The Power of First Impressions

In Love, Real Estate, and Life 

By Thomas C. Schultheis
2019 President
Santa Barbara Association of REALTORS®

During pre-listing meetings with sellers, Realtors are often asked how to prepare a property for the open market.  At times we are even asked to quantify the value of specific improvements. 

I wish that the answer to these questions were as simple as, “If you do X, it will increase your value by Y.”  Sadly, I don’t believe that anyone can accurately make that kind of statement or provide solid evidence for it.  Nevertheless, there are many types of improvements that can maximize the property’s sales price.  

One fun way to think about getting a property ready for viewing is to compare it to preparing for a first date.  The first challenge is to set a good first impression so that you have the opportunity in the future to share all the wonderful things about yourself with your desired partner.

Ultimately, I am a firm believe that you get what you ask for — in love, real estate, and life.  If you shower, shave, brush your teeth, clean your house, and provide good company, you may just secure a second date or a life partner.  The same goes for your house.  

Some houses are new and trendy, and some are older with great bones but need a little TLC.  Both will look better if they are clean, functional, and presented properly.  Trust me, there are buyers for both kinds.

For example, I recently had a listing in which, per the sellers’ request, I showed the property to prospective buyers while it was still dirty and messy in hopes of selling it immediately. We were asking around $1,250,000. We had about five pre-market showings and received little significant attention aside from one very low offer at $1,000,000.  

Due to the lack of interest, we proceeded to prepare the property for the market by painting, cleaning, staging the interior, and hiring a professional photographer.  

Once complete, we put it on the MLS, and held one broker open house and one public open house. The house sold within days at $1,300,000 after multiple offers. Its worth noting that this took place over the course of only a few weeks, and the market conditions did not change during that period.

This happens time and time again.  Although sellers are not always comfortable with investing to prepare a property for sale, such an investment consistently pays off in significant ways. While you can remodel a bathroom or kitchen to increase a property’s value, you don’t always need to.  A few simple and easy changes can go a long way.

The Santa Barbara Association of REALTORSⓇ urges you to “Call your Realtor” to learn more about how to prepare your property for sale to maximize your chances of finding the right buyer at the right price.

Thomas C, Schultheis is a Santa Barbara native and a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. In addition to his work on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Thomas holds a Broker’s license and additional designations. Thomas lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and their two-year old son. He can be reached at 729-2802 or


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