Home & Garden

Reaping Rewards

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Spring has sprung, and the signs are everywhere – real estate signs, that is, some boasting brightly colored theme graphics of major real estate companies and some simply reading "For Sale By Owner," crafted by sellers trying to save a buck on commissions. Across the board, though, the message is the same. Houses are for sale, and business is brisk.

Thank the weather for this trend, for while houses are on the market year-round, the best time to capitalize on a sale begins in March and caps in June. There are many reasons for this cyclical turn of events beyond blue skies and sunny climes. Often local homebuyers are looking forward to summer as an ideal time to make a transition from one home to another. Sometimes, lifestyle changes like marriage, mushrooming families or those ready to downsize encourage new digs. And for some, corporate relocation means finding a new place to call home. For these latter buyers, house buying is not cyclical. It simply happens when the career opportunity presents itself.

Fine Homes Specialist and Multi-Million Dollar Producer Debbie Scott of Prudential Georgia Realty counsels sellers to give their homes a "wow" factor. After all, house selling is big business ripe with rivalry and, says Scott, "In Gwinnett County, the biggest competition for those who want to sell their homes is new construction. It”s critical for sellers to make their homes look new, fresh and clean so buyers won”t picture the time and money they”d have to spend to bring it up to par."

To reap the reward of getting your asking price (or close to it) and selling in a timely manner, your property must look good inside and out, and the property it sits on must be in top-notch shape. Put yourself in the buyer”s shoes and kick the tires, so to speak. Take out the emotion, thinking of your house not as a home but as a commodity you”d like to sell. Clean up the outside property, doing such obvious things as rolling up garden hoses, pulling weeds, installing new pine straw and even planting colorful flowers to brighten the landscape. Clean the gutters. (It”s been said that buyers who comment on clogged gutters often assume there are other maintenance issues as well.) If the house needs painting, this is the time to do it. Rest assured, a house in need of paint may attract buyers, but it will act as a beacon for those seeking a bargain. You may sell but sometimes at a sacrifice. Know that the first few moments after a buyer arrives at your property are the most critical. Make sure the things he or she sees first make a good impression. Brass doorknobs and kick plates should be polished, front doors freshly painted, and pots of geraniums or some other favorite flower sitting prettily on the front porch. Let these touches be your calling card to potential buyers. Says Scott, "I often tell my clients to stand at their front door and observe objectively. Know that this is what potential buyers will see first, sometimes waiting for long minutes to go in while the agent unlocks the door. What they see at the front door must be appealing, or buyers may lose interest."

Move inside, and look around critically. Neutralize, de-clutter and depersonalize. Consider painting walls a neutral color. Remove personal touches like pictures of loved ones potential buyers want to see themselves in your space, and, pictures of your loved ones interfere with their ability to do that. A true test of what touches will work best is to take a tour of a model home. Simmering scents, low lights and decorator touches add appeal. Here”s the bottom line – lose your stuff, cleaning off shelves