As the market begins to slow, it is essential to know what it takes to sell a home. Rare is the occasion when sellers have multiple offers the first day on the market, though it can still happen. In this market, sellers need to work harder than ever to ensure their home is getting the amount of exposure they desire, and also to be prepared to wait for an offer to come their way. Here are some tips from local real estate agents who consistently outperform the market:
De-clutter and De-personalize your home: Look at your home through the eyes of a prospective buyer. Would you be interested in seeing somebody's wedding photos and kid's baseball picture? Or would you like to see how the space can be used and picture your belongings in the home? Removing the clutter opens up spaces such as countertops and shelving and lets the buyer use their imagination. Be strategic with your furniture. Pieces in corners tend to make rooms feel smaller.
Have your home ready before placing it on the market: Walk the home with your agent prior to listing it on the market and make a punch list of things to be done before it hits the MLS. Research shows the activity of a house spikes when it is first listed, so it needs to be ready for that initial surge. If the home is not ready, most of those buyers will not be back to view it when it finally is. That's why it is essential to put your best foot forward from the get go. Remember, first impressions are typically lasting ones.
Consider staging your home if you are moving before it sells: A vacant home can feel cold and hollow to prospective buyers. Staging companies can add furnishings to homes to help add warmth and color for a reasonable fee. By placing furniture in your house you are showing buyers how space can be used and giving it a homey feel while still allowing them to picture how their belongings would look. The cost of staging a home is usually less than your first price reduction, and can be an effective tool in selling your home. As an added bonus, furniture helps hide blemishes in carpeting and on the walls.
Have your home inspected before placing it on the market: Pre-inspections are becoming more and more popular with today's sellers. For a fee of around $300-$500, a licensed inspector will evaluate your home's major systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, roof, etc). By having this prior knowledge, sellers have the chance to make repairs or modifications on their own terms and can alleviate any issues that may come up during a buyers inspection. Nobody's home is perfect, yet sellers are often blindsided by demands for costly repairs they didn't anticipate on systems they have never had issues with. Often times they feel stuck after possibly agreeing on a purchase price of less than they originally asked, then after having their home off the open market for 10-20 days once it's under contract being asked to make costly repairs or reduce the price even more. On the positive side, if systems show up as being in good working order after a pre-inspection, sellers can use this information as a marketing tool.
Hire an experienced real estate agent: Do you feel comfortable being somebody's guinea pig? That's exactly how you'll feel if you make the wrong choice when selecting your agent. An experienced agent will have the knowledge necessary to give you the most leverage in the market. They will have performed enough transactions to anticipate any problems that may arise and know what it takes to sell a home in the most competitive of markets. Ask your agent questions such as how many transactions they performed last year, what their average time on the market was, what their sales price to list price ratios look like, and also for a list of references from past clients. If an agent is unable to answer these questions to your satisfaction, keep looking. Your home is too important to be somebody's "learning" experience.
Price your home to sell: No matter what steps and precautions you take when selling your home, if it is overpriced it will not sell! Partner with your agent as much as possible when determining the price of your home and be realistic when setting the sales price. Sellers who actively participate in researching comps usually have better luck in moving their homes. An agent can show them how they come up with a price based off of prior sales and active listings and by being involved, sellers get a better feel for the marketplace. Ask to meet with your agent at his/her office so you can view history on the MLS with them. Overpricing on purpose and then counting on settling for the "real" price is setting yourself up for failure.
By Diane Tuman