A couple of weeks ago, my post focused on a few things buyers need to know, that might not be common knowledge.
Here’s what I think SELLERS need to be aware of before or while selling their home!
1. Pick a great Realtor!
I’d say “shameless plug” like I did before, but I have no shame in sharing: you will have a MUCH harder time selling your home for top dollar in a reasonable amount of time with out a Realtor. Bonus points if you find a GREAT Realtor!
Why do you need one? Let’s start with:
- Give you real-time market data to price your home strategically
- Market your property effectively
- Manage offers and negotiation with buyers and their agents
- Help you and the buyer get from contract to closing
- Gets you the best price as quickly as possible while protecting your assets!
But what should you look for in a GREAT agent?
- A personal connection – you should LIKE the person!
- All Realtors will “put your listing on thousands of websites” – ask how they can get your property noticed by specific groups of people or how their marketing strategy differs from other agents.
- Experience matters, but so does creativity. You probably don’t want an agent listing their first house ever, but someone who has employed the same strategy for 30 years may not be able to think outside the box.
- Ask about their photography plan – they should have a professional photographer lined up, not just an iPhone camera.
2. Gather All Your Documents and Records
As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared”! You’ll probably need to provide a lot of information for entry into your local MLS, but you’ll also make buyers more comfortable by providing dates for things like roof replacement, appliance purchase, and other repairs and renovations. They may also ask about your utility providers and typical costs in summer and winter.
If you were considering any other repairs or updates (i.e. putting in a pool or removing popcorn ceiling), being prepared to quote prices from contractors can be helpful to buyers and could even play a role in the negotiating process. As a seller, keeping this information in your back pocket could be the difference between reaching a fair deal and a buyer walking away.
3. Know the Market
The seller doesn’t set the price of a home – the market does! But, at least in south Florida, the market is highly neighborhood-specific. One area might be a strong sellers market, while right next door there may be tons of inventory and buyers have the upper hand. (just FYI, the higher the number of homes actively listed, the more likely you are in a buyer’s market. Low inventory makes it a great time to be a seller!)
Your Realtor will run a CMA, or comparative market analysis. She’ll find several similar properties to compare your home to, and will also do the research on any competitors currently listed. CMAs can be presented in many different ways, but this will be your statistical guide for how to price your property and the information with which to build your listing strategy.
You’ll want to know a few key statistics. I find that the most helpful numbers are high/median/low price per square foot, and average days on the market for homes sold in the past year. Price per square foot will help you determine your market value range; properties in top condition can sell for a higher price per square foot, and properties needing a total rehab will be at the bottom end. It’s also helpful to know how long your neighbors tend to spend on the market before going under contract; if you’re in a hurry (or not), you might consider this statistic when pricing your home.
4. Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection or Appraisal
These are usually items purchased by the buyer after they’re under contract to buy your home, and they will still probably do their own. However, knowing what issues exist prior to listing your home can help you fix problems proactively or be prepared for a buyer to find them. An appraisal can help you price your home appropriately, especially if you’re in a fluctuating market and/or expect that your buyer will be getting a mortgage.
5. Close Out All Permits
If you’ve done renovations on your home, such as a new roof or even a new hot water heater, you may have had to take out a city or county permit. If, for some reason, that permit is still open, it could potentially cause an issue on the road to closing on your home sale. I’ve even seen some contracts fall through due to permitting issues. Find out where your permits stand using your city or county records website, and get them closed if you haven’t already done so.
6. Give Access for Showings
While it would be great for you to receive offers sight-unseen, most buyers will want to see your home first! Even though keeping your home in showing condition and being ready at a moment’s notice can be a real pain, give every effort to allow as many showings as possible. This can get a little tough if you have little ones or pets at home, but try to have a plan for last-minute showings, if possible. Sellers with tight restrictions about when and how to show their home spend far longer on the market than sellers who are more flexible.
7. Understand the “HGTV Effect”
All of the house flipping, home buying, vacation home, and decorating shows on HGTV are surely entertaining. The downside is that some buyers enter a home with unrealistic expectations of what to look for. The “HGTV effect” involves buyers who believe that a home has to either be absolutely perfect down to the fixtures and paint color, or a total steal of a deal. There’s not a lot you can do about a buyer’s perspective, but keep this in mind when getting your home ready to show!
On the other hand, HGTV has helped educate and empower plenty of buyers about the home buying process and what’s possible with a little creativity. Many buyers understand that paint is changeable; that hardware on cabinets is a simple fix; and that with an area rug and throw pillow, any home can be HGTV-worthy!