Get Your House Ready to Show to Buyers
A house that "sparkles" on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.
From experience, REALTORS® also know that a "well-polished" house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see that is well maintained, they assume that what they can't see has also been well maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:
- how much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
- exterior and curb appeal
- interior appeal
Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and at as little cost as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal.
How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?
In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren't likely to give you enough extra money to cover its cost. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive polishes and touch-ups to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.
Your REALTOR® is familiar with buyers' expectations in your neighborhood and can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective. Don't hesitate to ask for advice.
Maximizing Exterior and Curb Appeal
When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home's exterior. If the outside, or "curb appeal" looks good, people will more likely to want to see what's on the inside.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal to buyers:
- Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered.
- Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns and flowerbeds.
- Be sure your front door area has a "Welcome" feeling.
- Paint the front door.
- In spring and summer, add a couple of pots of showy annuals near your front entrance.
- In snowy areas, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
- Check foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and deterioration, and fix any problem areas.
- Remove and repaint any peeling paint on doors and windows.
- Clean and align gutters.
- Inspect and clean the chimney.
- Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
- Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
- Reseal old asphalt.
- Keep the garage door closed.
- Store RVs and old cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.
Maximizing Interior Appeal
You want your home to look as spacious, bright and clean as possible. Also the home should look neutral – without a lot of your personal and sentimental objects - so buyers can begin to imagine living there.
Here are some tips to enhance your home’s interior appeal to buyers:
- Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning and remove all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms actually rent storage garages and move half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
- Use a professional cleaning service every few weeks while the house is on the market.
- Remove the less frequently used, and even daily-used items from kitchen counters, closets, basement and attic to make these areas more inviting.
- Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter.
- Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms: they should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free.
- Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.
- Buy showy new towels for the bathroom, and put them out only for showings.
- Spruce up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by installing new curtains and cabinet knobs, or applying a fresh coat of neutral paint.
- Clean walls and doors of smudges and scuff marks.
- If necessary, repaint dingy, soiled or strongly-colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
- Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement, and fix any problem areas.
- Seal basement walls if there are any signs of dampness or leakage.
- Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles.
- Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
- Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.
The Basics of Marketing Your Home and Getting the Results You Expect
I consider marketing as an investment. On average, for each listing I am entrusted to sell, I make numerous phone calls to potential buyers and mail 2000 first class mailers to a targeted audience.
Networking with Realtors®, buyers agents, lenders, and/or vendors in and around the real estate business provides me an opportunity to showcase your home for sale.
Open houses allow us to immediately identify potential qualified home-buyers and eliminate curious passer-by's.
Internet and social marketing, allows me to reach an unlimited number of people in a non-intrusive way and gets the word out among the community outside of my sphere of influence and targeted audience.
With this aggressive marketing plan, I am awarded a successful sale and closing on your home, and in turn, a very happy client.
How to Set a List Price for Your Home
Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors. During this phase of the home selling process, I will assist you in setting a price you are comfortable with based on:
- pricing considerations
- comparable sales
- market conditions
- offering incentives
- estimated net proceeds
- motivating factors
Pricing Considerations – Find a Balance Between Too High and Too Low
When setting a list price for your home, you should be aware of a potential buyer’s frame of mind. Consider the following pricing factors:
If we set the price too high, your house won’t be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than other homes on the street. If we price too low, you'll short-change yourself or create an unwanted bidding war between buyers. This may sound attractive, but sometimes the winner of the contract feels they acted emotional, or feel they are paying too much, and backs out during the contract. When we price the home correctly, we have a much better chance to have a win/win for both buyers and sellers.
TIP: Usually the first week on the market tells us how attractive the price and terms being offered are for potential home buyers.
Price Against Comparable Sales in Your Neighborhood
No matter how attractive and polished your house, buyers will be comparing its price with everything else on the market.
Our best guide is a record of what the buying public has been willing to pay in the past few months for property in your neighborhood. I can furnish data on sales figures for those comparable sales and help you analyze them to help come up with a suggested listing price. The decision about how much to ask, though, is always yours.
Competitive Market Analysis (CMA): I will bring you the list of comparable sales, along with data about other houses in your neighborhood that are presently on the market, which we will use for a "Comparative Market Analysis" (CMA). To help in estimating a possible sales price for your house, the analysis will also include data on nearby houses that failed to sell in the past few months, along with their list prices.
A CMA differs from a formal appraisal in several ways. One major difference is that an appraisal will be based only on past sales. Also, an appraisal is done for a fee while the CMA is provided to you for free and may include properties currently listed for sale and those currently pending sale. For the average home sale, a CMA probably gives enough information to help us set a proper price.
Formal Written Appraisal: A formal written appraisal (which may cost several hundred dollars) can be useful if you have a unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.
TIP: If you do order a market value appraisal, make it clear you don't need an elaborate, or full narrative report, i.e., the kind that's complete with photos of the house and neighborhood. Floor plans and a site map is sufficient in most cases.
Market Conditions – Is it a Buyer’s Market or a Seller’s Market?
A CMA often includes a Days on the Market (DOM) value for each comparable house sold. When real estate is booming and prices are rising, houses may sell in a few days. Conversely, when the market slows down, average DOM can run into many months.
I can provide you data that explains whether your area is currently in a buyer's market or a seller's market.
If You Price High, Set a Schedule for Lowering the Price
Some sellers list at the rock-bottom price they'd really take, because they hate bargaining. Others add on thousands to the estimated market value "just to see what happens." If you want to try that, and if you have the luxury of enough time to feel out the market, sit down with me and we can work out an advance schedule for lowering the price if need be.
If there haven't been many prospects viewing your home after a week or so, you may need to lower your list price. If that doesn't bring any prospective buyers, you may need to lower your list price again. Plan on doing that regularly until you find a level that attracts buyers. Make a written schedule in advance, before emotion takes over and you're tempted to dig your heels in.
Offering Incentives to Hasten a Sale
Sometimes cash incentives are as effective as lowering the price, especially in the lower price range where buyers may be "cash poor." You may offer to pay some or all of a buyer's closing costs and discount points required by the buyer's lending institution.
Estimating Net Proceeds
Once we determined an estimate of market value, I can get you an idea of how much cash you might walk away with when the sale is completed. This can be particularly useful when you start looking for another home to buy. The following are typical expenses to a seller when selling. Your home and costs may vary, but after consultation with you I can get very close to your final figure.
- payoff figure on your present loan(s)
- broker's commission
- title insurance fee and scrivener costs
- unpaid HOA fee
- unpaid water and sewer
- unpaid property taxes
Buyer’s/Seller’s Costs: Additionally, I can advise you whether local customs or rules dictate whether the buyer or seller pays for the items listed below. Subtract the following costs, as applicable.
- title insurance premium
- transfer taxes
- survey fees
- inspections and repairs for termites, etc.
- recording fees
- Homeowner Association transfer fees and document preparation
- home protection plan
- natural hazard disclosure report
Closing Costs: As far as closing costs are concerned, you and your eventual buyer may agree on any arrangement that suits you, no matter what local practice dictates. I will assist you in estimating what your final closing costs will be.
Why Use a REALTOR® When Selling a Home?
A real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about the home selling process.
Not all real estate licensees are the same; only those, like myself, who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) are properly called REALTORS®. We proudly display the REALTOR "®" trademark on our business cards and other marketing and sales literature.
REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reported that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.
Real estate transactions are one of the biggest financial dealings of most people’s lifetime. Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be wise to work with a professional REALTOR® when you are selling a home.
In addition to the high ethical standards, comprehensive knowledge base, and small upside cost of using a REALTOR®, here are some additional reasons to consider using one:
- When selling your home, as your REALTOR® I can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace as well as the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.
- Often, I can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property.
- As your REALTOR® I will market your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over half of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than myself brings in the buyer.
As your REALTOR® I act as the marketing coordinator, distributing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. Our REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
- As your REALTOR® I will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. NAR studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with my Exclusive systems and the help of other REALTOR's®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. As REALTOR's® we will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- As your REALTOR® I will help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing – and a lot of possible pitfalls. As your REALTOR® I will help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through to the closing.
- As your REALTOR® I will help close the sale of your home. Issues may arise between the initial sales agreement and closing (also called settlement or escrow), for example, unexpected repairs might be required to obtain financing or a title problem is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. As your REALTOR® I am one of the best persons to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.