Selling Your Apartment The Right "˜Packaging' Can Speed up the Process

We've all heard that old adage little things mean a lot. This is especially true when

you're trying to sell your co-op or condo apartment. The way you present your property to prospective buyers can make all the difference between success and failure. In fact, certain intangible characteristics are often crucial to conveying the message that yours is the dream home they've been searching for. You can show your apartment in the very best light without investing in expensive or time-consuming renovations and redecorating projects.

According to Joseph A. Borzillieri, Jr., president and regional director of RE/MAX of New York, the Buffalo-based affiliate of RE/MAX International, a franchise that boasts nearly 2,700 offices worldwide, the secret is to step back and try to view your surroundings with a buyer's perspective. It takes a little effort, he says, but the results are well worth it. Here's how you can create an appealing dream home atmosphere that will speed up the selling process.

Do a Spring Cleaning

You can start by hiring someone to do a thorough spring cleaning of your unit. Then pack away a lot of the knickknacks that have accumulated over the years, and make sure that those that remain are neatly arranged and dusted. Sort through your magazines and discard those you don't want to keep. Get rid of old throw pillows that have been around a little too long.

Next, take a look at your kitchen counter tops and clear off the items you don't use every day. Everything else should go into the cupboard. It's often difficult for us to look at our home with an objective eye, says Borzillieri.

After you've tidied up, go through your unit using the less is more approach. You want to make every room look as spacious as possible. You can accomplish this by removing that extra rocking chair, footstool or table. On the other hand, if you have an empty room to fill, try using several large plants. Buy three or four (you can find them at a nominal price in most supermarkets) and set them on small benches or tables of varying heights. This will create the illusion of a room in use.

The Quick Clean Up

Most of the time, your real estate agent will show your unit by appointment, giving you plenty of time to prepare. But there are times when your agent will call with a client who wants to come over right away for a quick look. Don't panic! If you tell your agent the prospective buyer can come over in an hour or two, this gives you time for a quick cleanup. Consider buying two baskets with handles. Stack them in a convenient closet. Fill one with a hand-held vacuum, an all-purpose cleanser, paper towels, furniture polish and any other cleaning product you frequently use. Leave the other one empty to pick up clutter as you move from room to room. If your unit is in really bad shape the day your agent calls with an appointment, you may want to consider telling the buyer that it will have to be another day. Talk this over with your real estate agent.

Inexpensive Visual Enhancements

Buyers react strongly to kitchens and baths. You can spruce up these rooms with a relatively small cash investment. New shower curtains are a must for every bathroom in the house, before you start to show it. If you can afford it, buy a new set of coordinating towels for each. Keep the new to ffb wels for show only, and put them away right after the prospective buyers leave. If your window decorations are worn or faded, replace them with inexpensive mini-blinds. They will give a room a fresh, modern look. And if you buy them in a color that matches the walls, the room will seem larger.

If your kitchen cabinets aren't as up-to-date as they might be, switching knobs and door handles is an inexpensive way to make a dramatic visual improvement. Attractive clear or colored glass knobs or white porcelain knobs are a good choice. If the faucet is leaky, fix it! Dripping water discolors sinks and suggests faulty plumbing.

Subliminal Appeal

Another way to make your apartment more inviting is with the subliminal appeal of warm and friendly scents. The smell of something baking in the oven (bread or cinnamon rolls are good choices) can set the mood for prospective home buyers. If you're not the baking type, potpourri (especially the simmering kind) is a good substitute.

When showing your unit during the day, turn all the lights oneven if it's a sunny day. Windows should be washed so the sun can shine in. If you have a fireplace, and the weather is cold or rainy, have a fire burning steadily.

Think Safety

Check each room in your apartment for potential safety hazards before a prospective buyer visits. Make sure smoke alarms are in place and extension cords are out of sight. Remove any slippery throw rugs. Your dog or cat may be your best friend, but this is one time when he or she shouldn't be around. Before the prospect arrives, put your pets outside or secure them in a pet carrier. Animals have an uncanny ability of knowing when something's up. The last thing you want is for your pet to act up when a prospect is going through your unit. And don't forget, many people are allergic to pets.

Let Your Real Estate Agent Do Their Job

Following all these tips will enhance the way prospective buyers view your apartment and can help speed up the selling process. Another important thing to keep in mind is that your real estate agent has been specially trained in all aspects of marketing your unit and negotiating with a buyer. That's why it's best if you stay in the background when your unit is being shown. Your agent knows the buyer's requirements and can better emphasize the features of your home when you don't tag along.

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