Understand why you are selling – your motivation how you approach the process affects asking price and how much time, money, and effort you are willing to invest to prepare your home for sale. Is your goal is a quick sale or are you willing to take longer to maximize profits.
Keep the reason you are selling to yourself – Don’t provide ammunition to your prospective buyers. For instance, if they learn you must move quickly, that could place you at a disadvantage in negotiations. When asked, simply say your housing needs have changed.
Do your homework before setting a price – As a seller, you want to get a sales price as close to your asking price as possible. By starting out too high, you run the risk of not being taken seriously, as buyers will be comparing your overpriced home to others that are priced correctly. At the same time you will miss the valuable initial exposure time that can generate the most interest when you should be appealing to buyers that would otherwise be able to afford your home, but don’t see it because it is out of their range. On the other hand, if you price too low, no one wants to leave money on the table.
Setting your home’s sale price – If your home is in a subdivision of similar or identical floor plans around the same age, look at recent sales of like homes in your neighborhood. If you’re in an older neighborhood, you may find that homes have changed over time in minor or substantial ways, and that there might not be many homes truly comparable to yours. You may wish to consult a real estate professional to assist you. If you decide to sell on your own, a good way to establish value is to look at homes sold in your neighborhood within the past few months. Include your competition currently on the market. A trip to City Hall or the County Assessor’s website can provide you with home sale information in the public records, for most communities.
Do some “home shopping” yourself – Check out your competition online and in person at open houses. Note floor plans, appearance, condition, lot size, location and amenities. Note not only the asking price, but what are they actually selling for. If you’re serious, Don’t set a price higher than your neighbor’s similar home. Sales often go to the most compellingly priced home, all else being equal.
Getting an appraisal sometimes can help – A good appraisal may benefit your marketing your own home, letting buyers know that if can be financed. However, appraisals cost money, have a limited life, and there’s no guarantee you’ll like the figure you hear, nor is it a guarantee you’ll even get that price.
What tax assessments really mean – tax assessments are based on a number of criteria that may not be related to property values, so they may not necessarily reflect your home’s true value.
Deciding on a realtor – According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 2/3 of the people surveyed who sold their homes themselves say they wouldn’t do it again. Reasons included setting a price, marketing handicaps, liability concerns and time constraints. When deciding on a realtor, consider two or three, and be as wary of quotes that are too low as those that are 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 on experience, qualifications, personality and enthusiasm, and choose someone that you trust and feel 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 paperwork, contracts, etc, and should problems arise you now have someone to readily call upon.
Appearances Do Matter – Make them Count – Appearance is critical. The look and feel of your home will generate a greater emotional response than any other factor. Buyers react to what they see, feel, hear, and smell, even though your home may be priced just right.
Invite honest opinions – Don’t rely solely on your own judgment, and do invite the opinions of others. Be objective about your home’s good points as well as bad. Fortunately, your Realtor will be unbiased about discussing what should be done to make your home more marketable.
Get it super clean, de-cluttered, and fix everything – Scrub, scour, tidy up, de-clutter, steam clean the carpets, declare war on dust, repair squeaks, the light switch that doesn’t work, and tiny bathroom mirror crack, as they can become deal killers, or at the very least, causes for discounting your price. Remember, buyers will discount more in their mind than the actual cost of repair. You are not just competing with other resales, but new homes as well.
Allow buyers to visualize themselves in your home – Don’t make them feel like they are intruding into someone’s life. Avoid too many knick-knacks, decorate in neutral colors using today’s designer accents as appropriate, and place a few carefully chosen items to add warmth and character. Well placed vases of flowers or potpourri in the bathroom can help. Home decor magazines are great for tips, and you may even wish to hire a professional stager. Remember, you can only make one first impression. Before a prospective buyer enters your home, turn on all your lights, and open your window blinds and drapes. You may even wish to turn on soft music, and bake some cookies for a welcoming aroma. And unless you are selling you home on your own, you’ll want to leave the home or step outside to allow the prospective buyers and their agent to freely express themselves and enjoy the tour without being intimidated.
Deal killer odors must go – You may not realize it, but odd smells like traces of food, pets, and smoking odors can kill deals quickly. If prospective buyers know you have a dog, or that you smoke, they’ll start being aware of odors and seeing stains that may not even exist. Try not to leave any clues.
Be smart and disclose everything – Smart sellers are proactive in disclosing known defects in writing, reducing possible liability and future problems. In Washington State, sellers are required to fill out a special disclosure form. Be as honest and as forthcoming as you can.
It’s better with more prospects – Maximizing your home’s marketability can create competition and may result in a higher price for you, whereas a single buyer can end up competing with you.
Keep Emotions in check and out of the equation – Be detached, both in setting the price and in negotiations. Letting go of the emotions you’ve invested in your home and using a business-like manner in your approach will give you an advantage over those who get caught up emotionally in the situation.
Learn why your buyer is motivated – The better you know your buyers the better you can use the negotiation process to your advantage, helping you to control the pace and duration of the process. Generally, buyers are looking to purchase the best affordable property for the least amount of money. Knowing what motivates them can be an advantage. If, for example, they need to move quickly, you are in a better position to bargain.
What the buyer can really pay – As soon as possible, learn the amount of mortgage the buyer is qualified for and the down payment. If the offer is low, ask their Realtor about the buyer’s ability to pay what your home is worth.
When the buyer would like to close – often, when buyers would “like” to close is when they need to close. Knowledge of their deadlines for completing negotiations can create a negotiating advantage for you.
Signing on your next home before you sell your current home – beware of closing on your new home while you’re still making mortgage payments on the old one, or you may end up becoming a seller who is eager, (even desperate) for the first deal that comes along.
Moving out before you sell can be a disadvantage – Vacant homes are often more difficult to sell because they become forlorn looking, forgotten, and no longer as appealing. It can also send the message that you have another home and are probably motivated, which could cost you thousands.
Deadlines can create a serious disadvantage – Trying to sell by a certain date can add unnecessary pressure and is a serious negotiation disadvantage.
Don’t take a low offer personally – Often, initial offers are below what both you and the buyer knows he will pay for your property. Don’t be upset, but evaluate the offer objectively. Ensure it spells out the offering price, sufficient deposit, amount of down payment, closing date, and any special requests. This can simply be a starting point from which you can negotiate.
Turn that low offer around – You can counter a low offer or even an offer that is just under what you are asking. This lets the buyer know the first offer isn’t seen as being a serious one. Now you’ll be negotiating only with buyers with serious offers.
Maybe the buyer isn’t qualified – If you feel the offer is inadequate, now is the time to make sure the buyer is qualified to carry the size mortgage the transaction requires. Ask how they arrived at their figure, and suggest they compare your price to prices of homes for sale in your neighborhood.
Ensure the contract is complete – Check that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the purchase and sale contract. It should include the date it was written, names of parties involved, property address, purchase price, where deposits will be held, date for loan approval, date and place of closing, type of deed, including any contingencies remaining to be settled, and what personal property is included.