A Homeowner’s Guide to SellingIt may be a buyer’s market, but that doesn’t mean there are many of them around. In fact, as reported earlier, new-home sales fell by a staggering 33% in May, coupled by a 2.2% drop in sales of previously occupied homes versus properties purchased in April. With fewer and fewer people buying, sellers face even more pressure to stand out in a sea of listings. MainStreet consulted the experts to come up with some suggestions for expediting the sale of your home.
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PackStart packing before you even list your house for sale. You’ll want your house to look as spacious as possible and clutter will minimize these perceptions. You also want to keep your home neutral so take down posters of your favorite sports team (no need to alienate a rival team’s fans) and hide your bobblehead collection.
“Pack away anything that is smaller than a football,” Irene Kuster McCann, a Coldwell Banker Residential Broker in Southern California, says, before suggesting that you de-personalize your surroundings as well. “Pack the family photos, too. You don't want potential buyers walking through the house feeling like a guest. You want them to look at a wall and picture putting their own family photos up.”
If you don’t have enough space to stow all the extra stuff, consider renting out a storage unit.
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Clean … heavilyYou can’t get away with wiping down surfaces and throwing three weeks of dirty laundry in the closet. (Remember, most prospective buyers will want to take a look at your closet space.) Instead, as Diane Agricola, who stages homes for sellers Cincinnati, points out, your house “needs to be cleaned theway a car is detailed - no clutter, everything shining and spotless, no odors - especially of pets!”
“Only a very small percentage of potential buyers can imagine a space any differently than the way they see it,” Agricola adds, so you may want to hire an agency to come in and do some deep-cleaning. Have your carpets steam cleaned, get your windows washed and throw fresh coats of paint on chipped walls, doors and ceilings.
For examples of what your house shouldn’t look like, check out MainStreet’s round- up of the ugliest real estate photos.
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Make RepairsYou don’t need to put in a finished basement or add a deck to your backyard, but you should repair that leaky faucet and change out you’re A/C filters before you start showing your home. Many realtors also suggest have a home inspector visit before settling on an asking price.
“Deals often fall apart after a home inspection is done by the buyer,” Gina Donnelly, a real estate agent in Phoenix, says. “If the seller has a home inspection they will know what items need to be repaired and … won’t have to worry about your sale being squashed by the home inspection.”
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LandscapingIt’s important that your home look its best when on sale and, while most people are good about fixing up the interior of their houses, they don’t continue detailing the exterior property. This is problematic since your front yard is one of the first thing prospective buyers will see … especially if a realtor is getting in via a lock box key. The extra time it takes to get into the house allows buyers to check out your front door, porch and property surroundings.
“Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly,” Gina Donnelly, a real estate agent in Phoenix, says. “Remove dead plants and replace them. Make sure your grass is green. During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance. Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns.”
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Make Your House Easy to ShowThe fewer obstacles you introduce, the sooner your house will sell. If you are selling your house yourself, make sure to be readily available. If not, don’t make it impossible for a realtor to bring buyers to your home.
“Things like requiring a 24 hour notice before showing a house or not using a lockbox for the keys are two examples of potential reasons that a busy agent may not include your property on their list of houses to see for that day,” Brian Sparr, a California real estate agent points out. The more people who see your home, the more likely you are to get the offer you are looking for.
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Hire a realtorYou may be tempted to test the market by posting a “For Sale by Owner” sign on your front lawn, but this is likely to be counterproductive. Homebuyers in the current market are savvy and will recognize and overpriced house (or an unprepared homeowner) from a mile away. A realtor is better equipped to deal with customers and will help you price your house correctly (which will expedite a sale) so it’s usually worth it to employ one.
Just make sure they are accredited. “Look before you leap,” Stan Peacock, Vice-President of CRYE-LEIKE Realtors in Nashville, says, before suggesting you look for a lot of letters. “The highest level of expertise in the Real Estate Industry will have the CRS which stands for Certified Residential Specialist. This designation comes with lots of time, experience, and productions.” You can verify a realtor’s license through you’re your municipal Department of Real Estate Records or ask potential agents for credentials directly.
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Think of it as a business ventureWhatever their reasons for selling, owners should emotionally detach themselves from their home before showing it to prospective buyers.
“For many, their ‘home’ equals their life. [They have] lots of memories, probably mostly good, so [a house] a hard thing to let go of,” New Jersey realtor Julie Jacobs says. “[Homeowners] need to view the selling process as though they are selling a product... Otherwise, they will be stressed, emotional and it will be a very difficult process for all involved.”
Stress levels aside, emotional sellers also run the risk of potentially passing up reasonable offers . In fact, a feeling of attachment to a residence may cause a homeowner to ask more for a house than it’s worth … which will only elongate the painful process. The sooner they view the sale as a business transcation, the sooner they will be able to relocate.
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Assess the current market value of your homeBuyers will have assessed the housing market in their area … and so should you. In fact, the sooner you understand the current market value of the home, the faster you’ll be able to emotionally detach yourself from your home and establish a reasonable asking price.
Ask your retailer if you can tour the other houses on sale in the neighborhood with them. This will give you a better idea of what should or should not be your asking price. Those going it alone can review the closing numbers of comparable homes in your neighborhood on websites such as Zillow, PropertyShark.com and StreetEasy.
“The biggest mistake homeowners can make is "testing" the market and trying to price their house on the high end,” Michelle Serafini, a Coldwell Banker residential broker in Southern California, says. “Price the house at or below market and the offers will come in, test the market and you will probably be "on market" longer than you want to be.“
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