You all know her.
Maybe you’ve been unable to keep her in the style to which she was once accustomed. Perhaps you inherited her from a family member who didn’t want her anymore. Or, as with Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, you may have once seen the potential in her and promised to turn her rough exterior into a splendid jewel.
For whatever reason, you now have an ugly house to sell.
There are certain homes I love walking into. They are clean and uncluttered. They are bright and welcoming. They have exquisite furnishings and art. And everyone wants to buy them.
But let’s face it — you may not have the time, resources or energy to turn Ugly Betty into Elizabeth Taylor.
Fear not. Just because the house needs work doesn’t mean you can’t sell it. Many homebuyers today are shopping for such deals and want to see the potential in your home. But let’s get serious about how it’s presented to the public.
First, take inventory of what has been left in the home. Is there anything valuable or usable? Give friends and family first shot at it, then host an estate or yard sale.
Is it full of junk? With a few extra hands and a private hauler or franchise company, you can unload unwanted items in bulk for as little as $250. Some hauling firms will even donate usable items for you.
Got leftover building supplies? Call Habitat for Humanity or a similar group and check with your city or county about avenues for disposal or recycling.
Second, call in the Bleach & Brillo Brigade. Nothing detracts more than dirt. Whether you do it yourself or hire a housecleaning service, this is money well spent indeed. Like Emily Deschanel, a buyer who is looking for a property in need of upgrading wants to see its bones clearly.
Third, head outside. Curb appeal is essential, so cut the grass, pull the weeds and sweep off porches and walkways. Secure anything loose, such as railings, steps or fixtures that might be dangerous to someone entering the home.
All done? Before you kick off your shoes and relax, consult with your real estate agent about how the home will be marketed and described. Does your house need “TLC” or “your personal touches?” Is it a “fixer-upper” or a “shell?” Sometimes these distinctions are only in the eye of the beholder but often the level of disrepair can affect the buyer’s financing, so don’t try to put lipstick on that pig.
Accurate property condition disclosures are paramount and, if you are selling the home in as-is condition, say so clearly. Nobody wants to fall in love with a home only to find out about its flaws during the throes of a passionate home inspection. And first-time buyers will generally overestimate the cost of repairs, so if you know the furnace is DOA and must be replaced, for example, secure a written estimate from a licensed contractor to share with the buyer and bring repair costs into clearer perspective.
Of course, setting a correct price is an integral part of the process, so don’t get greedy and ask an “after” price for a “before” product. Your real estate agent can guide you by showing you competing homes in similar or better condition and providing information about homes that have recently sold.
Finally, work with your agent to select the photos that will appear on the Internet and highlight the best features of the home. While some will say that Ugly Betty is more appealing without a photo of her warts, I disagree. In today’s market, no photos = no interest. Period.
And remember, just like there’s a lid for every pot, there is a buyer for every home – even the ugly ones.
Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.