By Ivo Henfling
I have a request for all sellers of Costa Rica real estate. Clean up your mess before you put your property on the market and maintain it well after that. Quite a few homes for sale in Costa Rica are in terrible shape or look like they are and the sellers think it’s the bad salesmanship of the real estate agent that the house didn’t sell quickly enough. I got news for you. Those homes that look well painted, have a nice looking garden, have all the curtains open, a nicely painted front door, uncluttered rooms and no dog poop in the hallway sell relatively quickly. Building lots look overgrown and the grass gets never cut. What view? Where is that building pad where the house should go? How do you mean your real estate agent should take care of that….
Look at it this way: if you are buying a car and you have a choice of 5 cars that approximately are the same model and price and after your mechanic has checked them all, wouldn’t you choose the one that looks shinier and neater than the others? The one that has no dents and doesn’t have the seats ripped? I would! So you show your car nice and shiny and dress it up so it sells fast.
During the 2006 Costa Rica real estate boom, everything was selling no matter how bad it looked, because there was a huge real estate inventory shortage.
Now, even though nobody seems to be in a hurry to sell, when I list a property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, I go through the property with camera in hand, trying to find the right angles for a nice slideshow and look at the same time how well the property looks. I will try to make the sellers understand that all that stuff they have lying around will make the difference between selling and wasting everyone’s time and efforts.
Besides painting, cleaning and other logical things you need to get done before putting you house on the market, I want to give you a list of 10 things to remove before we have a showing of your property to a prospective buyer. Make sure you go over this list half an hour before the showing, every time.
1. Personal photos. Buyers really DO get distracted by them if you have walls full of them. Get rid of most and leave the ones that are really important to you.
2. Bills and personal papers. If you have bills out on the counter or kitchen table it's like an invitation for the buyers to 'peek' at them. As a seller you just don't want to leave the temptation behind. Get rid of them.
3. Money. Most people (and real estate agent) going through your home is honest, but I really don't want to test those waters. If you have cash, cash boxes or coin jars sitting out in the open... put them away. It's just better for everyone if it's out of sight.
4. Valuables. Jewelry, valuable antiques, watches.... anything that might have value that you wouldn't want to lose. If buyers don't know they are there they won't think about it. I can't tell you how many homes I've been in where the jewelry is left on the dresser.... somehow it's uncomfortable. Please put it away.
5. Guns and ammo. Lots of home owners in Costa Rica have firearms, put them away in a safe place, well away from where visitors can get to it easily. Don’t forget that many buyers open closets and drawers just to see how much closet space there is
6. Shoes! If you have a pile of shoes at the door... ask yourself why. A pile of shoes gives a buyer the impression of the house for sale not having enough closet space. Please put them away.
7. Medicine. Don't store it on the counter, in the cabinet or in the bathroom. Remove it. There have been potential buyers 'stealing' the medicine out of the cabinets. I has never happened on my showing yet but to avoid any trouble it's best to simply remove it.
8. Everything on the kitchen counter. Everything? Really? Yup. The cleaner you can leave the counter, the more buyers dream of being in there. Clean it up, it looks so much bigger if there is nothing on it.
9. No more junk drawers. I’m serious. Clean 'em out. There is nothing worse than a potential buyer opening the cupboards and drawers and having things sticking out everywhere. Box up all the notes, pens, tacks, and odds and ends and put them away. You probably don't dig in the drawer often anyways.
10. All those beautiful magnets. Nothing but magnets.... and maybe not even that. Take a photo of your fridge, take everything off, wash the front (and side), and take another photo.
It is really refreshing to walk into a home that has a clean fridge. If they aren't decorative (and even then) they are generally more of a distraction to the room than a help. Consider it.
There are many more ways to make a home for sale look good, keep following my blogs and lets do this together.
Don’t complain. If you don’t want to cooperate, please have another real estate agent list your home. Our job is difficult enough as it is.
You don’t know how bad it feels to show a home that is falling apart (or looks like it) and then get a low ball offer because the house simply looks terrible.