Want To Sell Your Home For Top Dollar In Any Market?

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Sell For Top Dollar In Any Market

If you want to be sure to get paid top dollar for your home, even if the market is down (and the real estate market in Hampton Roads, still is down)…

…then your best strategy is to be sure you are fully informed as to your part in the process, so you can work along WITH your agent and help them, help you, sell your home fast and for the highest sales price.

It’s a proven fact that newly listed houses get the majority of attention from buyers and their agents. Its human nature, especially in light of the trend for people to be connected 24/7 via their mobile devices.

The Importance Of Mobile

In fact these days 90%* of new home searches start online and almost 36% of new home searches are done from a mobile device while watching TV! Did you know that real estate related searches on Google.com** have grown 253% over the past 4 years.

Buyers are also more likely to conduct their research both on and offline than ever before. Just look at these statistics from the National Association of Realtors 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:
Joint study from Nat. Assoc. of Realtors & Google - The Digital House Hunt - Joint study from Nat. Assoc. of Realtors & Google – The Digital House Hunt –

Maximize Initial Exposure

There’s no refuting that the best exposure we can get for your home is going to come within the first seven weeks of it being on the market.

As the report above confirms, in today’s market it’s essential your agent has a strong online marketing strategy (meaning, among other things, their website is easily viewed so properties can be searched on a mobile device, and preferably with their own Custom App to help buyers find YOUR home first and fastest) to ensure the best chances of selling your property within the first seven weeks.

Studies further show the longer a property is on the market, the less the seller will typically net when the property does eventually sell. Your agent can do a lot to help you, but you really do need to approach this as a team effort and do your part to ensure the property shows in the best possible light.

Let’s face it, it’s your house and no-one has a bigger investment in selling fast, for the highest possible price as you do, so arm yourself with good information and start thinking of this as a business transaction more so than an emotional one (even though undoubtedly it is to at least some extent for most of us).

5 Fixes To Sell Your House Fast

Your agent is going to do his or her job regardless, and they don’t get paid a penny until your house is sold and you get paid -you will get paid assuming it is not a short sale. They will, however, invest significant time, energy, and resources into marketing and promoting your home for sale (typically a large percentage of the marketing budget is spent in the first few weeks after a property is listed) and no agent worth his salt will take a listing just for the sake of it. The agent’s commitment is all up-front. I’m sure you’d agree then, that a Seller’s commitment should at least match that and they should do their part to ensure both they and their property are properly prepared to sell.

#1 Price It Right

We all tend to think we have the ‘nicest house on the block’. It’s human nature that we want to get top dollar for our home when we sell it, for all types of reasons, not least of all ego. We want not only to confirm we made a smart decision or investment when we bought, but also if we made improvements, we want to see a return on those investments, be they time, money or work, that we’ve put into the home while living there.

The first step to pricing your property right is to set your ego aside. I’ve seen Sellers lose thousands because they weren’t able to do this, and started out priced too high therefore burning through those precious first seven weeks on the market. I’ve also had the opportunity to list AND SELL several of those properties after the initial agent’s marketing efforts failed because the initial price was too high.

I had one client, who pleasantly surprised me with her mindset, when I fully expected her to be disappointed with the CMA (this was when the market had recently fallen). She told me she had to tell herself this is not my home any more… it’s a house… it’s just an asset I need to sell. She went on to explain she did that by asking herself

“If this were a business deal would I ignore the advice of a trusted advisor – say my attorney or accountant? I’d rather price it right, sell it fast and move on, and besides, how much will it cost me per month in mortgage payments to stay rather than just sell it quickly and be done!”

That is a really good way to look at things – again it comes down to viewing every aspect of the process as a transaction with all emotion removed, but I also understand that is easier said than done especially when you’ve been in a house for a long time.

Over-pricing a property even by a few thousand dollars usually means the house will not sell quickly at best, and not sell at all at worst! If you’re not willing or able to list at the current market value of your house, you would be better served not to list at this time. Here are the main reasons why:

  • Fewer Offers – it reduces the number of offers you will receive. Buyers and their agents may think you will be too difficult to negotiate with if you’re that far above market.
  • Fewer Showings – an overpriced home may not even show alongside other homes in search results. With so many searches starting online (95%+) where buyers use a slider or price range as one of their primary filters, over-pricing can mean they never even see your property.
  • Fewer Agent Inquiries – agent’s search on behalf of buyers and they search the MLS by location, price, and features. If your property is overpriced, Buyer agents may overlook or pass by your property in favor of another listing that’s either closer to the buyer’s budget or perhaps is the same price range but with more square footage or features. It’s important not to price your property at a disadvantage right out of the gate.
  • It Limits Who Will Qualify For Financing – pricing even $1,000 over a financing threshold, can stop buyers and their agents from looking at your property. In this area, we have many Military buyers and while they are generally excellent quality buyers, often with access to VA financing (which can make it easier due to lower down payment requirements and many special programs), pricing your property over market can also push financing into another underwriting level making it more difficult for buyers to get loan approval.
  • Time On Market Reduces Net For Sellers – it’s a fact that in most cases, the longer a property is on the market, it sells for less money, and even if it doesn’t, you will most likely net less money. It’s important to look at the ‘cost of time to sell’. If you price the property right and sell fast, you will reduce the amount of time you’re paying a mortgage on the home that you’re not going to build much more, if any more, equity in by continuing to pay the mortgage. Never mind, any unforeseen repairs, or replacing stolen A/C units!

#2 Make It Clean & Lean

Remember the old saying “put your best foot forward”? It goes right along with “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” and a whole host of other well-known sayings that all speak to the same thing – first impressions count and they can count a lot when selling a house.

There’s a reason builders and developers spend the money to have homes professionally staged as model homes. They understand they’re not just selling a house or property, but they are selling the thought or “idea of what living there would be like”. So they put a lot of time and effort using furniture and props to “sell a lifestyle”.

They even address how a property smells, sometimes by baking cookies or with scented room fresheners (one thing to remember though, it may not be a good idea to leave scented candles lit if you’re leaving the house, so those are not always a safe option) and soft music playing to set a mood.

One of the other reasons Model Home’s always look so attractive is, besides being “spotlessly clean” they also have almost zero clutter. The closets are typically empty to give the impression of lots of space.

But I understand, at least most sellers also have to live in the house while it’s on the market, so what can you do to make sure it makes the best first impression regardless?

  • Clear out rooms, storage areas and closets – sort, donate, trash or “stash” – pack and put things you don’t use often in a storage unit. By packing seasonal clothing and other items ahead of time, you’ll not only save time when you need to move out, but your rooms and closets will look a lot bigger and more attractive to buyers.
  • Set up an “all hands on deck storage system” to help you quickly tidy up and leave if a showing is requested at short notice. Have storage bins or baskets to dump kids toys, magazines etc., into that you can either hide or at least place out of the way as you leave. Share the burden by assigning each family member with age appropriate tasks so everyone knows what they need to do before you leave. Having a system like this will take the stress out of short notice showings and you can make a game of it where the first one to get all their tasks completed, gets to decide if you go for pizza, ice cream or a movie!
  • Address any odors but use air fresheners sparingly – be sure to choose just one scent so they don’t “compete” and preferably one that is fresh and clean. Stay away from food scents, even vanilla. Remember, what one person likes is not always to others taste, but everyone likes a fresh and clean smell, like linen and laundry fresh. The one exception to this may be in the kitchen, since almost everybody likes the smell of fresh baked cookies.
  • Set the stage – once you’ve cleared out the clutter you’ll be amazed at the difference a new perspective can make for the best furniture placement for flow and presentation while your house is on the market. Who knows, you may even get some clever ideas you can use when you arrange the rooms and furniture in your new house. You can discuss with your agent professional staging of your house.
  • If you have animals or if you smoke in your house, first look at the second section on this list, it may be that you don’t notice pet or smoking odors because you’re used to them. Anyone walking into the house for the first time will notice them for sure. It may be worth using a carpet deodorizer, but ask your agent for their honest opinion about odors. Don’t take offence – this could mean the difference between a buyer making an offer for your property or continuing to look at other houses. It could also lessen the chances of buyers asking for a large price reduction because they believe they’ll need to replace carpets or curtains, or ductwork.

#3 Show & Sell

We live in a time of 24/7 access and a general mindset that looks for instant gratification. Whether you like it or not and whether you agree with it or not, people are more impatient than ever.

Having said that, if someone is looking at homes in your neighborhood and their agent requests a viewing but can’t show your property because it doesn’t have a lock box that could very easily cost you the sale. They and their clients will move on to the next home they can get in to see. Make it easy to make certain the home they can get in to see is yours.

  • Light the scene – turn on all lights, even table lamps and under cabinet lighting in the kitchen if you have it. Even if it’s daytime, it makes the home look warm and inviting regardless of time of day.
  • Let the sun shine in – leave all curtains, shades and shutters open to let the sunlight shine in. This speaks to the same feeling of openness and many people prefer to have natural light coming into rooms.
  • Leave all doors unlocked – so that all rooms can be easily accessed and viewed.
  • Leave soft music playing – be sure to choose something relaxing and that’s sure not to offend, think playing something you’d play for Grandma or your minister – light jazz, classics or just leave one of those styles of music channels playing on the TV if your preferences normally run to something you realistically know Grandma would not like.
  • Leave during showings – Many Buyers will feel uncomfortable looking too closely at things or even discussing what they like (they may not want to say anything good or bad with you in earshot) about a house if the current owner is there. For many Buyers it’s also difficult for them to imagine themselves in a house when their first impression and memory features the present owner rather than themselves. If at all possible, plan to leave and stay away from the house long enough to let the agent show it comfortably. If you have young children and certain times are difficult for you to allow showings (say nap time or bedtimes), be sure to discuss this with your agent ahead of time so they can guide other agents when they call to schedule viewings.

#4 Curb Appeal

So important they created a whole TV show about it! If you haven’t seen HGTV’s show Curb Appeal yet, go check it out as soon as possible (YouTube is full of great clips showing you things they’ve done to spruce up houses to improve their curb appeal). You’ll see the amazing difference you can make and how that can affect the final price your house sells for.

Here’s a few quick and easy, low budget and in some cases, no budget, things you can do to ensure your home presents with the best possible curb appeal:

  • Front yards set the first impression – there we go again but that’s the fact, it’s the first thing people see, make sure it’s clean, tidy and inviting.
  • Clear and sweep walkways – don’t leave toys or gardening implements around, they make things look untidy and someone could trip.
  • Trim trees – so they not only look neat and tidy but also so they don’t prevent light from getting into the rooms inside.
  • Remove parked cars, vehicles and boats if you can – leave them at a friend or neighbor’s house, or if you have a club house park unused cars there during showings. Buyers frequently come in separate vehicles from their agent. If they can both park easily that sends a message that parking is not an issue.

#5 Present A Pretty Picture

Buyer’s are looking for the best possible deal that will put them into a home and unless they’re specifically looking for a “fixer-upper” the house that will require the least amount of work is the one they’ll choose.

  • Paint

    A fresh coat of paint is often likely to get the best return on investment for most home owners. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, choose neutral colors that will compliment most furniture and lifestyles. Stay away from outside the box colors and fancy pattern treatments unless you’re doing just one feature wall.

    If paint or stain is faded, chipped or worn (this sometimes happens on the corners of walls, or the wooden spindles or hand rails on staircases) be sure to repair or repaint as necessary. Again this can have a huge impact on getting maximum sales price in any market.

  • Carpet

    If carpet is stained, worn, faded, outdated or an unusual color or pattern, you may need to seriously consider replacing it before putting your house on the market. Discuss this with your agent when they come to do an initial market analysis. They will usually be able to give you a good indication if it will improve the valuation your home could achieve.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking buyers will have more money than you do to replace carpet, they often don’t and will choose a house where they don’t need to replace carpeting or install hardwood floors themselves after they move in.

Houses that look like buyers can just “move their furniture in and have it feel like home”, typically represent the most attractive option to the largest number of buyers. You want to be sure your home presents itself as that option.

If you have specific questions, would like to request a Competitive Market Analysis of your home, or if you just want to discuss your best options, no pressure – no obligation, call me (Sam) direct at 757-288-5838 or reach me by email here

I look forward to hearing from you…

Sam Martin
Abbitt Realty
Hampton VA 23666

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