What’s a Home Seller to Do???
Many folks hear the sensational real estate national news and think how fortunate they are that they do not have to sell their home right now. Others have no choice. They have to sell and sooner would be better than later.
Fortunately, here in the Upstate, our real estate market is much healthier than other parts of the country. Most homes here are still appreciating in value. The number of days on market is more than last year and there are a lot of houses on the market. So what if you are one of those homeowners who has to sell and sell now. What can you do to have the best selling experience possible?
Many times, a homeowner thinks that they will just call up an agent, sign a few papers and they’re done with the selling process until it’s time to show up at closing. Even if you’re working with the best agent in the county, that scenario will probably not give you the results you are looking for. Sellers need to be proactive and not just rely on their agents. Sellers need to be part of the home selling team.
The seller is part of the team
Here are a few ideas of how the seller needs to participate in the selling process.
1. Be realistic about pricing. The price you put on your home should not be based on what you paid for your home, no matter how recently you bought it. It should not be based on how much you owe on it. It should not be based on what your neighbor paid for his home. Your listing price is determined by the market. You and your agent should ask the market “What is this home worth today?” And keep asking every couple of weeks. Your local Realtor association website can be a valuable tool. There are three Realtor boards in the Upstate. www.ggar.com for Greenville area, www.spartanburgrealtors.com, and www.upstatemlssc.com for the western upstate area.
2. There are three factors that determine home values: location, price and condition. The first is predetermined; the second is set by the market, but only to some extent. Condition plays a critical role in pricing and is a factor that the homeowner can control. A home seller is selling much more than a house, he is selling a lifestyle, a neighborhood, status, convenience, a dream. Getting a house in marketable condition may involve a host of things including major and minor repairs, updates, depersonalizing, cleaning and decluttering. Today, getting a home ready for market is referred to as staging. Many popular home improvement shows highlight the staging process. Unfortunately, very few of these shows reflect a true picture of how staging is accomplished here in the Upstate. In some parts of the country, staging is part of the process as much as putting up the sign. Here, it is still a rather new concept for many agents. If you are thinking of selling your home in the near future, it is advisable to get professional help in determining what is going to be necessary to have your home in proper condition for the market. A professional local stager can often save owners many times her fee in savings created by discounts for products, time savings, recommendations that are not too much or too little for the home’s particular market. Stagers are also aware of current home trends in the local market. Getting a consultation early also allows you more time to make the changes, perhaps doing them yourself or having time to shop for help. Sometimes a home is too perfect, too “done” and might intimidate buyers. Stagers can help you “edit” your home to best reflect the home’s features. A staging consultation should include written recommendations for curb appeal, color, furniture arrangement, décor, updates, lighting and more.
3. Even though a good agent has access to almost infinite methods and means of exposure, the owner can assist in the marketing. Tell everyone you know that your house is for sale. Encourage them to tell their friends and coworkers. Keep it ready for showings. Make sure your agent updates pictures if the season changes or you make an improvement. Consider a holiday drop in if appropriate and invite the neighborhood. Keep a flyer with you to pass on to folks you meet. Then let your agent handle the follow-up.
4. Be knowledgeable about financing. In today’s market, financing may be the only limiting factor in selling your home. Seek out a knowledgeable lender who can share needed information. Keep up with changes in the world of mortgages. Consider ways that you may be able to offer owner financing or help with a down payment or closing costs. You can offer to pay down the points on a mortgage so the monthly payment for the buyer is less. Consider a lease with option or a rent to own. Get creative. Maybe consider a house trade or taking a car as a down. If you are open to some alternative financing, let it be known in your marketing.
5. Traditionally, a home inspection did not take place until a contract was accepted. Then everyone held their breath waiting for the results to see if the deal was still on. The smart way to handle home inspections today is to have an inspection done early in the process so you can address any issues that are found before you market the house. You can have it re-inspected if needed and include the inspection report in your marketing. This process has many advantages: gives buyer’s peace of mind, allows sellers more time to make repairs, makes it more likely that your deal will not fall apart or take longer than desired to close. Offering a home warranty is also advisable, as most buyers will ask for it anyway. A home warranty also helps an older home compete more favorably with a new home.
Even if you are not planning to have your house on the market anytime soon, it is always a good idea to keep track of real estate trends in your area. With layoffs, downsizing and shifting workforces and even the aging process affecting so many, a move from your home may become necessary. If you are knowledgeable about your market and have kept your home in good condition, the job of selling your house will be much easier, faster and more profitable.
Lisa H. Harrison is the owner of TWEAK Home Marketing Solutions. www.TweakYourHouse.com
864-506-5939 or 864-243-1951