Wednesday, June 05, 2013

First Impressions

I am often asked by homeowners getting ready to put their home on the market, "What can I do to help sell my home?"

Preparing for the real estate appraiser can be intimidating, whether your motive is refinancing, or to help facilitate the sales process. Appraisers are trained to overlook the personal property inside a home, but a well-kept and clean home at the time of the appraisal inspection will give the impression to the appraiser that the home has been well cared for.

Just like the importance of the real estate mantra “Location, Location, Location” – I like to advise homeowners the importance of staging the home and its first impression, or its “appearance.” An appraiser acts as a “surrogate buyer” – trying to anticipate how the majority of the buyers will act and react to a property and its features.

The “appearance” includes the first impressions a buyer will have and can be broken down into three steps. These include: 

• the first impression from the curb;
• the impression outside at the front door;
• the impression when you step inside the front door.

How does the home look from the street when they drive up? A well-manicured, clutter-free yard is imperative. This is called curb appeal. Cars should be garaged or removed from the site.

Next, what are the impressions when walking up to the front door? Make sure the trim around the garage door, windows and front door is clean or freshly painted. The front landscaping should be free of weeds or debris, with fresh mulch. Make sure there are no sinking or severely cracked walks. If there is a screen/storm door, it should function correctly and be very clean. Freshly sealcoat that asphalt driveway.

Finally, what is the first impression inside the front door? What do you see and smell? Does the entrance to the home have personalized decorating, or is it generally neutral as you welcome somebody into your home? Neutral decorating is most important in the first floor within view from the front door.

Regardless of the type of housing, the price range, or your community, these factors are very important. If there are known issues, they may be overcome with a little work or expense.

Every home has imperfections, some, only the home inspectors will find, others will be very obvious to the appraiser and potential buyers. If you have positive initial appearance and impressions when you step into the home, it is likely that a minor problem elsewhere may be overlooked. But if you have problems or issues with those first three steps, you may lose the buyer before they step into the home.

Finally, don’t be afraid to share with the appraiser information that will help them out. Things like a Plat of Survey and a list of upgrades and improvements made since they have lived in the home, are things that are very helpful to the appraiser. If a copy can be made so that they may bring them with, it is even more helpful. Perhaps a set of blueprints or a builder’s floorplan with the layout of the home is available to share with the appraiser.

Appraisers often come from areas outside of the community they are appraising in. Whether the homeowner or the Realtor, sharing comparables (including sales, pendings and active listings) to support the value will give you piece of mind that the appraiser has the data necessary to complete the job. Often times, you or your Realtor may have information that goes beyond the simple MLS Listing Sheet as far as conditions of the sale, motivation of the sellers, or something in the home that caused obsolescence (negative impact).

Interested in getting a professional appraisal? Visit my former blog at: for more details. Contact Chip Wagner at or (630) 416-6556 for a quote.