Right off the bat, there are a few reasons homes don’t sell: Market, Pricing and Presentation. The 5 step sensory test is to tackle the presentation.
In today’s market that first impression is online, so if buyers are making an effort to view your home they have already found something they like and it should be in the price zone and location they are seeking. So let’s make that showing count.
Living in our homes every day, we sometimes look, hear, smell and feel past things that others may notice.
This challenge may help you uncover some things you didn’t know about your home that may be stopping folks from putting in an offer.
You might need a friend or potentially a child to help. Children are sometimes wonderfully honest. 🙂
Prepare your home like you normally would for a showing. Then step outside.
One person will be blindfolded and the other the helper. Put a blindfold on and have your friend guide you inside your house. Step inside the foyer and close the door. And smell. What do you smell?
Walk around the house and do this in each room.
Then try this again with your friend blindfolded or a child. Make it a game. You may be surprised.Do you smell a dampness in the basement? Do you smell the cat litter? A dog? Hockey equipment? A strong cooking odour? The best smell is nothing, that neutral smell of clean.
Should you smell a smell, please fix it. Do not cover it up with an air freshener. Often when I show a home with an air freshener the folks either have allergies, don’t like the smell or think the seller is covering something up.
Much like the smell test, the test for sound works best when you block your other senses. A blindfold helps but isn’t necessary.
Walk through your home and see what you hear. Listen. The floor squeaks there. You probably haven’t heard it in years even though it squeaks every time because you are used to it. That funny clicking. You know that’s the heater trying to kick on but the buyer’s don’t know that.
All those sounds that you have become used to are new sounds to a visitor to your home. You may be able to fix that squeaky closet door and many other sounds. You may notice outside noises that could impact your sale.
Some folks like to leave music on for a showing. While that can be great for setting the mood, please leave out a method to turn it off. Some buyers want to be able to hear the silence.
This one is fun. You open that doorknob to the garage door everyday but when was the last time you felt it?
Many homes look clean, but they don’t feel clean. Depending on the price point, market and area you are in, the cleanliness of a home can have a profound effect on showing. Some people are very tactile, they touch the railing, the counter tops and open doors. When they feel grease or crumbs on their fingers they pull away. The psychological feeling they are left with is “I am not comfortable” and that’s not the feeling you want them to leave with.
The other aspect of this is feet. We all take our shoes off when viewing a home. Is your basement floor freezing? Are folks going to avoid stepping into any rooms?
4. Movement and Flow:
Buyers typically view homes in a predictable order. They drive up and park somewhere. Then they walk up to the front door and look around while the Realtor accesses the lockbox to get the key. When a buyer falls on ice, snow or other obstacles in this first part it’s never good.
Then we walk inside the foyer and take off our shoes. First we tend to head to the kitchen, dining and living area. Buyers often open a pantry door, the fridge or stove and at least one drawer or cabinet to see how they are made and how they function. We look at the view for a bit and check out the backyard from the window. We then tend to wander about the rest of the main level common rooms.
We tend to view an attached garage from the inside door. In a bungalow we will view the bedroom area. Sometimes we don’t see the rest of the house and say goodbye. Most of the time we head upstairs (if there is one) and view the bedrooms and bonus room if there is one. Buyers open closet doors in bedrooms. Lastly we head down to the basement.
I know folks aren’t interested if they don’t want to go downstairs or if only one does. Some folks look at the rooms first and some head straight for the utility room to view the furnace and other mechanicals and piping. Then we walk the property. Only really interested folks walk the property.
The one aspect to walking around a home to always consider is that during a showing there will be at least one buyer (often two), the Realtor and sometimes their children. Single purchasers often bring a friend, so you can expect at least 3 adults or more for most visits. This group walks together. If they can’t get around without bumping into furniture or worse, getting bumped in the back with furniture, then the home will feel small to them regardless of size. It’s like when you are at a bargain store and you feel all cramped and get bumped. It’s that feeling. It’s not a positive feeling for most people. All 3 will take off their shoes and put on their shoes at the door. Make sure they have the room to do that.
Now that you know the flow, walk this yourself with a couple people. If you run into furniture or other items, consider moving things around or working with a staging consultant. My clients all meet with a staging consultant before final listing to help them through this. How we live and how we show off our homes is really different.
For the visual test you need a phone or camera with video capability. At this point you have a sense of how folks walk through a home so take out that camera and start recording. Start at the street and make your way to the door and pan around. Keep rolling. Walk through the house as you would for a typical showing and look around with the camera recording everything. Do the same walking the property. Once done pop inside and view your video on the largest screen you can hook up to.
Watch it first and you may notice some things you didn’t during the walkthrough. Looking through this perspective you may notice things you didn’t notice before.
This list is intended to help you see your home in a new light. You are selling your home so you need to release it and see it as others do. It isn’t about being ‘magazine perfect’. It is all about showing off your home in its best light possible. I hope it helps you make adjustments to get your home sold! And remember to leave those lights on for folks!
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