Real Estate and Relocation Expert Marian Schaffer of Southeast Discovery Shares 7 Tips to Get a Home Ready to Sell

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Implementing These Tips and Avoiding a Few Common Errors Will Help a Home Sell More Quickly

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Sellers who do an effective job of preparing their home to show well by avoiding these 7 mistakes, tend to sell their homes quickly, and they tend to receive offers closest to their asking price.

Marian Schaffer, Principal and Founder of Southeast Discovery, a real estate consulting firm specializing in guiding Baby Boomers with their real estate needs in the niche markets of retirement relocation and second homes in the Southeast region, recently shared seven tips to help a home sell more quickly, and mistakes to avoid that can turn off a buyer’s interest in a home.

“The internet and other visual media, as well as the high inventory of homes being sold, have turned potential buyers into a very discerning group,” said Schaffer. “While it’s true almost anything will sell in some lucky real estate markets, most areas demand a high level of attention to one’s home in order to have it sell, particularly at top dollar.”

According to Schaffer, these seven common mistakes could prevent a home from selling:

1. Your home is not clean enough. “This sounds simple, but think of yourself as a traveler walking into a room with dirty carpet, scuff marks on the walls, dirt in the corners, nicks on the baseboards, dirt on the windows, dust on ceiling fans,” said Schaffer. “If you wouldn’t stay in a room like that, you can be sure potential buyers will run from a not-so-clean home like that. Treat your home to a deep clean and see how much better your potential buyers feel.”

2. Your home is clean but cluttered. “This may sound harsh because it involves removing things that are near and dear, including family photos, travel mementos on surfaces, pictures drawn by grandkids on the refrigerator and sad plants that may still come around,” said Schaffer. “But you should take a really hard look at what you can pack or toss and lighten your house’s load. Many times, renting a storage unit for ‘clutter’ can be a good strategy during the sale of your home.”

3. Your home has retrofits that don’t resonate with buyers. “The above ground pool, the bedroom turned art studio, and the playroom in the garage may fit your lifestyle but do not sit well with potential buyers who view these conversions as obstacles that involve work, time and money to change back. If you advertise a three-bedroom house with garage, be sure buyers see what is advertised.”

4. Your home has design elements that don’t appeal to the masses. “Simplicity rules when you are selling your home,” said Schaffer. “The dream theme in your child’s room, dated carpet over hardwood floors, bold colors or murals on the walls, fixtures that are either passé or too ‘creative,’ and highly-stylized furnishings are some of the big offenders preventing the average buyer’s ability to visualize their life in the house. You may be taking your furniture when you move, but stick to basics and tone down colors, themes, and fixtures that will convey with the house.”

5. Your home looks great but has an unpleasant smell. “Your home may have just been deep cleaned but if you have allowed indoor smoking or have animal companions, this requires something more,” according to Schaffer. “You may be immune to the odor but trust that no one else who enters will be. Buy or rent an ozone machine to purify the space. In some cases, if you have smoked indoors for years, it may also require painting the ceiling and walls, and removing rugs and curtains. Pet stains and smells are stubborn as well, so carpet may have to be replaced. Be sure to clean and remove your pet’s paraphernalia to a garage or other area where it is less noticeable, too.”

6. Your home is immaculate, smells great, and has award-winning décor, but your landscaping is lacking. Landscaping is the first impression of your home, and what buyers notice first when they pull up to view your home for the first time. “Buyers, especially older ones, see the lack of landscaping or a poorly maintained yard not as an opportunity, but another expense before they can feel good about their new home,” according to Schaffer. “Although some buyers may see it as a blank canvas for their green thumb and artistic outdoor pursuits, it’s the majority of buyers that should be the standard when selling a home.”

7. Buyers feel uncomfortable coming into your home. “If you want them to remove their shoes, have a bench they can sit on near the front door to comfortably take them off. Or, have booties available that they can slip on over their shoes. If it’s warm outside, buyers have probably been touring other homes besides yours – so have water bottles available for them on the counter in your kitchen. These little gestures will make them feel more comfortable, and they will leave with a positive feeling about your home.”

“You have enjoyed your home and tailored it to fit your lifestyle. But if you’re serious about selling, try to look at your home from a more objective point of view,” said Schaffer. “Ask yourself, what will appeal to a broad audience? That should be the goal. And remember, a home presented well and priced right, will attract actively-looking buyers and the interest of buyers’ agents, who are looking on behalf of their clients. Many of the shortcomings listed here are easy fixes. Sellers who do an effective job of preparing their home to show well tend to sell their homes quickly, and they tend to receive offers closest to their asking price.”

About Southeast Discovery
Since 2004, Southeast Discovery has been a trusted resource for candid information and insight on communities, developments, and general real estate in the Southeast. Through its highly-ranked web portal, newsletter and blog and its one-on-one work with clients, Southeast Discovery helps buyers actively looking for a retirement or second home in the Southeast navigate the process of identifying the right area and community for their needs. To learn more, visit

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