If you’re thinking of selling your home, first check out local market conditions for your neighborhood. Depending on your area, there may be better/worse times to sell. If you’re ready to sell, here are some how-to options and common sense tips.
1. Sell the home yourself (FSBO)
If you are inclined to sell the home yourself, you will be the responsible not only for marketing your property, but for supplying all real estate documents related to the transaction—including inspections, appraisals, etc. The process can be daunting, but there are numerous books and websites to assist you.
2. List with a Discount/Flat Fee Broker
You may also choose to use a discount or flat fee broker to help you sell your property. Many discount brokers are able to assist you with marketing, open houses, disclosures, title/escrow, etc. Make sure you understand what services are covered under each pricing plan. Find out if your listing will be posted on a website, what signage will be available or if your home will be registered with the MLS (multiple listings service) in your area. Each broker is different, so it’s a good idea to get references from former clients.
3. Utilize a Full Service Real Estate Agent/Brokerage
If you want to market your property to the largest pool of possible buyers, list your property with a full-service real estate broker/firm. But before you pick up the phonebook or check that postcard you received in the mail, be sure to interview more than one agent/agency before signing.
Find out if they are a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, a trade organization of nearly 1 million members nationwide. Members of NAR subscribe to a stringent code of ethics to guarantee the highest level of service and integrity. You may also want to know if they have any special designations, such as GRI and CRS, which require real estate professionals to take additional specialized real estate training. In addition to qualifications, you should check an agent’s references. Make sure to speak with former clients to see if the agent is responsive and available to keep you up-to-date with progress. The agent you select to handle your listing should, at the very least, be able to:
– Prepare a detailed marketing plan for your property, including online and offline marketing
– Prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of properties in your area that have sold, as well as properties currently listed
– Help you determine the best selling price for your property
– Provide advice on suggested property improvements
However you choose to sell your property, here are some simple tips that can help you sell in the least amount of time for the maximum value:
1.) Make sure your listings look great. It’s amazing how many listings have fuzzy photographs, unattractive pictures, or little to no description. Make sure your MLS listings highlight the most attractive features of the house using proper angles in the best light. If possible, use Photoshop to remove unwanted items inside and out for a clutter-free look. With a few clicks, you can even turn a gloomy sky into a sunny day.
2.) Make good use of directional signs. If you’re having an open house, use directional signs on a main street. If your property is a little out of the way, you’ll have to use dozens of signs in order to lead people from the nearest main road to the open house. Consider tying balloons to your sign and use bright colors and large font to make sure your signs can’t be missed.
3.) Use professional signs. Avoid using cheap, “For Sale” signs you can buy in any hardware store. They are undistinguishable and unprofessional-looking. Instead, have your signs professionally made and make sure you get a solid metal-framed sign that comes with a flyer holder. This allows you to put a small flyer for the property right in the sign. Even when you’re not there, people can drop by and take out a flyer to take home with them.
4.) Make your flyer outstanding. Make sure your flyer is full-color and includes high-resolution photos of the interior of the home. If you want your property to sell, keep the copy interesting and outline all the benefits of the home. Allow your tenants or potential buyers to really imagine themselves living in the property. Don’t be afraid to invite people to “imagine yourself sitting on the deck of this wonderful, Victorian home… ” In other words, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through when writing your brochure.
5.) Know your market. Prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of properties sold in your area including properties currently listed. Find out what other similar houses have sold for and have those examples ready to show potential buyers.
6.) Decide on your minimum price. Very few homes sell for the asking price, so keep in mind the lowest price you are willing to accept and be prepared to negotiate with any buyer who makes a reasonable offer.
7.) Clean up as much as possible. If buyers fall in love with the house before they even enter it, they’ll forgive a lot of problems. You may want to paint walls (neutral colors are best), or spruce-up wallpaper or install a new mailbox. Replace old flooring and worn carpets. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers. If possible, hire a cleaning service. Display your best linens, towels, and shower curtains. Make up beds and put fresh flower arrangements on the table. Make sure there are no offensive odors in the house. Odor is the first thing buyers notice, and often a permanent turnoff. Put away or pack small appliances and other items that might be sitting on countertops or tables throughout the house. You want buyers to visualize the space in each room, so remove as many smaller items as possible. Also, it’s a good idea to remove framed pictures and other personal items from walls, shelves and book cases for a crisp, clean look. Move excess furniture to make rooms appear more spacious. Replace heavy drapes with sheer curtains to let in more light. Clean-out and organize closets. Store boxes in an out of the way location. You may also want to rent a temporary storage unit while you de-clutter every part of the house.
8.) Clean up the outside. The right landscaping can enhance the curb appeal of a home. Eliminate weeds and patch any unsightly bare spots. Bushes that have grown to cover windows should be pruned to allow light into the home. Fill-in bare spots with small shrubs or colorful, fast growing annuals—such as petunias. A few well-placed flower pots by the front door can be very inviting. Today’s buyers want low maintenance. Your goal should be a beautifully maintained yard that looks easy to care for.
9.) If you or your agent aren’t getting many calls, find out why. Is more advertising necessary, or is the price too high?
10.) Listen to comments of prospects. They will be more objective than you. If you hear several times that the kitchen is dark, get out the white paint.
11.) Find out what the average sales time is in your area. If your house is taking longer than average to sell, there is a problem. Usually, it’s price.
12.) Be sure to ask your real estate agent what they plan to do – before you sign a listing agreement. Write down what they say and hold them to their promises.
13.) For known problems, such as an old roof, get estimates for repairs. The sellers may want a $7,000 allowance for a new roof – until you show them several estimates for $4,000.
14.) Do any improvements that can realistically get you a two-to-one return on your investment. If $300 to seal the driveway is likely to add $600 to the sales price, do it. Consider first those things that are most visible.
15.) Above all, understand your property’s real estate value. The value of your home has far more to do with market forces, comps and buyer perceptions rather than what you’d like to believe your home is worth. What you enjoyed about your house is irrelevant when it’s time to sell. Think in terms of what other people want. With a little homework, and using these tips, you can improve your odds of selling your property quicker and for the best price possible!