Find a trusted real estate agent
Finding someone who can explain the ins and outs of real estate - and being open to his or her advice is often the first step to a positive sale.
“You are selling what is typically the largest monetary asset you own,” says Rick Smith, owner of RCS Property Management and president-elect of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors in northern California. “This is your money, your home. Hire the right realtor. Be prepared to listen, but don’t be afraid to voice your concerns. And definitely ask a lot of questions.”
Trust is crucial. Finding a real estate agent who works in your best interests is important for such a major transaction. A skilled, caring agent can devote the necessary time and energy to get the most out of your home’s potential. They’ll also likely be more honest about any flaws that need to be addressed. Developing a positive working relationship with a real estate agent who takes to heart your life plans, financial goals and family dynamics can help relieve the stress of selling your house.
Be realistic about the price
What your agent tells you may not always be what you want to hear. Most homeowners believe the value of their home is greater than the price for which it can sell, and they may push for a higher initial listing than is justified by the current market. Regardless of what you originally paid for the home, your agent can offer a realistic assessment of it’s true market value, while providing information on sales of similar homes in your area.
Smith advises homeowners price their houses at or slightly below the price of recently sold homes that are comparable in location, size and condition. “Homes that are overpriced become ‘stale,’” says Smith. “When the price finally does come down, often the home sells for less than it would have sold for if it had been priced correctly in the first place.”
By listing a home at a more realistic price, it’s likely to receive more offers. This can give a seller more leverage in negotiations with the buyer, which may lead to a higher sales price.
Be honest about the condition of the house
Another important issue to consider is the current condition of your property. All homes develop problems that need repairs, including plumbing issues or a leaky roof. While some homeowners may be tempted to gloss over such issues at the time of sale, hiding them from potential buyers will inevitably lead to negative consequences.
“The condition of the home plays a big role, both in the value of the property and also while in escrow,” says Smith. “If a buyer discovers the home has a significant amount of termite damage, or the foundation needs repairs in excess of, say, $20,000, that can be a deal breaker at worst, or at best start a renegotiation between buyer and seller, costing the seller money.”
Smith says homeowners should always get a property inspected for such issues as termites or mold before going on the market. The owners can then make repairs or upgrades as needed in advance, and disclose the inspection report and the improvements to buyers before an offer is made.
Invest in renovations and upgrades
Finally, homeowners should make a home look its best before showing it to buyers. Beyond a thorough cleaning, real estate agents often recommend upgrades like painting both inside and out, refinishing or replacing carpets or flooring, and improving the landscaping, which can add up to a significant cost.
“That means they may put $10,000 to $15,000 into their home before it hits the market, but see a return of significantly more than that by selling for well over the figure they would have received [without the updates],” says Smith. “It is not uncommon to have a seller recover two to three times that investment if it’s done correctly.”
If you aren’t interested in spending that much on upgrades for your home, there are some inexpensive ways you can improve curb appeal.
Selling your house can be stressful for many reasons, but having an understanding and meticulous real estate agent by your side can make for a positive process and rewarding outcome.