What makes one house sell while another one lingers on the market? What causes one house to get multiple offers and another to seem to repel buyers? Is it the location? Is it the condition? Is it the marketing? The truth is that it is a complicated mix of these and other factors.
When you decide to sell you want your home to be noticed for the right reasons. When it is you will attract buyers and offers early in the process rather than adjusting and chasing in the long run. Here are my five top tips to maximize your selling price in today’s real estate market.
PRICE YOUR HOME COMPETITIVELY: The listing price of homes is how buyers keep score when they are looking at homes. Sure they compare features, floor plans and location but they always bring it back to price. Properties that are realistically priced for the current market conditions sell more quickly and for more money than those properties that try to “push” the market just in case there is the “right” (read as stupid) buyer out there just waiting for their home. Pricing your home competitively means looking at what similar properties have sold for as well as comparing your home to what is currently on the market. It’s hard to be objective so this is where you rely on a good Realtor with experience and knowledge in the market. Buyers are looking for a fair deal and when they see one they know it.
PROFESSIONAL MARKETING: Your first showing to a buyer is always online. Buyers and Realtors scroll through photos like blackjack dealers deal cards. If your home has bad photos or just one exterior photo your home will be passed by time and time again. The buyers first impression is from photos on the computer and from those photos they will decide whether it’s even worth it to drive out to your home. If there are very few photos, the message is clear, “this house needs work!” . When that is a buyers first impression you can bet that they have already discounted the price in their mind. When you list with an agent who doesn’t take the time to market your home professionally and carefully you are leaving money on the table. I take way to many photos and then enhance those photos to make sure that they make they look great. I also create a website for my listings with home videos, slideshows, neighborhood profiles, home details, etc. My philosophy is that I am marketing to the buyers parents who need to be sold on the home but will never see it in person before the closing.
CURB APPEAL: Once you have created the desire to see home through good marketing, the next step is to start impressing the buyers in small ways. The homes curb appeal will set the stage for the rest of the showing. If the curb appeal is really good buyers will forgive other not so perfect things in the home. In other words, when a homes first impression is positive buyers go in with a yes mindset. When the curb appeal is poor, the buyer looks at the home with clouded glasses (the opposite of rose colored). My advice is to start small and work your way up. First clean up the yard, power wash the deck, touch-up the paint, replace the broken basketball hoop. Next ask your Realtor if larger projects like painting or a new front door are needed.
CLEAN and STAGE: Once inside the home, the buyer is not only looking closely at the home, they are trying to picture themselves living there. In order to sell your home for the most money in the least amount of time, a seller must minimize the distractions. This means that the personal clutter that most of us live with needs to be removed. The home must be super clean. Make sure that this includes the elimination of all odors as well as not leaving any strong detergent smells. Besides clean and de-cluttered, your house must maximize the floor plan by having the right amount of furniture. Often this requires the removal of unneeded items. When the market is competitive your house needs to shine in order to get top dollar. I also think it’s important to mention here that all minor maintenance items should be done in advance of putting your home on the market. This includes clean caulking in the kitchen and bathrooms, paint touch-up, window repair, etc.
SMART UPGRADES: When you are about to sell your home the last thing you want to do is to spend a bunch of money on improvements that you won’t enjoy. But in many cases, in order to maximize your profit, you need spend money to make money. If you look at any remodeling magazine you will see that most home projects return less than what they cost. It would then seem counter intuitive to make any improvements just before you sell if you are trying to maximize price and profit. It’s true that some projects will not pay off at the time of sale, windows and insulation are a few examples of projects that buyers take for granted. But some strategically spent money can payoff in certainly a quicker sale and in many cases buyers will try to negotiate less when the house is “move-in ready”. I’m always happy to give you my professional opinion of what needs to be done in well in advance of your target listing date.
HIRE A GOOD REALTOR: All real estate agents are not created equal. First of all not all agents are Realtors. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors and adhere to a strict code of ethics which is aimed at protecting the public. I take this very seriously and currently am the Chairman of the Ethics Committee at my local Realtor association. Secondly, make sure you have an agent who has the experience, knowledge and professionalism to walk you through the process of getting your home properly marketed. It takes consistent marketing to get your home exposed to many potential buyers. Studies show that it takes 1,000 online impressions to potential buyers to create one in person showing. A good Realtor is one who will follow through consistently, not just until you sign the listing papers. Find an agent who you like, who will have your best interests in mind, has the tools to properly market your home and has a track record of success. The money spent on a good Realtor will pay off most often in the form of shorter marketing time, higher price and less overall hassle.
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