It is no secret that the real estate market has slowed down in the past year. Inventory of homes for sale is up, and the time on market for home listings has increased. In the past, selling a home was pretty easy. Demand was high and competing offers were quite common. In contrast, today’s market is favoring buyers. Buyers have more choices and are able to be picky, so selling a property now requires more effort and more patience.
Here are 10 quick tips to keep in mind if you are looking to sell your property:
- First impressions matter – The single biggest marketing event for a property is when it first comes on the market. You will receive the highest number of website views and in-person showings during the first few weeks that a property is on the market, so make it shine! Make sure the exterior appearance and yard is neat and tidy. The interior should be well-organized, free of clutter and clean, clean, clean. Strongly consider staging, particularly if your home is vacant. Home stagers also can help to rearrange and de-clutter your home if you are still living there. Seek the advice of your real estate agent on the appearance of your home. Swallow your pride and allow them to be critical. They see homes every day and know what helps to sell a home more quickly.
- Price it to sell – Everyone wants to sell their home quickly, but to achieve this in today’s market, you must price your home accurately. A home should be priced based on a recent market analysis on homes that have sold in your neighborhood. Comparable sales should never be older than six months and you should always give the most weight to homes that have actually sold. Don’t try to “test the market” with a higher price, which will simply increase your time on market. Be honest and analytical in your approach, and don’t set your price based on the proceeds you would like to receive at the end of the process.
- Go and see your competitors – There is no better way to gauge your competition and to set your price than to see similar homes for sale near you. At a minimum, your agent should see competitors in person, but it is even better if you can go along. Pick an afternoon and ask your agent to take you through 5 or so homes that you think are competitors. Take notes and make direct comparisons to your own home.
- Acknowledge your property’s weaknesses – All real estate is unique and every property has certain weaknesses. Some homes have more obvious weaknesses that need to be addressed with your price. Whether it is an ugly view, a noisy location, messy neighbors, or an odd floor plan, buyers have choices and will simply pass on such a property unless the weakness is reflected by a lower price.
- Patience is a virtue – Marketing a home takes time. This is often one of the toughest things to go through as a seller, but you should mentally prepare yourself that it could take awhile. The time from listing until you receive an offer is often measured in months, not days. This is normal, and consider yourself lucky if you have an offer in hand during the first month.
- Share your situation with your agent – Much like a lawyer, a professional agent cannot fully help you if you don’t share your situation with them. If family or financial situations require an urgent sale, make sure your agent knows that. Agents will likely recommend a different pricing approach for someone who needs to sell immediately versus someone who can afford to wait a few months.
- Be willing to change the price – If no one is showing your property or if you have had no offers after a long time on the market, you need to lower your price. Price is the single largest motivator to change the behavior of buyers, and no amount of advertising or open houses will be as effective as a lower price. Make your price decrease a substantial, meaningful amount and be sure to give them time to take hold in the market (4-6 weeks, typically).
- Negotiate all offers you receive – A buyer’s market will bring out lowball offers, which sometimes feel insulting. Don’t be offended and don’t bet deterred. Everyone wants to buy for a lower price and buyers feel empowered right now. Inevitably buyers are willing to come up in price, sometimes far enough to make it acceptable to the seller. The only way to find out is to continue the negotiation with formal written counter-offers.
- Maintain your home during the listing – Your home may be on the market for a number of months. Keep the yard maintained and make sure that the interior is neat and clean at all times. If a property is vacant, enlist the help of your real estate agent to keep an eye on the condition of the home when they visit for showings. Consider hiring a yard service or maid service to keep things in top condition.
- Insist on feedback from showings – Your listing agent will receive a list of agents who have shown your home to buyers. Make sure that your agent has a plan to gather feedback from those showings. There is no better gauge of what the market thinks of your property than feedback from a group of active buyers and agents in your neighborhood.