The Holidays are over and it’s time to start thinking about selling your home so you can make the big move you have been preparing for. Now that the chaos of Christmas is behind us, the home market is opening up with more serious people who are looking for changes in THEIR lives. Here are 10 things to consider before selling your home in 2019.
1. Hire a Great Realtor
Some people consider selling their home without the aid of a realtor. While there is potential savings for the trained investor, the average home buyer should not even consider tackling the sales process alone. A good realtor brings expertise in marketing your home and a HUGE volume of contacts you probably don’t have, yourself. The concern you should have is asking the right questions to be sure the agent you choose is THE RIGHT agent. Here are some questions you should get answered to determine THE RIGHT agent:
a. How long have you been selling real estate?
b. Are you a solo agent or do you have an entire team supporting your clients?
c. How many homes have you sold in last 12 months? How many have NOT sold?
d. What is the average list price to sale price ratio on homes you have sold?
e. How many listings do you currently have in a “sale pending” status?
f. Which Advertising “vehicles” do you use? Personal Website? Real estate Blog? Social Media? Mailers? Facebook Ads? Property Videos? Professional Photography? Neighborhood Tour Videos?
g. How do you communicate with the seller?
h. Do you have some tips to make my home more salable?
i. Are there penalties for cancelling a contract if I’m not satisfied with your performance?
2. Gather Information, Paperwork & Documents
Okay, so now to show that you are serious about your decision to sell, start thinking like the home IS SOLD and you have to start providing paperwork to the buyer so they feel comfortable about the decision they have just made to buy YOUR home. This means providing the paperwork to assure them you have already thought of substantiating this is the right house for them.
- Roof age & warranty
- Furnace age & instructions
- Central Air Conditioner age & instructions
- Water heater age & instructions
- Dates of home improvements
- Copies of permits for additions
- Outstanding mortgage & pay-off balance
3. Choose When to Sell
You have already chosen to sell early in the year. You may want to recap this decision in your mind. There ARE benefits to selling in any specific time of year. Consider these . . .
- Spring – Buyers are starting to look for a way to excite their spouse or significant other for a change in their lives. This starts with getting into a new home . . . your home. The market is going to be “buzzing” with new buyers looking at homes. After the dreary winter months, weather is going to be getting warmer and the sun is starting to shine more hours in the day. People are starting to get new, clear thoughts of the direction they want their lives to be taking in the new year.
- Summer – Families are always conscious of the school year. Vacations, moves and things that require a transition are many times saved to be summer activities. Let’s face it . . . kids are out of school. It may be surprising, but many job transitions happen in the summertime because companies value the family person and the motivation they have to help the company grow. For that very reason, they offer promotions and expand the company’s growth in the summer.
- Fall – Fall brings motivated buyers who want to complete their purchase before the holidays. More than 50% of buyers don’t have kids under the age of 18 at home so they are NOT shopping to fit the normal school year. This makes a fall move attractive to them.
- Winter – Winter brings its own challenges to home sales. There are special things you should consider, such as keeping the temperature up, showcasing the fireplace and having a “No shoes” policy to keep the floors clean. You may want to provide disposable slippers for guests which will emphasize the care you have taken in your home’s cleanliness. Wintertime also brings less competition and that means those buyers who see your home are more serious about making their purchase. You will, in fact, have fewer Lookie Loos.
4. Pre-Listing Inspection
You’ve thought of everything that is needed to sell your home, and you’ve hired a good agent to keep you on track and not let ANYTHING fall through the cracks when it comes to getting the top price for your home.
While choosing your selling price is the most challenging part of the home sale, it can be done more accurately when you already know what needs to be done prior to the sale.
You can make repairs to your home based on the pre-listing inspection instead of waiting for the buyer’s inspection. Waiting would give you a limited time to make repairs. Knowing in advance gives you the opportunity to choose the significant repairs to make and be prepared to discuss the minor issues with the prospective buyer with confidence.
Of course, this has a tendency to minimize YOUR stress at a time when stress is a constant companion of yours. This also limits re-negotiations during the sale. You know the exact condition – the buyer cannot spring some “unknown” on you forcing you to renegotiate a lower price.
Don’t forget the option the pre-listing inspection give you . . . that of having the opportunity to determine which repairs you may wish to do yourself to save on your costs versus hiring a contractor to do them for you.
5. Preparing Your Home For Sale
Then comes the issue of preparing your home for the sale. Here’s a short list of things that will make a difference:
- Improve the landscaping. Remember that improving the curb appeal is what brings the serious buyers into the house to see the inside.
- Clean the house. Cobwebs are a killer. Make simple repairs. Things like replacing the toilet seats, changing the shower curtain and replacing the bath mat are quick and simple things.
- Make the front door inviting
- Remove clutter from the house and depersonalize it. That means that you want to take down some of the pictures of the kids in an effort to help the new buyer to visualize in their mind what the house will look like with THEIR personal pictures and such on the walls.
- Use a POD box to store your personal things. This is a convenient place to keep your things, but, for heaven’s sake, don’t put the POD box in your driveway.
- Make surfaces shine. Clear kitchen counters of appliances and clean stove, as well as the inside of all cupboards
- Eliminate odors – many times you may become “nose blind”, as the commercial says, to the odors in your home.
6. Pricing Your Home
Pricing is the single greatest key to how long your home will be on the market. If you get it right the first time you can sell in a matter of days. If you miss the mark because you have set a “wishful” price instead of a realistic one, you home could be on the market for months and you will probably reduce the price a couple of times during the process. Here are a couple keys to get that realistic price for your home:
- Review Comps. People have a tendency to list the house at a price that will give them a nice profit after the sale. Don’t just check on the listing prices, but compare the SOLD comps.
- Start with Zestmate from Zillow
- Within ½ mile of your home – do you have “the best house on the block”?
- Roughly same age
- Within 10% +- of the size of your home in square footage.
- If you’ve overpriced – reduce significant to get the offer/sale instead of reducing in little chunks
- Consider the number of homes on the market in your area. Do you have a lot of competition?
- Consider incentives. You can get a higher price for your home if you throw in a few incentives such as:a. Prepay Homeowner association dues
- b. Prepay Golf club membership
- c. Provide home warranty insurance
- d. Pay for closing costs
a. Prepay Homeowner association dues
b. Prepay Golf club membership
c. Provide home warranty insurance
d. Pay for closing costs
7. Home Warranty
No matter how well you maintain your home, potential buyers are taking a perceived risk. The older your home (and its systems and appliances), the greater the risk in their eyes. You can offset the perceived risk by offering a home warranty with the home sale. In many cases, a home warranty could prove to be the differentiating factor for some buyers, giving them enough confidence to increase their offer and more aggressively pursue your home.
- Will boost buyer confidence – new homeowners have enough to worry about. Take the home’s mechanical systems off the list.
- Most people prefer a warranted home
- Reduces post-sale disputes
- Coverage to AC, Pool/Spa, Dishwashers, Doorbells, Furnace/Heating, Water Heater, Ductwork, Garbage Disposal, Plumbing Issues, Ceiling Fans, Electrical Systems, Range & Oven, and Phone Cabling
This has been a question asked of many realtors. Does staging an empty home bring in a higher selling price? In a 2013 study by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) looked at 170 properties value $300K to $499K and found that properties that were staged sold in an average of 22 days, while unstaged homes sold in 125 days on average.
When buyers looked at the value of staging a property, they determined the most important areas to stage (in the order of importance) are, first the living room; next the master bedroom, third, the kitchen and lastly, the outside. Much of the staging can be done yourself. It doesn’t always mean spending thousands with an agency.
Staging is a subject you can even consider for a home that still has your own furniture in it. If your furniture has seen years of “wear and tear” with kids, consider storing it and staging some rented furniture for buyers to see.
9. Prepare for Showings
By this time in your adventure to see your home, you are probably getting tired, but there are just a few things still to do to be ready for the showing. Preparing for the showing is one of the final things, so let’s get this checklist out to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
- Curb appeal – remember you need to get them in the door before ANY of the other things are relevant.
- Remove clutter – this is a common-sense item.
- Check the kitchen – when you had breakfast this morning, did you miss putting anything away?
- Check the bathroom – a final cleaning of the sink is appropriate. The new buyer doesn’t want to see that you’ve brushed your teeth or hair this morning.
- Bedrooms – don’t let the buyer find Johnny’s missing sock under the bed.
- Windows & blinds – dust gathers here and if a buyer sees that, they start to question how well you have maintained your home while you have been living in it.
- Temperature – a warm house is an inviting house.
- Odors – Many realtors have noted that the smell of freshly baked cookies have set the prospective buyer in a mood of feeling comfortable to consider this to be their new home. If the thought of cookies only makes you hungry, consider a fragrance like citrus. Odors coming from the refrigerator can sour the mood for a sale for sure.
10. Is the Open House Worthwhile?
Many of the people stopping in to see a home have not chosen an agent . . . THEY need the “open house” exposure to see what is available. Many “shoppers” are checking out the neighborhood they want to live in and are initially “just curious” about options they might have. It is actually fairly rare to find a buyer at an Open House who actually purchases the property but it DEFINITELY happens. We suggest not skipping over any opportunity for leads when selling your home and the Open House is a fantastic way to catch buyers early in the process.
Here’s a recap
- Hire a Great Agent
- Gather Information, Paperwork & Documents
- Choose When to sell
- Pre-Listing Inspection
- Prepare the Home for Sale
- Get Your Pricing Right
- Stage Your Home
- Consider the Home Warranty
- Prepare the House for Showing
- Is the Open House Worth It?
Ready to Get Started?
Call David Today (559) 334-8971