Clients always have many questions when getting ready to list their home. These helpful tips can provide you some insight into what to look out for and also what to do, to be prepared to list your home.
- Search for an excellent realtor (me!). Don’t just pick your friend’s realtor or someone you saw online in a list of realtors. Really dig in and do your research. My best advice: interview at least three candidates. It’s really a job interview and you should treat it as such (and so should the realtor for that matter). Interviewing three different candidates can give you an idea of what you’re looking for in someone, who you’re comfortable with, the different types of services each realtor provides, and how much time they are willing to invest in you as a client.
- Make your home show ready! This one is really important. Many people when looking for a property just don’t have that creative eye that you do. They cannot decipher between your giant purple entry hallway that you adore so much and what their dream hallway in neutral eggshell white. In most cases it’s a deal killer. Don’t be a deal killer. Freshen the paint in your home to a neutral color and clear out big and bulky furniture to open up the space. “Light, bright, and airy” is the feel you’re going for. If you have children, try to get their toys into one room and stage the entire home or condo as if anyone could live there. If staging is expensive for you or you don’t have time for it – see the first bullet point for selecting a realtor that is willing to put in time and effort into helping you with this.
- Pricing Pricing Pricing! As cute as I am…and I know I’m pretty cute (just kidding)…I will not sell your home. Price sells your home. Hands down. Let me repeat that. Price. Sells. Your. Home. When your home or condo is priced right, it will sell and it will sell very quickly. Every buyer wants the best deal. So…if you’re selling your unit in a condominium complex – be the lowest priced unit in that complex. If all units are exactly the same, it’s pretty easy for a buyer to select one; 9 times out of 10 they will go with the lowest priced unit. Think of it as a line at the grocery store. You can either get in the 9 item line and get through it quickly…or you can sit and wait in the lonnnng line with people that have huge carts full of groceries right along with you. Eventually, one at a time, those customers will go ahead of you and as your food spoils in your cart (price reductions)…eventually you will move up to the front of the line.
- Residential homes can be a little trickier and this is where an excellent realtor (again, that’s me!) comes into play. Pricing a home that has high end finishes needs to be listed, making sure those finishes are marketed really well. The better the location, the higher the price you can have. The better the view – same. But remember, just because you bought the home for $700,000 in 2007 does not mean you can sell it for $850,000 in today’s prices. A great way to see what your home may be worth is to look at homes that have sold within the past year, are around the same square footage as your home, have comparable quality build and finishes, and within the same neighborhood. Work with your favorite realtor to get this information.
- What to expect: When putting your home on the market, expect to leave your home. That’s right….a good realtor should kick you out of your own home! 🙂 Just kidding. But definitely give the realtor some time and space when setting up open houses. This allows visitors to walk freely throughout your home, imagine if they could live there, ask all the questions they’d like and judge and critique your home (which secretly we all love doing so much!). Make sure to ask your realtor for feedback from every open house. As with everything, some days are good and some days not so much. Be open minded to changing or fixing items in your home throughout the selling process.
- Offer Time! So you got an offer! Congratulations. That is very exciting. I am betting it’s not full price (unless you live in a hot zone like Portland or San Francisco in which case you may have multiple offers after 3 days). This is a big one to remember when initially pricing your home. Typically buyers will offer anywhere from 5% – 10% below list price. Never never never reject an offer. It’s a game…so play the game even with a low baller if that’s your only offer! The goal is to stay in the game and let everyone feel a little bit like a winner. Always counter an offer and always give just a little bit. Make sure to keep asking your realtor for a net sheet so you can see the true difference between selecting an offer at $500,000 or selecting one at $485,000. In most cases you’ll notice the difference isn’t big enough to worry about and sometimes its a necessary price reduction to obtain a qualified buyer.
- Also remember that if the buyer is financing, the condo or home MUST appraise. SO….if you’re way off in left field with your pricing (which you shouldn’t be because you hired me as a realtor, remember?) you will see low ball offers and your home will not get through escrow due to the appraisal. If you have something really unique…that’s when it’s best to have a cash buyer to avoid any appraisal or inspection issues.
- Selling and Escrow – The tedious wait: If you’re now in escrow, you now know what’s it’s like to feel an anxious panic in your stomach every day. Hopefully, you have a great realtor (me!) that keeps you in the loop of all escrow activities. A few things to watch out for in escrow: inspections can bring up items in a home that need to be fixed. I always recommend for sellers to fix any safety related issues (i.e. broken or missing smoke detectors, electrical panel issues, etc). However, cosmetic fixes are on the buyer. If a buyer requests a cosmetic fix such as a credit for an appliance to match other appliances, do not feel the need to fix it. Remember, these people walked in your home and loved it SO MUCH they want to potentially live in it for the next 30 years.
- Escrow lengths can be anywhere from 10 – 20 days (usually for a cash buyer) upwards of 90 days for someone that is financing. Give the buyer some time to get their ducks in a row. It can be a frustrating wait, but as long as the buyer is meeting contract deadlines, stick with them. The paperwork and number of people involved in any real estate transaction can be mind boggling. Every person plays a part and transferring ALL that documentation connected to your property can take months. Be patient.
- Be a good seller. Make sure before the final walk through to remove all of your personal belongings and have the home professionally cleaned and pet treated (if necessary). You wouldn’t want to move into a stinky home so why should your buyer? They are paying top dollar. Also – it’s typically a part of the contract.
- SOLD! Congratulations. you sold your home. Now take that money and 1031 it into an income property in Maui. Call me! (808)280-1343.
*Unsure what a 1031 is? Check out my blog article on 1031 and deferring capital gains tax.
Mahalo and have a great day!