January 17, 2012
Brunswick Forest

From Ideal Living Magazine’s Choose Your Ideal Place

When buyers have the upper hand due to a large inventory of homes on the market, it’s essential that sellers prepare properly. Taking the time to craft a smart sales plan that involves a little extra effort can yield healthy financial returns, even in a less-than-stellar market. Here are some ways to maximize your home’s profit potential.

Price It Right

In a challenging market, one of the first things real estate agents will encourage you to do is to price your house appropriately the first time. In several surveys, real estate agents agreed that the most common mistake sellers make is pricing too high. Many people incorrectly assume that if it does not sell they can always lower the price. While that strategy works in an a sellers’ market because prices will rise to your list, in a buyers’ market, each day you are further from where you should be and missing the fewer number of buyers, who usually immediately write off homes that are overpriced. The starting point for determining the right price of your home is the recent selling prices of comparable properties in your neighborhood. Many real estate agents will provide complimentary market analyses. If you discover that your asking price differs significantly from an agent’s recommendation, consider spending approximately $500 for a property appraisal.

Choose an Experienced Agent 

Houses no longer sell themselves, so you’ll need an experienced, hard-working agent that has the time and energy to do everything necessary to sell your home. You’ll want to select an agent who—

•   Is accessible and returns calls quickly.

•   Will promote your property online. (Nearly 90 percent of the nation’s potential homebuyers use the Internet to aid real estate transactions.)

•   Is willing to do open houses for potential buyers (not just brokers).

•   Sells a lot of homes in your area.

Your agent should provide you with a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA), which is based on recently closed sales, pending sales and the number of properties for sale in a similar price range.

The data pulled should be very recent (less than three months old if possible), and comps should be within a half-mile. However, if sales are sluggish in your area, you may have to go back farther than three months to find comps, discounting your price three to five percent for each additional month. All that data should give you a starting point to decide how to price your home. A good place to start is, where you can track home sales in your neighborhood. Information is compiled from tax reports.

It is important to know your home’s competition. Your asking price should be based on facts.  Those facts aren’t limited to knowing what the asking price is for homes with similar square footage. You have to know what’s going on inside the home. Has the kitchen been remodeled recently? Are there two bathrooms upstairs versus your one? Details like that are important when figuring out how a buyer is going to compare your house to others.

Details are even more important now. Your house needs to be the best-looking house out there. It needs to look like a model home.

Get Your Home in Great Shape

A clean house is an absolute must, along with some relatively simple and inexpensive improvements that will help owners boost the return on their investment. If possible, the owners should do all of the work themselves.

Fresh coats of paint and new carpeting not only add contemporary panache, but also help to eliminate odors, the kiss of death for just about every sale. Hardware on cabinets, sinks, and doors are simple ways to update your home, as are new linens on beds and towel racks.

Clear your home of clutter. Remove furniture, knick-knacks, and pictures. If you have trouble doing this, consider hiring a home stager.

Make Basic Household Repairs

Sellers can avoid haggling with a potential buyer by ensuring the buyer’s inspector can’t identify many, if any, needed repairs. For about $300, sellers can hire an inspector to check electrical outlets, examine gutters and plumbing, along with other infrastructure.

Create Good Curb Appeal

A home shopper’s first impression is everything. When they pull up to the curb, they’ll make an instant judgment, and you want it to be positive. Make sure outdoor furniture is clean and freshened with new cushions. Plant seasonal shrubbery and flowers and make sure leaves are raked up and shrubs and bushes are trimmed. Repair external siding and fencing.

Offer Incentives 

Value-added incentives can help expedite a sale. For example, you could offer to include your appliances, a home warranty, or offer to pay the nonrecurring closing costs—the loan appraisal, loan points, credit report, title insurance, and property inspections. These costs usually run about three to five percent of the cost of the home and can be a major motivation to buyers.

Develop Market Savvy

Amenities such as schools (particularly those with high test scores, which can be identified through the local school district’s administrative offices), parks, shopping centers and transit lines could be powerful selling points. Check with your local police department to find out your neighborhood’s crime rate, and highlight any favorable findings. Leave handouts highlighting unique features for prospects to review.