LIST YOUR HOUSE NOW!!  First off, if you are reading this article and even thinking about listing your house, lucky you!! This is a seller's market and in many parts of the country, particularly Northwest Arkansas (Bella Vista, booming Bentonville, Rogers, Lowell, Pea Ridge, Centerton) there is a shortage of inventory in the housing market.

LOWER PRICED HOUSES NEEDED:  Houses in the range of $100-150K are selling like hotcakes in our area.  If you have a cute home in need of a little remodel, or perhaps recently remodeled, you will sell your house in a matter of days in this market.  If your house is even lower priced, the investors and first-time home buyers will come flocking out for a bidding war so they can play "Flip this House!"

DECLUTTER!  This is the most important and often overlooked strategy to selling your house.  If you have nice furniture, leave the home furnished and take out ALL personal items.  This will make the home look simple and appealing.  People want to add their own spin on decorating, so unless you are really great at it, keep it to a mininum.

MAKE SPACE!  Make your home look spacious and light.  Move furniture, open windows, use air fresheners is necessary.  

MAKE IT FEEL LIKE A PARTY!  Make the home looking experience as pleasant as possible. Consider baking cookies before a showing and leaving some out for the guests.  It will make the house smell inviting and they will be in a good mood while looking.  Play soft music on a radio or phone tucked away somewhere.  Leave friendly cards, notes, or flyers out.  Making a book about your home and leaving it on the kitchen counter or dining room table is a good way to answer many of their questions, and you can highlight the best points of your house.

DON'T leave negative notes around saying things like "DON'T let the cat out!" or other info that may give your buyers an unpleasant feeling about who they are buying from.

DO leave a note to designate a safety hazard, like "Deck railing is loose -- repairs are in progress."  You don't want anyone to fall or hurt themselves if you know a hazard is present.

TAKE THE BEST PHOTOS POSSIBLE:  Your photos are THE most important part of the home-selling experience.  In these days of cyber everything, people will see the photos of your home on their phones, laptops, tablets, computers, etc.  They may choose or reject your home based on those photographs alone.

PHOTOGRAPHING TIPS:  

  • Turn on all the lights and close the window blinds.  This seems counter-intuitive, but unless you are trying to display a great view (which is another lighting challenge) the room itself will light up better with the windows closed, as long as you have good indoor lighting.  Having windows open causes glare and funny sun-shaped shadows on the carpet and floors.  Try taking pics with and without the windows open and compare.  
  • As above, declutter the area.  Towels, trashcans, clothing, or even keys or watches left behind can be distracting in a picture and may cause your auto focus lens to focus on those objects instead of the room.
  • Take plenty of outside shots.  Your home's curb appeal may be its best feature.  Display a pretty yard, a lake view, or seasonal flowers.  If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor kitchen area, swimming pool, creekside view, or fire pit, or even an RV pad, be sure to include that.  Also take pictures of any workshop areas or storage buildings.  People love extra storage.
  • Lighting -- make the room as light as possible with extra lamps.  Dark pictures never look good on screen.

FUMIGATE!  Nothing turns people away more than a smoky home or a home that smells like mildew or pets.  Remove all pets and pet belongings before showings.  Make sure litter boxes are clean and hidden away.  If you are a smoker, do not smoke in your house and use air purifier devices to clear away the smoke smells.  If you have a serious problem, an ozone machine is a great investment.  It works like a flea bomb (and kills fleas as well).  You turn it on, leave the house, and it covers the area with a film of a substance called Ozone.  This is a great tool to free your house from smells that have soaked in over the years.

FLYERS:  It my be old fashioned to some realtors, but flyers are the easiest and best way to let people driving by know about your home, who has listed it, the price, and give them some idea of what the interior looks like.  Flyers also tend to hang around peoples cars and homes and can be an ongoing source of advertisting.

HAPPY SELLING!  It should be a great spring!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Joanne Greenway is an agent, real estate photographer and home specialist at Kaufmann Realty in Beautiful Bella Vista, Arkansas.