In working for you, a REALTOR® will:
In short, they’ll provide you with comprehensive, high-quality service. So when you decide to sell your home be sure to take advantage of the knowledge, experience and professionalism of a REALTOR®.
Preparing Your Home So It's More Attractive to Buyers
When presenting your home to prospective buyers, first impressions are crucial. Buyers begin judging your home the moment they see it and, unless they’re looking for a deal on a fixer-upper, they prefer homes that are well-maintained, clean and clutter-free. That’s why home improvements, particularly if they address the anticipated needs of buyers, can boost your home’s sale ability and sale price.
Depending on your home’s condition, there are three kinds of improvements that will impress buyers and help you sell for top market value: renovations, upgrades and repairs, reorganization and maintenance. Along these lines, what follows are a few proven, cost-effective ideas that will help your home look its best so you get top market value.
Bear in mind, an experienced REALTOR® knows what today’s discerning buyers are looking for and can provide more ideas that will maximize your home’s appeal. Sometimes a small investment in time and money can give you a big edge over your competition and generate a faster sale at a higher price.
Renovations – Which Ones Are Market-Smart?
Generally, few home owners renovate their homes in order to sell them because they know they won’t recoup the full cost of the renovations in the sales price. However, in some cases minor renovations can really improve the overall impression of a property’s character and quality and, as such, will more than pay for themselves.
Here are a few “market-smart makeovers” you might consider:
When considering renovations in anticipation of selling, there are two important rules: don’t over-renovate, and be careful not to make renovations which please you personally, but which might turn off otherwise interested buyers. Both scenarios will cost you. An experienced REALTOR® will be able to counsel you on which renovations are likely to be good investments in terms of your overall plan.
Small Upgrades And Repairs Can Make A Big Difference
There are few things that put buyers off more than viewing a home that screams of being uncared for. If you want to maximize your chances for getting top dollar, you might need to make some minor upgrades, but you’ll definitely need to make all necessary repairs – even those that are “out of sight, out of mind”.
Leaving aside major structural and functional matters, here are a few relatively minor upgrades and repairs that can go a long way to improving how buyers perceive your home:
Reorganization And Maintenance – The Obvious That Needs Doing
Similar to necessary repairs, basic reorganization and maintenance tasks are “must-dos”. While buyers might not notice such work when it is done, they’re sure to notice when it isn’t. This impression of neglect will make it more difficult for them to comfortably project themselves into your home’s living space.
Here are a few reorganization and maintenance tasks that can improve your home’s curb appeal and inside homeyness.
A Few Words About Clutter
For most buyers, cluttered homes tend to appear smaller, less full of air and light, and somehow requiring of more maintenance. Conversely, clutter-free homes generally seem brighter, more open and spacious, perhaps cleaner and requiring of less work. Additionally, clutter-free homes can make it easier for buyers to visualize their own interior design ideas, as well as the placement of all their belongings. While you may have many beautiful and meaningful belongings, they might make it more difficult for you to sell and cost you thousands of dollars when you do. Be sure to consult a REALTOR® in this regard because they’ll be able to provide you impartial feedback.
Strategically Pricing Your Home To Get Top Market Value
Determining the best asking price for a home is one of the most challenging, and also important, aspects of selling it. In fact, it’s a balancing act. You don’t want to set a price that’s so high that it discourages showings and serious offers from the very qualified, motivated buyers who would ultimately determine your property’s top market value. On the other hand, you don’t want to set a price that’s so low that it attracts lots of interest, but sets the stage for offers and negotiations that could result in your getting less than the market would actually support if you were a little more aggressive.
Moreover, this balancing act is even trickier now, given that we’re still in a buyers’ market that is fraught with a variety of economic uncertainties. All the more reason why, when you make your decision to sell, you should do plenty of research as well as seek out the advice of one or more experienced REALTORS® and financial professionals.
So What’s Your Home Really Worth?
In a perfect world, your home’s value would be everything you think and need it to be. Perhaps you have specific financial goals or you’ve just made an offer on another home that’s is dependent on selling your home at a certain price in a given time frame. However, simply put, your home’s value is not determined by you, but by what the market is willing to pay for it at a given time.
These days, the market increasingly includes home buyers who have researched property values over the internet for months, have already viewed at least 10 homes, and are not under any pressure to buy. Indeed, they may be quite hesitant in hopes of missing out on one of those unbelievable deals that continue to pop up.
In trying to determine your home’s true market value and, as such, set your expectations for what you’re likely to sell it for, you should:
Get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) From a REALTOR®
A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is a document, drawn from a local Multiple Listings Service (MLS) database, that presents pricing information, property details and photos of homes similar to yours (termed “comparables”) that recently sold, failed to sell, or are currently on the market in your area.
A REALTOR® will typically provide you with a CMA as part of a listing presentation he or she delivers at your home in hopes of being able to exclusively represent your interests when you sell. This CMA will include the price or price range that the REALTOR® thinks you should list; although the REALTOR® might adjust that figure on the spot if it’s the first time he or she has been in your home and had the chance to examine its layout, quality, workmanship, condition, and so on. (It’s also worth noting that REALTORS®, knowing that you don’t plan to list any time soon, are also usually happy to provide you with a Free Market Evaluation or “mini-CMA” of your home).
Generally, studying what has worked in your area – and what hasn’t – will help you to strategically price, position and stage your property so that it sells for top dollar in a reasonable time frame, with the least inconvenience for you.
Price Your Home To Sell When Its Market Exposure And Buyer Interest Are Highest
In a purely numbers sense, how you price your home will directly impact how many buyers, showings and offers you attract, as well as how easily it sells. However, the practical dynamics of attracting those qualified, motivated buyers who will pay top market value for your home is a little more complex. That’s because experience shows that you’re far more likely to get top market value if you sell your home during a certain “golden window of opportunity” during the listing. In short, timing is crucial.
With the exception of hot, sellers’ markets, homes generally attract the most interest and activity among buyer prospects and their agents during the second to fourth or fifth weeks they’re on the market.
Beyond five weeks, your home will increasingly be viewed as a stale listing – i.e. as a commodity with a history of being rejected by other buyers. Consequently, there will be less market buzz, less showings, less offers and less likelihood that you’ll get your asking price.
This is why it is crucial to price your home correctly right from the beginning so that you get and accept a solid offer during the three or four week “golden window”.
The Consequences of Overpricing at The Time You List
The strategy of overpricing your home when you list, knowing that you can reduce the price later, might seem to make sense at first glance. However, it seldom works. In fact, sellers who overprice their homes – even just 10% above market value – and then reduce the price one or more times often end up getting less than they would have if they’d priced it realistically from the start.
The Bottom Line: Realistic Pricing Is Strategic Pricing!
All this is why, pricing your home realistically right from the beginning – to coincide with its window of maximum market exposure so that you can best leverage buyer interest and emotions – is important, particularly in a market like this one.
If you do so, you’ll not only attract more buyers, you’ll attract the right buyers: qualified, motivated and willing to pay top market value for your home at the very time during the listing when you’re most likely to get it.
Effectively Marketing Your Home For All It's Worth
The successful marketing of a home, like that of any good or service, is a multi-faceted process that includes nearly every activity involved in getting it sold. In fact, marketing encompasses just about every topic covered in this Guide – home preparation, pricing, presentation and even negotiation, as well as strategic advertising and networking. All these activities are undertaken with one aim: to maximize your home’s market exposure, and with it the number of showings and offers you get so that you ultimately sell for top market value. An experienced REALTOR® has the knowledge, expertise and resources to implement a plan that will effectively coordinate all of these activities so you do just that.
How Buyers Find Out About Homes For Sale
As we’ve seen, strategically preparing and pricing your home are master keys to attracting serious, financially-qualified buyers. However, in order to maximize the impact of these preparation and pricing strategies, your home needs to be effectively exposed to the marketplace through a variety of advertising media.
Currently, the internet (including REALTOR.com®, REALTOR® websites, social media, blogs, etc.) and direct contact with REALTORS® are far and away the main sources of home information for buyers (at 89% and 88%, respectively)*. Other sources are yard signs, open houses, newspaper and real estate magazine ads, home builders and television.
An interesting phenomenon is the yard sign’s role. Buyers who call on a yard sign already have convinced themselves that they like the town, neighborhood, street - even your front yard. This same “qualification” is present when people call on your home after finding it on REALTOR.com® mobile applications.
Buyers Are Flocking To The Web
The internet is revolutionizing real estate advertising. Clearly, your REALTOR® needs to have an internet marketing strategy in place to target these desirable and more market-informed internet buyers.
Here’s what discriminating internet buyers look for most on real estate websites:*
This means that your REALTOR® should have a compelling web presence where buyers are known to go online for real estate information. In addition, the internet marketing plan should include emphasis on information rich sites that offer lots of property details and photos, virtual tours, community and school reports, and mapping.
Also, because today’s demanding internet buyers often expect a fast response to their online requests for property information (many within an hour), experienced and internet-savvy REALTORS® need an efficient system in place for managing web and email inquiries.
Particularly in this market, it’s important that your home be advertised to its fullest over the internet, and that inquiries about it be handled in as close to real time as possible. Effectively reaching and responding to more of these internet buyers can increase the demand for your home and, in turn, its value.
Marketing Your Community As Well As Your Home
Real estate industry surveys have repeatedly found that neighborhood quality is the most important reason why home buyers choose where to live. In fact, experience shows that buyers usually “buy” an area first, and are often willing to pay a premium for homes there.
That’s why it’s crucial to highlight your community’s amenities – like proximity to quality schools, restaurants and shopping, local parks and attractions, as well as other benefits that impact on lifestyle.
REALTORS® have access to the kinds of detailed community and school information that today’s buyers are looking for, and they are highly capable of portraying the relationship between the value and benefits of your community and home together.
A Comprehensive Approach To Showcasing Your Home And Community In The Marketplace
While the internet is now the real estate information source of choice, if you want to maximize the number of serious buyers, showings and offers you get it is necessary to employ a broad spectrum of advertising in a coordinated manner. REALTORS® have a wide range of options for maximizing a property’s exposure to the marketplace, including:
Such extensive market exposure will not only generate more interest from motivated buyers. It will also ensure that you don’t sell your home to just any buyer, but to the right buyer – the one who fully appreciates what they’re buying and will pay top dollar for it.
Setting the Stage to Sell
Having invested in some of the effort and expense of preparing your home to sell, you’ll certainly want it to take full advantage of it when you open up your property to prospective buyers and other agents during open houses, agent tours and showings.
That’s why making sure your property looks its very best can give you that little extra competitive edge that will help get it sold. Keep in mind that many REALTORS® have, through education and experience, mastered the art of home staging. Make the most of their skills – and impartiality – to create that “buying feeling” in your home.
Time-Proven Tips For Showing Your Home
Here are a few ideas that will help you maximize your home’s attractiveness to buyers:
Important: Keep Your Home Available (And Ready) For Showings
Particularly during the first weeks after you list your property, real estate agents from many firms will want to show it to their buyer clients. It is especially important during this window of opportunity, when interest will be at its highest, that you make your home available for showings, preferably at the time requested by the buyers’ agents.
Occasionally, this may pose an inconvenience for you but, you’ll certainly want to maximize the number of qualified, motivated buyers who see your home. Indeed, doing so just might make a big difference in when you sell, for how much and under what terms.
In most cases, if you’re not home at the time of the showing, your REALTOR® will meet the buyer and buyer’s agent at your home and tour the property with them. If, however, your REALTOR® has another appointment, you should consider allowing him or her to place a lockbox on your door. A lockbox is a device that enables the buyer’s agent to enter a specified code in order to open the door, in lieu of not having a key.
Along these lines, you should do your best to ensure that your home is ALWAYS ready to be shown. You never know when the right person is going to look at it!
Successfully Negotiating The Deal
With rare exception, negotiating the transaction is the most complex part of selling a home. At the same time, it’s the one that can involve the most creativity. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced and savvy REALTOR® who has successfully worked through many different transaction scenarios.
What follows is a brief description of the negotiation process and a few strategies for negotiating the best possible deal you can. This includes: keeping in mind your situation, priorities and needs, not giving your situation away to the buyer and buyer’s agent, trying to understand and respect the priorities of the buyer, being creative and, where necessary, willing to compromise to get the deal done.
The Basic Process
When a buyer, typically with the help of a REALTOR®, makes an offer on your home they’ll do so using a contract that has been developed by your local real estate association in conjunction with legal counsel. These contracts enable the buyer to set a sale price, and also include many clauses for specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, the deposit amount, and a variety of other conditions.
The buyer’s REALTOR® will then deliver the offer to your REALTOR®, who’ll present it to you. You should closely review every detail of the offer with your REALTOR®, who’ll be happy to address all your questions about the offer and the process itself. You can then accept the offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process. Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting various contingencies and special conditions (e.g. a home inspection, the buyer securing financing), will be exchanged between you and the buyer until a mutually-satisfactory pending agreement is reached or the negotiations collapse.
Don’t Show Your Hand
Even in a buyers’ market, it’s crucial to keep certain aspects of your selling situation (e.g. your finances, why you’re selling, how urgent you are) as concealed as possible from the buyer and buyer’s agent. Remember, it’s the job of the buyer’s agent to get the best deal they can for their client, so any vulnerability you show could end up compromising your position and costing you thousands of dollars.
This is not the same, however, as expressing your priorities very clearly throughout the negotiations. Properly done, the firm statement of your priorities will strengthen your position.
It is the responsibility of your REALTOR® to make sure the buyer and buyer’s agent only know what they’re legally entitled to know and, beyond that, what you want them to know.
Understand And Respect The Buyer’s Priorities
If, during the negotiations, you can find out more about the buyer’s priorities you’ll not only improve your position, but you’ll also be able to resolve any obstacles more creatively and sensitively.
For instance, if a buyer is adamant about the sale price – perhaps because they love your property, but they’re at the limits of their available financing – they might be more flexible about the closing date or willing to make concessions about some other terms. There are no “one size fits all” approaches to negotiating, particularly in the current market. In principle, though, the more you know about the buyer’s priorities, the more you’ll be able to work with them in order to achieve your own priorities.
Have You Really Found The Right Buyer? If So, Make The Deal Happen
Particularly in a market where reasonable offers can be hard to come by, once a buyer makes one you should be willing to make a few compromises to seal the deal. You just never know when the next serious offer will come along – or what it will cost you to wait for it.
That said, here are a few basic principles of successful negotiation to consider if you’re committed to completing your sale:
The reality is that most negotiations proceed without much problem. In the event that there are difficulties but you’re still committed to selling, remember: where there’s a will there’s a way.
Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Closing the Deal
If you and your buyer have both efficiently taken care of your respective contractual obligations associated with finalizing the sale, the process of completing the transaction – known variously as the “closing”, “escrow” or “settlement” – will go smoothly with no surprises.
Fulfilling Contingencies And Special Conditions
A pending sales agreement nearly always includes contingencies and special conditions that have to be fulfilled by the buyer and seller by the closing date, which usually falls 30 to 60 days after both parties signed the agreement.
Typical contingencies and conditions may include:
The buyer’s securing of financing.
It’s important to review the sales agreement with your REALTOR® so you understand your obligations. Any shortfalls or mistakes at this point can be very costly. Your REALTOR® can discuss and remind you of these obligations, as well as help arrange for their fulfillment and prepare you for the closing.
Completing The Transaction
While different areas handle the final settlement in slightly different ways, generally the closing agent – a third-party professional, often a lawyer, who conducts the proceedings – reviews the sales agreement and does the following:
In most cases, the buyer’s Possession Date will fall within a couple days of the Closing Date, at which point your former beloved home will have a new occupant.