While no one can accurately predict the real estate market, there are general selling tips that rule the day. In an attempt to merge several on-line lists into one, I offer you this information and various theories presumed to help the sale of your property. Select the information most important to you. Here are some “tips” that may help the real estate process.
1. Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling. Many homeowners think they’re ready to sell, but they haven’t fully gone through the emotional process of the decision. Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?
2. Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment.” Selling your home can be an emotional process, so prepare yourself before listing your property. Begin viewing your house not as a home but as an investment and a business transaction. Try not to take suggestions from your realtor personally and it will make the process easier. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial. If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.
3. Price it right. No matter how well your home is advertised, if it’s not priced right, it won’t sell. Pricing depends on the type of market and pricing strategy. Accurate home pricing from the outset never goes out of style because it sells homes. Some agents advise sellers to overprice because inventory is low. Others say go below market to spur a bidding war. Don’t get caught up in pricing games. Activity in the first month of a listing is always the best, so don’t risk wasting it. Price too high, and scare off many buyers and agents. Price too low, and risk leaving dollars on the table.
4. Hire the right real estate agent. Although it’s important that you trust your agent, if you are not comfortable with a suggestion and their reasoning, you can always terminate your relationship, just as the agent can do. Remember that the agent that you used to purchase the home many years ago may seem like the logical choice for listing your home this time around. But is that really the best option? Remember that the right agent makes all the difference and if you have any doubt about an agent’s abilities, hold off on establishing a relationship. Be sure you have an agent who is informed with your area and market. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), be familiar with the properties that are on the market and know the comparables (comps) in your neighborhood.
5. Depersonalize your home. It is important to remember that you are selling your home, not yourself! The more personal “stuff” in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Put away family pictures, memorabilia collections, and personal keepsakes so the potential buyers are not distracted by them. The fewer things in the home, the larger it will look, so remove knickknacks and excess furniture. Also take down family photos, religious items and political posters so prospective buyers can envision their family in the house, not yours. Finally, you may want to hire a cleaning service to do a deep cleaning. Take a look at your house from an outsider’s position.
6. The kitchen comes first. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use neutral-color paint so the potential buyers are presented with a “blank canvas” where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance it creates a perception that all the rest are expensive too. Plus it updates the kitchen.
7. Don’t over-upgrade. Quick fixes before selling always pay off. But mammoth makeovers, not so much. Resist a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Do updates that will pay off and hopefully help get you top dollar. Apply a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout. Trim bushes, wash walkways and change out trampled welcome mats. Inside de-stink with candles and counter sprays, de-clutter rooms, keep the kitchen counters clean. Hide scrub brushes and other labor tools. Dust, wax, scrub toilets, wash windows, test and clean lights, put out fresh towels, remove prescription drugs from medicine cabinets and police the yard for “pet bombs.”
8. Sell by the season. Though spring is optimal, home selling is a year-round sport. Use seasonal accents to make potential buyers linger longer.
9. Have a presale inspection on your property. It’s better to know now about issues with the plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), foundation, electrical systems and roof. Provide the buyer a copy of the inspection along with repair receipts, and explain if or how you’ve adjusted your asking price accordingly. Remember that buyers appreciate honesty.
10. Half-empty closets. Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.
11. Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you can to make your house bright and cheery – it may make it more sellable.
12. Make the property easy to show. The more flexible you are about visits, the more people will be able to see your home. Be ready for prospective visitors early in the morning, at night and on weekends, with little notice. Also, leave when the house is shown so would-be buyers can feel free to move about without feeling like intruders and discuss the home’s pros and cons honestly.
13. Enhance your home’s curb appeal. This could mean adding new sod, planting flowers, painting the front door or replacing the mailbox. Prospective buyers form an opinion literally within the first moment they see the house. Curb appeal is everything, and pulling into the driveway and walking into that front door sets the expectations.
14. Remove your pets if possible. Also remove (or at least hide) their paraphernalia, such as dog dishes and cat litter boxes. A prospective buyer shouldn’t even know that a pet lives in the house if you can help it.
15. Regulate the heat during showings. Whether buyers are stepping in from the winter chill or a hot and humid summer day, they want to feel a sense of “Ahh” comfort and relief when entering your home. Make sure you crank up the heat or the air conditioning a few hours before a showing. It’s difficult for buyers to fully appreciate the great feature of the home if they ditch out early because they’re distracted by their own discomfort.