We are now entering into what real estate professionals call “the spring market”. Normally, this means the best selling season for residential homes. In the past three or four years, the spring market has not been different from any other market. Sales were basically “flat” and there was no real rush of residential transactions in the spring, or in any other season, for that matter.
I have gotten the sense that “spring 2012” may be a little bit different. This is a Presidential election year, and the economy often becomes a focal point for campaign rhetoric. There is a 26 and ½ billion settlement between Attorneys General of many states, and the major mortgage servicers like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citibank. This settlement is designed to get people paying their mortgages again (at lower rates) and is even getting money in the hands of people who were foreclosed upon. Last, and probably the most important part of the settlement is a direction to lop off portions of the principal of mortgages, so that the amount of the loan is representative of the value of the dwelling. In a word, there are movements afoot which make selling your home at this time a good idea.
With that in mind, the focus of this post is to provide suggestions to people who are considering selling, so that they can get the highest and best price for their property:
1. The Listing Agent. My suggestion is not to use your next door neighbor, your cousin or somebody you heard was extremely competent but who lives 25 miles away from your home. Interview the top local agents. Ask them to tell you what type of marketing plan they would suggest for your home. Ask them how many of their listings have sold in the past 18 months. Go further, and ask them what percentage of the original asking price was obtained at the sale. Make sure the “chemistry” is good between you and the Listing Agent.
2. Pay for a Home Appraisal. Much of what will happen in the sale of your home will center around price. A good Listing Agent will provide what is called a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) which can prove helpful. But the CMA is not an Appraisal. Spend the $300 or $400 to get an Appraisal completed by a licensed Appraiser. The knowledge of how the amount of the Appraisal will help you in your negotiations with an interested Buyer, more than you can possibly imagine.
3. Pay for a Home Inspection. Once your Offer is accepted, a home inspection is almost always the next step for your Buyer. A bad inspection will lead to the killing of your deal, or your having to accept a much lower price because the information “came from the inspector”. Look at this from the other side. You have the home inspection. The inspector shows you weaknesses in your home. You address them prior to listing your home. You now have the certainty that once an Offer is accepted, the home inspection completed on behalf of the Buyer will not kill your deal. Again, an “ounce of prevention” is well worth the expenditure.
In future blogs, I will explore other strategies to get your home sold quickly and for the right price. That is what we are all doing here, and "turning things upside down" may be the correct approach these days. In any event, that is what I am recommending to my clients, and early returns would seem to indicate that some of my ideas are working.