Selling in 3 easy steps (& 7 things NOT to do!)

A life long friend of my family asked for advice on selling her daughter’s house as quickly as easily as possible. Check out what I told her about price, condition and presentation:

“Price is the most important part of selling. Price it too high and no amount of marketing or quality pictures matter….it won’t sell. Heck, I’ve even seen poorly presented listings sell quickly because the price was accurate.

If she is going to list with a realtor, she should find one that does a lot of work in her price range. Ideally an agent that works with as many buyers as sellers. Agents that primarily list houses only see one house per client. An agent that works with a lot of buyers sees multiple houses per client. Seeing more houses (especially in the same area and/or price range) make the agent familiar with what is normal and how buyers will respond to her house.

I would price it slightly above the market value so it sticks out among the competition. The trick is to know within 1% either way what the house is worth. That is the hard part really. I don’t know what the market is like where she is. Around here, we try not to price them where there is a lot of room for negotiation. In some rural counties around us it is normal for a house to sell for way less than the asking price. Here, the average list to sale price is 96.5%. I usually get about 98% of my list prices because I can ((usually)) determine what a buyer will be willing to pay.

Next is to present it well online. She will want EXCELLENT pictures. I pay for a pro. It is well worth it. People make the decision whether to see the house or skip it based on the online presentation. It has to be done well. I try to find out what is unique about the property and write my description accordingly. People want to know what is special about a house, not that it has all the same stuff as every other house in their price range. If a house doesn’t feel special in some way, then there is no reason to come see it in person.

Then there is how the house looks when they get there. The house really has to deliver what the pictures and marketing remarks promised. There is nothing worse than a buyer who is let down once they get there.

The buyer needs to see something they like as soon as they enter the house. If the buyer likes what they see once they step in, they are more forgiving of things they see later that they do not like. If they do not like something as soon as they walk in, they are critical of everything. I see this all the time with buyers.

She will need to get the house ready. I haven’t seen the house so I have no idea what it specifically needs, but a deep cleaning, fresh paint, decluttering and fixing visibly broken things really helps to catch a buyer. If she can’t deal with many issues, work on the 2-3 biggest ones. You would think buyers would balance the good and bad, but they don’t. If there are a few major negatives no amount of positives will make them pull the trigger and buy it. I tell sellers there are two ways to do this unless it is just an awesome Seller’s Market. You either put the effort in up front and can usually sell quickly, or you leave your house on short notice for multiple showings, get negative feedback and no offers, then end up doing everything you should have done in the first place.

Turn on every light in the house and open every blind unless it shows an ugly view. Take out the garbage. Keep the yard looking good. New mulch is like paint for your yard….it really gives it a fresh look. Make the front door area look good since that is what the buyers will be seeing while the agent is trying to open the lockbox.

Some things NOT to do:

1. Don’t run the dishwasher or have laundry going during a showing.

2. Don’t cook stinky food before a showing.

3. Don’t play music. Often people with fancy audio equipment want to show it off. It is distracting to have music playing in every room.

4. Don’t put out potpourri or those nasty Glade plug in air fresheners. People with asthma will leave ASAP and everybody will wonder what odor you are trying to cover.

5. Don’t stay at home for the showings. LEAVE. Buyers always feel like they are crashing into your life if you are there and they will want to leave in a hurry. It is hard for a buyer to decide if they want the house when they feel like an intruder.

6. In case she will have the house vacant while on the market, don’t do something like keep the thermostat too high or too low. People that are too hot or too cold don’t stick around much either. And don’t turn off the water. Somebody will use the restroom and won’t be able to flush.

7. If she comes home and a buyer is still there, don’t run them off. It typically means they were running late or they are past their appointment time because they love your house and don’t want to leave. Drive around until they leave or park way down the road. Just don’t make them leave……it would be like a movie scene where two people about to kiss get interrupted.

That is about it. I needed to blog today so I may just cut and past this!!”

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