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Professional Tips for Home Sellers

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Selling your home can be just as overwhelming or stressful a procedure as purchasing a property. The simplicity or difficulty of the process depends entirely on your attitude and level of involvement. Your home will not sell itself; you must be proactive to see results. Consider the following tips to help you when you are selling your home:

  1. Good marketing is essential for getting the best price.
  2. The first impression should be the best impression.
  3. Know your priorities and establish your limits.
  4. Set the reasonable price to be taken seriously as a seller.
  5. Have a plan for selling your home.
  6. Find an agent that is right for you.
  7. Take offers in to account.
  8. Protect your interests - obtain a professional home inspection and home appraisal.

Good Marketing is Essential for Getting the Best Price

Most sellers are primarily concerned with getting the highest possible price for their property in the least amount of time, but they often have no idea how to accomplish this goal. Simply, it comes down to good marketing. The more exposure your property gets, the more likely you are to receive multiple offers which can lessen the amount of time it takes for your property to sell. Multiple offers usually means not having to compromise on your asking price. You have the ability to negotiate and get the most for your property. If you fail to market effectively and are under time restraints to sell, you may be forced to lower your asking price and lessen your profit margin.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you effectively market your home for sale:

  • Set the right price.
  • Hire the right agent and get exposure in the market.
  • Ensure your property is in selling condition.
  • Sell yourself and your property.

The most important aspect of good marketing is setting the right price. If your asking price is unrealistic, or does not reflect the current market or the property value, potential buyers will simply not take the listing seriously and it will damage your credibility as a seller. You want to generate as much interest as possible and attract numerous buyers by setting a fair price.

If you are unsure as to what a fair price is, seek professional advice from an agent. Hiring an agent will also help get your property exposure in the market. Your agent should list your property on MLS and other appropriate real estate websites. You can also market personally, by posting signs in your yard, taking out advertisements in local media, or even just spreading word of the sale through friends, associates or web-sharing sites such as Facebook.

In addition, your home must be ready to sell. It can be difficult to effectively market a property that is not ready to have new dwellers move in. This means any outstanding repairs, renovations, cleaning, or general maintenance should be completed. Adding a fresh coat of paint and keeping the property immaculate will make a good impression on potential buyers and, in some cases, prompt an immediate sale.

With good marketing and your property in selling condition, you are now ready to meet potential buyers and negotiate the sale. Prove to the buyer that this is the right transaction for both parties. Potential buyers may hesitate to state an offer, or refuse to pay the asking price. If you are not willing to negotiate, you need to innovatively illustrate why your offer is enticing. If you are in a position to do so, you can offer the buyer other incentives such as pre-sale renovations or even buyer financing at lower than market values. It is your job to sell the buyer on your property.

The First Impression Should be the Best Impression

Once opinions are formed they are often hard to change. If you want buyers to form a positive opinion of your property, offer them something they cannot resist. Leaving aspects of the home in need of repair gives a potential buyer a reason to walk away or to use their negative first impression as a bargaining tool. An aesthetically appealing property, clean and in excellent condition, can influence a buyer emotionally and evoke the attachment to the home that will motivate them to make an immediate offer.

Ask for opinions regarding the condition of your home from others, and solicit the advice of a real estate agent who sees numerous homes on a daily basis. An agent can give you tips on how to improve the condition of your home to make it more appealing for sale. An objective, unbiased opinion will be the most valuable. You have to remember that your emotional attachment to the property might blind you from seeing areas that need improvement.

The following general repairs and maintenance should always be considered when trying to sell your home:

  • Assess interior and exterior paint. Put on a fresh coat or make touch-ups as necessary.
  • Check the condition of your floors. Ex. Remove stains on carpet, patch ripped linoleum, etc.
  • Tidy the yard and driveway.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter inside and out.

For more information, and great advice on home repairs, see The Home Renovation Guide.

Know Your Priorities and Set Your Limits

There are numerous reasons for selling your home and knowing yours will help you set priorities and limits when negotiating the sale. For example, if you are selling because of a job relocation and need to move as soon as possible, it might be unrealistic to set getting a high price as a priority when the sale is ultimately being driven by time. This is not to say that you will not get a high price, it just means that you need to realize the sale cannot be dependant on price. You will need to be flexible because a buyer who is offering a quick close might be more appealing than a buyer who is offering more money.

Be sure to set a minimum price that you will accept. It is important to be flexible on your price, but within reason. Your agent should be able to help you determine if your goals are reasonable within the current market. You still need to consider your interests and, hopefully, make a reasonable profit.

Setting a minimum price will also save you time. You should consider all offers seriously, but be able to quickly dismiss those that are not realistic. Know your bottom line and stick to it.

Set a Reasonable Price to be Taken Seriously as a Seller

Price is the usual dictator of shopping habits, especially when it comes to real estate. Buyers usually perceive looking at properties outside of their price range as a waste of their time. If you set your asking price too high, you will alienate a lot of potential buyers and lose out on the sale.
Price is the first thing a buyer will look at. If your property does not reflect the market or actual property value, you will not be taken seriously as a seller. In order to set a reasonable price, consider the following:

  • Compare your house to other listed homes of similar size, location, etc.
  • Research buyer trends.
  • Be realistic and set a price that reflects market trends.
  • Ask your agent (if applicable) for a CMA that includes:
    • Other houses in your price range and area that sold within the last six months
    • Current inventory of houses on the market
    • Features of houses on the market (are they similar to what you are offering?)
    • Difference between asking and selling price for all homes sold
    • Current market condition

Have a Plan for Selling your Home
Selling your home will be much easier if you have a plan. Consider the following seven simple steps and be well on your way to making the sale:

  1. Understand how your reason for moving will affect your sale - If you know that time is a priority or that price is integral than you are in a better position to negotiate and get what you want. You are better able to determine what you can and cannot be flexible on.
  2. Ensure your home is in selling condition and give the buyer a good first impression. This means making any last minute fixes or improvements that will make your home more attractive to buyers.
  3. Hire a professional, reputable real estate agent who understands your needs, who will work for you, and who can negotiate the best deal.
  4. Prepare to negotiate and try to understand the transaction from a buyer's standpoint. By understanding your buyer, you will know your limitations and what demands you can or cannot make.
  5. Stick to your pre-set goals and start negotiating for the best price. Know that you do not have to accept the offer as is. You can provide a counter offer and negotiate further.
  6. Ensure the contract is complete upon accepting an offer. This means that all information is accurate and truthful concerning the condition of the property.
  7. Insist that a professional home inspection is completed to protect yourself and the buyer. An unbiased third party opinion will help to alleviate any issues (legal or otherwise) after the sale is complete.

Finding an Agent that is Right for You
When hiring a professional service it is always extremely important to make a decision based on your own personal needs and situation. You have the right to be selective. Choose someone that you can work with and someone you can trust.

If you decide to list with an agent, look for someone who is well connected with the industry. Ask detailed questions and determine how well he or she knows the market. You can also ask the agent to provide references, a sales history, current listings, and even a marketing plan for selling your home. It is also a good idea to find someone who is familiar with your city and community.

Personality and character traits are also important. Someone who is assertive, but not overly aggressive, is likely to negotiate well, but not alienate potential buyers. Ask yourself if you would do business with this person. Your instinct and comfort level will help you make the right decision.

Taking Offers into Account

If your successful in marketing your home, offers should start coming in. At this point, you need to understand how to read and handle the offers. Keep the goals you have set in mind when taking offers in to account. If you decided that price was the most important factor in selling your home, ensure that the offer supports this. Read over the terms carefully. Make sure you understand what items such as these implicate:

  • The buyer will pay the majority of the closing costs
  • The buyer will be responsible for any repairs
  • The buyer is pre-approved and able to quickly close the deal
  • The buyer may offer an all-cash deal

Do not rush through an offer. Read through the entire package and determine if the offer meets your needs. If it does not, you can submit a counter offer and work with the buyer to make the property sale happen.

Protect your Interests - Insist on a Home Inspection

Real estate transactions are major investments for the buyer and also a big deal to the seller. It is important to protect both parties, so having a home inspection is a must. By having a home inspection completed, both parties will be aware of the property condition and each can make their own decisions based on the outcome.

A professional home inspection includes an assessment of the plumbing, the roof, the electrical, and the structural integrity. Many of these things are not readily visible and can be missed or overlooked by an untrained eye.

The formal written home inspection report protects you, the seller, because it details the actual physical condition of the property at the time of sale. This prevents the buyer from coming back after the transaction is complete and demanding that you make repairs.

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