Spring is rapidly approaching – are you one of the many home owners listing your home for sale this year? Sure, last year may have seemed like a breakthrough, but the still recovering housing market is just as quirky as The Doctor’s TARDIS. And unless you consider condition, preparation, pricing, and marketing; your home sale could fall flat.
A home’s condition can affect a home’s sale price (sometimes significantly), and is often overlooked by home sellers and listing agents. It is not uncommon for owners to put off home maintenance, especially after the financial crisis of 2008; housing experts estimate that home improvement spending decreased about 28% between 2007 and 2011. Deferred maintenance can deter some home buyers, while motivating others to make a low offer. You can get an idea of potential cosmetic, mechanical, and structural issues by having a pre-listing home inspection.
Whether or not you choose to address deferred maintenance and repairs prior to listing, preparation is required to get ready for home buyer viewings. One of the most important things to do to prepare your home is to declutter. Decluttering is often overwhelming because sellers expect to make the home immaculate; but really, the purpose to decluttering is to give rooms a neat and spacious feel. Decluttering will make you decide which items to keep, what to throw out, give away, or put in storage.
Home staging is a way to create a “vision” for home buyers. Home staging can get pricey if you hire a staging professional and rent furniture. But it doesn’t have to be expensive; “do it yourself stagers” can often transform a home with little or no money. If your home is vacant, inexpensive rentals can be used as room “place holders,” to help convey a room’s size and use to buyers.
Pricing your home correctly can mean the difference between a successful sale and languishing on the market. A common mistake that occurs in a recovering market is the eagerness to price high; but buyer push back can be an abrupt awakening to the realities of the housing market – making you wonder why your home is not selling. Be careful of the listing agent who intentionally over-prices your home, this is an old technique to persuade you to sign a listing agreement; the flip side is listing with an agent who intentionally prices the home too low, promising a “quick” sale (which only makes the sale easy for the agent).
Marketing a home sale has changed significantly in the last five years. Gone are the days of “set it and forget it.” Creative agents are constantly seeking avenues to publicize and promote listings. A sales strategy can determine the correct positioning for the home; while implantation of a marketing plan can include new and imaginative methods, such as placement in specialty magazines and websites, video, and even open house “parties.”
Many don’t realize that the internet is where a majority of home buyers now congregate, viewing your MLS listing across hundreds of websites. To bolster online appeal, make certain your agent uses professional pictures, inspired home descriptions, and complete MLS information. Be wary of new marketing technology, which often has mixed results; for example: “virtual staging” is a technology than can enhance online appeal by electronically staging a home, but can flop when buyers expect to see what is pictured.
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. This article was originally published the week of February 10, 2014 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © Dan Krell.