6 Simple Tips for Home Sellers

With the real estate market showing some signs of life, many people will be putting their homes up for sale. As a homeowner and real estate investor, I know firsthand that there are simple things you can do to increase your chances of selling your home fast and at a great price. So I was happy to hear that the folks at Zillow had been thinking the same thing. This guest post comes from Tali Wee, who handles the community outreach for Zillow.

The housing market across the U.S. continues to improve for home sellers as it gains momentum with increased home values in 2013. As prices rise, more homeowners consider selling, and potential buyers become motivated to buy before prices fully recover. This home value rebound is making the market highly competitive in many cities throughout the county. Successful home sales usually include a home in good condition, styled neutrally but with character and priced at market value. Here are a few steps motived sellers can take to get their properties sold quickly and at a fair price.

1. Pay for Mechanical Fixes

Homeowners preparing to sell their homes have the opportunity to correct any mechanical issues in the home prior to listing. It’s well worth the owner’s time and money to fix a leaky faucet, jammed window, broken fan or moss-covered patio. Once the home is listed, shoppers may notice that dripping faucet and feel as though they’re walking into a fixer-upper.

The cost of renting a pressure washer for the weekend is cheaper than accepting a lower selling price for defects in the home. Even projects that require an electrician or HVAC specialist may be less expensive to fix before the home inspection than offering credits to the seller afterward. Any flaws found in an inspection provide the buyer leverage to negotiate a reduced price. To benefit homeowners’ wallets, they should correct minor functionality issues before placing their homes on the market.

2. Avoid Major Improvements the Buyer Might Redo

On the other hand, homeowners should avoid costly remodels if they’re making the improvements solely for an increased sale price. A $70,000 kitchen or bathroom remodel will not have an equal return on the investment. Additionally, subjective upgrades such as improved kitchen countertops generally do not adjust the ultimate sale price of the home. Most often, sellers make these upgrades because it appeals to their personal style, instead of focusing on the buyer. Sellers should consider such alterations as the buyers’ responsibility to be altered to their own preferences.

For the best return on investment, sellers should stick to depersonalized, neutral home enhancements. Stagers help sellers create a blank canvas that buyers are able to picture themselves in. Sellers should stick to structural or mechanical fixes and leave the modernization and stylistic choices up to the buyer.

3. Price the House Fairly

Homeowners who are motivated to sell should price their homes relative to comparable homes recently sold in their markets. Real estate agents can assist sellers in coming to a fair price. Due to the housing market crash, many homeowners selling in recent years faced the distress of receiving far less for their homes than they paid to purchase them. Though it’s tough to accept that loss, successful sellers price their homes to sell.

When a home is overpriced, it sits on the market, becoming stale. Even after price reductions, shoppers may overlook the property, assuming something is wrong with it because it hasn’t sold. Plus, the longer the house sits on the market, the more money the seller pays in mortgage and taxes. Sellers who use their resources to set a fair selling price are far better off in today’s housing market than those who overprice their homes with high hopes.

4. Create a Strong Online Presence

Most home shoppers begin their house-hunting experiences online, so it benefits sellers to put their best foot forward. Sellers should promote their homes online with high-quality or professional photos. One drawback for buyers is when the online images set an unrealistic expectation of the home. If shoppers schedule a showing and see a home much darker, smaller or in worse condition than the online photos they may feel deceived or dissatisfied. Instead of publishing highly edited or inaccurately representative photos, buyers should give the most realistic portrayal as possible. However, some sort of photographic representation is better than none at all.

5. Be Prepared for Showings

Showing a home to prospective buyers is an expected part of the home-buying process. In fact, home sellers should be prepared to show their homes within 24 hours of placing them on the market, especially in competitive markets. Another important showing guideline is that sellers provide ample availability for agents to schedule showings. Sellers who make their homes accessible to buyers have a greater chance of selling.

Another showing tip, partially referenced above, is that sellers should prepare their homes in the most appealing arrangement for home shoppers. Normally, a home with the least amount of clutter and the fewest personalized items such as family photos or art is most appealing for shoppers. Again, professional stagers are available to assist in the process. The goal of a showing is for shoppers to visualize their lives in the new space, and anything homeowners can do to contribute to the process should work to their advantage.

6. Take the First Offer Seriously

As mentioned, stale listings are red flags for home shoppers who may consider a home flawed without ever viewing it. One solution for sellers to avoid the dreaded stale listing is to seriously consider the first offer on their homes. Often times, sellers turn down the first offer they receive because they have nothing to compare them to yet, especially if the offers are lower than the asking price. Buyers who view homes as soon as they’re listed and make early offers are motivated buyers. The main pointer for sellers is to take their first offer seriously and stay open to negotiations.

In conclusion, sellers who apply the extra energy to spruce up their homes’ condition and properly prepare their homes to appeal to shoppers within their markets will be positioned to sell to motivated buyers

Tali Wee lives in Seattle where she handles the community outreach for Zillow. She is captivated by, and appreciates everything real estate-related. Tali is also a new homeowner and enjoys spending time on projects around the house.

Topics: Mortgages

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