Seller’s Guide to the Successful Sale of Your Home
The keys to selling your home are fundamentally simple, but the transaction is often complicated due to the personal circumstances of both sellers and buyers. Today’s lending environment is also a complicating issue. Lenders take a much more critical look at loan applications than in previous years. I can help lead you through the rough spots, but completing the fundamentals will take you a long way toward a successful outcome. Here are some basic steps to consider:
- I can provide you with an estimate of your home’s value based on market comparables and other factors. It’s a good starting point, but I often recommend that sellers get an appraisal. While it is not perfect (the lender who is financing the buyer’s mortgage will get their own appraisal and it may be different from yours) it provides you with a professional valuation of your home.
- Consider listing your home a few thousand dollars under the appraisal price. Buyers and agents are very savvy in today’s market place. Just like you they have many more tools for estimating value than ever before. A home listed below market value will often attract multiple offers. There is a great deal of pressure on the existing inventory of homes. Consider this: in December of 2008 there were 4824 homes listed in the mid-Michigan MLS. In December of 2014 there were only 1537 listings. It is definitely a seller’s market in most, but not all, circumstances.
- If you decide to list above market value (as most sellers prefer) remember that agents and buyers study housing data carefully. Be prepared to lower your price if you do not get offers in the first two weeks, when most listings are viewed. Holding out at a higher price shows buyers that your home is not moving and encourages offers well below your listing price. Remember, you don’t have to accept any offer, but pricing strategically will help you achieve your pricing goals.
- Invest in making your home look as good as possible-within reason. Spotless cleaning of walls, carpets, cabinets and closets is imperative. Buyers will open any door or drawer to inspect your home. It is particularly important that the kitchen (the number one selling feature of your home) and bathrooms sparkle. A super clean basement helps as well. Investments in minor repairs such as painting, window coverings and interior plants are highly recommended. A well-appointed yard with shrubs and flowers helps, too. These costs will most likely be re-captured in the sale. Most often (but not always-see below) costs for major, new improvements are harder to regain.
- If your home is a higher end property it may be to your benefit to make sure it reflects the price you re asking. A well-kept home commands a better price and sells more quickly. A tired and worn out kitchen can cost you thousands in offers. Old carpeting, walls in need of paint or scarred wood floors will cost you plenty when negotiating price. It is a balancing act between repair price and asking price, but a realistic look at your home and a good estimate of repair costs can be a difference maker.
- If you’re living in your home while selling make your home as neutral as possible. Remove pictures, artifacts and other personal items that show your personality. Put them in boxes in the basement. You’re moving anyway! The idea is to help the buyer visualize the house as their new home. If you have moved and you’re selling an empty house, consider staging your home. Leave enough furniture and furnishings in each room to make the home attractive.
- Making your home neutral in appearance is good, sterile is bad. When you’re ready to show your home, be sure to have fresh flowers, a “welcome to my home note” and even some cookies on the kitchen table. These little touches add a personal element to the sales process. It also gives you an opportunity to tell the potential buyer some things about the house that may not be readily recognizable. New appliances, counter tops, an extra dry basement and other features help to sell your home. Brag them up!
- Always be ready to show your home. It will take some extra elbow grease, but keeping your home clean and ready to show has many benefits. The old adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression” really applies when selling your home. In the first few minutes of viewing your home the potential buyer makes a yes or no decision. If there are times when you can’t show the house be sure to let your agent know. Do not stay in the house for a showing unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Take your pets out of the selling process. Pets in the home during a showing are disruptive to the buyers and to the animals. Take them with you when you leave for a showing. Use the best odor neutralizing agent you can find. Move food bowls and litter boxes to the garage. Yes, it’s a pain, but it’s worth it.
- Last, but not least, pick a good agent. Today’s agents have a vast array of technologies at their disposal that will help them sell your home. Technology isn’t everything, but it helps make sales. Responsiveness, honesty, integrity and experience round out characteristics of a good agent. Interview a few and you’ll be ahead of the game.