I’ve been speaking with several folks around town lately who tell me they plan on listing their home for sale in 2015. For a lot of people, it’s about downsizing or upsizing, re-locating for work, or wanting to move closer to family. While there are many reasons folks are considering a move, there is one constant among them – a desire for the greatest return on investment they can achieve!
So how do you best position yourself for a profitable, and pronto, sale of your dear Nolensville home in the New Year?
8 things you should consider…
1.) SEEK PROFESSIONAL REPRESENTATION – In the recently released 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88% of sellers and buyers reported using a real estate agent. For sellers, the main needs were professional marketing of their home, guidance selling the home within a specific timeframe, and help pricing the home competitively. Reputation, honesty, and integrity were cited as important qualities in the agent they worked with.
Surveyed home buyers said they wanted professional assistance finding the right home, sought guidance in the home-buying process, and placed importance on honesty and integrity in the agent they worked with.
For Sale By Owner (or FSBO) will always be a part of the market, but realize that if you go this route, you’re quite possibly missing out on 9 out of 10 available buyers! Your local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) will always be the most visible means of marketing a home. This is a service built, paid for, and maintained by Realtors® as a means of marketing properties to peers in the industry. Professional marketing of your property through MLS, real estate web portals, industry-networking, and old/new media methods gets your property the greatest opportunity to be seen by the buyers who are out there.
Now, there is a caveat to working with a real estate agent: not all agents are created equal, but all agents have friends. An agent’s personal network drives the majority of their business. So even if someone is not a full-time agent, or they’re undisciplined, or unknowledgeable, or lazy, they’ll still get some amount of business each year… but is that the kind of agent you want to work with?
When you consider a real estate agent, your friend’s and family’s recommendations will carry some weight – but do yourself a favor and really vet that recommendation. Your very first action should be Googling the name of the agent who was referred to you. Barring agents with a very common name (John Smith), you should realistically expect to find them on the first (or at worst) second page of your search query.
If you have to really dig to find the real estate agent you’re considering working with, move forward with caution. If an agent can’t effectively market themselves… how good are they going to be at marketing your home?
You’ll also want an agent who is familiar with the area. There are many fine Realtors® out there, but if they tend to work in a different part of town, they might not be as knowledgeable about the local market as you’d like or need. When it comes to what will likely be the biggest financial transaction of your life, it really does pay to go with local experts.
2.) PRICING IT RIGHT IS THE BIGGEST PART OF MARKETING – Sure, there’s a lot that goes into marketing your home: photography, videography, placement on MLS and real estate web portals, ads, signs, social media, etc; but grossly overpricing it can kill any opportunity for your home to generate traffic, let alone sell.
Buyers today are the savviest they have ever been. With a wealth of information available on the Internet, and guidance by knowledgeable buyer-agents, today’s home buyers are not going to accept a price-point that stretches well above what the market says it should.
So what is “the market?” It’s your neighbors, it’s your community, it’s the amount of similar real estate transactions in your geographic area that have recently taken place. A local real estate market is in constant flux, changing month to month. Missing the correct price point in the beginning can derail your attempts to sell the rest of the way.
Consider this graph to the right: a listing traditionally hits its peak activity its third week on the market. By week six, activity begins sliding and the longer a home sits the more likely it will be considered a flawed listing. (Note: this example applies to a market-average residential home. High-end, luxury homes, undeveloped land, and commercial properties generally take longer to sell – sometimes as long as a year or more.) Your best window to achieve a full price sale is about one month! How do you accomplish this? By correctly pricing your home from the get-go.
Over-price from the beginning and your home likely sits… and not only will you not get your asking price, but there’s a good chance you won’t even get the price you should have begun with!
Don’t fall victim to the agent who “buys” your listing!
No, this agent isn’t actually buying your home… this phrase is industry jargon for the agents whose tactic for earning business is promising you a list-price that’s above the norm. Example, you interview three agents: agent 1 says he’d sell your home for $355,000… agent 2 says she’d sell your home for $356,900… agent 3 says he’d sell your home for $379,900. Who do you think many home sellers are going to choose? Yeah…
Here’s the reality. Agent 3 earns the business and lists the home at $379,900. The home sits on the market for weeks, receiving only a few showings here and few showings there. Nobody makes an offer and before you know it, the home has been on the market 60 days. The agent convinces the sellers to drop the list price to $369,900. The home sits on the market another 30 days with no offers made. Now the sellers are getting really nervous because they’re about to transfer to another state for work and their home has no offer on it. They green-light the agent to drop the price to $355,000 (where it should have been priced in the beginning,) but wait – it’s now 90 days later! The home has been stigmatized – it’s not receiving any showings despite the two price drops. And the market has changed in 90 days and there’s more inventory – buyers are looking elsewhere. The home sits for 100 days and is ultimately taken off the market and put up for rent.
That is exactly how it plays out more times than you’d like to admit. Be smart – don’t be a sucker. Everybody likes the idea of their home selling for BIG bucks, but often times reality gets in the way. Listen to the agent who has facts… the agent who has a plan… the agent who is honest. Don’t let an agent “buy” your listing!
3.) PRESENTATION IS KEY – How many times have you looked online at homes and saw the dark, under-exposed photos… the blurry shots… the angle that shows you nothing? C’mon folks – it’s the Internet age and buyers demand better! The National Association of Realtors® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that almost 90% of people use the Internet as part of their real estate search – 8 out of 10 begin their search online!
It’s imperative that you have not okay… not good… but exceptional media marketing your home. This means professional photography, professional videography, and outstanding web-presence in addition to the usual methods of real estate marketing that includes signs, opens houses, and ads.
When I market a home, I pour tremendous time and resources into the process. My listing photos are all shot with a high-end Nikon DSLR camera and wide angle lens suitable for indoor photography. I use the HDR process to develop my photos to ensure maximum clarity, contrast, and color. Just click on this photo to the right and tell me it’s not impressive?
Video is the future of real estate
Brokers are saying it, industry observers are saying it, buyers are craving it – video is the future! (No, not cell phone video shot vertically) You want real estate video that is informative, appealing, and ENGAGING! There is more and more of it out there, but not very much of it is good. I come from a professional news background so yeah, I’m pretty critical… but viewers aren’t dumb. If a video is boring, if it’s too long, if it drones on and on they will tune out and you will have missed your opportunity to make an impact.
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I produce my own real estate videos (just as I do my own HDR photography) and I put emphasis on story-telling. Showing your home on video shouldn’t be cringeworthy, it should be exciting and make buyers want to come and see it in person! I work hard to keep the video at a manageable length, include narration and upbeat background music, and edit it so there is little drag. Click on my video above and see what you think. Check out more of my videos here.
4.) MAKE YOUR HOME ‘WOW’ THEM – We all know you live in your home. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home. And in our mind’s eye, isn’t it always better if there’s no clutter, no smell, clean floors and sparkling windows? I was recently asked by a person how to best differentiate your Nolensville home from a neighbor’s when they look very similar. A first step – make it shine!
Nolensville has a handful of builders who build in many of the neighborhoods. The result is a lot of the homes look very similar. That means it becomes even harder to distinguish yourself from the competition. Pricing strategy is one important piece of the puzzle… the other is aesthetics.
If I’m looking at two Turnberry homes in Bent Creek and they both were built the same year, have the same Buckingham floor plan, are on similar lots and have similar paint schemes, it’s going to get down to the nitty gritty. No joke.
How many scuffs are on the walls, how much dust is on the master bathroom lighting, why does it smell like a cat in here? These things matter – and they are the difference between selling and not when competition is fierce.
Decluttering is essential. Spit-Shining is imperative (well, don’t actually use spit.) Plug in some Glades and hide the photos of crazy Uncle Lewie – you’re competing with new construction and a host of similar floor plans, so you’ve got to make this house stand out!
I provide my clients with digital guidebooks for staging your home and preparing it for market. Don’t scrimp on this step or you’ll be left in the dust.
5.) IF IT MEANS SOMETHING TO YOU, PUT IT AWAY – The downside of listing your home for sale is you’re going to have a whole lot of strangers walking through it. Realtors® are very good about keeping an eye on folks when they’re showing your house, but Open Houses are another beast. Your home might have a dozen people in it a the same time, walking through all the rooms, looking inside your closets, inspecting the cabinets.
In this circumstance, Realtors® do their best to keep an eye on everyone, but sometimes the numbers are just overwhelming. We like to believe everyone out there has an honest heart, but some folks do, indeed, have sticky fingers. Simply put – if it’s valuable to you, chances are it’s valuable to someone else. Lock it up, hide it, take it with you. Don’t tempt fate.
6.) KNOW WHEN YOU’VE GOT A GOOD OFFER AND RUN WITH IT (TRUST YOUR REALTOR®) – I had a listing client a while back whose home I was selling in the half-million dollar range. The client was consulted that his initial asking price was a little high, but he wanted to hold tight. Against my better judgement, I relented and marketed it at the price he desired. An offer eventually came for roughly $20-grand below asking… both sides negotiated the price and were eventually separated by $5,000. The seller would no longer give any and the buyer walked away over a roughly 3% difference between final offer and initial asking price.
The home sat on the market. We eventually dropped the price to roughly what the final offer was from the buyer who previously walked away. But now – going back to key point number 2, above – we had missed our window. The home continued sitting. My marketing was bringing in a ton of prospects (all told, we had over 30 showings) but no offers! It came down to price.
Finally, the seller was convinced to drop his asking price to a number the current market said it should be at. Two full-price offers came in one day, but the seller wound up getting $12,000 less for his house than he would have if he had taken the offer from the very first buyer he haggled with in the beginning. Not to mention, several more months were spent paying a mortgage and utilities and taxes that could have been avoided had the first offer been taken.
Key takeaway – listen to your Realtor® when he says you’ve got a good offer. It will probably be the best one you’re going to get.
7.) DON’T LET A LOWBALL RUIN YOUR DAY – Buyers want to see how much they can get for as little as possible. It’s their nature. And if your home has been on the market beyond a month, chances are it’s one of the offers you’re going to get.
Don’t be discouraged. A lowball is the beginning of a conversation, which usually leads to a negotiation, which hopefully ends with exclamation – a sale!
A savvy agent working on your behalf will respond in a business-manner, not an emotional one. At this point, it’s up to your agent to further educate the prospective buyer (and buyer-agent) on the value of your property and why it’s worth the asking price. Marketing doesn’t end when the sign goes up – it continues with every prospect who walks through the door.
8.) ARE YOU READY TO MOVE? IF YOU HAVE TO ASK THAT QUESTION YOU’RE ALREADY BEHIND – When your home comes to market you should also be in the mindset that you could be moving in a month. So have a plan in place – interview and select a mover. If you haven’t already bought your next home, begin looking or consider a rental until you get squared away.
Selling is stressful enough, but adding a last-minute move into the equation is formidable. Do yourself a favor and get a head start. Ask your Realtor® for recommendations and advice on how you can make the process as seamless as possible.
And there you have it – a good road map for getting your home ready to sell in 2015.
Folks, I am a Nolensville resident and your Nolensville Realtor®. I’m happy to meet with you in person if you have any questions, and I’ll of course work on a no-commitment Comparative Market Analysis for your home if you’re interested. (Just be prepared to also hear why I should be the Realtor® you ultimately work with.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful New Year!