The real estate market is cooling off slightly, so it’s time to take a breath. It’s springtime and if you’re still thinking about selling your home, this may be the last gasp for maximum yield on the sale of your home. Homes are selling quickly. First offers are rarely considered. Multiple offers are the rule now and not the exception. Don’t take any offers without the buyer’s mortgage set in stone. You may not have to pay any of the buyer’s closing costs or offer a home warrantee. Even minor repairs may not be necessary. You are in the driver’s seat! Does it seem too good to be true?
It is true if you have a place to move when you sell. But it’s not true if you have to become a buyer in this market after your house sells. Then you will be in the same predicament as every other buyer. It may not matter if you’re downsizing or upgrading your square footage, you may be hampered in your search for what you want in this seller’s environment. All that being said, there are basic strategies that a seller should employ.
Before you spend one dollar on home improvements, engage a reputable real estate agent who knows what cosmetic changes, maintenance or renovations give you the best return for your money. While you’re going through the vetting process of hiring a real estate agent, do what you can do; de-clutter. Give unneeded furniture, appliances and clothing to family, friends and charities. If you still have a full house, try holding a garage sale or selling it on Craigslist, as rooms stuffed to capacity look small and unappealing. By creating room in your closets and garages, you are selling “spaciousness,” and thus allowing potential buyers to imagine how they would fill the space.
Don’t scrimp on paint. A neutral color of paint provides the best bang for the buck and enhances your home’s overall look. You can clean your home yourself, but a better idea is to have a cleaning crew come through your home and do a thorough job. It’s a time saver for you, and the professional cleaners generally do a better job. Additionally, one of the most cost-effective cosmetic items you can do, just short of putting in new flooring, is to hire professional cleaners for carpeting, tile and hard wood floors. Don’t forget windows; clean windows put your home in its best light. Many choose to hire a professional home stager who will rearrange your furnishings and decor in a manner that increases your home’s appeal. Professionals are professionals for a reason and they are worth every dollar spent.
Don’t put off maintenance items. The home inspection will discover them and the buyers will want them corrected. In fact, some realtors will encourage their sellers to have a home inspection up front. Some home warranty companies will even do a thorough “mechanicals” inspection up front for a nominal fee if you decide to provide a home warranty for the buyer. If the inspection yields too many corrective measures, the buyers may feel the house has not been kept up. The pride of ownership has real upsell to a buyer; but neglect is a big turn off. Fixing mechanical items and making needed repairs before the inspection will pay off in the buyer’s offer. Strategic renovations can add significantly to the price tag of your home, but they need to not outprice the neighborhood. Depending upon the area of the country, the home appraisal should fall in line with neighborhood comps. This can be a problem if you’re the most expensive home in your neighborhood or a godsend if your home is at the lower end of the price spectrum. That’s why a professional and experienced realtor will help you price your home to reflect a realistic sales price.
Over-pricing your home at the onset will only set you up for two to three price reductions and extend its time on the market. It’s better to be accurate about the sales price than too optimistic about making a windfall. One last thought: there are optimum times in the year to sell. If your moving plans are flexible, your real estate agent may suggest the best time to put your home on the market.