Attention first-time home sellers: This is not your father's housing market.
Today's buyer-take-all market is a benefit for buyers with great credit and deep pockets. But sellers are stunned with new realities that include paying (rather than making) money at the closing table, providing extras to sweeten the deal, and spending more time and cash making the home camera-ready.
For first-time sellers who have never been through the process before, it's a different world. One where the value of the house isn't measured in the profit made on the sale, but by the enjoyment the owners had from living in the home.
~Here are some important things experienced sellers would tell you, if they could.
Your largest number of showings will occur in the first two to three weeks. The (multiple listing service) systems and the Internet tend to drive the majority of showings. Many buyers are plugged in electronically. So the minute something new pops up that meets their criteria, they want to see it.
Take advantage of that sweet spot by pricing the house competitively right out of the gate.
How you style the price is important. For example, a home first marketed at $155,000, then lowering it to $150,000 meant the listing appeared within the computer search parameters that buyers commonly used in that price range.
Want to sit with a house that won't move? Be the first-time seller who insists you can get the appraised value, the tax assessor's estimate or whatever you paid a few years ago. It seems like there's no relationship between your assessed value, taxable value and the actual market value of your house. There doesn't seem to be any correlation.
The truth is that your house is worth what buyers are willing to pay. No more. This is a true market that is totally based on supply and demand. That means many buyers should be prepared to lose some money or hang onto the home until the price rises.
To make your home stand out it may be smart to throw in some incentives, for instance, include the newer washer and dryer knowing that they will be challenging to move anyway and this will "sweeten the deal" for onlooking buyers.
Beware the agent who promises big profits, Combs says. That person may just be after your business. Don't go with anyone who doesn't use comps. And study sales prices, not asking prices, for real estate.
One question to ask yourself and pose as you interview agents: How will you reach the home's target market? You have to consider who your most likely buyers are for what you're selling and cater to that group of people. Targeting 20-somethings who live on their smartphones? You need to effectively access the networks your buyers are tapping to find their next home. One big trend: QR (or "quick response") bar codes that allow smartphone users to access property information electronically.
The typical starter home can also appeal to downsizing empty nesters. To serve their needs, you might also want to have a phone number that instantly reaches someone who can provide details and answer questions.
And don't neglect the modern version of curb appeal: using lots of photos on real estate listings' websites. However you market your house, you need a good number of clear, well-lit, professional-quality pictures that show your house at its best.
Keeping your house clean is important in every sale. But first-timers are likely selling smaller houses, and clutter can mean the difference between cozy and cramped.
Kitchen and bathroom countertops are another hot spot that many sellers forget to clear. The same chaos that represents your normal routine makes your house seem messy, disorganized and uninviting to buyers.
However, you don't want to remove all traces of human existence. Decluttering is good. But I'm not a big fan of taking all of your personal stuff out. Don't neutralize it so that it's sterile.
Most buyers are lazy. The last thing a new homeowner wants is another 'to-do' list, Ramsey says. So get the home move-in ready before it hits the market so the buyer can start fresh easily.
That means making all the repairs and replacements that you would demand if you were buying the house today. If you have to walk single file up the walkway, trim the bushes. If the garage door is dented, have that fixed or replaced. If you go into a room and say, 'Hmm, I wonder if this carpet is dirty enough to replace?' You have your answer.
First-time sellers are likely selling smaller, starter homes which are popular with first-time buyers and empty-nesters. Neither group is likely to want to spend weekends tackling the jobs that you avoided.
From a presentation standpoint, you want them to feel it's turnkey -- ready to go. Because your competition is doing that. In this market, it's not just a price war but a beauty contest at the same time.
If you're looking to spend some money to make your house memorable, ask someone who knows what will improve the market value.
You might want to paint a stylish blue kitchen tan -- to match the walls of the adjacent open living room and attract more buyers.
The cheapest thing you can do for a house with the biggest bang for the buck is to paint and replace carpet. Recommendation: soft neutrals, which are easy on the eyes and have mass appeal.
Fresh carpet and that new-paint smell are also buyer-bait. Buyers don’t generally get emotionally attached to a carpet-allowance sign. What they fall in love with is the new carpet in the house.
If you're a first time home seller and would like some direction to get the ball rolling, contact us anytime, we'd be glad to tour your home, give you some tips on getting your home ready to sell and fill you in on the entire selling process including sharing with you all the "extra" services we offer. We're here to make sure all your questions get answered and that you don't have to go-it alone. Just call, email or fill out the contact form on the right side of the page and we'll make sure you're selling experience is as stress-free and profitable as possible. We're experienced full time realtors that work together to ensure you receive only the top notch service that you deserve.
Remember: Not all realtors are alike. You may pay a similar fee to a lot of different realtors, but we at least give you a lot more for your money than a majority of agents would even consider providing for you. Call us today, even if you're just getting started, we're here to help even in the getting ready stage. There are no costs to you until your home is listed, sells and closes!