Selling a Home
Typical Steps in Selling Your Home
You can’t really compare your state, town or neighborhood to what’s happening miles away. Above all else, pricing your property around the average sales price in your neighborhood is a good starting point. Similarly, a house three miles away might be purchased in a week whereas your neighborhood market might move slower. This could be because of school districts, nearby amenities and even age of the homes in the neighborhood. An effective way to value your house and prove that value to buyers is to get comparables, or “comps.” These are data sheets about recently sold property in a specific area. At a glance, you can get an idea of what houses are going for around you and you can price yours accordingly. This is a good starting point and will help you manage expectations throughout the process.
By being a few steps ahead of the buyer, sellers might be able to speed the selling process by doing repairs in tandem with other home prep work. This means, by the time the house hits the market, it should be ready to sell relatively drama-free and quickly.
Less is more when it comes to staging your house to woo buyers. In other words, your refrigerator magnet collection and assortment of antique dolls might need to find another home during open houses. By decluttering your space, you’re allowing prospective buyers to imagine their stuff in your house. Alas, this is your ultimate goal: their stuff in your house, in exchange for money. If shelves and bookcases are overrun with personal photos, framed diplomas and vacation souvenirs, then it still looks more like your space and not their future abode.
Spend a few hours clearing off your shelves, tucking away wires and cords, and simplifying counter spaces — that includes your electric toothbrush and excessive kitchen gadgets. Likewise, tidy up your outdoor space. Toys, lawn equipment and sporting gear shoved in every corner will make your lawn and patio area look smaller, darker, dirtier and older. It’s better to put everything in one hidden spot than to scatter it around throughout your property.
You do not need to renovate, but make sure everything looks great and works well. There are some things you can do to make your home stand out: New paint. Paint the whole house, if it needs it; otherwise touch up the trim, shutters and doors for an easy-to-achieve fresh look. A clean entryway. Sweep or pressure-wash the front walk and porch. Polish the outdoor metalwork; clean the windows and glass; and replace any burnt-out bulbs in outdoor lighting. And, if you can, add planters with healthy flowers or plants. Lush landscaping. Think new mulch, sharp edging, a healthy lawn and beds of flowers.
Avoid Wasting $$$
If you’re going to go beyond a deep clean and actually invest money into costly upgrades, do your homework. Make sure that the additions or updates you make have a high return on investment. It doesn’t make sense to install new granite counters if you stand to break even or even lose money at sale. Here’s where a good real estate agent can help guide you. They often know what people expect in your neighborhood and can help you plan upgrades accordingly. If local shoppers aren’t looking for super skylights or a steam shower, then it doesn’t make sense to add them. Generally, updates to kitchens and bathrooms provide the highest return on investment. So if you have old cabinetry, you might be able to simply replace the doors and hardware for an updated look. For example, you can swap out those standard-issue kitchen cabinet doors for modern, Shaker-style doors in a weekend, without breaking the bank. The same goes for outdated fluorescent lighting, which can be swapped out for more attractive track lighting or pendant lights.
Now that your house sparkles and shines, schedule a photo shoot to capture its best side. A professional photographer, with a strong portfolio, knows how to make rooms appear bigger, brighter and more attractive. The same goes for your lawn and outdoor area. Dimly lit, grainy mugshots can turn off home buyers before they even have a chance to read about the lovely bike path nearby or the new roof you just installed.
Hire an Agent
Homeowners might be tempted to save on broker fees and commission by forgoing a real estate agent and instead selling their homes themselves. This is known as “for sale by owner,” or FSBO. The amount they stand to save on those fees can be thousands of dollars, usually up to 6 percent of the total sale price. On a home that sells for $300,000, for example, the agent will make roughly $18,000 if they charge 6 percent. Tempting as that extra cash might be, the risks usually outweigh the benefits, especially for novice sellers. For one thing, your house won’t be exposed to the broadest possible audience and that may cut the number and size of any offers you do get.If you’re among the majority of homeowners who hire a listing agent, find one who knows the local market. Agents who are in the neighborhood day in and day out have relationships with other local agents (who represent buyers in the neighborhood) and can help you price your home competitively for the specific area you’re in.
Set a Good Price
Even in competitive markets, buyers don’t want to pay more than what the comps show, so it’s crucial to get it right the first time. Check the local paper or sites real estate sites to see how similar houses in the area are priced. Tracking actual sales prices may give you a better picture than asking prices. Getting the price right the first time can save sellers a lot of money and frustration.