Not Your Daddy’s Home Selling Tips
1. Take the Shot. Everyone, and I mean everyone will tell you “De-Clutter Your Home” before placing it on the market, so much so that the phrase itself has become clutter. Things you live with every day don’t look like clutter to you, so how do you know what’s gotta go? Before your Realtor arrives, take pictures of everything your Realtor will take pictures of, every room, every exterior angle. Then scrutinize them very carefully to see what stands out. I promise you you’ll be amazed at what those photos reveal. (wow is there really a refrigerator under all that junk?) Do you think that gorgeous fireplace in the family room will be a great selling point, or is it the wedding picture hung over the fireplace that you notice first? How about those beautiful, new granite countertops, will a buyer think instead, that you’re selling the toaster, coffee maker, and your vintage collection of Pillsbury Doughboy canisters? What do you see next to the bathroom sink, anything you wouldn’t want everyone else to see? When did you last mow your lawn? Bet you didn’t realize just how shaggy it becomes after only a week, and was that drain pipe always crooked like that? You’re moving. You’ll need to pack-up everything and fix the flaws very soon, so pack it up now! Fix it now! It will make your life a whole lot easier later. Store some boxes at a friends or relatives house or rent a storage cubicle. The things you see in those photos will be in MLS for all the world to see.
- Sentimental tip: Save those pictures. You obviously have good reasons for wanting to sell your home but there are memories there, and people don’t customarily take photos of their home over the years.
2. No Judgment. Don’t take your agent’s advice as criticism. Though your home is a personal thing to you, to your agent it is a product that they are working hard to present in its best light. The observations your Realtor will make are not personal, they are acquired from experience with hundreds, even thousands of homes. Agents get a constant stream of feedback from buyers, other agents, and from co-workers, so they are acutely aware of the things that people notice. The negatives that buyers generally note in other homes are the things your Agent will advise you to address in advance. Alternatively, the features that are currently in demand are the ones that your Realtor will suggest you highlight.
3. The Numbers Game. The actual numbers in the price of your home matter. In the past, setting a price to end in a 9 was considered a strategic maneuver. Why? Because it fostered the perception that the price was actually lower. $199,000 was not as expensive as $200,000. A sound theory? Maybe once, but not anymore! I’m sure you’ve heard that a huge percentage (I might argue most) home searches begin on the internet. Often these on-line searches contain a drop-down list from which you can indicate a price range chosen from pre-selected numbers. Your home priced at $199,000 is clearly in the $200,000 price range but it will not come up in that search using rounded figures. A buyer who is qualified for say $207,000, is the exact buyer that you, as a seller, are hoping to attract but they will likely pull 200,000 from the drop-down list for the low end of their range and your home priced at $199,000 will be omitted from their search. They may never even know that your house is on the market.
4. Issue or Impression? If you feel that your home is listed at the right price but your agent is suggesting a reduction consider this… If your home is priced correctly, showings will be frequent. Lots of showings but no offers to purchase may indicate that there is something about the home that is a concern to buyers. If it is something that can be fixed (old carpeting, outdated colors, pet odors) address it now. If it’s not a drawback but more a matter of taste (pool or spa, floor plan or room sizes, neighbor’s property) you may actually need to re-visit your price. It all depends on the length of time you are willing to remain in the home.
- Suggestion: Have your agent set up a search for you of homes in your price range, in your area, and similar to yours. These are your competition. Can you compete? Your agent will be keeping an eye on this, you should too.
- Consideration: Buyers frequently have a similar search set up. Their attention is usually drawn first to new listings and price reductions next, because they feel they’ve seen all the rest. Another reason to price it right in the first place.
5. Look Before You… Well, You Know. As a homeowner planning improvements, you should always keep your entire neighborhood in the back of your mind. Sound a little extreme? Surely you would concede that a million dollar home in a hundred thousand dollar neighborhood will never sell for a million dollars. Before you remodel be certain that you are not over-improving for your surroundings. Be aware that unfortunate as it is, upgrades don’t always return their original value. When listing your home for sale, the same rule applies. General freshening and cleaning, paint and carpeting will noticeably improve the atmosphere of almost any home and even add to the value of some, but major expenses beyond that should be weighed very carefully.
6. Are You a Motivated Seller? Motivate Your Buyers! Incentives are not new to Real Estate marketing but they are far more popular and creative than ever before. Contributing to a buyer’s closing costs is probably the most common incentive, and one that is almost expected in any so-called Buyer’s Market. To attract attention you might consider offering a more unusual
- Decorating allowance in the case that some updating is indicated.
- An offer of new appliances might appeal to a first-time buyer or someone relocating.
- Pre-paid HOA fees would be helpful, especially to someone not accustomed to a Home Owners Association or if your HOA fees are slightly higher than other communities.
- Pre-paid Landscaping, Pool Maintenance, or Pest Service
- In an atmosphere of rising mortgage rates, offer to buy down the interest rate.
- Consider leaving the furniture, all or even just some, if you are downsizing, relocating, or moving to a different style home.
- A Buyers Agent bonus could attract a lot of attention even before the Buyers notice your listing.
- Bonus Tip: Sometimes by offering an incentive such as decorating allowance or new appliances, you avoid renegotiation later when the home inspection is complete and an issue has come to light.
7. Be the Bank. Under very specific circumstances it may be in your interest to consider acting as the mortgagee. This is commonly known as a carry-back. My best advice would be to talk with a financial consultant and an attorney before proceeding. Holding the mortgage does have its advantages. It allows for a larger pool of buyers as down payment, closing costs and fees could be much lower, credit requirements may not be as strict, and it’s possible that closing a transaction of this type would be much quicker. Be aware that if the buyer defaults you will likely become the homeowner again.
8. Chasing Your Tail Will Only Make You Dizzy. Do not chase the market down! I cannot say this enough… do not chase the market down! Setting your price too high and waiting for the market to catch up, setting it too high because you’ve put a lot of money into your home, overpricing because your neighbor or your hair dresser or your cousin said that’s what it is worth, or because that’s what it was worth last year, are all very bad ideas. Indeed, even pricing at current market value has backfired on occasion. There is no predicting with any certainty, when the market will fluctuate. You can only act on the information available to you today. Having said that, there is something you can do decrease the likelihood of chasing your tail. If showing activity is low or non-existent, if offers are not up to your expectations, anticipate a market variation and adjust your price accordingly. If you wait too long to do this the values may be at their next rung down and you will again be priced higher than your competition. Appraisers are acutely aware of market fluctuations. Not only will buyers balk at choosing the overpriced property but a lender will not approve a loan that exceeds appraised value.
9. Comfort and a Carrot. Offer a Home Warranty. Home warranties have been around for a long time but they seem to have recently gained in popularity. I can tell you from experience that a good home warranty can be priceless. Most home warranty programs have an option that covers the buyer for 1 year after the closing date, but the real value is in the Seller’s coverage, at a minimal expense, for as long as your home is listed. Imagine your home is listed for sale and the heat or air conditioning malfunctions. You could probably live without the heat all summer, or the air conditioning all winter but these are things that are required to be in working order for the buyer’s financing, as are all major systems in your home. Instead of a costly repair or replacement, your only obligation would be a $65-$75 service fee. The home warranty generally covers all systems in your home, for instance plumbing and electrical, as well as appliances and other mechanicals. In addition to peace of mind for the Seller, the 1-year warranty would be offered as an incentive for the Buyer.
10. If You Want it, Take it. Determine if there is personal property that will not convey and remove it. This is pretty straight forward. If something is affixed to the home and you do not intend to leave it when you move, take it out now. You don’t want a buyer to become attached to Great Aunt Sylvia’s antique, dining room chandelier. Replace it with something neutral and attractive BEFORE you put the house on the market. There’s no sense in imploding a perfectly good transaction over a simple misunderstanding.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to ask your Realtor about any flat-screen TVs that are affixed to the wall. Opinions seem to differ on this and your Realtor will be able to tell you exactly what terminology should be inserted into your listing and purchase contracts.
11. Call a Home Inspector Maybe? I almost never recommend that a Seller get a Home Inspection of their own. After all, the buyer will likely be paying for one, and were you to pass along the one that you had paid for it may result in some liability on your part. I’m not an attorney and only an attorney could say for sure, but I feel that I would be reluctant to take that chance. On the other hand, there are circumstances under which a Home Inspection could be helpful to a Seller. If the property is in another state, if you are on a very tight time schedule, or you simply have no handyman skills, hiring a home inspector might be the way to go. At the very least you would have a heads-up about repairs that may be required later. Again, I would be opposed to passing the report along to anyone else. You paid for it, it belongs to you and only you.
- One Caveat: If a Home Inspection reveals a problem that you were previously unaware of, you are obligated and in fact required, to disclose the issue on your Seller’s Property Disclosure form.
More resources for Home Sellers
- Sellers Frequently Asked Questions
- Order a Market Analysis Online
- What Can I Do for You?
- Where to Start?
- Seller Disclosure 101
- Showing Checklist
- The Sale Process
- Who Pays for What?
- My Guarantee as Your Agent
Bill Salvatore Realtor / Veteran Arizona Elite Properties 602-999-0952 eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org