You hear a lot of talk about “the housing market”: It’s a buyer’s market…it’s a seller’s market…the market is soft…the market is active. All this chatter might lead you to think that as a seller you’re simply at the whim of all-powerful economic forces. But you do have some say in what your home sells for, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Taking a few simple steps can help you realize a higher selling price for your home than if you just let it loose on the market.
Get a good real estate agent
You may be tempted to try to go it alone, but remember that top real estate agents have a wealth of knowledge. They can give you practical area-specific tips that are easy to implement and can make you thousands of extra dollars when it comes time to close the deal. Unless you are an experienced seller of homes, you will likely find that the benefit is worth more than what you paid in commission.
Get the latest comps
Housing markets in some areas can change rapidly and all it takes is one high seller to raise the bar. While top real estate agents will be plugged into what comparable houses have sold for recently, it can’t hurt to stay up on these numbers on your own. The multiple listings service published by Realtor.com is a great way to keep up to date on the latest sales, as are sites Zillow.com and Trulia.com.
Have your agent at the appraisal
A low real estate appraisal of your home’s value can kill your dreams of realizing a high price on your sale. Get an appraisal from a qualified professional, but make sure your real estate agent is there to point out important features and to remind the appraiser of the most recent comparable sales. A little “helpful information” in the appraiser's ear can make a big difference.
Time it right
If you have the option of waiting for a top price, be open to that possibility. If your agent or your own research tells you the local market is a bit saturated right now but showing signs of building serious steam, weigh the option of holding off a few months to sell. Of course there is inherent risk in doing this, but it could get you a much better price in the right situation.
Fix it up
If there are annoying little repairs around the house that need to be made, get them taken care of. A cracked wall plate might seem minor to you, but if unfixed it can contribute to an image in a buyer’s mind that the place is a fixer-upper. Using a few dollars to fix small items like these can keep thousands of dollars from evaporating from the offers you receive.
Always remember that a buyer doesn’t want to move into your home, they want to move into their home. Your personal Beanie Babies museum might hold a lot of sentimental value for you, but buyers want to have an empty palate to create their own environment. Always keep the K.I.S.S. acronym in mind: Keep It Simple, Seller!
Beautify inside and out
You’ve probably already thought about scrubbing down your kitchen and vacuuming in the living room to create a nice presentation for a potential buyer. But don’t forget about the exterior aesthetics. A roof covered in leaves and various sports equipment, or an unkempt lawn can be as off-putting as a dirty kitchen floors.
Sweeten the pot
Everybody wants to feel like they are getting something extra in the deal. Offering to cover closing costs, pay for a year of home owner warranty, or ensure a quick closing can set you apart. Plus, these things don't actually cost you a lot.
Maximize online tools
Studies have shown that pictures are vital to getting potential buyers out to see your home. More great pictures in online listings = more viewings = more bids = better offers for you. And don’t just use real estate listing sites. Put pictures on your Facebook page too. Just don’t show or list the address for safety reasons. Recently, some sellers have even created YouTube videos to paint for potential buyers a picture of the virtues of the home and surrounding area.
Home sales by nature are very competitive. Taking a few relatively simple steps to set your property apart can get you the price you want.