Today, a lot of buyers are making decisions from afar, and sellers need to step up their game when it comes to prepping their homes for sale. How can agents help virtually?

Despite many states and localities lifting stay-at-home restrictions on various levels, the days of in-person visits to a seller’s home may still be sidelined for now. With the real estate buying process largely going virtual, you’ll have to step up your game when it comes to prepping a home for sale.

It’s critically important that how a home shows online translates to the way it looks in person (or better). So, in our new normal of social distancing, how can agents better prepare their sellers from afar? Here are eight ways to virtually prep a home for sale.

1. Send pictures

Ask sellers to take pictures and videos of their home and send them to you. This should include shots of the exterior as well as the interior of all rooms in the house.

Review these ahead of time, and make notes about how you would improve each area — painting, decluttering, editing or removal of any decor or furniture items.

Also, ask them if they’re aware of any issues that need attention or repairs. Ask them to send you pictures of any areas where they’re particularly noticeable — stains or any discoloration on ceilings, cracking or peeling paint, fogged windows, cracked tiles, floor discolorations, faded, worn or loose carpet in need of stretching, scratched floors, etc. This will help you prepare for the second step.

2. Schedule a video walk-through

If the sellers — or someone in their household — have the technology to communicate by video, schedule a virtual walk-through where they can take you through the home “live.” That’s when you can talk through the various areas of the house, refer to your notes and offer suggestions.

This is why it’s important to review the visuals ahead of time. By studying the space in advance, you’ll have specific actions items to talk through, and you’ll be able to better focus on that conversation with your sellers.

Direct the seller on where you would like to start with the video meeting in the house, and guide them room by room accordingly.

3. Follow up with a list of action items

Preparing a home for sale is not an easy thing to do in person under the best of circumstances, let alone virtually. There’s a lot of information flowing back and forth.

To recap what you’ve discussed with your sellers, email them a list of your recommendations, room by room. You’re essentially creating a “prep for sale” checklist that they can refer to so they don’t forget anything.

Moreover, provide names of any vendors that can assist with repairs, staging, landscaping, etc. Offer to connect them with the vendors needed, and go over what has to be done so everyone is on the same page.

Also, include a general “prep for sale photo shoot” checklist as well. This will remind the sellers of tasks like removing all magnets from their refrigerator, cleaning the kitchen counters of clutter, making sure all light bulbs in light fixtures work and more.

4. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words

Whether in fashion or home decor, having visuals always helps. The same goes for getting a home ready for sale. Send examples of competitive, well-presented properties that are active, under contract or recently sold within the last six months in the vicinity of the seller’s home. This will give the sellers an idea of the look you’re trying to help them achieve.

Make sure to send relevant, helpful examples. If what the sellers have is an older property that has been remodeled, for example, sending them pictures of a 3-year-old home or model home for sale may not seem as relevant.

Talk about what’s appealing in the photos of the listings and what you feel the sellers did well. For example, point out how lighter paint can make a space feel bigger, open and more airy. You can also send examples of properties that don’t show well online and explain why.

In other words, show the sellers what works and what doesn’t through pictures. It’s another way of saying, “here’s what to do, and here’s what not to do.” Also, send listings that have been staged so they can see the visual impact it makes if that’s something you’re discussing doing.

5. Send post-prep-work photos

After the prep work has been done, have the seller send photos and videos showing the changes they’ve made. Make notes of any items that may need adjustments, and provide them feedback.

6. Schedule an in-person visit before going live

Prior to having photos taken, schedule a walk-through with the seller to review everything in person and go over showing procedures. Discuss how you will manage showings and who will be responsible for protective gear. Will it be the showing agents and buyers? Or will you, the agent, and the sellers have a supply on hand?

Review prep for showing procedures, like having lights on and closet doors open so agents and customers can minimize the need to touch anything around the house. Also, use this time to assist the sellers with any last-minute adjustments when it comes to arranging or staging anything in the home.

7. Take your own photos, and do a video walk-through on your phone

With some markets having longer turnaround times to deploy photographers and obtain pictures and video, it may be helpful to have a quick repository of photos and video content that you can send to potential prospects.

You can also utilize that content in your digital marketing efforts. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to quickly get something out to someone who may be interested.

8. Besides photos, consider video, aerial and 3D

In today’s market, many buyers are making decisions from afar. The more options you use to showcase the property virtually from all angles, the better chance the property has to sell faster and for top dollar. This is why the way sellers prep their homes matters now more than ever.

As we adjust to a blend of virtual and in-person environments, the agent assumes the role of a trusted advisor and coach, and must formulate a game plan to bring the seller from “for sale” to “sold” from afar and in person.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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