Would you like a little sage advice that could save you time, money, anguish and probably a bit of all three?
1. Understand your real estate market – The old adage “Location, Location, Location” not only applies to your home but to your market as well. What you hear on the national news may not have any bearing on your individual area so learning local conditions is a must to determine the best strategy to find a ready, willing and able buyer. You can learn a lot by following updates from the local association of Realtors in your area as well as contacting active Realtors who make it their business to understand and decipher the current market conditions.
2. Hire a Terrific Realtor – Okay, I had to say it. If you plan to try to sell yourself, then certainly skip to the next step. However, I am a proud Texas Realtor and always think that we are your best shot at getting sold. That said, all Realtors are not the same so making sure you hire the best is crucial. Ask your friends, do research online, and pay attention to see who seems to list and more importantly “sell” homes in your community. (Just because an agent lists a lot of homes does not mean they actually sell them.) The Houston Association of Realtors, HAR, has a fabulous rating system online for those agents who participate. This is a great indicator of performance and appears to be helpful to the consumer. For an example, you can see my ratings here. I know Zillow is attempting this as are other sites so you may have access to agent ratings or rankings in your area, too.
3. Check your calendar – Time of year is very important when determining how to position your property in the market place. Seasonal markets will ebb and flow like the seas and your Realtor will be able to help you determine the best time to list. Homes sell throughout the year but there are times when demand will be at its peak and therefore, sales prices will be highest. If possible, take advantage of these peak selling periods. If not, adjust your price and days on market expectations accordingly.
4. Hire a Stager – Staging has become a huge business and has been proven to assist sellers in presenting their homes in the best light possible to potential buyers. This equates to more money in your pocket when the home is sold. Some of us have taken staging courses and either handle it ourselves or hire independent stagers to work with our clients. If you are in the Houston Area, I love and recommend Linda Burnett with Envisions Designs. Regardless of who is doing the work, take the time and effort to follow the instructions of a good stager and it will pay off in the end.
5. Do what the Stager tells you to do – This is the part where some folks get hung up. The stager is a professional who looks at your home dispassionately and is really working for you to try to help you sell your home. The more you can complete of the stager’s honey-do list, the better. I realize there may be unexpected expense here but if it is major, then trust me… it may very well cost you more in the end to ignore rather than fix. Flooring, paint, landscaping… these are all items that can be a major turn-off to buyers if not in great shape.
6. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – Make sure you have as much exposure as possible. Today’s buyer is really beginning online for their home search so you need to be there, too. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. A little sign in the yard without an online presence will only net you the few people who happen to drive by. It is a brave new world out there and your home listing needs to be in it. Another must is you need multiple high quality photos and a virtual tour, if possible, to accompany your online advertising, as well as a good description of your home.
7. Offer a Buyer Agent Commission – If you are listing with a Realtor who will place you on the MLS, then there will be a published offer of compensation. However, if you try to go it alone, you really need to consider offering to pay an agent that might bring your buyer. Trust me, agents know more potential buyers than all your friends, co-workers, neighbors combined so it is important to utilize this great resource. In the US, usually the buyer’s representative is compensated out of the listing agent’s commission. But if not, please be mindful that there are wonderful Realtors out there who may have a client that would be perfect for your home but they need to be paid. If compensation is not offered by the seller, then the buyer would have to pay it and they will simply take it off the offer price. This may also cause a bit of confusion for the buyer who does not understand why their agent is not getting paid by the seller. Ask several Realtors in your area what would be a fair amount and then advertise it on your sign saying,” Realtors Welcome”. Besides, you do not work for free, why should they?
8. Consider Public and Agent-Only Open Houses – Public Open Houses are a good way for the public to view your home. Of course, attendance can be affected by time, date, weather, location, accessibility, signage, etc. If you see several Realtors holding open houses in your area, call them and ask if you could hold yours open at the same time. This brings in more traffic and a home that does not work for one buyer may work for another. Also, high attendance elevates buyer excitement.
9. Open Title – Whether your state requires you use attorneys or title companies, it is always best to make sure you have a good, clean title to be able to close. So many issues can run interference with a smooth transaction: probate issues, divorce, tax liens. It is best to get a clean bill of health with regard to your title up front so you are not stalled at the closing table. Another thing to do is find out your payoff amount on your mortgage, if any, to make sure you do not have to bring money to the table to close. If you discover you have to sell but do not have the funds necessary to close, in other words, you are “upside down” , you may want to contact an agent who specializes in what is known as a short sale.
10. Know Rules on Pre-Inspection and Disclosure Requirements – In some cases, it is a good idea or is even required to get your home inspected prior to going on the market. This will help you discover issues that may require repair as well as help narrow down the repair list for the future buyer. More real estate transactions fall apart due to failure to properly disclose items or fear of items that show up on inspection reports. Nip them in the bud and you will have a happier buyer and better transaction. And if you remember nothing from this post, always Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. If it is something that you as a buyer would want to know about a property, then you must disclose it.
As an experienced Realtor with Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors, a top listing firm in the great City of Houston, we do know a thing or two about the marketing of residential real estate. In fact, we have been honored twice now by J. D. Powers and Associates for “Highest Seller Satisfaction”. I welcome your comments or additions to this list. If you would like a market analysis for your Houston Area Home (and absolutely no pressure to list), just let me know. I am happy to help and only hope you will consider me should you decide you wish to hire a Realtor. I can be reached at www.christiborden.com or via cell 832-372-7478.
Happy Selling and Good Luck!