One of the surprising things about the real estate market is how quickly and completely a market turns. When it’s time, it’s time. And, right now, 2015 is looking very good for selling your home. Home prices are higher and the number of properties for sale is lower. Plus we still have some very low interest rates.
The economy appears to be slowly improving. So, with low inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and modestly rising prices, here’s what you need to do to get your home ready to sell in 2015:
- Overcome any and all objections a buyer might have that would keep them from purchasing your house.
Buyers are always comparing what is out there and looking for pros and cons of purchasing your house. Your job as a seller is to eliminate any potential negatives that may stand in the way of a buyer choosing your house over the competition.
If you really want to sell quickly and for top dollar, you’ll work hard to exceed the buyer’s expectations of your home as well. If your home is competitively priced, and your home’s condition exceeds that of other similar homes in the neighborhood, you will get an offer — in some cases it may be a little lower than the offer you were looking for (that’s where negotiations come in) and in other cases, it may even be a higher offer than you were expecting.
- Get your home into tiptop selling shape.
Cleaning your home is a must. Pay extra special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms. A dirty kitchen or bath can really kill a deal.
Once the home is clean, hire a professional stager to give your home the Wow Factor so many buyers want today. (Yes, they want your home to look like something they might see on HGTV.) That may mean new furniture arrangements, adding artwork or accessories, or removing excess furniture and clutter.
Your stager will also help you to assess what other work needs to be done, such as fixing things that need minor repair, touching up paint or updating your home’s paint color or lighting, for example.
Your professional stager can also help you to decide if you need to update your landscaping, and paint, clean or tuck point your home’s exterior.
- Be realistic about the market.
Find out what types of properties are selling in your area, how many days are they on the market and what price the sellers are asking and getting. You can use the different real estate sites to help you do that, like Realtor.com, Redfin.com, and Trulia.com to name a few.
Accept the reality of your local market and price your home accordingly. If you don’t and you have over priced the home, don’t blame your realtor if you don’t get reasonable offers within the same basic timeframes as other homes have gotten. Professional staging can help you get a higher offer but all the staging in the world won’t help you sell an grossly overpriced home.
One of the worst things you can do is overprice your home from the start. Sellers who set their home price too high for the location and type of home can wait months or years for an offer. (Sellers who do this often end up getting much less because the home has been on the market so long that potential buyers see it as “stale” or believe it has some kind of issue, or they figure the seller is going to be desperate to sell.) The more realistic you are, the better off you’ll be.
- Invite and interview at least three real estate agents. (Create a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) and see who best fits with your goals and personality).
Sellers often call the agent who sold them their home to list it or they pick the first agent who comes up in their Google search. While you may wind up hiring that person, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t compare at least three agents from different firms. You want to create a comparative marketing analysis (CMA) and see who best fits with your goals and personality. Each agent brings different ideas to the table about how much your house is worth, what is the best way to market it, and how they want to interact with you personally. They all have different experiences to draw on and may have different buyers in mind; some that may even want to make a quick and/or cash offer.
You will want to work with the one who best matches your goals and who best works with your personality.
- Read all the documents thoroughly before you sign them.
It can be financially disastrous to sign a legal document that you haven’t read, but home sellers do it every day. Whenever you buy or sell a home, make sure you take the time to read and understand the listing contract, the offer to purchase and the loan documents. If there is something in them you don’t understand, ask your realtor or mortgage broker to explain it too you in plain English.
A mistake in these documents and the warranties they contain could seriously affect your finances for years to come.
- Understand what it will take to sell your home.
Buyers today are looking for move in ready homes. Pay attention to what both your realtor and your stager tell you is needed to get your home sold.
If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of foreclosures or a high number of rental properties, you may have to have a slightly lower price point in order to sell. So determine how much it is going to cost to improve the home and then decide if it is worth it. Are you going to recoup an amount that will make it worth the time, effort and expense? If not, you’ll have to really evaluate price, timing, and a maximum amount to spend in order to get the most for your property. Your realtor can help you to determine this.
However, with homes appreciating in the Denver metro area, you might be pleasantly surprised. Again, a CMA will be incredibly helpful.
- Determine if you can afford to sell and buy at the same time.
It is not a good idea to put in an offer on another house until you have some serious interest in your current home or unless you have enough cash to cover the expenses of both homes for six to 12 months. (That includes the mortgage payment and utilities.) You can start researching other neighborhoods, but just beware. Houses are selling quickly in today’s market and if you find “The House” but you can’t afford double payments and you can’t make an offer, you’re going to be very disappointed.
- If you have good offers but don’t know where you are going to move to, consider renting for a short time.
While a double move is a pain and short-term leases may cost a little more, it may be necessary to get the house sold at a good price. Additionally, renting may allow you to “try out” new neighborhoods.
- Don’t be greedy.
One mistake many sellers make is to get a little greedy, particularly if other homes in the area have sold for above asking price. Don’t let the negotiations become a game of “how much can I get”.
If you get so greedy that the buyer walks away, you may have lost the best offer you are going to receive. There aren’t unlimited buyers for your home out there, and if you lose one it might take you quite some time to find another. In a truly successful sale, everyone walks away happy.