Homes are starting to sell again, and the asking prices are inching up. So for the folks who meant to sell last year, but couldn’t get their price—meaning they couldn’t afford to sell—or for those of you who want to move up into a larger manse, now may be the first time in the last 5 years when listing your house makes good sense. But don’t think that slapping a “For Sale By Owner” sign up on the nearest palm tree will get you the money or deal you are hoping for. There’s a good deal of marketing and preparation that needs to go into a home to get the best price in the least amount of time.
If you want to start the home-selling process, ask yourself, "What would happen if my home doesn't sell?" I’m here to say the home selling process is not easy, but before you panic, recognize that there are many things that you can do so you don't wind up in that position.
First of all, understanding the real estate market and the value of your home will help you avoid this dilemma. The first key point is to get educated about the market. Read your newspapers, check online real estate sites, look at your tax assessment and consult with the best experts in real estate for your area before you determine the sales price. Don’t take any web site's dollar figure as gospel, but look for ranges within which homes in your neighborhood have been selling.
Some sellers have done little research on their own neighborhood. Instead, their strong ties to their homes cause them to imagine that their home should sell for the price they want. Or they base the selling price on how much they owe which is, of course, of no significance to buyers. Sometimes the neighborhood busy-body will suggest prices base on what they thought a house sold for. Discount real estate data learned at a cocktail party.
Visualize a shelf at a shoe store filled with shoes. You’re going to pick the nicest ones that fit right? Most buyers don't want to purchase a house with a long list of things they need to fix before they can live in the home. Yet, some sellers think that it's a waste to spend money on a home that they're moving out of soon. That's quite a predicament. Both sides have valid points. BUT the buyers are in a stronger position because they have the money. The seller is in charge of the condition of the house, so if the home is a mess, many buyers will simply move on to the next best house.
Sometimes, if a buyer wants a particular home or neighborhood badly enough, he/she might agree to purchase a home that needs work, but it's almost sure that the buyer will want to discount the price for the problems that need fixing. In the end, you might have to fix the issues before the closing anyway. So, offering a house that is in relatively good order is the best way to begin.
I have sold homes on Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving Day. Buyers who need to buy a home will keep hunting through all the seasons. There may be some slow times but when people need a house, they'll keep looking even in the unlikely times. Think about companies that are on a calendar budget, they are ready to hire (and transfer people) in January, so holiday shopping can include homes.
Also you can offer incentives. You can make your home more appealing by offering a home warranty or some other incentive. The law allows the seller to offer bonuses to the buyers, but it's best to speak with your real estate agent about which incentives are best for you to offer. I am presently offering a cruise (value up to $2,000) to whoever buys a home I own in Maryland. Consider practical incentives to get buyers into your home to view it. For example, if your house is “way out of town”, consider offering a $25 gasoline certificate for each family that shows up at your open house. These incentives can help encourage the buyer to move forward, especially if other challenges arise.
Have you ever heard about staging your home? This is not the same thing as fixing up your home. Fixing up your home includes daily maintenance and repairs. Staging your home involves using a decorator or staging experts to make your home showroom-ready–like a model home. Even if you don’t want to live in a “model home” at least your agent can take photos of the home in all its staged glory, and use them in the advertising. And speaking of photos, walk through your home before you list it for sale and take photos. Then with a critical eye look at what your buyers will be seeing. I'll bet you will see dirty fingerprints and messy areas that are simply the result of living in a home, but you will be able to fix these things yourself--and that will help sell the house.
Take the time to research and understand today’s real estate market. See a Realtor. This will allow you to gain knowledge and information about your home and the market place. What you do with that is up to you, but it may just be the difference between a For Sale sign and a Sold sign hanging outside your home.
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional service Sarasota and Charlotte Counties. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 941-681-0312. See him on the web at www.danesellsflorida.com