to remedy things like bad carpet or roof repairs, this allows the buyer to make their own choices as to color and style. This will definitely impress a buyer knowing you took the time and expense to find and remedy house issues, or cover the costs of issues found about the home. I know that if a seller showed me an appraisal and a home inspection that I would believe the seller was not trying to hide anything and that entering into a contract of purchase was in both parties best interests. Buyers tend to accept the sellers offering price when presented with real and honest numbers. Negotiations from the Buyer for a better deal on the home are almost non-existent.  

In a nutshell, decluttering and staging are just as important as marketing,  getting an appraisal and home inspection will satisfy a buyer's concerns of the market value and health of the home. 

As you can see from the items we have already talked about, you the seller will have spent money on an appraisal, home inspection, storage unit, and repairs. These items will always be expensed by you, the seller, so why would you,  want to pay an agent 6% commission on top of these expenses. KEEP YOUR EQUITY- YOU HAVE EARNED IT!! 

My next blog will cover Deep Cleaning and Curb Appeal Inside and Out. If you have any questions email me at or leave a comment in the comment section, I will get back to you shortly. 

the For Sale By Owner Answerman