Yes, the real estate market is booming right now. But, during down times and at certain times of the year, housing sales can slow and it shifts into a buyer’s market. That means there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. If you do everything right, your home will sell while other nearby houses remain unsold. The secret is in knowing what steps to take to sell your home for the best price.
1. Get your home into first-class condition. The most important step in selling your home in any market is to get it into top shape. Make it stand out from other homes for sale by painting, fixing and cleaning everything. Make the house sparkle. Pretend you’re a home buyer and look critically at every room. Your goal is to put your home in perfect condition so that all the buyer has to do is unlock the door and move in. If something needs attention, don’t cut corners. Just do it!
For example, most garages are dark and dreary places. Make yours shine. If your garage doesn’t have finished walls, have them sheet rocked. Then, paint the garage walls white. The cost is small compared to the improvement. Next, paint the cement floor gray with special floor paint. The cost should be less than $300. Buyers will admire a detailed garage but will just peek into a dark, dingy one. A clean garage will make your house stand out from others on the market and it will sell for the best price.
Don’t put off making necessary improvements by offering an allowance to the buyer. For instance, if your carpeting needs to be replaced, the cost may be only $4,000. But, buyers will put a much higher price tag on new carpeting than that – they may think $6,000! So, it makes sense for you to replace it with good-quality, neutral wall-to-wall carpeting.
Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. All appliances should work properly. Install new middle-of-the-line models if the existing ones are worn out. Money spent on new appliances will help sell your home for the best price.
2. Hire the best real estate agent. Your key to successfully selling your home for the best price in any market is to use the most successful agent in your neighborhood. Don’t even think of trying to sell it on your own – it just doesn’t work. Have your friends, neighbors and business associates make recommendations and phone nearby real estate offices to get the names of their top agents. After you have the names of three agents, you’re ready to set up the interviews. After each agent’s listing presentation, ask any questions that were not answered.
You need the best and you can’t afford to list your house with an inexperienced agent. Although any agent can put your home into the local multiple listing service (MLS) or have an open house, that’s not enough. Also, you want a successful agent who works well with other agents and knows how to get their buyers in to see your home and to make offers on it.
Incidentally, pass on any agent who doesn’t give you a written comparative market analysis. This report shows the recent sales prices of similar houses in the neighborhood as well as the asking prices of comparable homes on the market. Successful agents will also give you a list of their most recent clients along with their phone numbers. It’s a good idea to make a few calls to verify that they were satisfied and would list with the same agent again. If any agent neglects to give you this information, ask for it.
If an agent cannot give you a list of their most recent clients, keep looking for someone who is more confident. Also, don’t sign a listing agreement for more than 120 days, just in case the agent you select doesn’t properly market your home. Any agent who does not have enough confidence to take a 120-day listing is not the one you want to be working with.
Ask each agent to explain exactly what they would do to sell your home for the best price. They should have a written plan.
3. Price your home correctly. After selecting the most successful real estate agent in your community, the next important step is pricing it right. Review the agent’s written comparative market analysis. With the help of your agent, add or subtract value for the pros and cons of your home, compared to the houses that have sold. Be suspicious of an agent who inflates the value of your home just to get your listing – it will come back to haunt you!
4. Reduce the price if it doesn’t sell in 30 days. The primary reason a house doesn’t sell when the asking price is too high is because buyers think the seller is not serious. Most agents won’t even show a home that over-priced because they fear the seller may be hard to deal with. A price reduction may be all it takes to get more showings and attract a purchase offer on your home.
5. Offer attractive sales terms. Unless you absolutely need all your cash, be flexible about the selling terms. With higher prices and interest rates, the buyer pool has shrunk and many are struggling to qualify for a loan. Consider carrying back a first or second trust deed. Maybe buying down the interest rate on the loan will help make a deal. Or, perhaps a lease-option might work for you. Properly marketed, lease-options can sell virtually any home for the best price.
So there you are. It’s simple. To sell your home for the best price in any market, be sure it’s in tip-top condition, select the most successful agent in your area, price it correctly and be flexible with terms. Then, be prepared to adjust the price if you are getting showings but no offers.