WHY YOUR HOME WON'T SELL AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
Greg Blake and Tim Smith e and Tim Smith
Table Of Contents
Why Should You Read This Book?
Does Listing Price Matter?
What To Avoid
Why It's So Easy To Sell Your Home For Less Than It's Worth
What Stops Perfect Homes From Selling
How To Sell A Home That Didn't Sell — Without Dropping The Price 19
Avoid This Rule At Your Own Risk
Why This 20% Rule Applies To Hard-To-Sell Homes
Grabbing Any Buyer's Attention
10. Luxury Home-Seller Strategy Sells Homes For 15% More Money
11. Why Home Staging Really Matters
12. Make Your Home Spotless
13. Details Win Home Sales
14. Important Features Of A Home
15. Why Pictures Of Your Home Can Stop It From Selling
16. The 3-Step Formula We Use To Sell Homes Others Couldn't Sell
17. Why Every Billionaire Home Sells
18. Negotiation Mistakes
19. Simple Negotiation Ideas
20. Why Your Dog Wants You To Hire Us To Sell Your Home
21. This Big Mistake Cost One Home Seller $36,000
22. Read This Before You Sign A Contract With A Buyer
23. Should You Consider Hiring A Real Estate Agent?
CHAPTER 1 Why Should You Read This Book? ead This Book? Ever wonder why one house sells quickly, while a similar house doesn’t? Why does one house sell for $188,000, while another house that’s identical in every way brings in $202,000? It just doesn’t seem to make any sense. The truth is, similar homes sell for varying prices all the time. It takes place all over the country. It happens in markets large and small. Surely, there must be some reason! These houses do not sell for more money by accident. No magic trick helped one seller get a better deal than the other. On the contrary, higher prices and quicker sales are the direct result of careful planning. Sellers can command higher prices for their homes if they use the right techniques. A few simple strategies, known only to the best sellers and the best agents, can make a huge impact on the success of your sale. The following chapters break down those secrets. See how each strategy translates into real-life examples. Houses brought to market with these tactics consistently sell quickly, and for more money — even if they failed to sell the first time around. Gather the information you need to apply the same formula to selling your home. When you sell, you’ll be able to take advantage of these techniques. Carefully follow the same formula to sell your home.
Thanks for taking time to look through this book. We sincerely hope it will help you make more money on the sale of your home. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’d be glad to help.
CHAPTER 2 Does Listing Price Matter? Are you sick of being told the reason your home didn’t sell was because it was “overpriced?” Most people think a home that didn’t sell was probably priced too high. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason homes don’t sell is not necessarily because of the price. It’s usually because the home was not marketed properly. It isn’t easy to sell something for full market value. After all, buyers are always looking for a deal, and shoppers now have more information at their fingertips than ever. You might need to negotiate the price with a buyer, but good marketing will help bring you a full-price offer!
Here’s a perfect example:
John was trying to sell his house. He put it on the market for $499,900. He hired an agent to help him sell it. The agent worked at a reputable firm and made a good effort to sell John’s house. • The pictures of the house were top-notch quality. • The marketing of the house was first class. The home was advertised extensively online, in the newspaper, and other marketing avenues. • The agent held an open house.
Yet, the agent’s efforts failed to attract a buyer. John’s agent suggested he adjust the price. After all, most of the similar homes in the area were priced around $400,000 to $450,000. The agent recommended dropping the price to $450,000. But John owned one of the nicest homes in the area, and his home had many features the other homes didn’t have. John knew this. He was reluctant to reduce the price. John hired another agent, who also failed to sell the home and also offered the same “advice:” Reduce the price.
At this point, John had two options:
• Option #1: n #1: Drop the price. Most of the agents he talked to told him his home was not worth what he wanted. They told him he should just “be reasonable” and drop the price to $450,000. • Option #2: Hire an agent who could sell the home for what it was actually worth. This agent’s marketing would need to get a buyer so excited about the home that they would be willing to pay full price. Fortunately for John, he picked Option #2. He contacted an agent who specialized in selling homes other agents could not sell. This agent worked at the top real estate company in his area and had a bunch of accolades. He took a closer look at the home and launched his own specialized marketing plan. • New pictures were better than the first agent’s pictures. • The marketing was better. There was even more advertising than before. • The agent didn’t just do a regular open house. He also did
a broker’s open house and invited other agents to view the home. The agent looked at John’s house and could clearly see it was worth the price. The agent put the home on the market for the same price, as the previous agents did. Only this time, something different happened. Sixty-three days later, the home sold for $480,000. The other agents were stunned. After all, they had told John his home was worth no more than $450,000. And, since most homes sell for slightly less than their asking price, an asking price of $450,000 would have most likely resulted in a final sales price of $430,000 to $440,000. Yet, the new agent had sold the home for more. It had taken only two months to capture a buyer’s attention. The unsuccessful agents were shocked (and a little bit embarrassed)! What had they missed? Why did the first two agents fail to sell the home, while the third agent sold it with ease? It’s because the new agent used a marketing strategy most agents don’t use. The details on this marketing strategy are explained within the following chapters. But first, we must be clear on one very fundamental point. Many people believe a house sells for exactly what it’s “worth.” That simply isn’t true. The price of a house is merely the final amount agreed upon by the buyer and seller. Many circumstances affect the final sale price.
Houses do NOT always sell for what they are “worth.”
• Sometimes they sell for more. • Sometimes they sell for less.
While that statement may seem like a no-brainer, it’s imperative you understand this. Strip away misconceptions, such as the idea that “worth” determines the sale price of a house. Now you are free to examine the real factors at work. Identify those factors, and you can leverage them in your favor. Take Cheryl and Richard, for example. They owned townhouses, only five doors apart. Both put their homes on the market at the same time. The builder had used the same floor plan for all the townhouses in their neighborhood. Both had the same layout. At first glance, each townhouse seemed to hold the same basic appeal for a buyer. You might think they were “worth” the same amount. Nope. Cheryl and Richard sold their homes within one month of each other. These townhouses seemed identical, but there was a $14,000 difference in sale price!
• Cheryl sold her home for $202,000. • Richard sold his for only $188,000.
Why the large gap in price? In a later chapter, you’ll see exactly what Cheryl did to make more money on her home. For now, just know that you simply can’t afford to guess the “worth” of a home!
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• Homes that don’t sell easily aren’t always overpriced.
Houses don’t always sell for what they are “worth.” • The selling price of a home is merely the final amount agreed upon by the buyer and seller. • The most skilled agents use special techniques that can help sell homes faster and for more money.
CHAPTER 3 What to Avoid
Here’s another example of a stupid mistake that caused a seller to lose about $50,000 — yes, that’s $50,000 — on their home sale. An alert buyer was able to snatch up a $280,000 property for only $230,000. It was being sold by an out-of-town owner. The agent the seller hired was not familiar with the area and suggested the low price. The agent did not bother to put a sign on the property, and hardly anyone knew it was for sale. Two buyers both wanted to buy this property. One buyer really wanted it because it was right next to his house. He would have a bigger yard with more room for his kids to play. The other buyer lived in the area and wanted a larger yard. He wanted to buy this property and build a house on it. The first buyer bought the property before the second buyer even knew it was for sale. As soon as the first buyer found out it was for sale, he made an offer immediately. The seller accepted the offer, and the property sold soon thereafter. This buyer would have gladly paid full market value for the property. But he didn’t need to, because the seller accepted the offer he made. The second buyer never found out the property was for sale until it had been sold. Even worse, the seller never realized the mistake. 9
Bottom line:The seller lost $50,000 because of his agent’s incompetence. While stories like this don’t happen every day, they happen more often than you’d think. It’s a very real risk you take when you hire an agent who doesn’t have a proven marketing plan. Had a sign simply been on the property, it definitely would have attracted more interest and possibly even started a bidding war, driving up the price. At $50,000 below market price, the listing would have been bid and counter-bid several times, possibly even up to fair market value.
Here’s a similar story.
In this case, a seller hired an agent whose incompetence cost her $25,000. Her agent completely flubbed a “perfect offer.” The buyer submitted an offer at full price for her home, no strings attached. Her agent dropped the ball and let a little problem—one that would’ve been easy to resolve—ruin a perfectly good sale! The house sat on the market for another year and ended up selling for $15,000 less than the original full-price offer. Even worse, the seller wound up having to make another 15 house payments, while her home sat on the market and she wasn’t living in it. Ongoing house (mortgage) payments are a frequently overlooked cost of not finding a buyer quickly. Please don’t become another one of these stories! Take time to know the true value of your home. Do your homework, and prepare for the sale before putting your home on the market. The
good news is that by reading this book, you’re already ahead of the game!
CHAPTER 4 Why It's So Easy to Sell Your Home our Home for Less Than It's Worth At a certain point, many home sellers feel like throwing in the towel. “I’m just going to drop the price and get rid of this house,” they think to themselves.
Fortunately, reason (usually) prevails.
A lot of people become tempted to “throw in the towel.” It even happens to highly intelligent people. Here’s an example: In 1997, entrepreneurs Larry Page and Sergey Brin were looking for a buyer for their Internet search engine. They called it BackRub. The two were seeking $1.6 million for the new online portal and were working a deal with Excite, a popular search engine at the time. The problem for Excite was that BackRub was far too effective a search engine. Users were finding what they wanted and moving off the site too quickly, which would be bad for Excite’s advertising business. Page and Brin cut the price dramatically, by more than 50 percent. They offered to sell BackRub for $750,000. (Yep, even geniuses cut their price.) Excite considered the offer, but ultimately balked. There was no deal. BackRub’s co-founders decided to commercialize and 13
release the product themselves. First, they renamed it.
They called it Google.
A little over 20 years later, Google is now worth roughly $360 billion. Excite was eventually sold to Ask.com. Bottom line: Fight the temptation to drop your price. Just because something isn’t selling does not necessarily mean it isn’t worth the price you’re asking. That clearly was true for Google, and it’s probably true for your home, as well. While the buyer of your dreams hasn’t yet emerged, it certainly doesn’t mean they won’t. Selling a home for top dollar fast is actually pretty simple. You just have to find the one person who’s willing to pay more for your home than anyone else. If they want it more than anyone else, then they will be willing to pay a higher price than anyone else.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER
• Many sellers get frustrated and reduce their price prematurely. • If your house isn’t selling, it means you haven’t found the right buyer yet—the buyer who wants your home enough to pay top dollar.
CHAPTER 5 What Stops Perfect Homes from Selling om Selling
Have you ever wondered why no one bought your house? I’ll explain the likely reasons in further detail as this book goes on. Have you ever heard the saying, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door?” Even though the saying might appear to be correct—at least on the surface—it’s false. More than 4,400 people have invented what they thought was a “better” mousetrap. At least, that’s how many patents have been filed with the U.S. Patent Office. But despite all the new mousetrap inventions, the classic mousetrap, first patented in 1894, is still the best-selling design. We're sure each of those inventors is frustrated. “Why won’t anyone buy my mousetrap? It’s genius!” they say to themselves. You sure you can relate to their frustration. Have you ever thought the following? “Why won’t anyone buy my house? It’s a great house!” Fortunately, there’s an answer to this question. “One cannot throw a great product out on the street and expect people to gobble it up.” This rule applies to inventions, homes, and even movies. Yes, even great movies need to be sold! Here’s an example of a great movie that didn’t do well when it was first released.
On September 23, 1994, the movie The Shawshank Redemption was released to the world. Adapted from a short story by legendary author Stephen King, the feature film centered on a pair of imprisoned men. Over 20 years later, The Shawshank Redemption is now considered one of the greatest movies of all time. In fact, it’s ranked as the best movie in cinematic history on well-known and respected website Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), ahead of the likes of The Godfather; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; and Schindler’s List. Another movie came out that year. The Flintstones, a live-action remake of the 1960s cartoon show, starred John Goodman, Rick Moranis, and Rosie O’Donnell. The Flintstones, perhaps needless to say, was not nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. “It falls flatter than a granite slab,” noted a national film critic. Though the film was praised for its costume and set design, it also won “Razzie Award” for Worst Female Performance and Worst Screenplay, and was a nominee for Worst Movie of 1994. Its IMDb.com user reviews are roughly half of what The Shawshank Redemption receives, and it’s rated by users as one of the worst movies of the 1990s. A team of salespeople masterfully marketed The Flintstones to its targeted demographics. The result? The film grossed $131 million in the U.S. and $358 million worldwide. That’s the power of targeted marketing. On the flip side, the people at Universal Studios who promoted The Shawshank Redemption admitted they couldn’t figure out
how to sell the movie to the public. They had a great product; they just didn’t know how to sell it. It grossed only $28 million in the U.S. box office and $60 million worldwide. It ranked 51st in box office success in 1994—two spots behind In the Army Now, starring Pauly Shore. Look at those numbers, then look at them again. Still don’t believe good marketing and salesmanship matter? The folks at Universal learned their lesson—even the best products need to be “sold.” Is your home a great product that wasn’t marketed properly? As we discussed earlier in this book, selling a home for top dollar fast is actually pretty simple. You just have to find the one person who’s willing to pay more for your home than anyone else. If they want it more than anyone else, then they will be willing to pay a higher price than anyone else.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• Having a great product—or house—isn’t enough. • Whether you’re selling films or houses, you can’t beat the power of targeted marketing.
CHAPTER 6 How to Sell a Home That Didn't Sell — Without 't Sell — Without Dropping the Price It is entirely possible to sell your home without dropping the price. We're going to let you in on a little secret. The standard approach is all wrong. It’s based on the faulty premise that if you tell enough people about your house, someone will buy it. While having more people look at a home does increase the odds of it selling, this doesn’t actually sell the home. The bottom line is that not everyone wants to buy your home. Yes, they’d love to buy it for a bargain basement price. Even if they hated it, they’d still buy it for half price—only to turn around and sell it for a quick profit. The key to getting top dollar is finding that buyer who wants your home badly enough to pay full price. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a buyer who’s willing to pay more than full price. Yes, that does happen. The problem is, most people are so focused on telling everyone about a home for sale that they forget about the most important thing.
You have to find that one special buyer. The question is, how do
you find the perfect buyer?
First, you need to understand a universal rule we are about to discuss and the role it plays in bringing in those ideal buyers.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• The standard selling approach is based on the faulty premise that if you tell enough people about your house, someone will buy it. • In truth, you must find the one buyer who wants your home so badly, he or she is willing to pay full price.
CHAPTER 7 Avoid This Rule at Your Own Risk
The key to the successful home-selling approach is based on a revolutionary concept discovered by an Italian economist. His name was Vilfredo Pareto. The most important thing we can learn from him is the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule applies to all aspects of life.
In 1906, Vilfredo found an intriguing correlation. He noticed that 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden held 80 percent of the seeds. Studying the seeds prompted him to take a closer look at this ratio. In one of his initial discoveries, he discovered that 80 percent of the land in his area was owned by 20 percent of the people. After detailed study, he observed this ratio held true in many aspects of life. The Pareto principle—or the 80/20 rule—is a result of his findings.
The 20 percent is vital, and the 80 percent is trivial.
• 80 percent of your income is derived from 20 percent of your work.
• 80 percent of a business’ income is derived from 20 percent of their customers. • 80 percent of your value to an employer is derived from 20 percent of your work. You might wonder what all of this means. In a nutshell, approximately 20 percent of what you do matters. The other 80 percent is insignificant. It’s important to understand that this isn’t always split at exactly 80/20. It can be 70/30 or another percentage. The key is that the two numbers are not equal, and they are usually close to 80/20. How can you apply the 80/20 principle to selling your home? Understanding this concept can save you time in selling your home. Unfortunately, many sellers buy into the false idea that more is more. They completely ignore the Pareto Principle. Now that you know what the 80/20 rule is, you’re probably wondering how it applies to selling your home. When you use the 80/20 p e 80/20 principle in selling, you stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Based on the rule, only 20 percent of your home’s features are important. The remaining 80 percent are less important. That’s because they are the same features many other homes in your neighborhood have. Instead of focusing on those trivial features, you need to focus on the vital features. When you sell your home, focus on unique features to grab the attention of buyers. These features make your home different from other homes. These features will make it easier to sell your home for the full asking price.
Let’s look at a few real-life examples of how the 80/20 rule can have an impact on selling your home.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• According to the 80/20 rule, approximately 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. • Following that principle, buyers will focus on 20 percent of your home’s features. The other 80 percent are probably common to other homes.
CHAPTER 8 Why This 20% Rule Applies ule Applies to Hard-To-Sell Homes o-Sell Homes Let’s paint a hypothetical situation. Let’s say there’s a buyer who’s looking for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Let’s now assume the agent found him five houses to preview. Each meets his general criteria and is located in his preferred area. He and his agent drive out to look at the five houses. All have very similar features. The prices are comparable. In theory, you might think the buyer will have a hard time deciding between houses. In real life, that’s not the case. No matter how similar they might seem, no two houses are exactly alike. The 80/20 rule comes into play. Imagine four of the houses don’t have a pool, but one does. The buyer isn’t aware of this, though, because the agent didn’t mention it. The buyer sees the four houses that don’t have a pool. He isn’t particularly interested in any of them. Then, he sees the fifth house and the pool! Suddenly, he’s ready to make an offer. He might even pay full asking price, even though this house is more expensive than the others.
THE 80/20 RULE IN ACTION: BUYERS FOCUS ON UNIQUE FEATURES
His offer isn’t based on the 80 percent of features this house shared with the rest. Instead, his bid is based on one unique attribute—a pool (the 20 percent). The 80/20 rule predicted the sale of this house. Sadly, in this case, much time was wasted finding the perfect house. Had the agent known to look for the 20 percent difference, this could have been their first stop. As a seller, you can leverage the rule to work in your favor. Draw attention to defining characteristics in your home with your marketing plans. Here’s a real-life example. An agent had a client visit from out of town. The client didn’t have a list of criteria; he just liked the area. She drove him from house to house. In each case, this buyer suggested offers 10 percent to 20 percent below the asking price. He would not budge. The agent began to worry. The whole day was turning into a big waste of time. As the sun set, they stopped at one last house. It did not have much curb appeal. It was not a good-looking home. She was out of options. Nevertheless, this house broke the tough negotiator down. He was suddenly willing to offer the full asking price! You might wonder what set this house apart from the others. It was not because the buyer had a “thing” for ugly houses. Nope. The 80/20 rule kicked in again. This agent and her client spent the whole day looking at houses that shared 80 percent of the same features. He didn’t care about any of those details. A bedroom was a bedroom, as far as he was concerned. This plain-Jane house had something special. And he fell in love with this one remarkable feature of the house. As you walked into
the great room, there was a large window. The house sat atop a hill with a gorgeous view. And to top it off, the sun was setting below the distant tree line. That view sold the buyer. The other 80 percent could be improved. He didn’t buy the house because he liked the floor plan or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. His decision was completely based on the hill and view. That view caused him to stop negotiating and offer full price on the spot. Such is the power of the 80/20 rule. Learn how to tap into this rule, and you’ll not have to settle for less than your asking price. Leverage a unique selling point. Buyers who fall in love don’t bother to haggle over pricing—they make good offers. In some cases, the 80/20 rule even helps people make a sale without conducting a showing. This is a huge time saver. The house in the following example had languished on the market for months. Unlike the previous house, this place was not ugly. On the contrary, it was a brand-new, custom-built home. But nobody seemed to care. It sat on the market more than seven months without a single offer. The builder was baffled when his fancy new house would not sell. He ended up firing his agent and hiring a new one. Fortunately, the new agent knew the importance of finding that special feature. He drove out to give the house a thorough investigation. What he found changed everything. The house had a gorgeous five-acre yard. Other houses being sold in the area were all on one- to two-acre lots.
Not only was the yard bigger, it was more private than other lots
available. The new real estate agent marketed the five acres. He mentioned details and a description of the house. But the house was not the main selling point, so he shifted attention to the five-acre lot. In no time, his phone rang! A buyer was relocating. He had noticed the house was for sale, but it hadn’t caught his eye. That changed when he learned it was built on a five-acre lot. Suddenly, he was very interested. So interested, in fact, that he submitted an offer from 1,000 miles away. He had never even seen the property in person! He was afraid someone else would buy it before he could, and he would lose out on the perfect house. That sale happened in 45 days. The builder was amazed! His house had been on the market close to eight months without so much as a nibble. Suddenly it was sold—purchased, sight unseen, all because of the 80/20 rule. By shifting focus to the five acres, the real estate agent captured the interest of buyers immediately. The house was no longer unsellable. On the contrary, for a short time, it became the hottest house on the market. Don’t create an advertisement similar to the ones for every other house in the area. Instead, turn a spotlight on something different about your home. You will attract interested buyers—buyers who are willing to pay full price.
SELLING TO INTERES O INTERESTED BUYERS
Find something unique about your home. Build advertisements around that one item. It will catch people’s attention. Buyers who are looking for that one item will ask to come see your home in
As a result, you’ll stop wasting time showing to people who just aren’t interested. Instead, you’ll show your home to buyers who are motivated to make a purchase. You won’t have to show quite so often. You also won’t have to sift through lowball offers from apathetic buyers. This means less stress for you. With that in mind, it’s essential that you take time to uncover your home’s most attractive and unique features. Compare notes with other houses in the neighborhood to see what makes yours stand out.
POTENTIAL UNI AL UNIQUE FEATURES
Each house will have its own unique features. You might already have some in mind. If not, these ideas should help to get you started: • Hilltop views are an excellent defining feature. As in an earlier example, a high vantage point offers a view of the surrounding area. • Maybe your home looks out onto an open field, frequented by wildlife. Many people would like that view. • Your house might even have an unobstructed view of the sunset. That would interest potential buyers. • Patios are another great feature. Maybe the rest of your neighbors don’t have patios, or their patios are smaller. That vital feature could help you sell your home. • Location is something else that can set your property apart from others (not your addressed location, but rather, your location compared to the surrounding homes, such as on
Here is what we mean by location. A buyer once paid extra for a townhouse, simply because of its location within the complex. Most of the surrounding homes had no yards. However, a few shared a large half-acre “yard area.” One of the owners whose townhouse backed up to this yard area was able to sell his townhouse for a higher price. It set his property apart from others on the market. His home had a characteristic—the yard—shared by fewer than 10 percent of the others. He had the only available listing offering that feature. With this easy point of difference, the house sold for a higher price. Another townhouse seller in the same complex found a different unique feature. He didn’t have a yard, but he was still able to use his location to his advantage. His property backed up to a lake and fountain. That extra feature helped him sell his townhouse quickly and for a great price.
Here are more examples of unique features.
• You might have a private location. For instance, your lot might be partially concealed by trees, or you might have an empty lot next to you. Use this to market your property. • You might have a unique backyard. If you have a larger backyard than your neighbors do, use that to your advantage. • A shady backyard can also help you sell your property. Some people like the idea of lounging in the shade or enjoying the privacy..
• A fenced-in backyard is also a big selling point. People with children and pets flock to homes with fenced-in backyards. • You can also look at other features. For instance, a finished basement can help you sell your home. You can also market a large attic, an extra-large garage, a swimming pool, or anything else that makes your home stand out. Look for the 20 percent difference, and find a way to market it. That’s how you’ll get results. You can’t just throw the information into your listing, though. You have to take the right approach.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• No matter how similar they might seem, no two houses are exactly alike. • Buyers focus on—and pay more for—unique features. • Unique features could be almost anything—a big lot, great view, pool, finished basement, even a distinctive yard or patio. • Look for what makes your home unique, and advertise it to potential buyers.
CHAPTER 9 Grabbing Any Buyer's Attention Appeal to your target market. Having the information you need to advertise your property is an excellent first step. However, it’s only the first step. Once you have the information, you need to put it in your listing. Simply adding it in isn’t enough. You need to make sure people see it, or it will not help you.
BEGIN WITH A PICTURE
When people visit a real estate website, it takes them just a split- second to decide whether they’re interested in a property. That’s because they see a picture of it. Before they even know it, their brains tell them “yes or “no.” If their brains tell them “yes,” they click on the listing. If their brains tell them “no,” they move on to the next property. It’s your job to ensure people’s brains say “yes” when they see your picture. You do that by photographing your home’s unique feature and using it as the display picture. Make sure the photo is high quality. Of course, some people won’t be interested, even after they see your display picture. That’s okay. Remember, you want to focus on appealing to those who will buy your property—not to the masses. You’re just wasting your time if you appeal to people who are not interested in your unique features. 33
Focus on your description. Put one or two special features right at the beginning of the description, so people will see them immediately. You can also put them in your headline. This will help attract the right people. If you do this, you’ll notice the quality of your leads improve. You will show your home to people who are ready to make a purchase. You will also get more offers close to, or at, your asking price. While all of this is great news, you still have one more thing you can do to increase your sales.
TURN A NEGATIVE INTO A POS O A POSITIVE
Nothing kills a sale like a big negative. Fortunately, you can often turn a negative into a positive. Consider this example. Let’s imagine you own a house built 10 years ago. You want to sell your home, but there’s a problem. A nice, new development recently opened in the area. Builders are selling brand-new houses. The houses are roughly the same, but the current price for the new properties is about $40,000 more than the asking price of your home. Nevertheless, you’re certain buyers will choose the brand-new houses, just because they are new. They hold a greater perceived value. Buyers don’t stop to consider that in five years, it won’t matter. Their house will be five years old, and your place will be 15 years old. But that’s not all.
Their five-year-old place will not fetch an extra $40,000,
compared to your 15-year-old house. When the buyers of the no- longer-new house decide to sell, they will actually end up losing money. The appeal of a new house is gone, and they won’t recoup the extra $40,000 they spent buying new. Show them what they are missing. Fortunately, you can educate buyers and get them interested in your house. You just need a way to capture their attention, and highlight the positive aspects of your property. Create an ad with a headline that says, “Don’t buy a new house in (Development Name) until you see this house.” Then, you could go over reasons people would benefit from buying your home. The cost is an obvious reason you should certainly include. It’s far from the only reason, however. Jot down a list of every feature you can think of for both your house and the newer ones. Then, compare different perspectives. For example, compare yards. Newly built houses typically don’t have established trees or landscaping. They might have freshly planted grass. That requires more work and more money. Here’s another idea: Think of the traffic and commotion in a new development, where homes are still under construction. Focus on the positive by talking about how quiet your neighborhood is. Mention a peaceful home. Some buyers will see this as a point of attraction. These are just a few examples. You can turn any negative into a positive by reframing it. Remember, you control your story. It’s up to you to feature your home in a positive light. Do a good job of attracting buyers specifically interested in features your house offers, and you no longer have to compete against those new homes!
Instead, you’ll be working with buyers already excited about something in your home. Taking this approach cuts out the competition, speeds up the sales process, and makes you more money. Just keep the 80/20 rule in mind during the selling process, and look for a point of difference to feature in your home. Focus on what makes the most impact, and you’ll be successful.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• For your advertising, photograph your house in a way that emphasizes its best unique features. • Highlight desirable differences in your ad in descriptive terms. • Even a negative feature can help differentiate your home from others on the market.
CHAPTER 10 Luxury Home-Seller Strategy Sells egy Sells Homes for 15% Mor or 15% More Money The rich and famous use this strategy to sell their homes. In one instance, a real estate agent reported that using this strategy caused one condo to sell for $110,000 more than a similar condo in the very same building! • The seller using this strategy sold their condo for $549,000. • The other did not and sold their condo for $439,000. Why did one condo sell for more than the other? In reporting, the real estate agent mentioned having intimate knowledge of both condos. Neither listing was bank-owned, a short sale, or a distress sale. The only plausible explanation that one home sold for more than the other was the seller’s use of this home-selling strategy. This strategy is effective in any market. No matter what type of property is being listed, this approach works. It applies equally to homes, apartments, townhouses, or condos. Agents and sellers using these tactics have a greater chance of closing a sale, and for more money. Here’s how this particular real estate agent discovered the secret strategy—almost by accident. He met a wealthy executive who was interested in selling his condo. However, the man had a special request.
He was willing to hire the agent, but on one condition. The real estate agent needed to agree to use the man’s secret method to sell the condo. It sounded crazy, and the agent was naturally skeptical. On the other hand, selling the condo would bring a handsome commission. Conversely, if it didn’t work out, their agreement would expire, and he would walk away. The real estate agent decided to give it a shot. He helped prepare the listing. They priced the condo at $554,900. (For reference, two similar condos in the same complex were listed much lower, for $479,000 and $439,000.) The agent was skeptical that the condo would sell for the asking price of $554,900. On the other hand, the owner’s secret strategy was intriguing, and he really wanted to see how it worked out. The condo went on the market, and he waited to see what would happen. Almost immediately, he began to doubt the strategy. The condo was showing regularly, but no one was making offers. People were just walking through and leaving. To make matters worse, most visiting agents thought the condo was overpriced. They couldn’t understand why the owner was asking for so much money. After all, a similar condo just around the corner was available for $100,000 less! They counseled their buyers to keep looking and left without making offers. This story is real. The condo had no special attraction that set it apart from the others. This unit was not a penthouse. It was on the sixth floor of a 10-floor complex. The top floor units were not penthouses either. And the other agents were not wrong. The price was high.
Still, the owner stood firm. One day, four months and many showings later, another buyer walked in. This time, it was different. This buyer loved the condo the moment he stepped through the doorway. The buyer made an offer before he even finished the tour. The agent could not believe what he had heard! He rushed to call the owner. The owner accepted the man’s offer, while the agent began to worry. Maybe the buyer would find out they were overpaying. Maybe it would all fall apart. But no, everything worked out. The place successfully sold for $549,000, which was a record high! The seller’s strategy was a huge success! Naturally, the real estate agent was thrilled. So was the owner, who made a substantial profit. The price was $110,000 higher than the previous condo that had sold two and a half months earlier for $439,000. The higher price was not because prices were rapidly increasing. The next unit that sold (28 days later) went for $435,000. It was a less-desirable second-floor unit. Five months later, another similar condo sold for $450,000. Would you like to use this secret strategy to sell your home for more money? It does take some extra time and some extra work. But, as you can clearly see, the payoff is well worth the effort. What’s the secret strategy? What was the special request the wealthy home seller had for his agent? It was simple. He wanted to stage the condo.
Staging is the act of sprucing up a home to make it as visually appealing as possible. It might sound crazy, but it causes homes to sell for more money. In fact, a whole lot more. Many agents encourage sellers to stage their homes. However, very few of them could ever show you a case study proving it will actually help your home sell for more money. Fortunately, this real estate agent knew he was onto something. He began researching everything he could find on staging, and the impact it had on sale prices. He put his findings together in a substantial report, sharing the tactics the wealthy seller had taught him. He included all the examples he had found as case studies.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• Staging a home to look visually appealing can be the secret to selling a home for more money.
CHAPTER 11 Why Home Staging Really Matters
We wanted to give you the most convincing proof possible. Many people find it hard to believe the simple act of staging helps one home sell for more than another similar home. In our research, we looked for examples of similar houses being sold for differing amounts of money, where only one of the two houses were staged.
The clearest example we could find was in these two listings.
This development has 200 equivalent townhomes. Every single townhome in the neighborhood is 3 stories, with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Every single unit has the exact same floor plan.
We looked for two sales there and found these:
• Townhome A sold on August 26. • Townhome B (5 doors down) sold on July 26, for $40,000 less. We personally visited this neighborhood, and we are familiar with these properties. You could not find a better example of two identical properties that sold for different prices.
The details show these two homes are identical in every substantial way: • The lots the units sit on are identical, as far as the desirableness of the location. • Both units had the same kitchen plan, with the same cabinets and a tile floor. • Both units had nice hardwood floors in the living room and carpeted bedrooms. Every important detail of these two townhomes was identical. We studied every aspect of these sales to find what made the difference. There are two reasons one home sold for $40,000 more than the other: • Townhome A was professionally staged, giving it a more appealing appearance. • The agent selling Townhome A took higher quality, more attractive photos of the home. Those two seemingly small actions made the $40,000 difference! The buyers of Townhome A made a higher offer because the agent presented the home in a more appealing and attractive way. Even simple things can make a big impact on the final sale price of a home. Staging done well is one of those things!
You have two options for staging a home:
Option 1: Do it yourself. Learn how in the following chapter. Option 2: Hire a professional home stager. If you’re considering hiring someone to handle your staging, contact us for a list of
references. We’d be happy to share recommendations and send you information on stagers who will do a good job for you.
POINTS TO REMEMB O REMEMBER:
• Staging has been documented to increase a home’s selling price. • After a home is staged, it’s important to take high-quality pictures that show results to the best effect. • You can learn to stage a house yourself, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.
CHAPTER 12 Make Your Home Spotless our Home Spotless
Buyers decide in the first eight or so seconds of seeing a home whether they’re interested in it or not. That’s why it’s so important to stage it. You can hire someone to do the hard work for you, but some things you can handle yourself:
Spotless is the name of the game.
It’s vital to do a thorough deep cleaning of your home. It works for people selling a car (they get more money), and it will work for you on a bigger scale when selling your home.
For a good deep cleaning, you should do the following:
Declutter: Begin with decluttering. This is the standard rule: go through your home, and get rid of 50 percent of your belongings. Look for items such as photographs, out-of-season clothes, random junk, and excessive furniture. These all need to go. Donate it. Sell it at a yard sale. Give it away. Someone can use what you don’t need. Put the precious items, such as family photos, into a safe, offsite storage location. After you declutter, you’ll be amazed how much roomier and friendlier your home feels. The goal is to de-personalize the home so potential buyers can 45
envision themselves living there.
Hardcore Cleaning: Now that the clutter is gone, move on to hardcore cleaning. Be meticulous. Tidy each room from top to bottom.
Make sure you don’t forget to:
• Get rid of cobwebs first. This keeps you from getting dust bunnies all over freshly cleaned floors and furniture. • Dust ceiling fans and lighting fixtures while you clean out the cobwebs. • Dust your blinds. • Wash walls, unless you plan on painting. • Clean all glass surfaces: mirrors, television screens, patio doors, and windows. • Polish all wooden surfaces. • Wipe down any leather furniture. • Attack all appliances (especially in the kitchen) with cleaning fervor. Make them shine! • Sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, faucets, and countertops need to be impeccable. Every room is important, but particularly the kitchen and bathrooms.. They need to be spotless. Vacuum rugs, shampoo carpets, and mop as if your life depends on it.
Fresh paint provides a clean canvas.
If you haven’t painted your house in the last year, consider doing the entire interior right now. If you have painted it, you still might want to repaint.
When planning to repaint, include everything. Paint the ceilings. Paint the trim and window casings. Paint the doors. Don’t forget to paint inside the closets. Just make sure you paint the right way. An artist creates a new painting on a plain, primed canvas. Through your efforts with painting, you’re hand-delivering your potential buyers a clean, primed canvas, through which they can imagine their family in your home. Keeping all of this in mind, proceed with your home’s canvas using neutral colors. That doesn’t mean everything must be lifeless or stark white. That can have a negative effect as well. Rather, you want your colors to be unobtrusive. Stick with gray, beige, tan, off-white, and white. Even if you just painted the master bath turquoise and added cute polka dot trim—change it! Remember, a blank canvas opens the imagination to endless possibilities. (Polka dots do not.)
KITCHEN AND BATH
Focus on these high-impact areas.
Buyers are most turned off by dirty, grungy bathrooms and kitchens. These two rooms are considered modern selling points of the home — and they are also the rooms buyers expect to be spotless. That doesn’t mean you can create stunning bathrooms and kitchens, while leaving the rest of the home a mess, and still expect to sell your house for top dollar. Just be sure to address your bathroom and kitchen first, and give these areas the attention they require.
Keep this in mind: Potential buyers might forgive a less-than- stellar child’s room, but a questionable bathroom or kitchen could cost you a possible sale. Another thing to consider when you’re selling your home is whether you should replace the appliances in your home with brand new ones. If you’re not sure, consider this information to make an informed decision. Should you buy new appliances? It depends on your situation. No doubt, new appliances make an impact with buyers. The National Association of REALTORS® did a survey of buyers in the market over the past several years and found: • Buyers were somewhat or very concerned with buying a home that featured new appliances. • Roughly 17% of the respondents preferred stainless steel. • The most important factor: appliances were available. • Most buyers who were unable to get their sought-after appliances said they would’ve been willing to pay, on average, nearly $2,000 more for them. Potential buyers want appliances included and will pay more for them, especially if they are new, or at least in excellent, condition. If you can afford it, new appliances might be the feature that sets your house apart from the home for sale across the street. If new appliances are out of your reach, offer buyers your immaculately clean, fully functioning existing ones. Updating hardware: Stop and take a long look at your bathroom and kitchen hardware. You’ll likely notice they look well used.
It’s not that big of a deal for you, until you put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. They are looking at your old house as their potential new home. Old, worn-out fixtures aren’t going to speak to them the way that shiny new hardware will. That doesn’t mean you should run out to buy all new fixtures. Unless your knobs, pulls, handles, and hinges are broken, there’s no real reason to replace them. Get that “new” look by thoroughly washing and repainting them. There is spray paint made specifically for this reason. The project is incredibly inexpensive. Here are some ideas of household hardware you can make look almost new with a paint overhaul:
• towel bars • toilet paper holders
• door handles • light fixtures
The goal is to patch your home up nicely, with as little cash as possible. This is a great way to do it. If you have broken or completely worn-out hardware, you should replace the whole set, unless you can find matching pieces. You could paint the old and new to match. Make sure that if you end up replacing your knobs, you get matching, exposed hinges for cabinet doors. Consistency is important when selling a home.
Other cheap upgrades for the bath and kitchen:
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