The Southeastern Realty Group is committed to providing our clients with service that far exceeds the "typical" real estate experience. It is this commitment that motivates us to arm our clients with as much information about properties they are interested in buying or selling, current market conditions and advise that helps sellers to maximize their investment, as well as buyers to maximize their values.
It is in this spirit that we provide you with our list of things you can do to ensure that you receive fair market value or better for a home your are selling. Some of these are common sense, but you'd be amazed how many times they are overlooked.
A co-worker pointed out to me there is one, a limited edition, top-of-the-line Ford that might out-price a stripped, bottom of the line Ferrari, but you get the point. You do not want to price yourself out of the market. Even if your home is the biggest house on the biggest lot in the neighborhood, you are not going to generate much interest by asking $500,000 if homes in your area are selling for $300,000.
Price Competitively- A Ford will not fetch Ferrari money
When interviewing agents, have them perform a thorough assessment of local market conditions; which include current houses for sale and recently sold properties. Remember, there are always other properties competing for the same finite pool of buyers that you are working to attract. In this era of foreclosures, short sales and rehabs, you are not going to generate any interest at all by overpricing; even if you meticulously maintain your home.
A buyer will walk into a rehab and begin to calculate how much money they will have to spend to update and repair issues. But rarely will a buyer begin calculations as to how much they save by not having to address major issues. This is especially true for homes in "nicer" neighborhoods as the owners of these properties are less apt to "let things go".
Sellers almost always set asking prices higher than what they will accept for the property. This is a normal industry practice. Everyone understands that. However, if the average selling price in your neighborhood is $225,000 or less, and you list at over $250,000, you may not even show up in searches that include many of the homes for sale in your neighborhood. With one simple mouse click, your home could be invisible to most of your target audience, who never even found out your home existed.
Real estate is a numbers game. The more interest you can create in a property and the more showings a property has, the sooner and more likely it is to sell. Use common sense. If you are listing at or around $250,000, list at $249,999 to generate interest from the "up to $250,000 crowd.
Curb appeal is a huge factor- An ugly house with and ugly yard will fetch an ugly offer.
The front of the house and the front yard will be your homes first impression to buyers. Do you really want your first impression to be negative? Potential buyers might not notice when a house has been maintained to average standards, but they sure will if it hasn't! In fact, many buyers will not even get out of the car if they see things like the "toilet" planter, truck on blocks, uncut grass, piles of animal waste or dead vegetation everywhere.
You need to at the very least, give a snapshot to potential buyers that you care. You'll want to ensure that at least the front of the house, entrance, walkway and driveway are clean and if possible, freshly painted. Also that the roof isn't missing shingles. Take care of the obvious.
We understand that times are tough. Many sellers have taken a beating on the value of their home in recent years. Some either don't have the money, or don't want to spend extra money to prepare their homes for sale. Sellers should at the very least, be sure to complete the following tasks:
If the house has three bedrooms with a bonus room, call it that. Do not call it a four bedroom. Even if by adding an armoire, it could serve as a fourth bedroom. If the house was built in the 70s and remodeled in the 90s, it is not a "recent" remodel. If accompanying photos were taken "before the flood", disclose that. You DO NOT want to provide the buyer with any unwelcome surprises. Your potential buyers will feel misled and may lose interest wondering what else has been misrepresented.
Be as accurate as possible
Buyers want the house to look like the house in the pictures. Which, if your agent has done their job, the photos accompanying your listing will be taken when the house looks it's best. Most buyers expect a little bit of a let down going from photos to reality, but the smaller that let down is, the better.
Also, do not waste a buyers time with comments like "Room for a pool" as any home with a moderate back yard or larger does indeed have room for a pool. A recent property in Sandy Springs, Georgia had this description. But buyers soon discovered that they would have to remove a steep hill (tons of dirt) and add a 20 foot retaining wall in order to place a pool on the property.
Another recent property on the market in the same area required a new roof, new kitchen and had to be raised in three spots to remove a noticeable tilt caused by settling was described as " Needs a little TLC". It has been on the market now for over 400 days.
You'd think that we wouldn't actually have to remind people of this. Cleaning a home for a specific event like an open house is relatively easy. But to clean the house and keep it immaculate for any sustained period of time takes a concerted effort, if it is possible at all. This is especially true if you have small children or teenagers.
A clean home is a happy home
In an ideal world, staging the home is a strong, proven technique to improve the desirability of your home. But staging can be expensive, and in some cases, too obvious. If you can afford it, then do it. Nothing will sell your house faster than it looking its absolute best. However, keeping the home in staged condition is real work.
At the very least, remove the clutter. A clean appearance and unencumbered walking lanes through your home makes your home more inviting to buyers. Much like a good Cajun recipe that says "If you think you've added enough pepper, then add more", when you think you've removed enough clutter, remove more. Do not put it back after a showing either. When its gone, its gone.
You will want to know in advance and address potential problems before they become major issues. The time to find out that the house has termites, or that there are two rodent holes in the stucco is not during the due-diligence period. All you are doing is providing a buyer with an opportunity to back out, ask for special considerations, or to ask for a lower selling price.
Pre-inspect your property- Know before you go!
Even if feel you do an excellent job maintaining your home, it will be well worth the $300-$400 cost to know and address the issues a home inspector may find. By being proactive and fixing minor problems before receiving potential buyers, your home could fetch thousands more than leaving these issues unfixed.
If your house has had recent improvements, or offers something that others in the neighborhood do not, be sure that your agent makes this a focal point in your listing. Anything could work here. Focus on Improvements that make your home stand out- If you got it, flaunt it!
New roof, recent remodel, full furnished basement, sun room, and swimming pool are all easy examples of this point. Remember, when you sell your home, you are also selling a lifestyle. You want your home to convey as positive a lifestyle as possible.
Be sure however, that the family dog, unkempt rooms, photographic flashes and agents lurking in the shadows DO NOT make their way to your listing photos. They show a lack of detail and emit a general level of "unprofessionalism", which could be the difference between a showing and a "NOing".
Okay, so you've done everything right. The house is priced competitively (or so you think), all repairs have been addressed, the front yard looks amazing and the house has been staged, but the house didn't sell within 60 days and you're getting frustrated.
Create a sales plan with your agent- Failing to plan is planning to fail
Many factors affect the real estate market. A good agent knows this, and based on the amount of time you have to sell a home, will work with you to create a plan. The reason the house didn't sell may have had to do with market forces out of your control. Be patient. Don't immediately throw out concessions or drastically lower the asking price simply for the sake of selling the home quickly if you have time. Doing so may cost you thousands.
At the very least, have a pricing schedule agreed upon with your agent before listing your property. This will alleviate much of the panic and anxiety of having your home sit on the market for an extended period of time. Also, do not be afraid to sit down with your agent and analyze market conditions in the current day, not 60-90 days ago when the property was first listed.
Having a good agent working for you is the best way to ensure a good positive outcome. Don't be afraid to interview several agents before deciding which one gets the listing. When interviewing agents, be sure to ask them to create a market analysis and battle plan for you. At the very least, you learn how efficient and good at following up the agents are. Ask them to provide you with credentials, as well as references.
Get a good agent- The obvious is the most often overlooked
DO NOT choose an agent because your cousin Bob is one, and they are all the same. You could end up losing a close family member AND not selling your home.
Conclusion- Keep Your Eye on the Prize
For almost all of us, our home is our single biggest investment. When selling our homes, we can easily get distracted and forget that. Doing all the right things, having the right agent and implementing the right sales plan is crucial to your ultimate goal: selling your house quickly, at or above fair market value.