Before listing your home FOR SALE




A pre-listing home inspection is money well spentYou don’t know what you don’t know. I have talked with many homeowners that had previous sales fall apart from their Buyer’s failed home inspection. The problems did not disappear, just the Buyer. At times when the sale did happen, the repair items were at retail cost, i.e. licensed electricians, licensed plumbers, licensed roofers, etc. Had the homeowner done a pre-listing inspection that homeowner would have had an opportunity to make many of those repairs himself or at wholesale (handyman). Aesthetics are important, but it’s also important that doors, appliances and electrical and plumbing fixtures comply with current building codes and in working order. Again, the idea is to have the home in move-in condition and to give potential buyers the impression that they will be able to move right in and start enjoying their new home, rather than spending time and money fixing it up. And, more important to any homeowner that is putting their home on the market for sale, a recent home inspection can make the home more valuable.

A one-year pre-paid home warranty:  I can help you with this. I recommend the nationally recognized company American Home Shield. This is a $400 item that can and does make all the difference in how potential home buyers look at a home. You pay for this warranty at the closing, not in advance. We can help you with this. This is a very simple way to make your home more valuable to a potential buyer.

Marketing via the Internet and/or the MLS. For crying out loud, don’t be stupid. I see listings daily that say right from the get-go these types of phrases: Bring All Offers; Transferring; All Offers Considered; Must Sale; Motivated Seller; Price Just Reduced, Big Price Reduction. Is there any chance of a homeowner getting a full price offer with this type of statement in the MLS? Any Agent that does this is much more interested in his/her commission than in the homeowner’s financial well-being in my opinion.

Speaking of Marketing: Are you planning to look at offers from day one; or, would you be better off with a statement to the Buyer’s Brokers in the Realtor only section of your MLS listing that states, “NO OFFERS-ASKING PRICE ONLY.”  Almost all buyers ask their agent how much can get this for; or, they might just say I would like to make an offer. The agent has little choice except to reply, let me write it up and we will see what happens. Either way, there goes 10-15-20 or 30 grand right down the drain. Suppose the Buyer Agent’s reply had to his buyer’s question like this, “They are not looking at offers at the present. It just hit the market. Asking price only or somebody else is going to buy this right out from under you.” Does this work? Why do you think I mentioned it to you? I can show you how to give it the best chance of working.

Sweeten the Deal: This is so important and 98% of all properties listed in the MLS offer nothing at all. Buyers are always looking for a deal. Many buyers are obsessed with the determination to get a “deal.” So, do your best to make them feel they’re getting one. It can be easy to make the home and deal more attractive to buyers. Here is an example to make your home stand out by not doing what everybody else is doing. Offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs or offer to pay closing costs entirely. Your home will receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes because of the offer. If there is a Home Owner’s Association, offer to pre-pay the dues for a year or even two. It is not always necessary to do this out of your pocket. Done right and you can pay for it with the Buyer’s money. If you are selling for an extra $5,000 and paying out $2,500 to attract a buyer aren’t you making, not spending. If you do not attract a buyer quickly what is remaining for you to do to get your home sold? Lowering the asking price?

Lowering Your Asking Price: OMG, is this like the worst idea ever? As you now know I look at all the expired listings daily. I see expired listing after expired listing with price reduction after price reduction. What kind of message does this send to a potential buyer and their agents? Any chance of getting an offer anywhere near the amount the homeowner was hoping to get just went right out the door. That is why listings with this kind of history expire without selling!! This is truly marketing #101 in reverse!! Personally, I always question if the home was priced incorrectly to begin with or is this DESPERATION. Either way, this history does not go away with the MLS listing. It becomes part of the permanent MLS history available for all to see. My suggestion here is don’t make the same mistake twice by re-listing with the same agent.

Pricing It RightRegardless of how well you renovate and stage your home, it is still important to price the home appropriately. No matter what price point you are in the potential buyers are looking at other homes that same price point. If your home is as attractive, smaller, older or not as upgraded you got a problem. Before listing your home for sale, I will prepare a comprehensive report to show you the current market value of your home. Overpricing often results in an extended time on the market. An extended time on the market will almost always result in an asking price reduction and eliminate completely getting any asking price. The Buyers become a lot like sharks. Sharks can smell blood in the water. Buyers can smell a homeowner becoming desperate. Do it right to begin with and you will have an opportunity of getting not only full value, but maybe even more.

Curb AppealSellers often overlook the importance of their home’s curb appeal. The first thing a buyer sees is a home’s external appearance and the way it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. Try to make certain that the exterior has a fresh coat of paint, and that the bushes and lawn are well manicured. In real estate, appearances mean a lot. What better way to set your home apart than to make it attractive at first glance?

Depersonalize: This is so important and almost never is done by homeowners. Remove all the personal items. This includes personal family, vacation, military, sports photos. Remove all the personal items on tables, vanities, dressers, chest of drawers, etc. Remove or put out of site coffee cups, containers on kitchen countertops, memorabilia of all kinds, gun safes and gun racks, hairbrushes, toothpaste, etc. You just not believe what I have seen displayed in homes that I am trying my best to sell including golf clubs in wall racks, trophies of all kinds, surfboards and on and on. This just makes it all but impossible for a potential buyer to picture a home being their own. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which house hunters can project their own visions of living there and loving it.

Home Improvements: This is not the same as home repairs. Don’t over-improve it. According to an article in Realtor Magazine, some renovations, such as adding a bathroom or putting new shingles on a roof, might not always pay. The data suggests that the nationwide average amount recouped for a bathroom remodel is about 58%. For a new roof, it’s even less. If you’re going to invest in home improvements, do your research and be sure to put your money into the things that are likely to get you the best return. In addition, if you have added any custom features that you think buyers will be interested in, make sure they are included in the home’s listing information.

Clutter: Not much makes a home look worse than excessive furniture and “stuff” laying around. Clean off the kitchen countertops, no dirty dishes left in the sink, vanities cleaned off, put the toothpaste away and pick up all the toys, etc. Too much furniture will make the rooms, i.e., the home look smaller. Not many buyers are looking for smaller.

Doors, Blinds, and Air Conditioning: Let the sunlight in and open all the interior doors. Turn the A/C down to 76 degrees. Dark areas – leave on a few lights. Light music in the background doesn’t hurt one bit either. Clean, clean and clean some more. You want your property to look spotless. Take special care with the bathroom, making sure the tile, counters, shower, and floors shine.

Don’t be the Problem: Realtor to Realtor remarks section of the MLS containing phrase like this: Pre-Qualified Buyer Only; Proof of Funds Required; Buyer must qualify with ABC Mortgage (example) before cleared for showing; Listing Agent must be present at all showings; call listing agent for showing instructions; remove shoes at front door. Put a little faith in the Buyer’s Agent. They are not driving the potential Buyers around for the fun of it. Give them a chance to do their job. Realize possibly nothing makes a Buyer’s Agent want to NOT show a home more than the Sellers and Seller’s Agent instructing them on how to do their job. And for crying out loud make the home welcoming, not unattractive. Taking off your shoes, really? The home is not going to be yours in 30 days. Go buy a mop!

Don’t Be The Problem #2: The Realtor to Realtor remarks section of the MLS should never show statements like these: 2-hour notice before showing; no showings on Saturday; no showings after 5:00 pm; showing approval only after submitting pre-qualification letter; dog will be removed during showing appointment window. Get out of your own way! Get up every morning, make up your bed, put the toothpaste in a drawer, put the dishes and coffee cups in the dishwasher and clear off the kitchen counter of all small appliances (make the countertops look larger). Be prepared to show your home with a moment’s notice. And, be gone during the showing window… GONE, not leaving…. GONE. And, take the dog bowls, dog food and the dog with you. And do not let your agent make mention of the dog anywhere in the MLS. There are lots of people that will not buy a home that a dog lived in. Some people have allergies. Same for a cat.

Buyer’s Agent Commission: Offer cheap commission to the Buyer’s Agent. Most will drive two blocks out of the way to keep away from your home. We can help you with this. Be the guy with the cheap commission and should the Agent show your home and the Buyer want to make an offer, you can just bet the Buyer’s Agent is going to say something like this home is overpriced. It’s a way to “get even” with the homeowner for the cheap commission. (Yes, that happens often). The “normal” commission is different at different price points and different areas. This requires some research and will be included in the report you will get from me. It is very important to know how many homes in your areas are in your price range and what they are offering to the potential buyers and buyer’s agents.

Smoking inside, smell bad? Just shoot yourself in the foot. Non-smokers will smell this at the front door and be heading out the door without even seeing the home in many cases. Over 85% of Buyers do not smoke.

Personal Items that do not Convey: Are you turning down the offer without even seeing it? Do one of two things with items such as drapes, blinds, refrigerators and any other items that you would like to not sell with the home. Put those items in storage (not the garage) or just wait and see what the offer is before you start turning it down. You can always be happy enough with the offer to let that stuff go or counteroffer eliminating the personal items. Or, state the items was a gift from your deceased mother and you just cannot part with it (works every time).

Add some plants: Green is good because plants create a more welcoming environment. You might also want to consider a bouquet of flowers or bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or dining table. Put place settings on the kitchen table with a nice tablecloth. Give the kitchen a WOW factor. That is an improvement that always pays dividends.

Hide valuables: Not much else makes a buyer feel more uncomfortable than to be inside a home for sale and notice valuables laying around. From art to jewelry, make sure that your treasures are out of sight, either locked up or stored offsite. The idea is to make your guest (potential buyers) feel comfortable and stay as long as they want.

Hire The Right Agent: Of the utmost importance realize all Agents are not the same. All do not have the same education, experience and successful track record of getting homes sold. Hiring the best cost no more, while hiring less can be very expensive.