Tip #1: Find Out What Your Home is Really Worth
Before you do anything, it’s important to find out what your home is worth in today’s market. There are so many factors to consider when determining an appropriate list price–factors such as curb-appeal, age, condition, location, upgrades, neighborhood amenities, current market conditions, seller motivation, possible negative influences such as power lines, busy roads and much more. You can use Zillow’s “Zestimate”, but this would not be a figure that you should rely upon to make such an important decision. Agents can look up your home online, review tax records and past MLS sales and then provide a price recommendation based upon what can be viewed online; however, this is not the best method either.
The safest way to get the most accurate value determination is to have an experienced, full-time agent visit your home–this will give the agent an opportunity to check out things like the curb appeal of your home, look for signs of economic obsolescense in your area, look for neighborhood amenities and things that might affect your home value positively or negatively. You can also hire an appraiser prior to marketing your home and this is something I advise for all clients with homes valued at one million or more and for clients who have very unusual homes for which there are few if any comparable sales.
Tip#2: Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Home
Just how important is curb appeal? It’s a very important factor when preparing your home for sale. After showing homes to buyers for over 20 years, I can tell you that many buyers will not want to get out and look at your home if the outside looks terrible. Of course, there are investors who don’t care and buyers who have vision, but your average buyer may be really turned off by a lackluster front yard and shabby exterior. Keep in mind that the curb appeal is the buyers first impression of your home — you only get one chance to make a first impression so make it a good one. Here are some tips to improve curb appeal:
- Clean up your landscaping and add some color with flowers
- Clean your front door and paint or oil as needed
- Paint the exterior of your home if it’s in the budget
- Make sure your roof looks well kept–if tiles are missing, flashing or gutters are hanging off, be sure to fix these items
- Give your mailbox and house numbers a face lift — a beat up mailbox and missing house numbers don’t send the right signal
- Power wash any oil stains off your driveway
- Fix your broken doorbell button — this is a small item, but I see so many that are cracked or hanging from wires
Your realtor should be able to offer some great suggestions in terms of improving curb appeal. Keep in mind that you are trying to set the right tone before a potential buyer even steps inside your home.
Tip #3: Get the Inside of Your Home in Tip Top Shape
Creating curb appeal that pops is only part of the battle–the inside of your home should also sizzle if you want to get top dollar. Types of improvement projects will vary based upon your budget, neighborhood home values, how soon you need to list, etc. Here are some basics that should be covered before you go to market:
- De-clutter your space–don’t take this personally–you may love your curio cabinet and license plate collection, but the future buyer probably won’t. Think of model homes as you remove items from your house–try to achieve a warm, but minimalist look. A good interior designer or home staging professional can greatly improve your chances of selling in a shorter amount of time and for the highest price; if this is not in the budget, check out this article from HGTV for home staging tips
- Consider hiring a home inspector prior to listing your home to identify items that may need attention. By repairing items ahead of time that could show up on a home inspection, you are communicating to the buyer that your home has been well maintained and that it’s quite possibly worth a bit more. If you need a Scottsdale/Phoenix area home inspector, check out my resources page for more info
- Replace your A/C filter and have your unit professionally serviced. Due to our extreme summer heat, buyers are particularly concerned about the A/C unit–it’s important to keep yours in good working condition
- Clean all windows inside and out
- Clean or replace all worn carpeting
- Touch-up paint as needed. You don’t necessarily need to repaint your daughters pink bedroom, but if you painted your bathroom bright orange, it might be a good idea to make it more neutral–the idea is to appeal to as many buyers as possible
- If replacing old appliances and/or counters is in the budget, a kitchen update may be worth considering
It may not be in the budget to spend thousands of dollars improving your home prior to listing, but most homes need a little help. Even small improvements and repairs can make a big difference when it comes to selling your home for top dollar.
Tip #4: Be Prepared for the Rigors of a Home Sale
I always tell my seller clients to be prepared–selling a home can be a real hassle when it comes to coordinating pets, kids, keeping the home spotless, etc. As a listing agent, I try to take as much burden as I can off the shoulders of my clients, but there are some things I simply cannot do. Here is a short list of key things to keep in mind once your home is actively listed:
- Have a plan to keep the home clean and tidy and be ready for last minute showings. Most of my clients prefer a few hours notice, but there will be times when an agent drives by with clients in tow and would like to see the home right away. Getting people through the door is important so it’s great if you can have your home spic and span during showing hours. Whether you hire a cleaning service for the listing period or make a schedule to tidy up the home daily before leaving for work, make this a priority. Some buyers just can’t see past a mess and even if everything else is perfect, you could lose a buyer or receive a lower than desired offer.
- Make your home available for showings. We all have schedules and things to do, but if you make it difficult to show your home, you’re killing your chances of getting top dollar. Homes that are difficult to show often end up on market longer–this usually means a lower final selling price which is the result of lower offers and/or chasing the market down as the days on market stack up. The idea is to make it easy for buyer’s agents to show your home–this means having an electronic lockbox and offering reasonable showing hours with a fairly short amount of notice required. Of course there are always exceptions and some homes are better suited for private showings with the listing agent. Ask your listing agent prior to marketing the home about what makes the most sense for your property.
- Try not to get too emotional during the listing period. This is just business. Some folks will love your home and others may take a few jabs in the form of feedback–take it all in stride and keep your eyes on the target. There is a buyer for every home and sometimes it takes many months to get a home sold. Be patient, and in time the marketing your agent is doing and the efforts you are making will pay off–someone will fall in love with your home just the way you did!
Tip #5: Understand the Offer & Negotiation Process before Your Home Goes Live on the MLS
You just might make more money on the sale of your home if you have a little contract, offer and negotiation knowledge before that first offer arrives. Here are some things to consider:
Review the Residential Purchase Contract at the time you list the home. Having a little contract knowledge will help take some uncertainty out of the negotiations. When you get an offer, it can be very exciting and dare I say emotional–you don’t want to get up to speed on the basic terms of the contract the day the offer arrives. Talk to your agent about how dual agency and multiple offers will be dealt with. Talk to your agent about how “low-ball” offers will be handled. Understand your agents’ negotiation methodology–it’s a good idea for you and your agent to be on the same page in terms of how the negotiations will be handled. Understand the home sale process from start to finish–view some key home selling steps here.
There are definitely other considerations, but hopefully the above tips provide the ground work for a successful and fruitful home sale!