1. Commit to the Process
The smart home seller makes a conscious decision and commitment to sell, plans carefully what to do when the sale occurs, chooses the timing carefully when possible, prices the home in accordance with recent comparable sales, keeps emotions in check and out of the way, listens to the advice of and lists the home with a professional and allocates adequate time off from work to handle all of the above. In any market there are homes that go up for sale and just don’t sell. Believe it or not, the number of homes not selling (called expired listings in the trade) can be as high as 40-60%. Why? The reason is simple – commitment on behalf of the seller. Too often homes are listed for sale to “test the market”, or to “see if we can get our price”. At other times, the homes are just not in condition to be sold – at any price. Seller commitment, not to a listing, but to a sale, is critical.
2. Hire a Seller’s Agent (Listing Agent) to Represent You
Industry estimates vary but it is generally thought that over 90% of homes are sold with the assistance of a real estate agent. Unless you have significant home selling experience and current knowledge of applicable laws, regulations and market conditions it just makes good sense to hire a professional. After all, you would go to the Dentist for a toothache and visit an Attorney for your will. Why would you try a home remedy for a significant financial transaction like selling real estate?·Most home buyers today are choosing to be represented in the transaction by a Buyer’s Agent. This means that they are choosing to have someone on their side in the hope that it keeps the playing field level or perhaps tilts it in their direction. The prudent home seller will also choose to obtain professional assistance and representation.
3. Clean Up / Fix Up / Inspect
When selling a car or boat most people will fix it up, clean it up, wax and polish it, buy new tires for it, etc., etc. However, those same people often set out to sell their home with the idea that they should just be able to put a sign in their front yard and get ready to move. On the other hand, people that buy homes want a clean well kept place in which to live. They don’t welcome taking on the task of correcting someone else’s problems and neglect. It also pays the prudent home seller to arrange for an inspection prior to listing the home for sale. A licensed home inspector will turn up many issues which merit correction in the areas of structural integrity, repair & maintenance or safety. Since the home buyer will be sure to have his own inspection done prior to finalizing the deal it just makes good sense to find out these things early and take care of them up front. The result is a faster sale for more money.
4. Price It Right – The First Time
If the first rule of real estate is location the second rule is price. One of the principle reasons homes do not sell in a reasonable period of time is because they are priced incorrectly – usually too high. Problem is, after a home has been on the market for a while without selling buyers become wary. . . “it has been for sale forever, there must be something wrong with it.” “But we can always come down on the price” say the sellers. Yes, you can – and should. The problem is that homes that are priced too high to begin with usually don’t receive a price reduction soon enough and eventually sell for less than they would have had they been priced properly to begin with. Solution: Hire an honest, competent Seller’s Broker and follow his advice on pricing.
5. Time It Right
Granted, not everyone has the luxury of being able to plan their move around the “selling season” and there is no doubt that homes are sold all year long. Problem is, too often discretionary sellers wait to get motivated until the season has passed them by. Then they spend time and effort getting the home fixed up, price it at (or above) the level where homes were selling during the “active time of year”, put it on the market during the worst time of year and – wait, wait, wait. If the timing cannot be controlled, other things can. The astute seller will seek counsel with a trusted Seller’s Broker as to market conditions and timing – and then act accordingly.
6. Market It Right
It just makes common sense. If you want to sell a property it must be available to be seen by the prospective buyers – when they want to see it. Often this means short notice on showings. It also means that all agents need to have the easiest access possible to get their buyers in the door. In most markets this means a key box on the property. · There is a general belief that advertising is the principle key in obtaining showings of homes for sale. Advertising is needed. In fact, the most effective advertisement is the professional For Sale sign in the yard. But, what is not well known, is that the next best advertising is not as readily seen by the general public. It is the Multiple Listing System. MLS is seen by those who actually sell real estate, RealtorsÒ / brokers / agents. Unless MLS does not exist in a given market the seller should depend on his Seller’s Broker to properly display the home in MLS. In today’s market it is also critical to use the latest technology. This means that you must have internet exposure and a Realtor® willing and able to manage your listing and sale accordingly.
7. Know Where You Are Going
If you are selling it usually means that you will be moving. Not only will you be moving but the buyers will want to move in once the transaction is closed. Sounds easy enough. Problem is that sometimes sellers think that they can sell but there should be no urgency on their move out. Wrong. Buyers almost always want Possession at Closing and usually expect to close within in a reasonable period of time following an agreed Contract to Purchase – typically 30 to 45 days. There are many options for the seller, the easiest of which is already having another home purchased. If this is not feasible there are other possibilities to be explored but this needs to be done prior to beginning the selling process. An experienced Listing Agent can assist the home seller in evaluating these options and can usually represent the seller as a Buyer’s Agent for the purchase or rental of the new property.
8. Insist on Pre Approved Buyers Only
When a home seller receives an offer to purchase there should be one primary factor that is always considered first – and it is not price. This factor is whether or not the buyer is financially able to conclude the transaction. As a seller you have limited knowledge about who the buyer is or how reliable they may be. However, you do have the ability to insist that they demonstrate their financial ability. Many buyers require financing when they make a home purchase and the financing approval process is quite intense. When a home buyer has made the effort up front to get pre-approved a statement from the prospective lender regarding the buyer’s pre-approval status can be provided.
9. Negotiate Smart
So, you did most everything right and now have a written purchase offer in hand. What now? A lot depends on the price, terms and conditions of the offer and the strength of the buyer. There is no pat formula as to how to respond to an offer but some general negotiating principles usually apply. Try to understand the buyer’s needs and reasoning. For example: Is the offer low because the buyer thinks excessive repairs will be needed? If so, does the buyer have a valid point? Now’s the time to get realistic if you haven’t already. Try to respond to the offer so that a Win/Win agreement can be reached. For example: It might be foolish in a strong seller’s market to be relentless in extracting every possible dollar and concession from the buyer in the negotiation. After all, without this buyer there might not be a sale at all and the worst thing that can happen is “buyer’s remorse” at the last minute and refusal to close. Sometimes an offer is just not acceptable or even worthy of a response and sometimes multiple offers are received at the same time. Your agent sees a lot more offers than you do and should be a key player in helping you make the right decisions in handling negotiations.
10. Be Pro-Active
This may seem to be a given to most people but it is truly amazing how many home sellers think that all they have to do is sign the contract and everything else will magically occur without their participation. The fact is that there are many details that only the seller can resolve to assure a timely, trouble free sale and closing. The Seller’s agent will counsel and assist throughout the process but the seller will have the best overall result by being fully aware of all aspects of the process and asking as many questions as possible along the way.