Selling Your Home: A Game Plan For Success

With fall in the air, football on many minds and baseball’s World Series just around the corner, now is a good time to remind everyone that readying a home to sell in today’s market is akin to prepping for the big game. You are in a hotly competitive match-up where the best game plan will carry the day. Here are a few tips that can lead to victory when selling against other homes in your league:

Pricing your home with absolute correctness should be the biggest component of your game plan. Your goal is to seal a deal quickly while the home is still new to the market and attracting inquiries from serious buyers scouring for fresh properties. If you cling to fond memories of what your neighbor’s home sold for two years ago, you’ll end up asking too much and buyers will move on to the next home, filing yours away with the rest of the overpriced inventory. A home priced at just below market value will definitely pique the interest of real estate professionals and their buyers. However, if you ask too little—in hopes of selling that much faster—buyers may suspect a problem home with potential defects that could cost them dearly down the road. Either way, the longer a home lingers on the market the better chance it has of becoming stigmatized. For this reason it is never a good idea to test the market with a high price believing you can always lower it down the road. Remember, the first 30 days are the most critical.

Our advice is to get an up-to-date appraisal and ask your sales associate for a current CMA—Competitive Marketing Analysis. These will help you establish a price that is at once accurate, fair and competitive.

Do everything in your power to make your home a better buy, without necessarily lowering the price much below market comparables. Many sellers are not offering “buy down” incentives on mortgages, or credits toward closing costs. Which is exactly why you should! By paying the discount points, you get your price, the buyer ends up with lower monthly payments and you move happily on. Plus, paying down the points and/or closing costs are considered selling expenses, which can be deducted from the capital gains reported on the sale.

Spruce up the inside of your home, to the point of having it professionally “staged,” if need be. This means removing clutter, toning down any over-the-top colors or décor items and stowing away personal memorabilia—such as family photos—all of which make it difficult for buyers to envision themselves living there. Professional stagers add furniture, art and other décor items—as appropriate—to dress the home for more beautiful photography, virtual tours and live showings. Remember, in today’s marketplace over 80 percent of homebuyers start their search online and 61 percent visit homes they first previewed over the Internet.

Spruce up the outside too. The trip from the driveway to the front door can be a deal killer, if the buyers get turned off before they ever get inside. Paint, plant and prune!

Be flexible about when your home can be shown. With so many homes for buyers to see, if you place too many restrictions on when they can see yours, you may find it rarely gets shown at all.

Keep one step ahead of a potential buyer. Hire a home inspector to inspect the home before it goes on the market. This helps provide an impartial assessment of the work that needs to be done—such as roof repairs or plumbing upgrades—making the home that much more attractive, or further reducing its cost to mitigate for the buyer performing his own repairs. Be assured the buyer will get his own inspection, so be smart and avoid nasty surprises by having your own done first.
We’d love to hear any additional tips that readers can offer that will also help expedite a sale in today’s market.


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