Connie De Groot, a licensed Realtor and Broker in Los Angeles:

Dear Home Seller,

The 2 largest challenges I face selling homes today are finding a Buyer that has confidence to buy in these uncertain times and one who can also obtain a loan with today’s higher lending standards.

Here are some helpful tips, that if you follow all of them, you will have an advantage Selling in today’s market.

1. Studies have shown that most buyers make up their minds within minutes of seeing a property. The first impression is often made at curbside and the remaining time is spent justifying that first impression. Give your home a good first impression and here’s how to do it:
Have the Seller drive by all comparable homes in the neighborhood and take notes on each home. Finally, have them stand in front of their home and have them compare their home to all the others based on the notes taken. I have found that the Seller does see what needs can be done to give their home an edge. Improvements can be as simple as nice pots with small bushes or flowers at the door, replacing dying lawn with fresh grass, painting trims, a new front door..the trick is to make it fun and for the Seller to see it as a “race” where the best Seller wins!

2. It is so hard to get an offer today that it is sad when escrows fall apart because a home didn’t appraise out or because there were too many issues that came up in the inspection. Sellers need to know their home better than a buyer and before they receive an offer from a buyer. Get an appraisal so that you are reasonably sure of your home’s value and get a home inspection and fix those small issues because many buyers do not understand what are big costly issues and what are very minor. You want the buyer to know they are buying a well cared for home.

3. Buyer’s decide on price because of the value they conclude. Since home buyers are often swayed by FEELING, if you have fireplaces, nice lighting, water features, anything that adds to the look and overall feeling of the home, PLEASE HAVE IT ON AND WORKING WHEN THE BUYER ARRIVES. I don’t care if it is summer, turn that fireplace ON! The buyer will start to think how cozy it will be in the winter to sit in that room next to the fireplace or how lovely a room will be to entertain. You must give buyers the COMPLETE HOME EXPERIENCE.

4. Size, number of rooms and use of rooms are all things that add up to VALUE in the buyer’s mind and to a higher offer for YOU. Small rooms should never be left empty since they look smaller and are often forgotten by most buyers when they are writing an offer to purchase. You should always fill those small spaces by putting a bed or giving it a MEMORABLE USE so that room is taken into consideration by the buyer and considered in their assessment of your home’s overall value.

5. This point has been spoken of often but still many Sellers do not fully understand: “Take YOU out of the home so that the buyer can see himself/herself living there”. So take some of the photos down or anything that can distract the buyer from the great features your home has to offer a buyer.

6. Many times. when people move, they think about buying new furniture for their new home. If you are one of those Sellers, do not let the buyer know you will leave couches, TV’s, etc. wait until there is a problem in the deal such as an agreement in the purchase price, a renegotiation after the inspection or if the buyer is feeling less confident they have a “GOOD DEAL”. If you are at such a critical point, offering those items then will give that buyer a good feeling they got more and it will not cost you anything since you might have been planning to donate those items anyway!

7. A point often discussed by many real estate professions is to keep your decor in neutral tones. The reason this advice is very good advice is because you want to appeal to the greatest number of people. Try it, it really works!

8. As a child I use to go with my father to open houses and just loved to look at the model homes because everything was decorated so nicely. If you are near any model homes, I strongly suggest going to look at their choice of color & design and ask yourself the question, “Why do I feel so good in this space” . The answer is what you need to apply to your own home! Besides, you will also get some great decorating tips!