Originally published by Lexi KlinkenbergRedfinon
The real estate industry has been shifting to a digital landscape over the years, but no one expected the digital revolution to happen so quickly. We’re seeing the effects of COVID-19 on the housing market, stay-at-home orders have brought most traditional open houses to a temporary halt, and in-person showings few and far between. But if you’re looking to sell your house, don’t worry, you can still make your home shine online and reach potential buyers without face-to-face contact.
Here are 8 tips to make your home stand out against the competition during a virtual tour and impress potential homebuyers.
1. Enhance your space with the right lighting
Lighting is an essential component when it comes to creating an eye-catching and a camera-ready atmosphere, and this is especially true with a virtual tour. “Your home will look it’s best on camera if you film in the middle of the day. Keep your window shades open and bring in as much natural light as possible to help the room feel larger and look brighter” says Makayla Zurn, the Creative Production Manager at Redfin. “You can even try layering light by turning on lamps and accent lights to create a warm and cozy atmosphere”, says Zurn. “Just be sure to avoid artificial lighting that overpowers the space too much. “
2. Transform rooms with the perfect paint color
Whether you have faded and scuffed walls in the living room, or a bright orange accent wall in your kid’s room, take this opportunity to repaint the interior walls and opt for a camera-friendly shade. This is an easy and inexpensive fix that 68 percent of realtors recommend. “Lighter, neutral paint colors show best in a video while darker colors tend to make spaces look smaller than they actually are,” says Zurn. “If you’re showcasing a room with darker paint it would be helpful to note the measurements of that particular space in the description.”
3. Clear your home of clutter
During a virtual tour, potential homebuyers will try to imagine your home as their own. This can be difficult if you have areas in your home where things have slowly piled up over the years. “Personal items can take a buyer’s attention away from what you really want them to focus on, the features of your home!” says Zurn, “So clear off your kitchen and bathroom countertops, make the beds, and tidy up.” Maybe you have a pile of paperwork in the kitchen, excessive cords in your home office, or perhaps a box filled boardgames in the living room.
Find permanent homes for items that are sitting out, or donate things you no longer need. To create a more open and calming atmosphere, try removing an item or two before taking photos and filming. One trick is to clear off any surfaces, and then add items back one-by-one until the desired look is achieved.
4. Get your home looking spotless
Cleaning is one of the simplest ways to create an appealing interior. Potential homebuyers will be able to detect a clean home from a dirty one, even over a virtual tour. Washing mirrors and windows, vacuuming hardwood floors, deep-cleaning carpets, and organizing your closets are just a few tasks that will make your home look more attractive. Furthermore, the potential homebuyer may even ask the agent to describe what they’re experiencing on the property, including certain smells and the cleanliness of the home. So make every inch of your home shine, from floor to ceiling.
5. Stage for a picture-perfect home
Staging is now more important than ever. Begin staging rooms that could influence the buyer’s decision, including the entryway, living room, main bathroom, master bedroom, and kitchen. Remove or rearrange furniture to make space appear larger, add flowers to the kitchen table for a splash of color, and arrange decor in odd numbers to achieve balance. To help potential buyers picture themselves calling your house home, remove any family photos or keepsakes. Look online for inspiration and tips, chat with a professional stager over video, or consider a virtual staging service. This is a cost-effective service where home stagers use photo-editing software to transform rooms by adding furniture and decor into the photos of your home.
6. Have professional photos taken
Although additional safety measures are being taken during the Coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety of you and the professional photographers,photo and video shoots are still being offered. Now, it is especially important to have your home staged and “showing ready” for the shooting, as photographers will not be touching or moving anything inside the homes. The listing photos will be the first thing a potential homebuyer sees of your home and may determine whether they request a virtual tour. So make your home stands out against the competition with professional photos. Real estate photographers know the correct lighting, angles, and minor details that give a much better depiction of the home, capture it’s selling points, and attract the attention of potential homebuyers. If you’d want to showcase your entire property, capture a bit of the neighborhood, or highlight the breathtaking view, consider having aerial photos taken to offer a unique angle of your home.
7. Highlight your home’s best features
What characteristics of your home attracted you to it in the first place? Is it the new kitchen appliances, extensive breakfast bar, large outdoor space, or simply the open floor plan? Whatever it may be, it’s likely that your favorite features of the home will be what attracts potential homebuyers as well. So, be sure to give special attention to these features in photos and during a virtual home tour.
8. Spruce up the exterior
Enhancing your curb appeal is just as important as sprucing up the interior of your home. A well-maintained landscape, lawn, and porch can make a great impression on potential homebuyers and can add perceived value to your home. Remove any dead debris, mow your lawn, and trim the plants or shrubs lining your property. Consider re-staining your front porch, pressure washing the siding of your home, and adding flowerpots to enhance the entryway. And if you have any outdoor furniture, be sure to stage it as you would with your furniture inside.
Virtual tours are now more important than ever. Be sure to take time and prepare your home for showing just as you would for an in-person tour, and show your home in the best light.
I imagine that by now many of us are all used to this new reality of working from home and have all our routines and productive habits nailed down. And now comes another question: how can we still have a feeling of sanctuary when we are working from home and staying here almost 24/7? Here are my suggestions:
How has your “stay-home/self-isolation/quarantine” experience been this March? If you’re like me and have had your home office for over 10 years, it’s only a small change. But for many, it’s the first time entering the exciting world of the unlimited potential and skyrocketing productivity of working from home. Right??No time spent on putting makeup on, no commute, no lining up for a Subway sandwich. What else… maybe even no shower? and you only need to dress up from the waist up if you’re on Zoom. Then why do we often stare at the clock in disbelief: what?? it’s already dinner time? I know how you feel, because I know it’s hard. This is why I always look for ways to improve the way how I work from home. Here are some tips I find helpful.
Originally published by Ryan Smith on Redfin
Selling your house can be both exciting and stressful, especially if it’s your first time. Regardless
of why you decided to sell your home, there are a number of pitfalls you can easily fall into,
making your home selling experience less than ideal. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the
most common home selling mistakes people make so you can sell your home knowing you
have your bases covered.
1. Underestimating the cost of selling your house
While you should ultimately profit from the sale of your home, many home sellers forget about
the costs associated with selling a house. For starters, you should expect to use five to six
percent of the total sale price of your home to cover the commissions of both the seller and
buyer agents. For example, if you sell your home for $300,000 you could wind up paying
upwards of $18,000 in commission.
Furthermore, this hefty cost doesn’t include possible concessions homebuyers might want you
to make during the negotiation phase, such as making repairs suggested by a home inspector.
2. Not budgeting for your move
When you consider the moving process, you have two options: hiring a moving company or
borrow your buddy’s truck and doing it yourself.
By hiring a moving company, rather than doing it yourself, you’re getting someone who will
pack, move, and then unpack your belongings. This means that a full-service mover can be well
worth the investment when you’re preoccupied with all of the other tasks associated with selling
your home. Not to mention, when you hire movers your belongings are insured so you’re
covered if anything breaks.
3. Selling a house you owe more on than what it’s worth
If you still have a remaining balance on your mortgage, you’ll most likely use a portion of the
sale proceeds of your home to pay off the existing mortgage. Make sure you don’t owe more on
your mortgage than what your house is actually worth or you won’t make enough money on the
sale to pay off your mortgage. The best option is almost always to wait on selling your home so
that it can build more equity. This way you can sell your home and buy a new one without
having two mortgages at the same time.
4. Pricing your home incorrectly
If you price your home too high, your home may fall into the seller’s limbo, sitting on the market for
what feels like an eternity. On the other hand, if you price too low then you will likely sell your
home quickly but you risk missing out on a significant amount of money.
The first step to understanding how much your home is worth is utilizing an online calculator.
Afterward, meet with your real estate agent to discuss a good pricing strategy for your home.
They will look at other comparable properties in your neighborhood that sold recently as well as
bring keen insights into what the housing market is currently doing. Together, you’ll determine a
good starting price as well as a pricing strategy that will incentivize buyers if your house begins
to sit on the market for too long.
5. Skipping a pre-listing home inspection
Selling a house is stressful enough, even when everything goes right. But if a homebuyer hires
an inspector who catches an issue like mold, pests, or a cracked foundation, then your stress
levels will multiply as you risk losing a potential sale entirely.
Given the affordability of home inspections, there’s not much reason to avoid them. Getting a
pre-listing home inspection will put your mind at ease as you’ll either know that your home is in
sound condition or you’ll be able to tackle problems before homebuyers have the chance to
bring them up during the negotiation phase. If an issue does arise, you can either fix it or you
can let buyers know and then make a concession during the negotiation phase by reducing the
price of your home accordingly.
6. Not refinishing hardwood floors or cleaning your carpet
If you’re reading this at home, look down. How do your floors look? Even if they don’t look
terrible, there’s a pretty good chance they’re starting to show their age. Since potential buyers
are going to be inspecting every aspect of your home, you should start thinking of refinishing
your hardwood floors and cleaning your carpet.
The best time to have your carpet cleaned or hardwood floors refinished is right before you
stage your home. Since you’ll already be moving most (or all) of your furniture to either a new
home or a storage unit, this is a great time to get your floors done and make them a selling point
to potential homebuyers.
7. Not staging your home for a quick sale
The main point of staging your home is to allow potential homebuyers the chance to picture
themselves living in your space. They get to see a home with furniture and art that’s arranged in
a way that highlights key features of your home, rather than an empty house that echoes every
sound. Staging your home pays off too as 21 percent of agents told the National Association of
Realtors that staging a home increased its’ sale price by as much as 10 percent, making it a
8. Forgoing professional real estate photos
With the advent of cameras on smartphones, everyone likes to think of themselves as a
photographer these days. Even though that picture you took of your dinner last week looked like
it could be featured in advertisements, you’re still probably not ready to take your own real
estate photos. A real estate photographer will make sure that your home looks great when you
list it because not only do they have the equipment, they understand the angles that best sell a
If you have a large home, a stunning view you want to show off, or a large amount of land, you
may also want to consider having aerial photos taken of your home. The views that drones are
able to capture are impressive and can help show off your home in a way that will make sure it
stands out from other houses in your area that are on the market. Even better, drone technology
makes this option more affordable than ever before, allowing you to get a lot more bang for your
9. Trying to sell a poorly lit home
You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your
lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential
homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an
electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed.
Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the
light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling
an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest.
Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.
10. Not making your home energy efficient
If you’d like to spend less on your utility bills, you aren’t alone. A study by the National
Association of Realtors found that 33 percent of homebuyers see high-efficiency HVAC systems
as an important factor when looking at a new home. If you have an older home, you should look
into either retrofitting or replacing your HVAC unit altogether as your current system might be
using a lot more energy than it needs to be. This will ensure that you have a system that is
meeting your home’s needs, while also lowering your utility bill.
If you’re committed to energy-efficiency then there are a few extra things you can do. These
options include making sure your home is properly insulated, ensuring that you don’t have any
leaky air ducts, and buying a smart thermostat. Whichever route you pursue, having an energy-
efficient HVAC system will make your house stand out from the competition.
11. Not cleaning your house before trying to sell it
Most of us would probably be lying if we said our homes weren’t overdue for a good cleaning,
so don’t forget to check this box before listing your home for sale. There’s nothing more off-
putting during a home tour than realizing the house is dirty, and potential homebuyers may
wonder what else you’ve been neglecting. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you’ll
guarantee that not only is your home spotless but that you’re going to make a great impression
on homebuyers when they tour your house.
12. Not addressing the exterior of your house
Over the years, your home’s exterior has taken a beating from the elements. With everything
mother nature throws at it every year, the paint on your home’s exterior and the stain on your
deck have likely lost a bit of their luster. So before listing, be sure to pressure wash your house first.
In addition to making sure your house looks its best in the listing photos, you will also
enhance the overall curb appeal when buyers eventually show up for a tour.
In addition to pressure washing your house and deck, you can also take the time to pressure
wash your garage door, fence, patio, driveway, and any walkways you may have.
13. You never got around to repainting
One of the first things a potential buyer will notice when they pull up to your home is the paint. If
you want to make a good first impression, then you’ll need to ensure that your home is painted
an inviting color and that the quality of your paint job is top-notch. While the job of repainting
your house might take a few days, the value of painting your house before selling will be well
worth the effort. A recent study found that painting the exterior of your home has a 51 percent
return on investment.
Don’t stop with the exterior though! We’ve all seen some pretty questionable color choices on
the walls of homes. If you happen to have lime green or bright purple wall, you’ll want to
repaint them to be a more buyer-friendly neutral color. Doing so will make it easier for buyers to
be able to picture themselves living in your home as it makes them think of your walls as a blank
14. Selling a home with a yard in need of some TLC
The other way to make a great first impression is by wowing potential buyers with your yard.
Start by cleaning up anything that may be cluttering your yard, porch, or pathways (things like
gardening equipment or a child’s bicycle). Then you can move onto mowing the lawn, weeding
your garden, and planting some new flowers. If your yard has a damaged pathway, you may
also want to think about fixing or even replacing it as well.
If these touch-ups seem like a lot to tackle while you’re trying to sell your home, don’t be afraid
to hire a landscaper as the cost is well worth it. A study by Turf Magazine found that a home’s
value tended to increase by as much as 10 to 12 percent after making upgrades to the
15. You have mismatched appliances
Maybe your black stove died a couple of years ago and you replaced it with a brand new
stainless steel one. Or maybe you swapped out that white kitchen faucet you always hated with
a copper one that caught your eye. Either way, the result is mismatched appliances. While it
won’t necessarily impact the overall sale price of your home, many homebuyers are going to
find the mismatched color scheme off-putting, so consider making some changes before you
The best way to proceed is to decide which kitchen appliances are your favorite and base the
color scheme off of them. So if that fancy new stove you bought last year is stainless steel, then
make sure your other appliances are too. Luckily, many appliance manufacturers offer discounts
if you purchase multiple appliances with them at once.
16. Lingering during a home tour
Nobody likes a lingerer, especially when they also happen to be the owner of the home you’re
currently touring. If you don’t leave the home during a showing, then potential buyers feel
awkward as they attempt to discuss what they like and dislike about the house. You also
prevent your listing agent from being able to do their job to the best of their abilities as you’re
naturally going to want to answer any questions the buyers have rather than leaving those
questions to your agent. So instead of staying in your home during a showing, try taking the
opportunity to go shopping, run errands, or visit some friends instead. Your agent will thank you.
17. Taking a Lowball Offer Personally
Regardless of your reasons for moving, the fact that you’ve probably lived in your home for
years means that you have a lot of strong feelings attached to it. So when you receive a lowball
offer, it’s natural to be offended.
Instead of walking away, send them back a counteroffer that you and your real estate agent
think is fair. If they really are interested, then you’ll be glad you didn’t let your emotions get the
better of you.
Happy Staging and Decorating!