The Best Advice for Sellers
- Develop a Plan for Success
- Make the Necessary Repairs
- Stage For Success
- Make a GREAT First Impression
- Strategically Select a Price Relative to the Competition
- Hire The Most Experienced Professional Possible
- Complete All Required Disclosures and Forms
Develop a Plan for Success
Someone once said, “If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail”. Developing a plan, or a strategy to successfully sell an asset as large and expensive as a single family home in any market is critical to success. Too often, home sellers “hope” that they will attract a buyer for their home without ever considering the dynamic market swirling about them. Or they rely on the advice of an agent who may or may not be as aware of the economic conditions and competitive nature of a neighborhood. That is why it’s important to home sellers to take a break from their daily lives and actually map out a strategy to bring in a buyer that will fall in love with their home. It involves determining the right buyer profile for the property, preparing the home for an uneventful inspection report, staging, photographing, strategically pricing while being aware of the competition close by and many of the steps detailed below. Remember, “Hope” is not a strategy. Talk to an experienced and qualified REALTOR in your neighborhood and learn more about creating a plan for success.
Make the Necessary Repairs
Have you ever heard the saying, “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal”? It’s true. For all the good intentions we have when we plan for success, we must take appropriate steps to put that plan into motion. That means, doing everything you can to promote the value of your asset and minimize the risk of loss or failure. How do we promote the value of an asset like a single family home? Simple really. First, get it inspected by a level 3 “Professional” inspector before you go to market. Then make the necessary repairs you can afford to make (we call them ‘deal killers’) or at the very least, take the time to get estimates from reputable repairmen for each item that may cost over $250. That way, you’ll be fully aware of the homes deficiencies (good for the seller’s disclosure form), and minimize the chances of unexpectedly finding a “deal killer” during the buyers “option period” (when they send in an inspector) expires. Plus, you’ll have real data (estimates) in hand so when the buyer asks for repairs or a price reduction in lieu or repairs you will have the information on-hand to discuss appropriate concessions.
Stage For Success
Okay, you’ve taken the first step as described above – inspected the home and made critical repairs or gathered estimates… next, you’ll need to prepare the home ‘visually’ to show it’s very best relative to the competition (the other homes on the market in your price band). This typically involves what is best known as ‘Staging’. However, in some extreme cases (where there is greater competition), this step may involve “Strategic Improvements – with a high ROI (return on investment)”. Ask your REALTOR for a recommendation for a professional Stager who can help you organize or give you helpful hints about simple de-cluttering, organizing, rearranging furniture to show the most space, removing or opening blinds to let in more natural light, and de-personalizing (neutralizing) the home so buyers are comfortable and don’t feel like they are imposing. If competition is high, or you hope to compete in a higher price band, strategic improvements may be necessary to make that dream a reality. Discuss what high ROI improvements can be made to improve your properties value while not taking a huge bite out of the budget. Your REALTOR should be able to assist you in finding the updates and or remodeling that give you the biggest return for the dollar.
Make a GREAT First Impression
You may not know it, but by following the two steps above, you’ve positioned yourself for success versus 90% of the market. Now, we need to do a few more things to increase your odds to the 99%+ range. That includes doing a DEEP clean of the property (top to bottom, inside and out)… and then having a professional photographer shoot visually attractive photos for use on the internet, MLS and marketing flyers. Ever shopped for a house online? What did you think or say out loud when you saw the house with laundry piled up in the corner, or a kitchen or bath that looked like a bunch of wild teenagers had just come storming through? I’m guessing the comments were not positive. Well, think about it. No one wants to buy a house that looks dirty or unkempt. Clean everything, Pine-Sol is your friend, make sure the Kitchen and Baths sparkle and the windows are crystal clear. When that’s done, and the house looks better than it has ever looked before, get those photos taken! They are the first thing buyers will see online… and we need that first impression to be a ‘call to action’ – request a showing!
Strategically Select a Price Relative to the Competition
Have you ever compared prices for fruit at the grocery store? Turned that bunch of banana’s over to see if they are bruised and picked the best one.. only to find it’s overpriced versus the other bunch of banana’s that is equally as attractive? That’s kind of what is happening in the buyer’s mind as they shop for a home. All things being equal, if two or more homes offer the same or similar features, condition, location, and are in a similar price band… the buyer will determine the ‘value proposition formula’ that fits their needs and make an offer on the house that fits best. Too often, sellers do not get “into” the mind of the buyer by actually touring the competition, and then they price their home based on bad information (like how much they ‘want’ to net, or how much they paid for a house 3-10 years ago (applying some appreciation factor)). That’s why it’s critically important that you as the seller actually go out and see what other homes are on the market just like the buyers are doing, make notes of their ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ and then price your asset relative to how you want to compete versus the other homes. Remember, you want your property to be #1 on the buyer’s list…being #2 or #3 doesn’t lead to any offers.
Hire The Most Experienced Professional Possible
Given all the tips above you may feel you can handle this ‘selling’ thing all by yourself. Or hire a friend or family member as a favor. After all – aren’t all Agents the same? No. All Agents are not the same. Would you ask a friend or neighbor for their recommendation on spending $250,000.00 or more without making sure they actually knew what they were doing? Similarly, if you are selling perhaps the most expensive asset in your possession, you’ll be wise to hire the very best REALTOR to assist you with navigating the in’s and out’s of preparation, contracts, negotiation, etc. Plus a highly experienced professional will likely have a list of helpful (reputable) home repair and remodeling specialists on hand so you don’t have to vet out pretenders on your own. Selecting the right REALTOR should be based on logic and experience. Don’t hire an unqualified or inexperienced agent! We suggest you only hire only agents who:
- Are Full-Time (no part-time or side jobs) Agents
- Have a track record of successfully listing and selling a minimum of 10 comparable homes per year
- Have a clean professional record (no Real Estate Commission or Board of REALTOR complaints)
- Have at least 10 past clients who can honestly vouch for their professionalism
Complete All Required Disclosures and Forms
Disclose, disclose, disclose… or risk an expensive visit to the courthouse. These days, some homeowners are required to get Energy Audits, or other inspections prior to selling. Ask your REALTOR to gather all the necessary disclosure forms, affidavits, and documents that disclose information about HOA assessments, etc. so you can fill them out well in advance. The buyer will ask you for all of these forms when they make an offer… so do yourself a favor and complete (emphasis) them all in advance.
– The list of tips above was developed and published by Bob McKenna, Broker/Owner of Austin Real Estate Partners