by Pete Miller
Selling your home is no longer a simple business. According to the National Association of Realtors existing home sales as of August were down better than 5 percent when compared with 2013. Regardless, you want the best price on your house no matter how the market is moving. Here are 10 steps to make more money selling your home by leveraging your local marketplace:
1. Be Viral Friendly. It’s tough out there. Every home for sale competes with your property so how do you stand out? It’s estimated that 92 percent of all buyers search the Internet for a home so that’s a medium where you have to excel. Good pictures and strong videos are a must.
2. Take Care of Maintenance. You may not need marble countertops and gold faucets for kitchens and baths but you do need everything to be in perfect condition. This means all appliances work, nothing leaks, walls are painted and papered and all surfaces are clean.
3. Focus on Cleanliness. The time to clean out a home is before you sell. The reason? Less stuff creates a sense of more space. See if a local charity might be interested in old furniture or clothing. Libraries often appreciate used books.
4. Don’t Over-Improve. The general rule in real estate is that buyers seek the least expensive home in the most expensive neighborhood they can afford. Translation: If you have the cheapest home on the block the odds of a quick sale go up. Have a home which is consistent with the neighborhood.
5. Shop Around. The National Association of Realtors reported in 2013 that “two-thirds of home sellers only contacted one agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale.” A better idea is to speak with several brokers who are active and successful in your neighborhood and let them compete for your business. Beware of the broker who offers an unrealistically-high price, a valuation which is likely to mean your property will lag unsold on the market for months – at which point the price will come down.
6. Look for Experience. Althoughyou may have a friend who is casually “in the business,” a broker with a lot of experience and success is the person you want to market your home and represent your interests. Also – and this can be important – a broker with a lot of local experience can be seen as an “authority figure.” When they set the price of a home there’s a credibility that may not extend to someone who has sold fewer homes.
7. Set a Reasonable Price. This must be consistent with the neighborhood. It can be helpful to visit open houses before you place your home on the market to see how other properties compare. This is also a good way to meet local brokers to see how well they represent client properties.
8. Have Faith in the Open House. Real estate professionals debate the value of open houses and to a large degree it depends on the particular property. That said, the goal is to get as many people to see the property as possible so when considering a broker ask about their experience with open houses and what they recommend for your home.
9. Look at More Than Just Offer Price. When you get an offer realize that it’s just part of the process. Does the buyer want “seller contributions,” money to off-set closing costs? Are you required to make repairs? Does the buyer have the finances to readily get a mortgage? Have the broker show how much you will get at closing if the buyer’s offer is accepted and look carefully at the buyer’s financial capacity.
10. Leave Some Wiggle Room. Always have a little room to bargain more. It’s not uncommon that some adjustments are required to close the deal – maybe a specific repair to overcome an inspection or a willingness to let the buyers move in before closing with a pre-settlement occupancy agreement. Whatever the case, remember that the point is to sell the house and don’t let little issues distract you from your goal. Letting a home sale fall through because it takes an extra $500 to close the deal is a false economy. The better option is typically to finish the sale and move on – otherwise you have to go through the whole process again and there’s no way to know what issues a new purchaser will raise.
Peter Miller is a nationally-syndicated real estate columnist and the author of six books published originally by Harper & Row. He blogs regularly at OurBroker.com. He is also a contributor to Auction.com.
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