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  • Writer's pictureKira Witherwax

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Often sellers have a few things that they might want to finish up before they sell. Usually, it’s all the small things on our running honey do list that we mean to do, but never seem to get to. Or maybe it’s something I suggest that they do, like paint a room because it’s a color that stands out too much. When there are these small projects, it’s tempting to say, “let’s get things moving so that we can get it sold faster, we’ll work on these things, but let’s get it listed now.”

Here is why I advise against that. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Even if it means waiting a few weeks to get the items done; you will sell it faster and for more money if your to do items are done and you put your best foot forward when it first hits the market. The price range that your agent says they can sell it for after the projects are done, is not the same as the price you’ll get if you have photos out there before the projects are done. The first impressions, online & in-person matter.

Just like all humans, buyers make snap judgements with the first impressions they take in. This happens without them choosing to; it’s just how our brains work. If they see a room with 4 different colors of wallpaper, they’ve already decided the house is a project and a fixer upper. They have already checked out. And me telling them “don’t worry, the seller is going to paint everything a neutral beige before closing” means nothing to them. Now if they walk in and all 4 walls are a neutral beige are they going to say how nice it is that all the walls match? Or that they love that it's very neutral and that allowed them to picture their furniture in the room? Of course not. They will never appreciate the work you did to make them notice the space, versus the walls. That is ok. In fact, that’s exactly what we want. We want them to Not notice the walls. We want them to picture spending their holidays there and sitting on the couch with their dog. The goal is to make sure there is nothing that distracts them from that, from the feeling of Home.

Another concern sellers sometimes have is that buyers will just come in and “repaint every room” or “a buyer is just going to update the flooring anyway, why should I get rid of the orange carpet”? Yes, if you repaint in a neutral or change a bold carpet color for a basic tan, there is still a very good chance that they will repaint or buy new flooring after they move in. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth doing. The goal is not to choose a color buyers want to keep forever. The goal is to help the most amount of buyers fall in love with the space. And most buyers need help visualizing. Minimizing anything that can be a distraction helps them do that. Once the house is theirs they will make it more personal, but then it will no longer be your concern.

It can be challenging to look at your own house with fresh eyes. The longer we live in a space the more we look past our own clutter, unique paint colors, missing trim, etc. Invite your real estate agent over ahead of time and ask for advice. Is there a color, carpet, paint, etc. that is distracting? It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. If you love having a bright colored dining room that’s fantastic (mine was once goldenrod yellow). But it’s my job to tell you that the house will appeal to more buyers if it’s a more neutral color; so enjoy it until you’re ready to list your house and then paint.

Whatever updates you decide to do; it’s important to do them prior to having it advertised to the public so that you can put your best foot forward. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. With a little planning you can be ready to make a great first and lasting impression!

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