SECRETS EVERY HOME SELLER NEEDS TO KNOW
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2019 Authorify Publishing
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Table Of Contents
1. First Steps To Home Selling
2. Pareto's Principle
3. Staging With Purpose
4. Upgrading With ROI In Mind
5. The Three D's
6. How To Market Your Home
7. Common Seller Mistakes
8. Learn From Other's Mistakes
9. Finding Buyers
10. Be A Power Negotiator 81 11. The Dos And Don'ts Of Negotiating 87 12. Bargaining Chips 95 13. Why Hire An Agent 99
When I first ventured into the real estate industry years ago, I did so with the hopes of helping sellers like you avoid the headaches often associated with the home-selling process. In my years of experience, not only have I helped alleviate the stress of selling for numerous clients, but I’ve also accumulated years of knowledge to help them get more money for their homes in the least amount of time. I decided to share all of my expertise in one place with potential clients. And that’s why you’re receiving this book. I want to help you have the best possible home-selling experience. And by that, I mean I want you to 1. Get the most money possible for your home, 2. Sell in the least amount of time, and 3. Avoid the headaches most commonly associated with the home-selling process. Think of this book as my gift to you. It contains insider advice on the home-selling process to help you achieve your ultimate real estate goals, including: • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Marketing techniques employed by top agents • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • And much, much more If, after reading through it, you want to hire me to help you sell your home, I’d be more than happy to meet with you to discuss a specific plan to sell your home. Happy reading!
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 FROM WHEN 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 ix
• ANY OTHER IMPRESSIVE INFO YOU’D LIKE TO INCLUDE
AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals. 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-Name 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-Name 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.
Agent-Name is the best agent in City!
I’ve used Agent-Name 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-Name perseverance got me the house
My experience with Agent-Name 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 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-Name 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-Name to all my friends and family.
Very attentive to concerns, details, and negotiations
Agent-Name 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-Name 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-Name to EVERYONE, buying or selling. Agent-Name 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 amazing!
Agent-Name even advised me on how to prepare my house
Agent-Name 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-Name is the first agent I would call
Agent-Name 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-Name got us an offer in three days!
Agent-Name 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. We put pressure on her, and she delivered. We couldn’t thank her enough.
Agent-Name kept us calm throughout the process!
Agent-Name always made herself available to answer questions. She worked hard to sell our home and find the best fit for our new home. She and her team worked with us through the entire process and kept us calm when we got anxious.
I am 100 percent satisfied!!
Agent-Name is professional and knowledgeable about everything. She is also always available. I would definitely recommend her to anyone. Very smooth transaction from start to finish. I felt confident with her experience.
Agent-Name found us our dream home
Agent-Name was very efficient and helped us find our dream home within a few short months. She was able to negotiate the price that we wanted for the house. Overall, I would look for her again to help us look for a house if need be in the future. Thank you so much!
Efficient communication and service
Agent-Name and his staff were very helpful in selling our condo. They kept me informed frequently with email, sending reports on showings, offers, and feedback from potential buyers. We are very satisfied.
Agent-Name will get your house sold fast!
Agent-Name is great and has the expertise to get your house sold. The communications throughout our sale (from beginning to end) has been outstanding. Agent-Name understands the stress involved in selling your house, and she updated our family consistently! This made us feel we were in good hands. I have worked with numerous agents, and I highly recommend her to represent you when it comes time to sell your home.
Excellent experience topped with a personal touch
Excellent experience all around, not only knowledgeable but Agent-Name and team have a very personal touch I felt like family throughout the entire process. He always took his time; we never felt rushed or like “just a number.” I sold my home and bought with him. We had lots of questions he gladly answered them with no problem and guided us through the entire process, eliminating lots of stress. I truly appreciate that and would recommend him and his team to family and friends.
CHAPTER 1 First Steps To Home Selling
“But You Gotta Know the Territory” — and Terminology
Location! Location! Location! is the most crucial consideration in real estate and a major factor, if not the predominant one, in real estate pricing. Novice (and not-so- novice) home sellers alike must know the considerations — such as location — that determine a home’s price. Setting the price at which to sell your home is not a simple formula, nor mathematical. Many elements factor into the decision. Throughout this book, you will read examples of similar and similarly situated houses that sold for very different prices, along with the reasons for the disparities. A calculated home value is not necessarily what you believe your home is worth. Recognizing this helps avoid overpricing, a major factor that leaves homes languishing or unsold. Familiarity with the real estate terms market value, appraisal value, and assessed value can save disappointment and frustration, and allow the home seller to more meaningfully engage in setting a home’s listing price.
The most-used definition of market value is “the most probable price a property should bring in a competitive,
open market under conditions requisite to a fair sale.” Essentially, this is a pre-negotiation opinion of what a house should bring in its local market, i.e., its geographical area, generally an area such as a suburb or neighborhood. Appraisal value is an evaluation of a property’s worth at a given point in time that is performed by a professional appraiser. Appraised value is a crucial factor in loan underwriting and determines how much money may be borrowed and under what terms. For example, the Loan to Value (LTV) ratio is based on the appraised value. Where LTV is greater than 80%, the lender generally will require the borrower to buy mortgage insurance. Assessed value is the amount local or state government has designated for specific property and frequently differs from market value or appraisal value. This assessed value is used as the basis of property tax and when a property tax is levied. The assessed value of real property is not necessarily equal to the property’s market value. Approximately 60% of U.S. properties are assessed higher than their current value; however, this does not reflect the home’s value.
WHAT IS YOUR HOME WORTH?
The first step in selling your home is knowing the difference between value, worth, and price. Let’s examine the determining factors at work. Understanding those factors allows them to be leveraged. There are several ways a home’s value is derived.
ONLINE HOME VALUATION
Online tools will provide you with a very basic estimate of your home’s current value based on recent comparable home sales in your area using a comprehensive database. Note that the assessment is based on available data with no guarantee of accuracy and often uses an algorithm that simply averages comparable sales in the geographic area. These tools might be quick and easy, but they don’t take into consideration factors like location, current local trends and the condition of the property. Be aware that the prices arrived upon might be highly inaccurate. For example, a home in Ohio was put into one such system, Redfin (https://www.redfin.com/what-is-my-home-worth). The home last sold for $180,000 in 1998; it was appraised for refinancing in 2015 at $275,000. In 2017, Redfin’s calculator valued this 1890 Victorian home (4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and 2,100 square feet) in a four-block area of “Grand Old Ladies” at $158,000. The apparent reason is that the six “comps” (comparable recent sales) included only 2 homes in this desirable neighborhood (over $300,000), while four others outside this small neighborhood, although close, sold for $150,000 to $199,000. Because the system doesn’t understand the makeup of the area and simply pulled prices from a broader geographic area, the arrived- upon price was far below what it should have been. These tools are worthwhile for obtaining “comps” of area sales; however, they are not highly accurate in arriving at a listing price.
EXAMPLE OF DIFFERING HOME VALUATIONS
A buyer is interested in a home listed at $420,000. The online valuation determines the house is worth $440,000. Based on that estimate, the buyer offers the asking price. When a professional appraisal comes in at $400,000, and the existing tax records assess the home at $300,000, the buyer wonders why the values are so different and whether he overpaid. The house was listed at $420,000 because at that price, the home would sell in a reasonable amount of time. Why would the appraised value not be whatever a buyer was willing to pay? The fact that they paid $420,000 does not mean that is the true value of the home. Certain factors may weigh in — undesirable businesses located near the property, for example. Online valuations cannot take into consideration the condition of the property or the qualities of the neighborhood. Since an assessed home value is for taxing purposes only, it can be much more or much less than the market value. Ideally, they should be the same, but usually they are not; it is based on a percentage of the appraised value determined by a professional. From legal descriptions to onsite inspections to comparable home-selling prices, the assessor will take all these things into consideration when appraising a home. Location near industry, high traffic, or potential development will also affect the appraisal.
Nothing determines the sale price of a piece of real estate but the price at which it sells. Houses are not same-priced identical cans of tuna on the grocery store shelf or shares of stock valued and traded every day on the stock exchange. Real estate appraisal (“property valuation”) is the process of arriving at developing a perspective of value for real property. This is the marke value — i.e., what a willing reasonable buyer would pay for the property to a willing reasonable seller. Real estate transactions generally require assessments because they happen infrequently, and every real property is unique in features and characteristics. An appraisal helps in various decision points. The seller can use the appraisal as a basis for pricing. The buyer can use it as a gauge on which to base an offer. Lenders use appraisals to know how much money to credit to their borrowers.
The important factors in a house appraisal are:
• Dwelling type (e.g., one-story, two-story, split-level, factory-built) • Features (including design) — materials used and the kind of structure present and how they were built • Improvements made • Comparable sales • Location — type of neighborhood, zoning areas, proximity to other establishments • Age of property • Size
Condition, of course, is a crucial factor in valuation. Location is also a factor; however, as property cannot change location, upgrades or improvements to a residential property often can enhance its value. A professional appraiser should be a qualified, disinterested specialist in real estate appraisals, with expertise in your region. His or her job is to determine an estimated value by inspecting the property, reviewing the initial purchase price, and weighing it against recent sales with the same purchase price.
COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS BY A REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL
This home valuation is free from real estate professionals and more helpful than automated online offerings. It provides detailed information on each house sold in your area over the last six months, along with the final sale price. It also includes the specifics of all the houses for sale in your area, including the asking price. These homes are your competition. The real estate professional will also answer any questions and help you price your home realistically. Along with an understanding of how the worth of a home is determined, the current market must be considered. By utilizing a professional real estate agent (like me), you can rely on proven expertise to market your home at the best listing price. I will be happy to provide you with a
Comparative Market Analysis.
Please refer to the last page of this book if you would like more information on how to request a free home valuation.
THE SECOND STEP (SELLING YOUR HOME FOR MORE)
Prior discussion showed that there is no calculable certainty in setting the value of a home. There can be wide differences between the seller’s assessed price, the asking or listing price (market value), and the price at which the home sells (sale price). Let’s turn to what the homeowner/seller can do to elicit offers at the listing price, or even above, in a competitive market. The seller’s time, effort, and investment are the most important parts of the process. The seller’s willingness to adequately prepare the home for presentation by improving, freshening, landscaping, and generally making the home pristine — and to live in that presentation-readiness state for the time it takes to sell the property — will greatly affect both the sale period as well as the price at which the home sells. A market in which homes normally sell in no more than six months of listing is considered balanced or neutral, which means a good number of homeowners are selling and buyers are purchasing; therefore, neither has an upper hand. A variable, for instance, like a major company entering — or moving from — the area will tip the scale toward
homeowners to make a swift market or toward buyers to make a slow market. The typical selling time in a swift market might be 30 days, while that of a slow market may be up to nine months. Typically, any number below six months is considered a seller’s market.
LIVING IN A SWIRLING FISHBOWL
A house on the market requires keeping the home in a constant “show-ready” condition, and adjustment to changes in day-to-day life that are inherent in the process. Sellers get out-of-business-hours phone calls from unrepresented prospects and buyers’ agents to show the home; frequent updates by phone, email, and text and show appointment scheduling messages from the listing agent; repair and reconditioning appointments; and inspections. The house may be photographed for online, periodical, or brochure presentations. There are repeated showings when the home first hits the market. Keep your home in pristine showing condition for impromptu visitors — the perfect prospect might just drop in at dinnertime. Rude, perhaps, but necessary to accommodate.
CHILDREN (AND PETS) SHOULD BE UNSEEN, UNHEARD
Children and pets are distractions for potential buyers, affecting their experience of your home. You should plan for your children to be elsewhere and your pets crated or
leashed, and no toys lying about or dog hair on the sofa. The dishes should always be done and the kitchen sparkling. The pressure of showing to everyone even mildly interested in looking (not necessarily buying) may come from the idea that the more your home is seen, the more quickly and easily your home will sell. Many real estate agents provide their clients with dozens of homes to consider without a clear picture of what the buyer wants. Low-interest traffic can be heavy and a burden on the seller’s time, energy, and resources. Since a showing can take an hour or hours, finding an interested buyer is what matters most. The home will be shown to many more uninterested than interested buyers. How many times will you have to show your home? In an ideal world, your property would be shown to serious buyers only. However, many “Sunday afternoon window shoppers” exist in the real estate business. You shouldn’t waste your time trying to appeal to uninterested buyers. This is where planning, organizing, and the professional help of a qualified real estate agent enables you to handle even the most intimidating tasks without wasting efforts.
CHAPTER 2 Pareto's Principle “Eighty percent of results will come from just twenty percent of the action.” This is the Pareto principle, attributed to Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto, who in 1906 observed an intriguing correlation. The story is that he began work on the “80/20 rule” with the observation that 20% of the pea plants in his garden generated 80% of the healthy pea pods. This observation caused him to explore uneven distribution. He discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population. He investigated different industries and found that 80% of production typically came from just 20% of the companies. The generalization became the concept that 80% of results will come from 20% of the action.
While it does not always come 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
RELATING THE 80/20 RULE TO HOME SELLING
Understanding the 80/20 rule concept can save you time in selling your home. Applying the 80/20 rule, you stop trying to sell people on the entire home. Applying the rule, you can highlight the 20% of your home’s features that make it special. The remaining 80% of your home still affects the buyer’s decision, so do not neglect it, but in photographs and showings, feature the elements that make your home special. 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.
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 from his bedroom window every morning.
What 20% 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 over 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 buyers 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. This home was comparable in interior and exterior, but it was on a busy street. What 20% of the home caught the buyer’s eye and prompted him to choose Cam and Kate’s home? The buyer loved the secluded country feel of the home. The 1.8-acre property was surrounded by pastures, with grand oaks dotting the landscape.
A buyer paid extra for a townhouse because of its location in the complex overlooking 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. An owner whose townhouse
bordered this yard area sold his home for a higher price than other townhouses in the complex on the market because his had a characteristic shared by fewer than 10% of others. He had the only available listing offering that feature. He pointed to that feature in marketing the townhome. With this attractive point of difference, the house sold for a higher price. Another townhouse seller in the same complex found a different unique feature. Although she did not have a yard, she was still able to use location to advantage. Her property backed up to a lake and fountain. This unique feature helped her to sell the townhouse quickly and for a better- than-average sales price.
THE 80/20 RULE IN ACTION: BUYERS ARE SEARCHING FOR UNIQUE FEATURES
Decide upon, improve, if necessary, and spotlight the unique features of your home in marketing copy, online and print photographs, and in showing the house. Do not spend much 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 pay the asking price.
Each house will have its unique features. Here are some suggestions if you aren’t sure of yours:
• Hilltop views or high vantage point, offering a spectacular view of the surrounding area • Open fields frequented by wildlife • Unobstructed views of sunrise and sunset • Patios, decks, dog runs, garden areas, and 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
LOOK FOR THE 20% DIFFERENCE AND MARKET THE FEATURE
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 make a purchase. You won’t have to show as frequently. You also won’t have to sift through low-ball 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.
HOW THE 80/20 RULE APPLIES TO HOME SALES
An out-of-town home shopper with no specific requirements contacted a real estate agent to look at available homes for sale. The agent drove him from house to house. In each case, the buyer suggested offers 10% to 20% below the asking price without budging. As the day progressed, the agent’s chances of finding a suitable home were dwindling. They stopped at one last house as the sun set. The exterior of the house was dated and the yard untended. This agent and her client had spent the entire day looking at houses that shared 80% of the same features. Nevertheless, once the buyer walked into the room, he wanted to buy the home for asking price. What set this house apart from the others? He wasn’t too interested in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. A bedroom was a bedroom as far as he was concerned. He fell in love with the one remarkable feature of this otherwise uninspiring house. The house sat on a hill with a beautiful view out a large window. As they entered the great room, the sun was setting
below the distant tree line. That view sold the buyer. The remaining parts of the home could be improved. The home buyer based his decision to buy on the window view from the hillside. The 20% of the home’s features motivated him to offer full price on the spot. Such is the power of the 80/20 rule. In some cases, the 80/20 rule may help people make a sale without even conducting a showing. The house in the following example had languished on the market for months. Unlike the previous home, this one was attractive. On the contrary, it was a brand-new, custom-built home. It sat on the market for over seven months without a single offer. The builder hired a real estate agent who knew the importance of finding that one special feature. He drove out to give the house a thorough investigation. He discovered what the property had that the competition did not. The house had a five-acre yard. Other houses being sold in the area had one- to two-acre lots. Not only was the yard bigger, but it was also more private than the other properties. The real estate agent marketed the property highlighting the five acres along with a description of the house. Because the house was no longer the main selling point, interest in the property increased.
CHAPTER 3 Staging with Purpose
Staging is the act of sprucing and setting up a home to make it as visually appealing as possible to a prospective buyer. 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 in this regard, 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. This approach works! Agents and sellers using this tactic have a greater chance of selling the property for more money. In today’s competitive real estate market, selling your home requires hard work and dedication. A motivated seller can bring the home to the marketing forefront.
Staging the home will:
• Distinguish it from the competition • Attract top dollar from homebuyers • Provide a visual edge over the competition
STAGING VS. NON-STAGED CASE STUDY & REPORT
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:
• Townhome A sold on August 26. • Townhome B (5 doors down) sold on July 26, for 40,000 dollars less.
I visited this neighborhood, and I am familiar with these
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: • 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.
*B Curry, Realtor. Used with the permission of the author.
THE POWER OF STAGING WHEN SELLING A HOME
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 more than 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.
WHAT DO BUYERS WANT TO SEE?
Most home shoppers are envisioning a fresh start. If they can picture themselves living in the home, the home will be easier to sell. This is 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
NEUTRALIZE FOR EYE APPEAL
The idea is to neutralize the home regarding personal taste or decoration such that buyers can easily envision the home as it would be outfitted in their taste or with their possessions without the distractions of the seller’s taste and possessions. In staging, distractions are removed so the home shopper can imagine living in each space of the house. An effective way to achieve this is to paint all rooms in a neutral color. A wide range of neutrals from soft grays to warm beiges are available. Painting the interior gives newness and freshness and can make the home appear more spacious. Using the same color in visibly adjacent rooms gives the house a seamless look and uninterrupted flow. Changing your window coverings to match the walls can create an illusion of more space. Dark or bold wall colors can dampen interest in a home if used in large spaces; however, they can be used effectively as accent colors.
FOCUS ON FURNITURE: LESS IS MORE
In staging, a visibly inviting space is created so that the home shopper can envision or imagine life in that space. Minimization is the key. The seller’s personal taste and style will be showcased while the home is on the market, which may be a sale distraction. Preparing for moving is part and
parcel of selling a home; it might as well be done at this stage of the process to enhance the property’s saleability. Shortly, we will examine depersonalizing the home, a key step. First, however, we must examine the concept of creating space by minimizing furniture. Buyers are attracted to homes flooded with light and roominess. They are equally put off by cramped homes filled with unnavigable spaces. Home shoppers want to walk through a house without obstacles in the way. Space and storage are high on the list of buyers’ desires, so every area of the home should feel spacious. Remove all unnecessary furniture from living spaces. Store it while the home is marketed. Closets, pantries, and storage rooms must be free of clutter and look organized. Pruning back on what fills up space and relegating it to a storage unit creates interest by showcasing ample space and storage and not overflowing closets and basement/attic areas. Furniture placement is an easy way to highlight unique house features. A grouping of chairs in front of a fireplace will draw attention to it. Avoid pushing furniture close to the walls. Reposition easy chairs into floating group spaces. Every room must be staged to show function. An empty room used for overflow of boxes, possessions, or unwanted items should be transformed into a usable, desirable space. Clean it out and create an office space with a desk and chair or a reading room with a lamp and recliner. Exercise
equipment might be arranged to feature it as a workout room. Every room should have a purpose and be user- friendly. Make your home’s traffic flow obvious so buyers can browse each room without effort.
Once every room has a purpose, creating atmosphere is crucial to making the home desirable. Decorative touches of greenery, flowers, and lit candles give life to a room. Creatively hung wall art can do the same. A bedroom that has one bed with one pillow and blanket may make the room seem bare and lonely. By adding a table with decor and a rocking chair draped with a lap robe, you heighten its appeal. Be sure to add elements of the same color, shape, or texture to unify the room. Any splashes of bold color should appear in wall art or any place you want to draw attention. Learn to strike a balance between staging and living in your home. You can seasonally decorate your home without dashing your appeal. The main goal is to keep your home clean and free of clutter that distracts would-be buyers. 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: do it yourself or hire a professional home stager. If you are considering hiring someone, I can provide recommendations.
TO STAY OR NOT TO STAY?
Home sellers often ask whether they should stay in their
home while it is on the market, or go. There are pros and cons to both and factors that can tip the scale to one side. If the seller has engaged a real estate agent, the burden of showing the home is virtually eliminated. The agent will field all calls, set appointments, and show the home. Relatedly, chances that a buyer’s real estate agent will show your home are increased. Busy schedules often cause agents, as with anyone, to take the path of least resistance. If they have 20 homes to show and 5 are occupied, they may well show the vacant homes because it’s easier. They don’t have to call and make an appointment. They can simply go over and use the lockbox. Further, the continual pressure to keep daily life from affecting the home’s pristine staging presentation isn’t there. The seller is not under constant pressure to keep the home in immaculate showing condition and spotless. If you might be unwilling to keep the home in turnkey condition for showing purposes, consider vacating before putting the home on the market. There are situations in which it’s almost essential to vacate the home during the selling period—e.g., if the sellers’ home is simply too messy to show while the sellers live there. Reasons for messy homes vary. Some sellers are packrats and their home reflects that behavior because boxes are piled everywhere, and rooms are stuffed to the gills with
personal belongings. This is a considerable obstacle to getting a good offer. Other sellers have several children, which can obviously present difficulty in always maintaining a clean, show-ready home. Potential buyers should be alerted that the seller has vacated the house to best show it. A vacant home can be interpreted as meaning a “motivated seller” who needs to sell quickly. Often, with an empty house, sellers are motivated! One comment on a real estate online forum tells of making an offer of $30,000 less than the asking price, believing the owners might be getting desperate to sell. They were asking $300,000. The buyer was sold on it anyway and would have paid more, but “haggling” began well below what was expected because the buyer read the fact that the home was unlived in as a clue to a desperate-to-sell owner.
CHAPTER 4 Upgrading with ROI in Mind
Making upgrades can be as easy as replacing the handset on your front door or as daunting as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or even repainting the entire house. The question is always what home improvements give the best return on the remodeling dollar? Return on Investment (ROI) is generally less than 100% in real estate, so the rule of thumb is “less is more.” It is frequently advised in this area that it’s better to update/ remodel your home while living in it and not solely at the time it comes to sell. That way, there is more enjoyment in the improvement and less cost in preparing for sale. Some desirable upgrades or home improvements will not return their cost in the sale price. In 2016, a remodeling publication said the best ROI improvement a home seller can make is insulating the attic space, with a 116% return. If your home is worth $275,000 and you spend $25,000 to revamp the kitchen, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the investment will increase the value, dollar for dollar. The remodel may add value to the home, but the return in dollars spent will be around 50%. Smaller upgrades, like replacing outdated fixtures in the kitchen and bath, are certainly worthwhile, but major remodeling of those rooms isn’t wise, just to sell your home.
That’s not to say you can ignore necessary repairs that a home inspector would red-flag or mortgage company would demand before issuing a loan to a buyer. If major problems, like a leaking roof or outdated electrical wiring, exist, you may want to repair those before putting your home on the market, or expect to give concessions to the buyer.
STARTING WITH THE BASICS
Every listed home should meet the basic expectations of any buyer; it should have a sound roof, functioning gutters and downspouts, foundation without cracks, functioning heating and/or air-conditioning system, solid subflooring, and safe and secure electrical wiring. With financer- mandated home inspections, any shortcomings may be required to be remedied to get buyer financing approval. It is important to understand that the market value of a home is determined by the prices of comparable homes recently sold in the area. Extensive remodeling to sell the home or to increase the value may not pay off. The property needs to be up to the standards of neighboring homes, so while the kitchen has to be comparable to others, as in the example above, spending $25,000 to remodel a kitchen in an area where comparable homes recently sold for $275,000 will not increase the house’s value to $300,000. While it may be a helpful selling feature, it won’t return dollar-for-dollar value.
MECHANICAL MAINTENANCE IS A MUST
It is easy to get wrapped up in the more eye-pleasing aspects of preparing a home to sell. However, the upkeep of all the more mundane aspects of the home cannot be overlooked.
These mechanical features require consideration:
• Electrical boxes and wiring • Natural gas lines • Plumbing • Central heating and air-conditioning
If these components are old, outdated, or not working correctly, the home’s appeal is lowered, as is the eventual sale price. According to the National Association of Realtors®, 65% of homebuyers surveyed wanted to be sure their new home had a working central air system. Of the 31 mechanical features inquired about in the survey, this was the most important. People want to purchase a home that reflects their aesthetic tastes and lifestyles, but also one that is safe and sound. Faulty electrical systems do not provide a feeling of safety. Leaky plumbing arouses concerns of mold infestation and sewage problems. These areas can require extensive work and they are extremely important. Overlook them in the preparation stage and you run the risk of trouble later with inspections and appraisals.
It aids the sale if professionals certify or remediate any deficiencies in the mechanical systems. Having a professional inspection for buyers to review is a big plus in marketing. • Have a certified plumber inspect the entire water system for leaks. Check the well and septic field, if applicable. • Hire an electrician to check the wiring. • Call an HVAC company and have technicians perform a thorough service checkup. • Contact the natural gas supplier and have them double-check the mechanics of your tank and lines. If you’re looking for an alternative to calling and arranging all the different inspections, certified home inspectors usually cover all items related to mechanical issues (and more). They will be able to identify possible trouble spots. Many buyers hire an inspector, so you may be saving them a major step in the sale process. If you have mechanical issues and decide to sell your home “as is,” it may be necessary to negotiate with the buyer.
New appliances undoubtedly make an impact on buyers. The National Association of Realtors® conducted a survey of buyers and found that:
• Buyers were usually “interested” or “somewhat
interested” in buying a home that featured new appliances. • Roughly 17% of respondents preferred stainless steel. • The most important factor: available appliances. • Most buyers who were unable to get their sought- after appliances said they would have 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 in excellent condition. New appliances might be what sets a house apart from the home for sale across the street. If new appliances are out of reach, offer immaculately clean and fully functioning existing ones.
Carefully inspect your bathroom and kitchen hardware. If it is unsightly or worn, it’s best to replace it. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Your home will potentially be their new home. Old, worn-out fixtures are not going to speak to them the way nice, new shiny hardware will. Unless your knobs, pulls, handles, or hinges are broken, you need not replace them. Get that fresh look simply by thoroughly washing, sanding, and painting them with spray paint made specifically for kitchen and bath hardware, making it cost-effective.
Check these hardware items closely and replace, as needed:
• Towel bars • Toilet paper holder • Door handles • Dated light fixtures
The goal is to touch up your home nicely without excessive spending. The Internet has a wealth of do-it-yourself videos that can help you update your bath and kitchen if your budget is limited. If you have broken or worn-out hardware, it’s best to replace the entire set. If you can find matching pieces, you can paint the old and new to match.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Whether natural or artificial, bringing in light is one of the most effective ways to show off your home. Using light to enhance your home’s appeal can make a difference. Harsh light is unflattering, even to the best furnishings and features. Dim lighting gives everything in the house a dingy feel. Assessing the lighting in each area of your home will give you a quick idea where to bring in more light. Rooms with abundant windows greatly benefit from natural light, as your home will be seen during the day.
Supplemental light is necessary for rooms with smaller
windows or little natural light coming in. Increase the wattage of light bulbs in your lamps to improve artificial light. As a rule of thumb, there should be 100 watts for each 50 square feet of space. There are three kinds of lighting. General lighting or overhead is typically ambient. The pendant light is good for tasks like food preparation or reading. Accent lights are usually on tables or mounted on walls. You can use all three to bring out the best your home has to offer. Key areas, such as foyers, can set the stage by impressing buyers with a dramatic light source. If you do not have an abundance of natural light coming in, a chandelier-type light works if your ceilings are high. Otherwise, wall sconces are impressive in smaller spaces. Do not assume you need to buy new fixtures if you can update existing ones. The aim is to make sure each area of the home is effectively lit. Kitchen and bathrooms are pivotal rooms. These two areas can make or break a sale. The combination of ambient, natural, and pendant light can bring out the best in your kitchen space. Mounting track lighting underneath cabinets gives the counters a chance to shine aesthetically and functionally. Make sure the light over the sink area is sufficient and working properly. If you have a hood over the stove, install clear bulbs to ensure the brightest light. Lighting in the bathroom needs to be intense without being harsh. Soft lighting enhances any part of the house you want
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