4 Ways to Prepare for Real Estate’s Black Friday

House hunters’ biggest shopping day comes right after the holidays. Will your listing be ready?

During the long weekend after the Christmas holiday, when families are together and looking to the New Year, potential buyers come out in droves to search for their dream homes online.

December 28th was one of the biggest days in real estate in 2014, according to This year, we expect Sunday, December 27th to be one of the most heavily trafficked days across all real estate websites including ForSaleByOwner, Zillow and Redfin.

If you’re hoping to sell your home early in the New Year, there are a few steps you‘ll want to take before December 27th arrives. These tips will help you stand out from the competition and attract more buyers during their online search.

1. Price Like a Pro
For most buyers, the first step in a home search is filtering by price. House hunters tend to set minimum and maximum prices by round numbers of $50,000 or $100,000. Even if you’ve already done a Comparative Market Analysis, take a look at how recently closed sales in your neighborhood were priced. Now compare those sold prices to homes in your area on the market. It may be worth reducing your price from $350,000 to $349,900 or increasing from $499,900 to $500,000 set yourself apart from other sales and appear where more buyers are looking.

2. Let Your Pictures Do the Talking
The keys to turning a house hunter into a potential buyer are your listing photos.
While you can take desirable photos of your home on your own, it might be worth springing for a professional photographer to make sure your home’s ready for real estate’s big day. Homes with pro photos can sell 50 percent faster and for thousands more than those with non-professional photos. Arrange your listing photos in an order that takes buyers on a journey from the front yard to the back door in a way that allows them to understand the space.

3. It’s All in the Details
Capturing the story of your home means providing the details buyers are interested in. Tell them what makes your home unique. Is it the brand-new stainless steel appliances you just bought? The meticulous landscaping you do every year? The master suite’s stunning hardwood floors? Or the award-winning school district? Take buyers on a quick journey with a great listing description that matches the amazing photos you’ve taken. Don’t forget to list the basics like square footage if you have lots of space to offer.

4. Be Personal
If you’re a by-owner seller, this sale is more for you than just a commission check. You’ve repaired or renovated this home. Maybe you’ve gotten married or watched your children grow in this home. And this is a time of year when house hunters are surrounded by personalities and plans for the future. Don’t be afraid to share some of that story with buyers to help them see what makes your house a home. Let your personality shine through in the staging, photos and description of your home.

Once you’ve attracted buyers on one of the biggest days for house hunters, make sure your home is show-ready and you’re prepared for negotiations.

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Prepare Your Home for Photos and Visitors

Buyers want to see what they are getting with your house. Before you take photos that will attract buyers, you’ll need to stage your rooms. And before you stage your rooms, you’ll need to declutter your home. Decluttering clears out extraneous, distracting materials and furnishings so buyers can quickly see the features of the house.

Maybe you have a great collection of albums that you’ve been saving even though you bought your piece of vinyl around 1989. It looks great to you, but might look junky to buyers. Those records need to go, at least until you make your sale. Removing the clutter and extra furniture in your home may seem like a daunting process, but it’s well worth the effort. Be sure you build time into your selling timeline to declutter and stage before you take that first photo.



Decluttering Takes Time
Decluttering is about selectively pruning anything that distracts buyers from seeing what they are getting with your house. As you consider which parts of your home will show best in the photos you’ll add to your listing, take a critical look at how crowded those areas are. Diving into decluttering home doesn’t mean simply hiding items in closets and moving excess furniture to your garage. Consider storing excess items at a friend’s house or in a storage unit so your home looks its best in your photos and in person when you show it to potential buyers.

Start with this list of action items:

• Remove personal mementos such as family photos and pack them away.
• Cull collections, and consider packing fragile items and storing offsite.
• Remove and securely store valuables and important documents.
• Consider off-site storage for holiday decorations, sporting goods, tools, bulky memorabilia, off-season clothes and toys.
• Declutter the yard, porch and deck of tools, gardening equipment, extraneous furniture and accessories.
• To keep yourself organized and on track, review and implement our decluttering checklist.


Stage the Look
As you decide what stays and what goes, start planning your next task in the home preparation process: staging. The idea is to make the house inviting and welcoming so that buyers see past your furniture and momentos and envision themselves owning and enjoying the house. Simply put, staging is the art of helping the buyer envision living in your home.

If this seems like a daunting task, you may also want to consider hiring a professional stager, especially if you have already moved. An empty house typically shows better with furniture, and a hired stager can be counted on to fill the void in your home by arranging rented furniture. Stagers are likely to charge about $150 for a consultation and $300 or more to actually stage your house.


If you stage yourself, keep these hints in mind:

• Rearrange furniture, removing pieces if necessary, to make rooms appear larger. Store extraneous furniture off-site.
• Be sure no furniture or personal items stand in the way of easily walking from room to room.
• Reposition floor and table lamps to ensure that rooms are brightly lit at any time of day or night.
• Pack and store any unnecessary kitchen accessories, countertop appliances, toys and electronic items.
• Empty your closets as much as possible so the amount of storage space is evident.
• Remove or rearrange pictures and objects on walls for a clean look. Patch and paint all walls, if necessary.
• Clean carpets and window treatments.

Once you have downsized, organized, rearranged and staged your home, it’s time to do a practice showing. Walk from room to room in your house with one or two other people to replicate the experience of guiding potential buyers through your home. Which rooms seem crowded when three people are standing in them? What items take up too much space? Make notes of the ways you could make those rooms seem more spacious and remove those items.

You’re now ready to take those great photos that will help bring buyers to your home.

Check out our Stage then Shoot (Photos) Gallery in the Marketing phase to see examples of great looking rooms staged to sell.