The Art of Selling Your Home
Things to consider before you start the process.
As a home owner that is considering selling your home your first concern is getting the best price for a place that has been an integral part of your life. To you, the flaws are overshadowed by the wonderful memories and events that you have had in your home. However, the potential buyer only has the material facts to entice them to make the purchase. i.e. does the location work for me and my family, is the noise of the thruway/busy street/train going to interfere with my sleep or entertaining outside, are there enough bedrooms to house my family or future family, if not, is there room to add on or ways to reconfigure the plan. Are the bedrooms all on the same floor or am I going to have to run up or down stairs when my child is sick or scared. Is there a place that my elderly parents can visit without having to navigate too many stairs? Am I going to navigate too many stairs? Will I be able to fit my 20 closest friends in the dining room for the holidays? Is the Oven big enough to fit the turkey? How much is it going to cost to replace all of the mechanical/ appliances? Are there hardwood floors underneath all of the 60’s shag carpet? How is that driveway going to be in the ice and snow? The potential buyer may look at everything from the silverware drawer to the linen closet to determine if the house will accommodate their needs.
As everyone in Real Estate knows, the first rule in value is Location, Location, Location. Although you may know that you have the best neighbors in the world, be aware that neighborhood property size, impact from a noisy road, train noise, deed restrictions, lack of privacy, wet lands and flood zones could impact your value.
How much is your home worth?
There are as many unique homes as there are people, but the more traditional home (in New England that means a Colonial Style with the main bedrooms on the same floor) typically appeals to the most potential buyers so it usually has a stronger value. Your contemporary, cape, split level, ranch raised ranch as well as quality of construction ( stick built vs. modular) may be spectacular but will not have as broad of a potential buyer pool and that, will ultimately, impact the price. It is simply a matter of supply and demand.
The best way to know the potential value of your home is to have an experienced agent create a Comparative Market Value. I usually like to take at least three colleagues from my firm view your home. We, as a team, will consider all of the influences, good and bad, that would impact the value. The benefit of having a team of agents look at your home is that each agent could be working with a different buyer; they would have first hand knowledge of how the house would be perceived by their clients. If you decide to get a market evaluation from several agencies, pay particular attention to the comparable properties that they are using. Make sure that your house on .20 of an acre isn’t considered the same value as a house that is on .5 of an acre or on the water, that your house of 5500 square feet isn’t grouped in with the house down the street that is 2500 square feet, that your two bedroom home isn’t in the same category as the five bedroom home and that your updated contemporary isn’t in the same price range as the updated colonial next door. Your true comps are those properties that have sold, that are the most similar in location, style, size and condition to yours. The properties that are currently active listings are a litmus test of how your property will be viewed, is it better value than the house down the street? Your goal is to make your house the best value for a potential buyer.
Do not be offended if your agent points out the potential issues that may impact a buyers interest in your home. They are doing their job. Try to step back and see it as a business transaction. Do not be influenced by the agent that only tells you how wonderful your house is. It may be truly great but no house is perfect and it’s best to be aware of the issues that may come up. If you have two price opinions that are close and another that is much higher don’t let the flattery get to you, generally you will end up frustrated and reducing it over time until it is less than the other agents told you the value was at the beginning. In the meantime, the listing has gotten old and the buyer agents remember it as “the house that was overpriced” and will not show it even though you’ve reduced. Don’t try a higher price to “test the market” all you will succeed in doing is missing the potential serious buyer that may have looked at your house if it had been at a realistic price. Don’t think that “oh let them make me an offer”. Most people won’t consider making an offer if they don’t think the seller is realistic and, if they do make an offer it would probably be for less than your home would sell for if it were priced properly and attracted more potential buyers.
Getting your house sold.
In preparing your house for listing remember, you only have one time to make a first impression. If your house needs cleaning, repairs, painting or staging done, don’t wait. You may love the bright colors that you’ve painted your walls or the heavy curtains that block the light, but most buyers visualizing their furniture in the space don’t have the imagination to picture it with another color. One agent said to me that you never hear anyone complaining about a house having too much light and she is right, if you have burnt out light bulbs, replace them heavy window treatments, consider replacing them with sheers if you want to block out the rusty car next door. If you have moved out of your house and there are rooms that don’t have overhead lighting, make sure you have a lamp left behind, especially during the winter when the sun is not around as much. Don’t feel that any improvement you do is a waste of time or money. If you haven’t had a survey including elevation done since you bought the house you should get one up to date. Consider having a building inspection done for your own benefit. Make sure you are aware of any deed restrictions or easements that are on your property. If you’ve had work done on the house make sure that the permits are closed. If there is or was an underground oil tank, know that you will probably have to have it removed and if it’s already been removed, find the documentation that you were given to show that it was done to code. In other words, get as educated as you can ahead of time because, if the agent of the potential buyer is doing their job, all of these questions will need to be addressed. If you have to wait for the answers because it will take a couple of months, you could lose that potential buyer.
In today’s market the new buyers are more concerned with the costs of doing the updating and repairs. Your house is more marketable if it is easy to move into without having to spend a lot of money immediately. Be prepared to leave when you have a showing scheduled, like browsing in a shop, people get uncomfortable when they have someone following them around. They are also not able to speak freely with their agent who may be able to reassure if they’re on the fence about your property.
When your agent makes suggestions, take them seriously. Their goal is the same as yours, getting the best price in the shortest amount of time, and typically they are trying to alleviate your stress by taking it on themselves. Also remember, selling a house is not for the weak of heart and requires a team effort. Your agent is usually the messenger.. Please don’t shoot them.