The buzz right now is that is spring housing market is going to be dynamic one! 2013 is predicted to be the best year for sellers since 2005. With historically low borrowing rates and a relatively stable economy it seems like a pretty good time to sell. Here are some thoughts to consider before you put your home on the market, which I’m hoping will help in the planning and timeline of your home selling process:
Hire a trusted, experienced Realtor. (Full disclosure: I am one.). A great agent is worth the commission, which, after all, is built into the market pricing and can be viewed as paid for half by buyers and half by sellers. Good agents know how to market and price a house, have been in most of the comparables, know the other agents in and around Pendleton, and should be able to offer valuable insider information. You should plan to interview at least three candidates. Don’t make decisions based purely on what listing price suggestions they give you. Hire a straight shooter. Ask to see references and their sales data. Pay close attention to the ratio between the original list prices and sale prices of their listings, as well as the average days on the market for their listing history. Don’t be quick to blame the agent for one or two overpriced houses, as the prices are ultimately set by the sellers. The market data will tell them and you where the house should be priced. Whoever you hire should be guiding you through the preparation process, including most of the below suggestions.
Hire an agent that uses a professional photographer. Look at their marketing materials for other houses. Are the photos good enough to be in a magazine? They should be pretty close to it. Don’t let them go for quantity over quality. Lighting and staging is so important. You may need to hide or store some of your furnishings. Less is more! Buyers need to visualize themselves living in your space. Make sure the rooms are neutral/de-personalized.
Does the agent write decent marketing copy? Are their materials clean and professional, or are they cheesy and fluffy? For example, are their head shots more prominent than photos of your house? Marketing copy is vital to positioning your home above the competition.
Listen to your agent when they give suggestions on how to prepare your house for the market. Try as hard as you can to look at your house with objective eyes, I know this can be hard for some. Go see other houses on the market in the price range that you will be competing with. Try to look at them as a buyer with “X” amount of dollars to spend. Don’t justify a premium on your house; instead try to figure out why a buyer might look for reasons not to buy your house versus the others. Your agent should be tactful and honest. You are hiring the agent as an impartial set of eyes and a trusted adviser to SELL your house.
Your agent is your marketing team & head of sales. Your agent is there to get you the highest possible price, with the best conditions, in the shortest amount of time. Your house is now a new product being launched. Your agent is the marketing team and the head of sales. The rest of the agents in the market place are the sales force. My job, as your agent is to educate and motivate the sales force. It’s my job to feed the sales force the positives of the house and the great price vs. the competition.
Prep your home so that it’s the best bang for the buck! You have to put your best foot forward. This could mean as little as dusting off your high-end furniture. But more likely you will need to at least de-personalize, de-clutter, clean, put extra stuff in storage, and do some touch-up painting. It’s typical to spend a few hundred or thousand dollars to do some more major painting. It is the best money spent, hands down. Paint hides age, it refreshes, it modernizes, cleans.
Boost your curb appeal. Weed, manicure, rip out overgrown shrubs, and lay down some dark mulch for a finished, landscaped look. Make sure there is no peeling paint or crumbled masonry around the entrance. The small over looked maintenance items on the outside of the home can actually detour a buyer from scheduling a showing or even entering the home after an appt is set. The exterior condition portrays to a buyer the overall upkeep and showmanship of the home. Make the outside look its best!
Pre-marketing/pre-listing home inspection. I encourage all my sellers to invest a few hundred dollars up front to have their homes professionally inspected BEFORE listing it. This gives homeowners the opportunity to make the repairs before buyers tour it. It’s a great marketing tool, as buyers love the peace of mind knowing the home has been given a “clean bill of health” and there will be no future worries during the pending to close process. If you have been lax about maintenance, and chose to sell the home AS IS, by not making recommended repairs any issues discovered before or during the listing period must be disclosed to prospective buyers. Be prepared to price the house accordingly (below market value) or prepare yourself to have re-negotiate price when the buyer’s inspector uncovers problems.