INSIDER HOME SELLING TIPS
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2019 Authorify Publishing
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES: While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, neither the Author nor the Publisher assumes any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, or omissions. Any slights of people or organizations are unintentional. This publication is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. The Publisher wants to stress that the information contained herein may be subject to varying state and/ or local laws or regulations. The reader of this publication assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, including advertising and all other aspects of doing business in the United States or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. The Author and publisher assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on behalf of any reader of these materials. If your property is currently listed with a Realtor, please disregard this notice. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other brokers. Printed in the United States of America
Table Of Contents
2. How To Stand Out
3. Creating Curb Appeal
4. Staging With Purpose
5. Upgrading With ROI In Mind
6. The 3 Ds
7. Setting The Price
8. How To Market Your Home
9. Make Your Home Picture Perfect
10. Common Seller Mistakes
11. Learn From Others’ Mistakes
12. Finding Buyers
13. Common Seller Negotiating Mistakes 135 14. The Dos And Don’ts Of Negotiating 145 15. Bargaining Chips 155
About AGENT AGENT was raised in CITY with X siblings. As a child, AGENT had aspirations of being a OCCUPATION. Never in a million years did he think he’d stumble into the real estate industry, but you can’t always predict where or when you’ll discover what you’re meant to do in life. AGENT was taught at a young age that if you want something in life, you have to work for it. So that’s what he did. And he worked hard. As the years went by, AGENT worked his way from FIRST JOB to LATER JOB, never wavering in his resolve to become the best version of himself with each career move. AGENT got into the real estate industry X years ago when STORY ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO REAL ESTATE/ WHY. He set out to LIST ASPIRATIONS FROMWHEN YOU STARTED OUT IN REAL ESTATE. As his career advanced, AGENT found his stride working with NICHE MARKET/SPECIFIC MARKET AREA/TYPE. He’s an expert in LIST AREAS OF EXPERTISE/SKILLS THAT SET YOU APART FROM OTHER AGENTS.
Throughout his career, AGENT has earned numerous accolades, including:
• LIST ACCOMPLISHMENTS • LIST SALES STATS • ANY OTHER IMPRESSIVE INFO YOU’D LIKE TO vii
AGENT lives in CITY with his LIST FAMILY MEMBERS/ PETS. In his free time, he enjoys LIST HOBBIES/ FAVORITE ACTIVITIES HERE. AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals.
Testimonials & Reviews for Agent Name
Here’s a list of people whom I have helped buy or sell a home, and what they said about working with me:
AGENT had a tough job, but she did it!
We were tough clients! We were moving to City and didn’t have a lot of time to look at houses, having to deal with our employer’s relocation, and all of the other challenges that came along. But, AGENT went above and beyond to help us. Even now, one year after the sale closed, I can still call her for business and service recommendations in the area — she knows just about everyone, and is very happy to help. I’ve used AGENT twice so far, and I was impressed both times. I bought my dream home with AGENT a year ago. She worked long and hard to find me the perfect home. And she just recently sold another property of mine. Everything went quickly and smoothly. Both of my real estate deals were done very quickly and professionally. Agent is honestly the BEST in her business. I would highly recommend her. AGENT is the best agent in City!
AGENT’s perseverance got me the house
My experience with AGENT during the entire home-buying process, from start to finish, has been nothing short of exceptional. I have a unique work structure, and because of ix
this, it was very difficult to find mortgage lenders that would approve me for a home. I was very frustrated and on the verge of giving up, but AGENT insisted that we continue searching. Not only did we find a mortgage lender but also a mortgage that I felt great about. His perseverance is the reason I am now a homeowner. He is professional, punctual, knowledgeable, and very easy to work with. With the highest regard, I will recommend AGENT to all my friends and family. AGENT helped me find a house by literally picking it out for me. Every house I wanted to go to, I got there and didn’t love it. AGENT was busy taking note of the likes and dislikes I was stating and said “I have a house that you’re going to love”.... AND I DID! I went back 4 or 5 times to show other members of my family, and she accommodated me without complaint. I was a first-time homebuyer, and she walked me through the steps of everything, gave me advice, and constantly followed up to make sure I was doing OK. With her help, I was able to close on the house early, right before I started my new job. I would recommend AGENT to EVERYONE, buying or selling. AGENT made it so so easy. She guided us through the entire process. She recommended great people to work with every step of the way. She was available 24/7 to answer any questions we may have had. With her high standards, expertise in the industry, and patience, we would recommend her as a Realtor to anyone looking! She was Very attentive to concerns, details, and negotiations
AGENT even advised me on how to prepare my house
AGENT was a gem. In addition to being highly knowledgeable about the real estate market, with many years of experience, he is a consummate professional. He was extremely easy to work with, gave me very good advice about preparing my house for sale and was very responsive during the entire process of receiving offers, selling and closing. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He’s that good. AGENT and his team were able to rapidly list, show and sell my property. Being an expert in real estate, he was spot on in his pricing of my property and getting this deal completed. Overall, I highly recommend him and his team. If I want to buy real estate, AGENT would be the first person I’d call. AGENT was the consummate professional during our stressful and difficult process. In the midst of juggling a ‘failed’ marketing effort with another agent, she presented a well thought out plan and strategy to sell our home in short order. We needed to move quickly due to a growing family and another baby on the way. She helped alleviate that pressure by securing an acceptable offer with 3 days of listing AGENT is the first agent I would call AGENT got us an offer in three days!
CHAPTER 1 Introduction
Congratulations! You’re taking the big step of putting your home on the market. As a seller, your task now is to find that home shopper who simply can’t resist buying your house at the highest price. A buyer who sees your home’s advantages and recognizes its possibilities. A buyer who will fall in love with your home immediately, move quickly to purchase it, and offer you more money than other prospective buyers. The ideal buyer will increase your profits, while minimizing your efforts and stress. This book will teach you how to look at your home through the eyes of prospective buyers. You’ll learn all about what buyers are looking for—sometimes even before they realize what they want! You’ll discover how to identify the unique characteristics that make your home stand out from all the others in your market. You’ll unlock the secrets of marketing these vital differentiating features in a way that buyers can’t resist, resulting in more attractive offers. You’ll save the time, the effort, and the money that other sellers waste on meaningless “improvements,” ineffective showings, and advertising that misses the mark. Best of all, when you’re finished reading this book, you’ll understand how to motivate buyers to purchase your home more quickly and for the highest price possible!
How will this book help you accomplish all this? By putting you in the buyer’s shoes and seeing your home from the buyer’s perspective.
LOOKING THROUGH A SELLER'S GOGGLES
When you look at your home, you see it through a “seller’s goggles.” Your home is an emotional extension of yourself. You probably swell with pride remembering how it felt moving in when it was your “new house.” You picked out special furniture, carpets, and curtains—things you worked hard to be able to afford. Things that reflected your style and taste. Perhaps you planted the garden, built your kids a tree swing, or installed the first lawn. You made precious memories there—holidays with family, laughter with friends. You recall when your neighborhood was named “Most Livable” in the local paper. (Of course, that was five years ago, and the old neighborhood has changed). As a seller, you might think, “Surely, my home, where I invested so much money and sweat equity, and raised my children, is worth more than ‘you people’ (appraisers, prospects, and buyer’s agents) think it is.” Emotions can overtake good judgment and they almost always lead to problems in a sales price negotiation. It’s time to detach yourself and to depersonalize the real estate transaction. Remove your seller’s goggles and take a realistic, objective look at the property you want to sell.
Relax. Take a deep breath and read on. Your journey into the mind of the buyer begins right now.
CHAPTER 2 How to Stand Out
Financially and emotionally, a home is often an individual or family’s largest single investment. That makes selling a home—whether a single-family residence, duplex, or condominium—the single largest, most complex transaction a person will undertake, and for most people, no more than two or three times in their lives. It involves new terms and concepts, financial acumen, and larger monetary figures than people usually deal with. Furthermore, real estate transactions involve multiple decision points and often substantial investment for the home owner’s time, energy, and money. As a seller, you want to find that home shopper who simply can’t resist buying your house at the highest price. To do that, you must provide potential buyers a striking home sales presentation that outshines other homes on the market. This requires creating a fantastic first impression, giving buyers an immediate feeling that they’re traveling up the front walkway of “their” new home for the first time, and not visiting someone else’s. Selling a house is about getting a buyer to fall in love at first sight, from the curb, in those initial (and fleeting) seconds. Here’s the big news—not everybody gets the price they could when selling their home. For example, take two little ranch houses across from a well-kept cemetery in a nice
suburban city near Cincinnati, in southwest Ohio. One of them, 25 Cemetery Road (3 beds, 1 bath, 936 sq. ft., built 1957) was described as: “Neat as a pin and ready to go. Complete remodel kitchen w/SS appliances, breakfast bar, flattop stove, beautiful tile. Complete bath remodel. Hardwood floors, replaced windows. Great fenced yard, covered rear patio.” It was being fought over at $124,000+. Meanwhile, a comparable 3 bdrm/1 bath, 936-sq.-ft., single- family home located at 19 Cemetery Road, had the same 3 bdrms/1 bath, approximately 936 square feet, and was built in 1955. It sold for $111,800. That’s enough of a differential (almost $15,000!) for the owner of 25 Cemetery Road to pay the cost of his real estate agent’s commission and pocket some profit. Frankly, that commission was money well spent, because hiring the real estate agent and following the agent’s sales plan made all the difference. We’ll talk more about that as we move through this book; however, it was the advising, planning, staging, pre- marketing, marketing, negotiation, and professional know- how that sealed the deal.
THE BASIC HOME SALES PROCESS
Let’s begin with a practical examination of what the home- selling process is and how it works. We’ll examine how listing prices are determined and look at various ways that a listing price is set. I will discuss online valuation,
professional appraisal, and the great benefit of a Current Market Analysis (CMA) by a REALTOR®.
I’m also going to drive home the importance of the seller’s time, effort, “sweat equity,” financial investment, and working as a team with a carefully selected real estate agent. It’s not a hire-me-and-you-are-done transaction. To get the most money for your house, you’ll have to invest in touch-ups, improvements, staging, keeping the grass cut, and many other items. Just as important, you’ll want to focus on the factors that increase your home’s value and saleability, not merely throw money at items that will provide no measurable advantage. Imagine a buyer is in the market for a three-bedroom home and his agent found him five houses to preview. Each meets his general criteria, with similar features, is comparable in price, and is located in his desired area. One would assume the buyer would have a difficult time deciding between the houses. But no matter how similar they may seem, no two houses are exactly alike. Let’s say that one out of the five houses has a pool. The buyer is unaware of this feature, however, because the agent didn’t bother to mention it. The buyer tours the four houses without pools and isn’t particularly interested in any of them. Then he sees the fifth house with the pool. Suddenly, he is ready to make an offer. He might THE 80/20 RULE
even pay full asking price, even though this house is more expensive than the others. Here’s where something called the “80/20 rule” comes into play. The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle (suggested by Joseph M. Juran and named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto), states that for many situations, approximately 80 percent of results, or effects, will come from roughly 20 percent of efforts, or causes. While it does not always come out to be an exact 80/20 ratio, this imbalance is often seen in various business cases: • 20% of sales reps generate 80% of total sales. • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits. • 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes. • 20% of patients account for 80% of healthcare spending. In the above example, the buyer’s offer wasn’t based on the 80 percent of features this house shared with the rest. Instead, his bid was based on one unique attribute: the pool. The 80/20 rule predicted the sale of this house. Unfortunately, a lot of time was wasted in finding the perfect house. Had the agent known to look for the 20 percent difference, this might have been their first stop. BUYERS FOCUS ON UNIQUE FEATURES
As a seller, you can leverage the 80/20 rule to work in your
favor. Draw attention to defining characteristics in your home. In one real-life example, a real estate agent was contacted by an out-of-town client. The client didn’t present a list of criteria for his house hunt. All he mentioned was that he liked the area. The agent drove him from house to house. Each time, the buyer suggested offers that were 10 percent to 20 percent below asking price. He wouldn’t budge. The agent began to think that the whole day was turning into a big waste of time. The last house of the day didn’t have a lot of curb appeal. It was not a great looking home, but the agent was out of options. Nevertheless, this house broke the tough negotiator down. He was suddenly willing to offer the full asking price! What set this house apart from the others? It was not because the client had a “thing” for ugly houses. The 80/20 rule kicked in again. Understanding the 80/20 rule concept can save you time in selling your property. Stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Instead, highlight the 20 percent of your home’s features that make it special. The remaining 80 percent of your home still affects the buyer’s decision, so don’t neglect it, but in photographs and showings, feature the elements that make your home special. THE #1 SECRET STRATEGY TO HOME SELLING
Your selling point won’t be the common features your home
shares with the other properties on the market. Instead, use your home’s unique features to grab the attention of buyers who are interested in those distinctive features. Learn to leverage this rule, and you won’t have to settle for less than your asking price. Buyers who fall in love don’t haggle over pricing; they make good offers.
FINDING WHAT'S UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR HOME
The house in the following example had languished on the market for more than seven months without a single offer. Unlike the home in the previous anecdote, this house was not ugly. It was a brand-new, custom-built home. But nobody seemed to care. The builder was baffled that 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, unique feature that would appeal to buyers. He toured the house to investigate further. What he found was incredibly obvious, and it changed everything. The house had a gorgeous five-acre yard. Other houses for sale in the area were all on one- to two-acre lots. Not only was the yard bigger, it offered more privacy than the other available lots. So, the new real estate agent marketed the five acres. He described the home’s details but focused much of the attention on the lot. In no time, his phone rang! A buyer
was relocating. He had noticed the house was for sale, but the previous description hadn’t caught his attention.
With the added detail that the house was built on a five-acre lot, suddenly this buyer 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 feared 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 the 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. The moral of this story is to stop (or don’t ever start!) wasting time showing your home to uninterested people. Compare your home’s features with those of other houses in the neighborhood to see what makes yours stand out. Think about what you love about your home. Not the sentimental and family attachment, but rather the quantifiable, physical characteristics. SELLING TO INTERESTED BUYERS
What makes you happy or brings you comfort as you walk through the door at the end of a long, hard day? Is it the shade of a secluded garden? A cozy library or inviting conversation pit in front of a fireplace? Is the heart of your home a sunny deck, a big-screen “man cave” or a quaint backyard “she shed?” Perhaps it’s an elegant bathroom with a relaxing old-fashioned bathtub. Maybe you have a garage with built-in tool cabinets or a basement with your own recording studio. By shining a bright spotlight in your ad copy on what makes your home unique, you’ll attract interested buyers who are willing to pay full price and won’t waste your time with lowball offers. Following the 80/20 rule can lessen time showing to people who aren’t interested. Instead, you will be showing your home to buyers who are motivated to purchase. You won’t have to show as frequently. You also won’t have to sift through lowball offers from casual shoppers. Keeping this in mind, you must take the time to uncover your home’s most attractive and unique features and improve them to their highest potential. Compare your house with others in the neighborhood to see what makes yours stand out. Work with that.
When Vince and Sue were shopping for a new home, Vince wanted an ocean view. They looked at many desirable properties but didn’t find any that were right for them. Some were overpriced; others had obstructed views. The search went on for almost a year until they found an older
home a short walk from the ocean. The neglected exterior and dated interior were not encouraging, but when Vince stepped out onto the third-floor balcony off the master suite, he was sold. Any shortcomings in wall color or fixtures faded away when he took in the view. He could now see the sunrise over the sea from his bedroom window every morning. What 20 percent of the home caught the eyes of Vince and Sue? The magnificent third-floor view of the ocean! When Cam and Kate listed their home, they needed a buyer who wasn’t concerned that the house was on an unpaved road. Though the home was more than 10 years old, the interior was updated with fresh, neutral wall colors and carpeting to look brand new. The towering trees and established yard gave the home a welcoming appeal. The buyer had also looked at a home within miles of Cam and Kate’s that had towering trees as well as a koi pond and patio. That home was comparable in interior and exterior, but it was on a busy street. What 20 percent of the home caught the buyer’s eye and prompted him to choose Cam and Kate’s house? The buyer loved the secluded country feel of their home. The 1.8-acre property was surrounded by pastures, with grand oaks dotting the landscape. SELLER'S STORY
One buyer paid extra for a townhouse because its location
in the complex overlooked woods instead of the parking area. Another seller took advantage of the fact that most of the surrounding homes didn’t have yards; only a few shared a half-acre grassy area. The owner whose townhouse bordered this yard area sold his home for a higher price than other townhouses in the complex that were on the market because his had a characteristic shared by fewer than 10 percent of them. He had the only available listing offering that feature, and he emphasized that feature in marketing his townhome. With this attractive point of difference, the townhouse sold for a higher price. Another townhouse seller in the same complex found yet another unique feature. Although she did not have a yard, she was still able to use location to her advantage. Her property backed up to a lake and fountain. This unique feature helped her to sell her townhouse quickly and for a better-than-average price. Decide upon, improve, if necessary, and spotlight the unique features of your home in marketing copy, online and print photographs, and when showing the house. Don’t spend a lot of time explaining how the storage room can be converted to another full bath; instead, lead the dog-owning prospect to the fenced-off dog run in the unusually large backyard. If the home has a certain feature a buyer is specifically looking for, highlighting this aspect in marketing efforts will attract interested buyers willing to SPOTLIGHTING UNIQUE HOME FEATURES
pay the asking price—or possibly more.
Each house will have its unique features. Here are some suggestions if you aren’t sure of yours: • Hilltop views or a high vantage point, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding area. • Open fields frequented by wildlife. gazebos—highlight items neighboring houses don’t have, or differences in size or quality; that one vital feature could help you sell your home. • Location can set a property apart, even in the same area, adding value to a home on a cul-de-sac or corner lot. • A private location or lot partially concealed by trees. • A unique, shady, or larger backyard; a fenced backyard is a big selling point. (If your yard can be fenced, but is not, consider making that improvement). • Finished basement, large attic or garage, swimming pool, or anything else that makes your home stand out. • Unobstructed views of sunrise and sunset. • Patios, decks, dog runs, garden areas, and
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
• To make your home stand out from others on the market, apply the 80/20 rule, which says buyers will consider 20 percent of features more important than the rest.
• Identify the features that make your home unique, and emphasize those in marketing. • Buyers who appreciate the uniqueness of your home will tend to purchase more quickly and for more money.
CHAPTER 3 Creating Curb Appeal
Someone said, “a stunning first impression was not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter.” This could not be truer than in selling a home. First impressions are powerful. Sometimes they are everything. Nothing sets the tone of a relationship or transaction more than first impressions, and those first impressions are formed quickly. Most prospective buyers form an opinion about a home within the first 7–10 seconds of arriving, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. “Curb appeal”—the attractiveness of a property for sale and its surroundings when viewed from the street—is as important as correct price-setting and is crucial to selling your home faster and for more money. Your well-prepared house might even catch the attention of buyers who weren’t attracted by the written description of your home, or who were simply driving by, even if they weren’t initially considering a home purchase. Curb appeal doesn’t only apply to drive-up home shoppers. Many buyers shop online first to see photos of the interior and the exterior. Having good curb appeal and attractive photos posted within your ad will help interest buyers right away, so that they’ll make an appointment with your real estate agent to come see your home.
Sorry, but there’s no second chance to make a first impression. Whether cruising the web to view online photos from across the country or cruising by your home in the family SUV on a Sunday afternoon outing, home shoppers will decide at a glance whether they want to see more. So, consider what a potential home buyer might think as he or she drives up to your property for the first time. You’ve probably seen the “We buy ugly houses” signs nailed to utility poles. Rehabbers look for ugly houses so that they can pay the least amount possible and “flip” the houses for a quick profit. However, true home buyers —people looking for a home in which to live —are not lured by ugliness and “bargain basement” prices. Creating curb appeal is essential to attracting interest in your home from serious buyers. How your home looks from the road is so persuasive that a well-prepared house may catch the attention of buyers who did not find the written description particularly compelling. Conversely, a neglected house can cause a buyer previously excited by a printed or online marketing listing to cruise right on by.
SEEING YOUR HOME THROUGH FRESH EYES
Try this. Go out into your street and look—I mean really look—at your home and see if you can spot any imperfections. Is it appealing, pristine, and well-kept, or are there necessary repairs that you have been putting off? After you’ve lived in a home for a long while, you’re not likely to
examine it objectively. Listen to suggestions from real estate experts, your friends, and/or potential home buyers about how you can make your house show better. Then, take a drive around your neighborhood and surrounding area and see which homes for sale appeal to you, and note why. Well-tended houses with trimmed bushes, groomed lawns, attractive landscaping, and a “grand entrance” (discussed shortly) will be more impressive than homes with an unkempt walkway, uncut grass, and a paint-peeling front door. The outside appearance of a property needs to be an invitation to come inside. Potential home buyers are drawn to welcoming entrances and uncluttered yards. They are unlikely to be attracted to a home with dead shrubbery and a weather-worn exterior. A potential buyer is looking for signs indicating how well the home has been cared for and maintained over a long period. The buyer can be influenced by signs showing the type of home owner currently living there. Packaging sells! Starting at the curb, a well-manicured lawn and fresh appearance of the exterior demonstrates that the home owner is up to an appealing standard and shows that the current home owner takes pride in the property’s aesthetics. The outside appearance of your property should serve as an invitation to come inside. Beyond aesthetics, the buyer will be looking for evidence of wear, tear, and neglect. Buyers who are greeted with peeled paint, trash, and dead or unkempt lawns will assume that a home neglected on the outside is neglected inside as well.
Look at your home as a prospect would. Drive up to the curb and take inventory of everything that needs attention. Simple improvements such as weeding, trimming, and window washing can improve the appearance of a home with little to no expense. Repair and repainting are costlier, but often have a good effect on time-to-sale or sale price. Low-cost investments such as power washing the house and concrete, repainting trim, and adding landscaping also give your house more curb appeal. The goal here is to get more money for your home. Home buyers usually aren’t interested in a home that needs work unless you want to sell below market value. Look around your yard and make a written list of everything that could be improved: • Shrubs trimmed, flower gardens tended, beds weeded, and walkways tidy • No trash, trash cans, lawn clippings, branches, or general mess in the yard • All outside fixtures and components working and in good repair (door and yard lights, garage door, porch rails), functioning properly and looking their best • Outdoor features such as patio furniture or the deck updated with staining or painting Make all major and minor improvements to update the exterior of your property. There might be a long list of things to do. It takes hard work to get a home ready to sell. Anyone can put a house on the market, but not everyone
sells quickly or with great profits. Then, await the prospective buyers who will be drawn to the inside of your home when they see how beautiful it is from your curb! Keep in mind that even if the interior of your home is up- to-date, in good repair, with perfect plumbing and electrical work, and is decorated nicely for appeal, the exterior and curb appeal of your home will influence a buyer’s decision before they even enter the house. When you drive up to your home, take a hard, objective look and inventory the things that need attention. With simple improvements like weeding, trimming, window washing, and decluttering the yard and garage, you can improve the appearance of your home in an afternoon. Impressing the home shopper at the front door is an important aspect of curb appeal. This means more than putting out a welcome mat or potted plants. You want them to feel safe and secure when they open the door. The knob is probably the first thing visitors will touch, so make this tactile experience solid and reassuring. A flimsy lock or handle on your front door will make potential home buyers feel uncomfortable, and they might not even know why. Security is important to home buyers. Replace a worn or loose entry handle. Consider replacing the handle with a heavy-duty deadbolt and knob combination. This investment of less than $100 will make CREATING A GRAND ENTRANCE
your home more visibly and practically secure.
The front door itself is a focal point, so make it impressive, too. Is the paint on your metal door faded? Is it peeled and flaking? Freshen it up and add a dash of color. Choose a paint that complements the color of your home. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door is worth the cost, with an average 91 percent return on investment (ROI). You can also replace brass kick plates inexpensively, which adds newness to the appearance. You want to create a sense in the buyer that your house is a great place to come home to. Painting your front door a color that’s both eye-catching but neutral, and that matches the overall style of the exterior, is a great way to add curb appeal to sell your home for more. A contrast between the overall facade of your home and the front door will amp up your curb appeal. Architects from ancient to modern times know it’s important to give a building “a sense of entry.” If your house is a neutral color with black shutters, painting your front door red will provide a “wow” factor and bring more beauty to your home—as will adding a wreath on your door, or decorative plants. This creates a more positive, free- flowing atmosphere, making your home look more appealing to buyers. Your back door needs attention, too. If you have a sliding screen door to your backyard, check to see if it needs a new screen or if it needs to be adjusted on its tracks. There’s nothing worse than having something fall apart or not
function properly when there’s a buyer in your home.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS IN CREATING GREAT CURB APPEAL:
• Symmetry appeals to the eye and is easy to accomplish. Lopsided landscaping or unevenly trimmed bushes will detract from curb appeal; the overall appearance of the home needs balance. • The mailbox should complement your home. If it is worn, dated, or unsightly, replace it. This doesn’t cost much and is worthwhile. • Ample outdoor lighting adds to landscaping appeal and is a perceived safety feature. • Use flower boxes and raised flower beds to add instant color. This is an easy, inexpensive way to enhance curb appeal. • Spruce up the landscaping. Eliminating weeds and adding fresh mulch can really make a difference and shows home owner care and maintenance. • Consider enhancing architectural appeal by adding molding to the tops and sides of the doorway or around windows. • Keep shutters and trim in excellent shape. Repainting them adds to the attractiveness. Fence gates, arbors, and fencing panels should be clean and fresh. • Clean downspouts and gutters. Repaint or touch up to eliminate rust spots. • Ensure the walkway to the front door is clear and approachable. Stacked hoses and unruly landscaping interfere with home shoppers walking up,
diminishing the inviting look (and creating a possible liability issue). • Paint or stain railings (if weathered). • Try a fresh coat of paint; faded or chipping paint, siding, or trim will always detract from curb appeal. If exterior paint is good, ensure door and window trim are, too. This simple upgrade is well worth the cost. • Power washing the house, walkways, and driveway can be almost as effective as repainting, at a much lower cost. You can easily rent power washers from hardware stores. • Adding some stone or stone veneer to the face of the home is an inexpensive way to instantly update your home if it complements the design. • Add a “smart” doorbell. Eight of 10 home doorbells are outdated or not working, so if you invest $200 in a doorbell equipped with a camera and speaker, you will gain the approval of home shoppers who are looking for security measures. Curb appeal is one of the most essential elements in selling your home quickly and successfully. You can create interest in your home before buyers even step out of the car, no matter how uninterested they might have been initially. If you put money into cleaning up the outside of your home, buyers will be more likely to want to see the inside. Your home’s curb appeal draws buyers in, maintains their interest, and sets your home apart from the competition.
Remember that unless you are willing to lower your home’s
price well below market value, prospective home buyers usually won’t want to take on a major renovation project.
A WELCOMING WALKWAY
The path to your front door is your “red carpet” for prospective buyers. The pathway, landing, and your front door should all blend together to provide an appealing journey from your street or driveway up to your house. Go easy on decorations and lawn ornaments. Too much will look disorganized and cluttered. Keep an elegant balance. Limit yourself to four or five decorations, depending on how big your walkway is and how “busy” it already is with flowers, rocks, trees, and other aesthetics. It’s important to have a lawn that’s well-manicured and shows the home hasn’t been occupied by a negligent owner. However, a lawn that appears to be too high-maintenance can also be an obstacle. It’s best to go for a look that’s clean and simple. At least have the grass trimmed nicely and regularly check that it’s healthy. A simple garden with bright flowers can also be a welcoming feature. Put down mulch in a darker color, such as a solid, dark brown. Mulch helps to neaten things up and gives the area a clean feeling. You can’t go wrong with mulching, as it adds great curb appeal. A WELL-MANICURED LAWN
CURB APPEAL INCLUDES THE BACKYARD
By the time a buyer gets to the backyard, their decision could already be made, but that doesn’t mean you can skimp on the backyard appeal. In fact, it makes it even more crucial to a sale for more money. When prospective buyers reach the backyard, they will try to envision themselves relaxing, having family and friends over, and playing with children or pets. It’s your job as the seller to make that vision work for them. To ensure your lawn looks more than acceptable, go over it with the lawnmower, and add seed and fertilizer where needed. If you have a pool or a hot tub, make sure the cover is off and the water is sparkling clean. Add flowers if you don’t have any. Don’t go overboard and clutter the yard with them, as it will end up looking messy rather than pretty and elegant. Patio furniture helps to make your backyard feel more welcoming and will paint a picture of your backyard’s entertainment potential. You’ll want prospective buyers to see themselves in the backyard every summer enjoying the weather and all that life has to offer, so ensure your backyard—not just your curb—is in top condition.
ENHANCE DRIVE-BY APPEAL
When taking a quick drive-by to check out a home, minor
details of the house itself stick out a lot more than you’d think. Potential buyers may quickly drive by your home or park out front to see it for the first time, envisioning themselves driving up to the curb. Good drive-by appeal is essential. Keep windows and front door in pristine condition. You’ll also need to touch up your garage. The home’s exterior will need to be neatened up with touches such as painting the door and trim. “Lived in” is not the look that you’re going for. Ensure the exterior has fresh paint, the lawn is well- manicured, your windows are washed, and that you don’t have any dead flowers in your garden. Bring in a professional to assess what needs to be done on your roof, such as re-shingling. If your roof needs repair that you just can’t do prior to listing, get reputable quotes for the price of the work and deduct that cost from the sale price. This method is usually convenient for both the buyer and seller, putting the buyer at ease, knowing they can have items repaired and upgraded, should they wish to do so.
LEVERAGING CURB APPEAL
When it’s time to sell your home, don’t skimp on the smaller details when you can use curb appeal to your advantage and get more out of the closing price. By having your home in its most pristine condition, inside and out, you’ll seal the
deal in no time. Image is literally everything, and the exterior of the home matters just as much as the interior. Curb appeal can have a big influence on selling price and will ensure your home doesn’t languish on the market. Statistics show that a home with outstanding landscaping will bring 5 percent more than a home with average landscaping, and 7 percent more than one whose landscaping is in a bit of disarray. So, you can see that if you spend a little money on that $150,000 home, it could mean $7,000 to $8,000 more in your pocket just from curb appeal. On a $500,000 home, landscaping could easily add $25,000 to $35,000 to the selling price. • Curb appeal—the first visual impression prospective buyers receive when seeing your home from the street or in a photo—is a vital component of the home selling process. • It’s important to put your emotions aside and look at your house objectively, the way buyers will see it. • The tidiness, condition, and overall look of your home’s exterior will strongly influence the way prospective buyers envision the home’s interior. • Some touch-ups and repairs are easy; others are expensive and time-consuming. Outstanding landscaping can add 5 percent to 7 percent to a home’s selling price. POINTS TO REMEMBER:
CHAPTER 4 Staging with Purpose
I’m going to share with you the story of a real estate agent who learned in a dramatic way about a powerful secret home-selling strategy. The real estate agent reported that in one instance this strategy resulted in one condo selling for $110,000 more than a similar condo in the same building! This agent had intimate knowledge of both condos. Neither listing was bank-owned, a short sale, or a distress sale. The only plausible explanation as to why one home sold for that much more than the other was the seller’s use of this secret home-selling strategy. This strategy is effective in any market, no matter what type of property. It applies equally to houses, apartments, townhouses, and condos. Agents and sellers using these tactics have a greater chance of closing a sale for more money.
THE #1 SECRET STRATEGY TO SELL YOUR HOME FOR MORE
This real estate agent discovered the secret strategy almost by accident. He met a wealthy executive who was interested in selling his condo. The owner was willing to hire the agent, on one condition: The real estate agent must agree to use the man’s secret method to sell the condo. It sounded crazy. The agent was naturally skeptical, but he had little to
lose. On one hand, selling the condo would bring a handsome commission. Conversely, if it didn’t work out, their agreement would expire, and the agent 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 for $479,000 and $439,000. With two similar condos listed for less, the agent was doubtful of a sale. The condo went on the market. 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. The story is true. The condo had no special attraction that set it apart from the others. This unit wasn’t a penthouse. It was on the sixth floor of a 10-floor complex. The top-floor units weren’t penthouses, either. And the other agents weren’t wrong. The price was indeed 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. He made an offer before he finished the tour. The agent couldn’t 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 he was overpaying. Maybe the deal would fall apart. But no, everything worked out. The place successfully sold for $549,000, a record high! 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 wasn’t 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. So, what made the difference? 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 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 results in homes selling 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 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 write-up, sharing the tactics the wealthy seller had taught him. He included all the examples he had found as case studies.
Here is an excerpt from his report, with one of the case studies he recorded.
STAGING VS. NON-STAGED CASE STUDY
I wanted to give you the most convincing proof possible. Many people find it hard to believe that the simple act of staging helps one home sell for more than another, similar home. In my research, I looked for examples of similar houses being sold for differing amounts of money where only one of the two houses was staged.
The clearest example I could find was in the case of these two listings.
This development has 200 equivalent townhouses.
Every single townhome in the neighborhood is three stories with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Every unit has the same floor plan.
I looked for two sales there and found these:
• 4438 Capital Dome Drive sold on August 26. • 4456 Capital Dome Drive (5 doors down) sold on July 26, for 40,000 dollars less. I visited this neighborhood, and I am 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 townhouses was identical. I 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: • Townhouse #4438 was professionally staged, giving it a more appealing appearance. • The agent selling #4438 took higher quality, more attractive photos of the home. Those two seemingly small actions made the $40,000 difference! The buyers of #4438 made a higher offer because the agent presented the home in a more appealing and attractive way. Staging, the act of creating an eye-appealing home—one that potential buyers can envision themselves living in—is the best investment in the sales effort. Sellers often fail to take full advantage of this secret method, as it takes considerable time and work. However, the payoff is proven. Staging is considered one of the most effective marketing strategies to increase the value of your home. This strategy is effective in any market, in any type of home property being listed. It applies equally to single-family houses, apartments, townhouses, and condos. In today’s competitive real estate market, selling your home requires hard work and dedication. Most sellers elect not to - END OF STAGING REPORT -
go it alone. Analysis has shown that a good real estate agent can save 80 to 100 hours of your time. A motivated seller can bring the home to the marketing forefront. It’s what you do before the sales transaction that determines how much money you ultimately receive. Staging the home will distinguish it from the competition and provide a visual “edge,” while encouraging buyers to pay top dollar. Consider these results from surveys conducted by Coldwell Banker and the National Association of REALTORS®: • Staged homes spent 50% less time on the market than homes that were not staged. • Staged homes sold for 6% above asking price. • A staging investment of 1% to 3% of asking price generates an ROI of between 8% and 10%. • Homes staged prior to listing sold 79% faster than homes staged after listing. THE POWER OF STAGING WHEN SELLING A HOME
WHAT DO BUYERS WANT TO SEE?
Most home shoppers are looking for a home that will give them a fresh start. Perhaps they’re just starting out and it’s a fresh start from apartment living, or maybe they’ve outgrown their starter home and need more room for their expanding family. On the other end of the spectrum, if the
kids are grown and gone, a couple might be looking for a way to declutter their lives and downsize. There’s also the situation in which a marriage is ending in divorce and the couple must face the reality of selling what is often the single largest asset of the union. If home shoppers can picture themselves living in the home, the home will be easier to sell. This is sometimes known as “interior curb appeal,” where the eyes are drawn to inviting spaces and light, as well as to unique features. Each room needs a purpose or suggested use. The home must feel new to reflect ease of upkeep. The goal is to create a clean, simple, and contemporary feel. Painting, updating fixtures, and eliminating stained carpets and popcorn ceilings can affect the saleability of the home by 75 percent! Staging the Outdoor Spaces has become much more critical as “outdoor entertaining” is hot! Forty-nine percent of buyers’ agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers view of the home. Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Buyers were more willing to walk through a home they saw online (40 percent), and buyers’ agents identified that staging would positively influence the home value if the HOME-STAGING STATISTICS
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