Because your home may be your largest asset, selling it is probably one of the most important
decisions you will make in your life.
To better understand the home selling process, I have prepared a guide from current industry insider reports. Through these "27 Tips" you will discover how to protect and capitalize on your investment, reduce stress, be in control of your situation and make the highest return possible on your property.
1. UNDERSTAND WHY YOU ARE SELLING YOUR HOME
Your motivation to sell is the determining factor as to how you will approach the process. It affects everything from what you set your asking price at to how much time, money and effort you’re willing to invest in order to prepare your home for sale. For example, if your goal is for a quick sale, this would determine one approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process might take longer thus determining a different approach.
2. KEEP THE REASON(S) YOU ARE SELLING TO YOURSELF
The reason(s) you are selling your home will affect the way you negotiate its sale. By keeping this to yourself you don’t provide ammunition to your prospective buyers. For example, should they learn that you must move quickly, you could be placed at a disadvantage when negotiating. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Remember the reason(s) you are selling are solely for you to know.
3. BEFORE SETTING A PRICE – DO YOU HOMEWORK
When you set your price you make buyers aware of the absolute maximum they have to pay for your home. As a seller, you will want to get a selling price as close to your list price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high you run the risk of not being taken seriously by buyers and their agents and pricing too low can result in you selling for much less than you should be able to get.
Setting your homes selling price
If you live a subdivision - If your home is comprised of similar or identical floor plans built in the same time period, simply look at recent sales in your neighborhood subdivision to give you a good idea of what your home is worth.
If you live In an older neighborhood - As neighborhoods change over time each home may be different in minor or substantial ways. Because of this you will probably find that there aren't many homes that are truly comparable to your own. In this case you may want to consider seeking a Realtor to help you with the pricing process.
If you decide to sell on your own - A good way to establish a value is to look at homes that have sold in your neighborhood within the past 6 months, including those now on the market. It is how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your home. Also a trip to City Hall can provide you with home sale information for most communities in its public records.
4. DO SOME ‘HOME SHOPPING’ YOURSELF
The best way to learn about your competition and discover what turns buyers off is to check open houses. Note floor plans, condition, appearance, lot size, location, and other features. Particularly, not only the asking prices but what they are actually selling for. Remember, if you’re serious about getting your home sold quickly, don't price it higher than your neighbors.
5. WHEN GETTING A APPRAISAL IS A BENEFIT
Sometimes a good appraisal can be a benefit in marketing your home. It lets prospective buyers know your home can be financed. However, an appraisal does cost money, has a limited time life and there is no guarantee you will like the figure.
6. TAX ASSESSMENTS – WHAT THEY MEAN
Some people believe that tax assessments are a way of evaluating a home. The difficulty here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria that may not be related to property values so they may not reflect your homes true value.
7. DECIDING ON A REALTOR
According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly two thirds of the people surveyed who sell their own homes say they would not do it again. Primary reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns and time constraints. When deciding on a Realtor, consider more than one and be as wary of those that give quotes that are too low as those that provide quotes too high.
All Realtors are not the same! A professional Realtor knows the market and has information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan and will provide their background and references. Evaluate each candidate carefully on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm and personality. Be sure you choose someone that you trust and feel confident will do a good job on your behalf.
If you choose to sell on your own, you can still talk to a Realtor. Many are more than willing to help with paper work, contracts, etc. and should problems arise you now have someone you can call upon.
8. ENSURE YOU HAVE ROOM TO NEGOTIATE
Before settling on your asking price make sure you have left enough room for negotiation. For example, look at your lowest and highest selling price then check your priorities to know if you will price high to maximize your profit or price low to market value if you want to sell quickly.
9. APPEARANCES DO MATTER – MAKE THEM COUNT!
Appearance is so critical that it is unwise to ignore this when selling your home.
The look and ‘feel’ of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Prospective buyers react to what they see, hear, feel and smell even though you may have priced your home to sell.
10. INVITE THE HONEST OPINION OF OTHERS
A big mistake you could make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment so seek out the opinion of others. You need to be objective about your homes good points as well as bad. Fortunately your Realtor will be unabashed about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.
11. GET IT CLEAN AND FIX EVERYTHING, EVEN IF THEY SEEM INSIGNIFICANT
Scrub, scour, tidy up, straighten, get rid of the clutter, declare war on dust, fix the squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work and the tiny crack in the bathroom wall because these can be deal killers and you will never know what turns buyers off. Remember that you are not just competing with other resale homes but brand new ones as well.
12. ALLOW BUYERS TO VISUALIZE THEMSELVES LIVING IN YOUR HOME
The last thing you want prospective buyers to feel when viewing your home is that they may be intruding into your life. Avoid clutter such as too many knick knacks, etc. Decorate in neutral colors, like white or beige and place a few carefully chosen items to add warmth and character. You can enhance the attractiveness of your home with a well placed vase of flowers or potpourri in the bathroom.
13.DEAL KILLER: ODOURS MUST GO!
Odd smells like traces of food, pets and smoking odours can kill deals quickly. If prospective buyers know you have a dog, or that you smoke, they will start being aware of odours and seeing stains that may not even exist.
14. BE A SMART SELLER – DISCLOSE EVERYTHING
Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can reduce liability and prevent law suits later on.
15. ITS BETTER WITH MORE PROSPECTS
When you maximize your homes marketability, you will most likely attract more than one prospective buyer. It is much better to have several buyers because they will compete with each other; a single buyer will end up competing with you.
16. KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK DURING NEGOTIATIONS
Let go of the emotion you have invested in your home. Be detached, using a business like manner in your negotiations.
17. LEARN WHY YOUR BUYER IS MOTIVATED
The better you know your buyers the more advantage you have during negotiations. This allows you to control the pace and duration of the process. As a rule, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property at the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them enables you to negotiate more effectively. For example, does your buyer need to move quickly. With this information you are in a better position to bargain.
18. WHAT THE BUYER CAN REALLY PAY
As soon as possible try to learn the amount of mortgage the buyer is qualified to carry and how much his/her down payment will be. If the offer is low, ask their Realtor about their ability to pay what your home is worth.
19. WHEN THE BUYER WOULD LIKE TO CLOSE
Quite often, when buyers would ‘like’ to close is when they ‘need’ to close. Knowledge of their deadlines creates a negotiating advantage for you.
20. NEVER CLOSE YOUR NEXT HOME UNTIL YOU SELL YOUR CURRENT HOME
Beware of closing on your new home while you are still making mortgage payments on your current home or you may end up becoming a seller who is eager (even desperate) for the first deal that comes along.
21. MOVING OUT BEFORE YOU SELL CAN PUT YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE
It has been proven that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant because it becomes forlorn looking and forgotten. Buyers start to get the message that you have another home and are probably motivated to sell. This could cost you thousands of dollars in the end.
22. DEADLINES CREATE A SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE
Don’t try to sell by a certain date. This adds unnecessary pressure and is a serious disadvantage in negotiations.
23. A LOW OFFER – DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
Invariably the initial offer is below what both you and the buyer know he will pay for your property. Don’t be upset, evaluate the offer objectively. Ensure that it spells out the offering price, sufficient deposit, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. This can simply provide a starting point from which you can negotiate.
24. TURN THAT LOW OFFER AROUND
You can counter that low offer or even an offer that is just below your asking price. This lets the buyer know that the first offer isn’t seen as being a serious one. Now you will be negotiating with buyers that have serious offers.
25. MAYBE THE BUYER IS NOT QUALIFIED
If you feel the offer is inadequate, now is the time to make sure that the buyer is qualified to carry the size of mortgage the deal requires. Inquire as to how they arrived at their figure and suggest they compare your price to the prices of homes for sale in your neighborhood.
26. ENSURE THE CONTRACT IS COMPLETE
To avoid problems, ensure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. It should include items such as the date it was made, names of all parties involved, address of the property being sold, purchase price, where the deposit monies will be held, date for the loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed including any contingencies that remain to be settled and what personal property is included (or not included) in the sale.
27. RESIST DEVIATING FROM THE CONTRACT
For example, if the buyer requests a move in prior to the closing date, just say no! Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through.