“Do the Best You Can”: Getting an Estate Property Noticed, and SOLD in Westchester County NY

As the housing market continues to improve, more and more properties are hitting the market. One of the questions I’ve been getting a lot lately are about getting estate properties sold.

In this market, any property that does not look its best attracts either no interest, or rings the proverbial dinner bell, inviting time-wasting low-ball offers. If it’s obvious estate sale, the tour buses show up. Trouble is, the goal-selling it quickly for the best price-often conflict with the “As Is” mindset of the executor and the heirs.

Executors who can get the heirs on board with some fast and simple improvements will better the lot for all of them. In my interactive consults, my counsel is always: Do the best you can.

Preparing a property for sale is a very personal thing-solutions come from exploration of goals, expectations and the realities of the market. Instead of reacting to the word (“Staging”), instead of nattering back and forth about what can’t be done, or comparing to what you see on HGTV reruns, focus on what is the best you can do, and do it. The image above is a perfect example of what I mean. I could not figure out how to make a WordDoc into an image, so this is a dowloaded photo of my computer screen. Is it award-winning perfect? No. Does it get my message across? Am I getting on with my morning now? Yes, and YES!

In a previous post I answered the ‘why’ of Staging an estate property. In order of importance, here’s The Refreshed Home’s recommendations of  what to do when time and money are of the essence.

  • Clear out  Sad, odd pieces of furniture scattered throughout a room/house do nothing to enhance the value. If there is truly no money to do anything, at least empty the space. Shabby upholstery and broken furniture is not an inspiring vision for buyers.
  •  CLEAN Buyers will ‘get’ old, they will not ‘get’ dirty. Kitchen, bathrooms, windows go to the top of the list. And not ‘broom clean’, but q-tips-to-clean-the-refrigerator-grill clean. Hire a service, it will be be the best money you will spend.
  • Remove wallpaper and draperies/paint  Walls are the biggest surface area in any room, the provide the most opportunity to make a statement to buyers;  fresh walls make it easier for buyers to say yes. Old colors, faded/peeling wallpaper, dusty drapes are memories of the last owner, attached to the wall. Classic, neutral and easy on the eye is the rule.
  • Remove wall to wall  Floors are the next biggest surface in a room. Old carpet (stained, faded, with indentations or just in an outdated color) is a big pullback for many buyers. If the prior owner smoked, or had pets, you can bet buyers will smell it. Even if none of these conditions existed, SO many people have allergies or asthma-pile carpet a big red flag.  Last-ohyes, people just don’t like carpet as much. Bottom line, unless it’s a classic neutral in super shape, pull it up.
  • Refinish/update floors  The floors may be in good shape, or they may not. Or they may just have plywood underneath. But removing fear of the unknown for buyers is Job One.  If you can afford it, refinishing or adding a nice wood floor is money well spent. But DO NOT cheap out. If funds are low, discuss with your REALTOR. New, but badly or cheaply done creates a whole other obstacle.
  • Small repairs Maintenance deferred raises questions, and makes buyers wonder about the big things. Repair leaky faucets and running toilets. Make sure windows open fix or replace appliances, clean the gutters, powerwash any surfaces collecting crud.
  • Small cosmetic updates New hardware, new lighting fixtures in an old space can add a wealth of value. A  traditional 50s grey and black tile wallpapered bathroom became retro for less than $125.00 with some paint, new black towels and this $50.00 lighting fixture.