Why and how to list your real estate online

Selling a Home Online

by Shaunna Privratsky


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"If you want to sell your house, you have to list it online. Have to. No one will even bother with a 'For Sale by owner' or paging through books of listings. People want the instant access of the Internet and plenty of pictures."
DeAnne Mason of Prudential Premier Real Estate

The Internet has become an enormous portal for home buyers as well as home sellers. Over 85% of home seekers check the listings online first, before stepping foot on the property or even driving by.

If you are trying to sell your home, creating a good impression online is as important as curb appeal. Your ad can make or break your chances of closing the deal, so use these tips and tricks to come out shining online.

Pictures are worth way more than a thousand words in this case. Your pictures need to be clear and show off the best features of each room. Borrowing or renting a wide-angle lens camera is well worth the investment. Don't overdo it, however. Buyers get turned off if they have to click forty or fifty pictures.

It works against you the other way, as well. If you don't have enough pictures, it sends up red flags. There must be something wrong. A good average is ten to twelve quality photos. Avoid winter shots if possible or anything that detracts from the curb appeal, like overflowing garbage cans or that broken sauna you keep meaning to haul away.

Choose your descriptive words carefully. Most people know that "cute" and "cozy" means small, while "unique" or "loads of character" can translate into awkward layouts or strange decor. Buyers respond to words like beautiful, excellent condition, turnkey, immaculate, big backyard, gourmet kitchen, and luxurious bathrooms. Outdoor living space, oversized garage, large bedrooms and landscaped yards have great appeal, too.

Of course, the usual rules apply to attracting buyers. Once they've fallen for your online listing, your home should meet or exceed their expectations. First up is curb appeal. The basics go a long way here, like mowing the grass, trimming bushes, cleaning the outside light fixtures, and making sure everything is neat and clean.

Now add a couple of accents like hanging flower baskets, a bed of colorful annuals, or painting the front door a contrasting color. You want the home to be as inviting outside as possible.

Once inside, you want every room to be presented well. Cleanliness is key, as well as getting rid of clutter and personal belongings. Open the curtains, turn on all the lights and make sure everything smells fresh and clean.

Whenever possible, clear the closets and cupboards of about half your items. This makes it look like there is ample storage, as well as giving you a head start on packing. In the kitchen and bathrooms, clear everything off of the counter besides essentials. Pack up all the DVDs, games, extra books or extra electronics and store them out of sight.

Set the dining or kitchen table for an inviting look. Fresh flowers or a bowl of colorful fruit is a good centerpiece. If your table is too big for the room, take a leaf out, borrow a smaller table, or go for a glass tabletop to maximize the size of the area.

Make the beds with matching or neutral bedding. Avoid bed skirts and overly elaborate valances. If your decor is wildly outdated, investing in new bedding and a gallon of paint can go a long way towards a quick sale. Remember that you are trying to appeal to the widest range of buyers, so pick colors like cream, light greens, or earth tones.

When you are decluttering, don't go to the opposite extreme of completely empty rooms. Leaving a few key pieces of furniture gives the buyer a sense of where they could put their pieces and actually showcases the rooms better. Make sure the bedrooms have beds, even if you use an air mattress stacked on top of boxes, then made with nice bedding.

In today's competitive and challenging real estate market, the home seller needs every advantage to close the deal. By utilizing the internet's online listing, you are more than halfway to getting the buyers you want to attract. It's not virtual reality. Instead, it's virtual real estate.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on buying and selling homes, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • If you haven't looked for a lower mortgage rate in the past year you could be wasting money each month. Use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!

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