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The Ultimate Home Sellers Guide

A Step-by-Step Guide for Sellers

Chances are if all you do is simply throw a FSBO yard-sign up in the front of your house without any forethought or research you might get a nominal amount of window shoppers but more often than not, without a Realtor, it could be a tough-go if you don’t really know what you’re doing.

If you do get an offer, you are likely to get bogged down in inspection issues, with repairs or replacements, and as the owner…it’s hard to play Realtor and owner at the same time…and we haven’t even started negotiating yet.

We want our sellers to be as prepared as possible and that means taking some responsibility in preparing your home for listing. In our video series 8 Great Tips for Selling Your Home in the Spring, we covered many of these, but we dig a little deeper into some of the tough spots in this Ultimate Guide. We offer 5 tips to get your home prepared for sale and 5 more tips at the end of this blog on how to choose the best Realtor creating this Ultimate Guide for Sellers.

The first thing you need to do to prepare your home for sale is book a Listing Presentation with a Realtor. Many homeowners grasp at straws as to what to fix, if anything. You may end up fixing things that weren’t really a big concern to buyers…or miss key items that were. A Realtor will come to your home, offer tips, suggestions and will do the research ahead of time on what your home is currently worth from a pure market perspective.

A good Realtor will also run the numbers and offer salient advice on what your home could be worth should you make some improvements. Now, location and layout are difficult if not impossible to change, but other items such as updates, upgrades, renovations, replacements or major and minor repairs can have a big impact on the numbers when it comes to increasing your home’s value.

SO, DO YOU REALLY THINK IT’S WORTH IT TO TRY AND SELL YOUR HOME YOURSELF?

5 Ways to increase your home’s value

Here’s our advice how you can get the most out of your home sale

Every home seller wants to get the maximum from the profits of their home but surprisingly, not every seller is willing to do what it takes in order to get those profits. In buyer’s markets, sellers are contending with foreclosures and short sales that may be severely underpriced. In these conditions, sellers can find themselves underwater, and owe more on the home than the current market value. In this hot seller’s market this is pretty unusual these days, but if you’re on the fence wondering if you can get enough for your home, there are some things to increase your chances on gaining more of a profit when it comes time to selling. Here are five ways to sell your property for a higher price than your competition.

#1. Correct anything that a buyer would address if you were them

You may not know exactly what these things are. The best way to know what you need to fix, repair or replace is either have your agent walk through your home. Have them take notes and offer tips and suggestions. Many times, we live in a home so long that we can’t see the forest for the trees and glaze over certain things we’re use to; conversely, if your home is a little on the older side, and needs repairs, you can’t possibly repair everything, so it takes the sound advice of your Realtor to tell you what’s important. Typically, simple items such as worn door frames, squeaky drawers and leaky faucets can often go overlooked during home tours. But buyers and their inspectors will certainly pinpoint all of these issues. Once everything is corrected and fixed, buyers will feel more comfortable purchasing a home at full price.

#2. Lived-in is not showable

Buyers know that you live in the home, but they don’t want to see HOW you live in it.  Now is the time to make it look less lived-in. Buyers want to start over in a new home and imagine themselves in your home and if they have to imagine past all the fixing of things, painting walls, replacing items, or if the entire home looks too disorderly and cluttered, buyers see nothing but work ahead of them. Buyers also cannot always see the upside of the house so it’s up to you to create the perfect setting for them. Less is more and orderly is better, ditch the old tattered stained couch; get a furniture pen and fill-in that scratched end table if you can’t replace it; whatever it is, buyers cannot see past certain things and will just turn around and walk out. If you can afford it, it may be best to hire a stager during the time your home is on the market. Yes, this can get expensive, but even if sparse, and done right, sellers can usually get several thousand dollars more out of the home simply by having it professionally staged.

#3. Wide open spaces

Everything looks more expansive when there is less, and since you’re going to be moving soon anyway…there’s no time like the present to unload that closet, that cupboard and the garage. A rule of thumb is to get rid of at least half of the items in closets, drawers, cupboards and pantries. Also, if you can avoid it, don’t clutter up the garage with the contents of these spaces. Rent a storage facility or a pod that can be moved to your new home, or take a tax write off and donate it. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Buyers want to see plenty of space, open and free-flowing rooms, and a neat and orderly layout. Clean, light and bright homes sell more quickly!

#4. Smells can make or break a sale

Just as we get immune to small repairs needed in the home, we can also get immune to smells. We all become so accustomed to our own smells that most times we can’t smell it anymore, but believe me, home buyers certainly can. In particular if you have pets, you smoke, or the home has mildew or mold. This is where having your agent will come in handy again. Listen to their honest advice about the smell of your home, and don’t take it personally, I’m sure they love your tabby-cat too. If you have pets, make sure you remove the litter box and any evidence of cats or dogs during showings. Like your home, cages and litter boxes need to be pristine during the time your home is on the market. Food odors can be a turn-off too. Be careful of what you cook the day of a showing. Many foods (fish, eggs and strong pungent spices) have very strong smells and should be avoided. Good smells such as baking cookies or cake can add a pleasant smell to the home but make sure that it’s not overpowering or distracting causing the buyer to wonder if you’re covering up something.

#5. Don’t neglect the outside

Now that the inside smells marvelous, needed repairs and updates are done, and the home is free and clear of any clutter, don’t neglect the outside! This is a common mistake but a huge miss because when they pull up to your home…you want them to have goosebumps even before they walk in that door. Make sure the grass is nice and green by keeping it well watered and weeded, keep bushes and trees well-manicured and patios and stairs free and clear of any moss, scattered bark/mulch or overgrowth. It might also be a good idea to hire a professional landscaper during the time the home on the market just to keep the outside 5-star curb appeal worthy.

5 Tips on Choosing the Right Realtor

Not all Realtors are created equal. Yes, it seems that everyone is getting their license and hanging a magnet on their car, but not all agents are worthy of your business. While any real estate agent can handle both sides of the transaction it’s best to work with an agent that specializes in helping sellers specifically, there are agents out there who prefer to work with buyers, so make sure you’re asking the right questions.  Sellers agents are proficient in listing and selling property and have the necessary experience and references to back it. This is not the time to use your cousins, best friends husband just because they need a listing…you want the RIGHT agent, and we’re here to help you decipher what’s important for you, the seller.
Here are some questions to ask your potential real estate agent:

#1. How will you come up with the asking price?

Without a doubt, if the Realtor isn’t familiar with the technology needed to do the job right, including online research, market trends and run up to the minute comps, they won’t be able to keep up with what the asking price should be. Yes, it’s vitally important that the agent knows the analog information like the neighborhood and have conversed with their colleagues who have sold in the area, and maybe they’ve sold a home in the neighborhood too, but if they aren’t connected to a brokerage who is willing to invest in the latest tools to get you the right asking price, it’s probably a clue to move on. The right Realtor and brokerage will show up to your appointment with a professional listing presentation and current data to back up the proposed price. Of course, the ball is always in your court with regards to asking price; it is your home after-all.

#2. How long does it take you to sell a property?

If the agent has only listed a couple properties a year and those listings are still on the market, this may not be the best agent for you. Typically, good Realtors that can sell properties within 30 to 60 days or so, can do that with several properties throughout the year are usually a good bet.

#3. How will you market my home?

Along the lines of using an agent who is up with the technological trends, you want to use an agent who uses cutting edge methods to get your home on the market and sold quickly. A listing in the MLS and a yard sign doesn’t get it done all by themselves anymore. Social Media and other digital marketing methods are how homebuyers find homes now. With 82% of homebuyers on average using their mobile phones to find their first or next home, you need a Realtor who has an in-house marketing team to get your home noticed. When interviewing potential Realtors, ask them how their brokerage ranks on the social media platforms or how visible their website is on Google, or if they have a marketing team who will be working on assets to get the message out. If they don’t know, or the answer is no, it’s a clue.

#4. How will you communicate with me on activity?

If you pick a real estate agent who listed your property and then completely drops off the face of the earth, it can be very difficult to communicate well when or if you get an offer. Ask how the real estate agent will communicate with you either by text, email, phone, in person or all of the above, and how often you’ll receive updates on inquiries, even if they don’t result in a showing. Maybe it’s time to see how to improve your home to get it noticed, or what your Realtor could do to market your property better.

#5 Showings and Offers

With any luck in this current hot market, once your home is on the market you will get numerous buyers touring your home. It’s usual and customary to leave the property while buyers and their Realtor browse your home so you’ll need to find convenient ‘outs’ if you’re home. Go to lunch or run an errand, or go for a drive if there are several showings lined up. Yes, you may want to answer certain questions they have but that’s what your listing agent and their buyers agent is for, it’s just awkward, so skedaddle during showings.

Realtors are expert mediators between buyer and seller and if you’ve hired the right sellers agent, they can answer any questions and frame up possible negotiations. It’s best to have your home in a show ready state within about 30 minutes. In our previous section 5 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value, we talked about “lived-in is not showable”. This means you should pack up about half of the items in your home, store them neatly either in the garage or a storage space and be ready to show the home within 30 minutes of a phone call. This can be difficult with kids but is not impossible. Clean up messes as you go; pre-stage a basket to collect stuff and put away when those phone calls do come. You might even consider hiring a professional house cleaner while your home is on the market at least once a week to make sure the dusting is kept up with and showers always smell freshly done. Buyers appreciate that you’ve prepared for them.

When you do finally get an offer (or offers) , your listing agent will call you with the terms and price. You have the ultimate authority to accept, reject or negotiate the offer. The longer a home sits on the market the lower the offer might be. This is why it is so crucial to get the right listing price right out of the gate. If you bucked your agent’s advice and listed for more than the home is worth, you may run that risk. You’ll get the right buyers and the most profit by pricing it correctly from the beginning. Your listing agent will go over all of the terms of the offer and then it’s up to you whether you want to counter offer, reject or accept the offer.

Don’t get emotional or offended by a lowball offer; buyers are always hoping to get the best deal and often, it’s a starting point; they’re checking the negotiation waters. Counter offers and negotiations can go on for several days or even weeks, especially if were dealing with a bank or a short sale situation.

Try not to get exasperated but understand that this is a very large investment, and it can take time. Once both buyer and seller have mutually agreed upon the listing price and terms, the contract is now in place and buyers will have an inspection completed.

Try not to get too anxious during the inspections. The buyers simply want to verify the condition of their potential investment. This is also a negotiation time as buyers may come back with specifics on repairs or replacements. You may either agree, reject, or negotiate these requirements until mutual acceptance has happened on both sides again.

Once the inspection and appraisal contingencies are released, the process moves on to closing. Buyers need to finalize any financing issues remaining and this is a great time for you to finish packing up for your move. Your closing agent, which could be title, escrow or even your brokerage, will call you for final signing. Be sure to ask any questions to help you feel confident about what you are signing and understand everything involved. If something seems missing or incorrect be sure to question it.

Conclusion

Selling a home can be stressful with the myriad of details involved, but without keeping informed and understanding the process and your responsibility in all of it, it can be easier and as stress-free with the right Realtor at your side.

 

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