The Top Five Things that Sell Homes Today
Any homeseller who has a couple of home sales under his/her belt has more than likely seen and/or heard all the pitches from different agents, stories from friends and family, and maybe even read some articles about selling a home. All of those suggestions probably have been successful somewhere, sometime.
We once sent out "Just Listed" postcards in the community surrounding a listing we had just put on the market and a neighbor called in just a few days. She was calling for a friend who wanted to live in the neighborhood. We showed her the home and they bought it. Another time, I took a listing, walked out to the front yard to put a sign in the ground and a buyer pulled up and wanted to see the house. They toured the home, fell in love with it, and bought it that same night. On another occasion, I was holding open a vacant home for one of our clients and in walked a couple needing somewhere to move within the week because a seller in a previous deal backed out at the last moment. Since our listing was their top choice among the homes they had seen that weekend, and because it was available for immediate movein they bought it.
So does this mean that all you have to do to sell a home is place a sign in the yard, send out a postcard or two, and hold an open house? Of course not. In most circumstances, selling a home for top dollar takes a LOT of marketing, usually at considerable expense, and consistent effort. Gone are the days when a sign and a classified ad are enough. Classified ads used to pull in those buyers, but now they're not nearly as effective unless you take on the expense of a full color block ad. Open Houses used to be much more popular as well, but the internet has changed that as well. Most people now prefer to take virtual tours of a home online to narrow the number of homes they need to visit. Ten years ago, the internet played vitually no role in the sale of real estate, today it's the most powerful form of marketing available.
So what is the magic formula? There really isn't one, but are there are 5 factors that matter most when selling your home:
Very few people buy a home sight unseen. Those that do are usually investors and never pay top dollar for them. That's why accessibility is important. If people can't see a home, they'll never buy it. That's why it's important to have a keybox on the home. And these days, most MLS systems now support Supra boxes which are electronically accessed. Supra boxes provide more security to the seller because they track all traffic coming through a home. We know who has accessed the home and when. Supra boxes hold a great advantage over combo boxes that can be accessed by anyone at any time as long as they know the code.
The condition of your home could be the difference between selling for top dollar and making considerable price reductions. The knicks in the paint, the dirty areas around light switches, the soiled carpet, and the doors that just don't shut quite right all speak volumes about the condition of your home. To potential homebuyers they may be a signal that the home hasn't been well kept. Make the small investment to fix these imperfections before putting your home on the market. Your agent should be able to offer some advice on staging your home for best presentation. An even better option would be to have an interior designer come out for a consultation. For a couple hundred dollars, you could have a professionals advice on how to make your home show and flow to it's best. It's money well spent if it means an offer for thousands more.
Where you price your home is going to have the biggest impact on how quickly your home sells. Overprice the home and you miss out of the first critical weeks on the market because buyers are comparing your home to others on the market right alongside new construction in the area. Nobody wants to leave money on the table though, so pricing a home too low can leave the seller out thousands of dollars.
Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
The MLS is where all the real estate agents and their buyers are finding homes. In addition, the MLS feeds the major websites on the market like HAR.com, Realtor.com, Homes.com, Chron.com, and so on. What this means is if your home is not listed in the MLS, you're missing out on potentially thousands of homebuyers. What's more, agents rarely show For Sale by Owner homes to their clients. You need to utilize the entire scope of the MLS: photos, vitual tours, detailed home information, a good co-broker commission, and well written comments about the home that will prompt agents and buyers to tour it.
A whopping 78% of homebuyers begin their search online in 2006. To get on the biggest and only relevant websites your listing needs to be in your local MLS. As mentioned earlier, local associations 'feed' this information to the big sites where consumers can find it. Being on the websites that have the traffic will expose a home to more buyers than all the other stuff combined. Pictures and even virtual tours are a must for these listings, as agents and their buyers will skip right over any listing without photos, coming back to it only if there are no other homes that fit.
Of these five things, a home seller is responsible for three of them. The seller determines how accessible a home is going to be. And they are responsible for the condition a home is in and for keeping it looking it's best while it is for sale. And, regardless of what some agents will tell you, the seller is responsible for the price. It's their home and their money. A professional Realtor will help with all three of these things. A professional Realtor will also be able to help market the property on the MLS correctly and place the property, with a photos, on the relevant websites, as well as help you with the negotiations, paperwork, and coordination of the transaction.