Selling a house is an art that many people undervalue and underrepresented. There are many factors that influence not only how long the house will take to sell, but the price at which the house will sell for. According to the National Association of Realtors, 8% of home sales in 2019 were accomplished as for sale by owner(FSBO), and 92% were sold by realtors. There was a stark difference in the median price between houses sold with a realtor and houses sold by the owner
- Media Price Earned by FSBO – $200,000
- Median Price Earned by Realtors – $280,000
This is a 40% average higher priced sale, more than covering the typical realtor fee of 6% for the whole transaction.
This leads us to the #1 thing you must do when selling your home
1. Hire an expert realtor
Realtors are in the business of selling homes, and if you hire a good one, you are far more likely to have higher net cash out during your sale than trying to sell your home on your own. This is based on facts and statistics, not conjecture. A real estate agent will:
- Have experience in selling of homes in your market
- Have a fiduciary responsibility to you, the client. This means they are obligated to work in your best interests.
- Know how to present your home and to deal with buyers and buyer agents
- Know how to market the property to increase the demand for your house
- Know how to navigate various issues that could likely come up before closing
- Know how to make the transaction come more smoothly from contracts, inspections, appraisals, title work, and closing
- Have access to the most up to date and comprehensive data for your market
A licensed realtor will work in your best interests to get top dollar for your home and make the transaction as smooth as possible for you.
2. Price Your Home Correctly
Pricing your home is the single most important aspect of selling your home. If you price it too high you may lose interest because people won’t bother even visiting the home, if you price it too low people may undervalue it and never offer up to its actual worth.
These are things that will greatly influence the value of your home:
- Location – Are you closer to a school, or to some parks, or to transportation?
- Size – The square footage of the house is an important measure of value
- Beds/Baths – Having an extra bedroom/bathroom will increase the price of a similar-sized home.
- Features & Finishes – Is your home beautifully finished? Do you have hardwood, granite?
- Condition – Most people want a home that is move-in ready. They expect that things will not be perfect, but don’t want to be stuck making too many repairs.
- Curb Appeal – How does your home look from the street? Does it “wow” people? This creates a memory and nice feeling in people and the more beautiful the home is, the more demand it will have.
A Realtor Will Know Your Optimal Price
Your realtor should be able to come up with the best price to list your home. Typically this may be a range that would be agreed upon by both the realtor and the seller.
Your realtor will look at all the features of your home as outlined above, compare with other houses in the area that are for sale and/or recently sold. The realtor will then consider other factors such as market conditions and come up with a suggested listing price.
One tool that a realtor will use to come up with your homes’ suggested price is a comparative market analysis(CMA).
Using a CMA
To get an accurate value of your home, you need to do a comparative market analysis. This is a side-by-side comparison of homes for sale, and homes that sold near your property. The CMA needs to be performed by similar houses, in your neighborhood or very close by. This would show you:
- Houses that are available on the market & their asking prices
- Houses that sold on the market, and how much they sold for
The second bullet point is very important. Houses that are on the market may not reflect the actual value of the homes, nor what homes are actually selling for. When you can see the actual transacted prices of the homes, you are more likely to know what yours will sell for.
Don’t count on automated tools
Far too many people count on automated tools offered online to come up with a price for their homes, often to the advantage of the buyer who ends up purchasing the house for less than its actual value.
There is no online tool that can accurately price a home. It’s impossible for these tools to be accurate because certain things cannot be measured this way. For example
- Improvements inside and outside of the house have no impact on automated price tools.
- Online data is often not accurate in regards to the square footage of the home, the number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms. This not only applies to your home but neighboring homes. If the data is not accurate, how can the price be?
- Online price estimates don’t take into account things like recent changes to the market. For example, maybe a new shopping plaza went up 6 months ago that offers a community certain conveniences. This market impact may take years to show up in an automated price estimation report even though the value of the home may have increased on the same day the new shopping plaza was completed.
3. Timing When to go to Market
Knowing when to sell your home is critically important to a successful campaign. This may mean choosing a certain season to list your home, or it may mean simply choosing the right day and time of the week to go to market.
In 2020 most home sales start with the buyer looking online for homes. When a new home is posted online, it is typically at the top of search results for a short period of time.
The chance for your home to capture the most impressions, or views, is when it’s first listed. If you go to the market on a day/time with low traffic results, you are reducing how many people actually see your home. This will inevitably lead to reduced demand for your home.
Online traffic is not a straight line throughout the hours of the day or days of the week. Looking at trends and traffic patterns will lead to more views which will lead to a higher purchase price.
Homes that are posted to the market on the optimal days not only sell for more money but sell faster as well.
4. High-Quality Photos
As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. For your home, the first impression is almost always photographs of the home.
Hiring a photographer is not only important but it’s critical to get the most money for your home. The photographer will enhance the look of your home, leading to more interested buyers.
To prepare for the photographs, your house must be in pristine condition. This means decluttering the home, putting things into storage, shooting when there is good lighting throughout the house, cleaning up outside.
You want the house to look as if it’s a new home as much as possible. Anything that would indicate to a buyer that this house is currently lived in, should be undone. Personal photos often reinforce the fact that this is someone else’s home, so we recommend removing as many personal photos as possible unless they are of artwork like quality.
5. Preparing the House For Showings
You are trying to sell your home and move on, but the buyer is trying to picture their future in your property. It’s important to remember this fact. Set the stage for a buyer to walk into your house and say “wow, I want to live here!” Here is a checklist on how to properly prepare your home:
- Eliminate Clutter – The less cluttered your home, the better it shows. If you have a lot of knick-knacks, collections, or family mementos, consider renting a portable storage unit, which can be stored until it’s time to deliver it to your new home
- Be Hospitable – You want your home to look like a home. Open the blinds, turn on the lights, and make visitors feel welcomed.
- Remove Pets – Try to remove pets before showing the home. If you have a dog, bring him with you. If you have some smaller critters, ask a neighbor if they can hold onto them for you while the house is being shown.
- Give the buyers privacy – Nothing kills a deal like the owners being in the house when a potential buyer wants to visit. Again, they want to envision this as THEIR home, not that they are moving into YOUR home.
- Clean the House – Try your best to clean the house. Don’t leave anything in the sink, get everything off counters is possible and into drawers and closets.
- Aromas Enhance the Experience – Make your house smell lovely. A candle or a spray of a light scent will help sell the house. If you have any foul odors, make sure to get this resolved prior to showing the home.
- Ambient Sounds Help – Playing some soft ambient music can help make that experience more enjoyable for the buyer. Choose light music that everyone can enjoy and play it at a level that is only slightly audible.
6. Advertising the House For Sale
Remember this, you are not hiring a realtor to put the house on the MLS alone, you are hiring them to ADVERTISE the house and to sell it for top dollar. There is a stark difference between the two.
Your realtor should know how to get the most views on your home using both traditional and modern advertising tools. Here are some examples:
- Advertise on all major home finding websites such as Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia.
- Social Media is a great way to promote a house that is for sale. Your realtor should be familiar with Instagram and Facebook advertising. You can design ads that target other realtors and people who are in the home-buying process.
- Sending postcards of the house for sale in the same neighborhood is an effective way to get your neighbors interested. Oftentimes they share the listing with family and friends who they think may be interested in the home.
- Post a sign in the yard if allowed. This is a tried and true method of building interest in your home.
- 3D Tours are a great way to get out of town buyers. With today’s technology, you can make a 3d tour that is more than just a slideshow of photos. You can make your home walkable similar to google street view. You can literally move through the home and understand the flow of the house in a way pictures do not afford.
- Open houses are often overlooked, mostly by unknowing sellers and lazy agents. Advertising an open house can often bring you 10-20 viewings in a single day. The more people that view your home, the more likely you are to get offers. Not everyone has the time or desire to schedule appointments, and would rather just walk onto the property when it’s open.
- Your realtor should have an email list where they can communicate to potential buyers and agents who represent buyers about your home for sale.
We hope this guide has helped educate you on what is really needed to sell your home and get top dollar. There are a lot of things to consider when selling your home. This is really where a realtor can step in and provide real value to you and maximize your homes sale price.
Beyond getting top dollar for your property, smoothing over the process from start to finish is a task any realtor should take seriously. Your job as a homeowner should be to be honest, communicative, and flexible in allowing the house to be shown. Other than that, your realtor should do all the heavy lifting and make sure the process is smooth for you from start to finish, and stress-free!
SquareFootHomes is a Palm Beach County realty group that is available to both buyers and sellers. Give us a call to set up an in-home appointment to go over your needs. We are at your disposal