Let's just lay it on the line. This isn't your fathers real estate market. Mortgage bankers and brokers are dealing with new stringent rules and regulations. Real estate brokers and agents have less business to go around. And inspectors and appraisers are doing their jobs on pins and needles. But the folks under the most pressure in the market are sellers of homes. Falling values, lots of competition, and picky buyers, make for an uphill battle. What is a seller to do? Throw their hands in the air and give up?
Well, believe it or not, some homeowners actually sell their homes in such a market. What is their secret? They realize two things. We are in a price war and a beauty contest. And they are open to responding to such an environment. How does one win both the price war and beauty contest? Well, first lets describe the term.
I wish I could take credit for coining the phrase. After all, its probably the best term I've heard in my fifteen plus years as a real estate professional. This expression was actually repeated, at a real estate seminar last year. The price war comes from the incredible combination of falling real estate values and lots of inventory on the market. If a person wants to sell their home, price is of paramount importance. The beauty contest is another matter altogether. Homes that lack curb appeal and interior updates are out of the question. There is a way to compete and win. And this is how:
Pricing Your Home Accurately- Success in home selling has historically come down to several things- Location, condition, and price. The third category, price, is the factor you have the most control over. Furthermore, price is more important now than ever. It is imperative that a seller price their home not for the highest price, but the most competitive price. This can be, and probably should be done with a qualified real estate professional.
Checking Out The Competition- I make a practice of showing my sellers the homes they will be competing with in the market. We look online, as well as visiting two to three homes in the area. You should be doing the same. How is the pricing compared to the sellers? Chances are, the competition will tell you where you can best price yours to beat them to the closing table.
Absorption Rate Pricing- Is a more analytical approach to pricing a home. Absorption rate pricing takes area,criteria, price range and target market segment in to account. Moreover, using a shorter time period for analysis gives a more accurate pricing model. For a more thorough explanation see http://www.ninjacoaching.com/uploads/Absorption_Rate_Pricing.pdf
Looking Good On The Internet- Nine out of ten buyers are beginning their search on the online. It isn't much different than internet dating- photos matter, and awful lot. As someone who represents buyers often, I can tell you that a listing that lacks punch on the internet is passed over without hesitation. Conversely, the majority of my buyers end up purchasing the home that looked most appealing to them on the net. Your photos should be plentiful, well lit ,free of clutter and show as much as your home, and surrounding amenities as allowed. I'm amazed at the number of listings, particularly high priced homes, that only show four or five photos, poorly lit or unprofessional looking shots. That is inexcusable.
Curb Appeal- This shouldn't be very hard, yet it is. Fresh paint, plants, and a good power washing goes a long way. The grass has to be cut on a regular basis. Ever try to sell a dirty car? If a house looks shoddy when a potential buyer shows up, the bad impression has started and it is almost impossible to repair. On the other hand, a home with a few interior flaws, may given the benefit of the doubt, if the buyer thinks the owner *takes care of the home* from the beginning.
This Isn't Your Fathers Home Either- Earlier, I wrote this isn't your fathers real estate market. Remember, it isn't your fathers light fixtures, counter tops, and plumbing accessories either. Look at what is selling, either in your market or many of the various television home improvement shows. and follow suit. Trends change, and if you don't figure them out, you can be assured, other sellers will.
Flooring, Paint, Windows- Flooring should either be new or clean. Frankly, hard tile and hardwood flooring is more popular than carpet in non bedroom areas. Fresh flooring of any kind looks good, and is immediately noticed by potential buyers. A stain or a smell is a sure way to turn off someone looking at your home. Ask your realtor or a blunt friend if it needs to be replaced.
A fresh coat of paint is so easy to do. It's relatively cheap, or free if you do it yourself/coerce your family and friends.
As far as the windows, that doesn't require much professional input. Dirty windows are like unshined shoes- it may be an annoying chore, but one that must be done. Do it.
I could go on about updating kitchens and baths, replacing vents and outlet covers, cleaning a listed home on a daily basis and so on. But if you master these seven suggestions, the rest will likely come as a result. Remember, homeowners are selling homes every day. The key is to be one of those who succeed, by winning both the price war, and the beauty contest.