27 Essential Tips That Get Homes Sold

27 Essential Tips That Get Homes Sold

For many people, selling their property means cashing in their biggest asset.

In other words, it must be handled with great care if you hope to protect-and capitalize on-your investment.

This guide was written with one goal in mind: to give you the tools you need to maximize your profits, maintain control, and reduce the stress |hat comes with the selling process.

Tip #1 Know Why You're Selling
The reason you look closely at why you want to sell is that your motivations play an important role in the process. They affect everything from setting a price to deciding how much time and money you'll invest in getting your property ready for selling.

For example, what's more important to you: the money you walk away with, or the length of time your property is on the market? If your goal is a quick sale, that can dictate one kind of approach. If you want to maximize your profit, the sales process will almost certainly take longer.

Tip #2 Once You Know, Keep it to Yourself
Your reasons will affect how you negotiate the sale of your property, but they shouldn't be given as ammunition to the person who wants to buy it. For example, a prospective buyer who knows you must move quickly has you at their mercy in the negotiation process. When asked, simply say that your housing needs have changed. Your reasons are nobody's business but your own.

Tip #3 Do Your Homework Before Setting a Price
Settling on an offering price shouldn't be done lightly. Once you've set your price, you've told buyers the absolute maximum they have to pay for your property. The trick for the seller is to get a selling price as close to the offering price as possible. If you start out by pricing too high, you might not be taken seriously by prospective buyers and their agents. A price too low can result in selling for much less than you had hoped for.

Setting the sale price can be a fairly easy process. If the home is in an area comprised of homes with similar or identical floor plans, built in the same time period, then all you have to do is look at recent sales in the neighborhood to give you a good ball park figure.

But many homes are in older neighborhoods that have changed quite a bit over the years. Land values have changed dramatically in some areas and construction costs are on the rise! These factors weigh heavily with buyers. . .replacement cost is as important as the supply of comparable lots.

If you decide to sell your property on your own, the most common way to set a value is to look at properties that have sold in your neighborhood within the past six to 12 months, as well as those now on the market. That's certainly how prospective buyers will assess the worth of your property.

You can usually learn what homes have sold for in your neighborhood by making a trip to Beaufort; property sale information is in the public records.

If this sounds like a lot of work, you may decide to hire a Realtor®. Your Realtor® will do all the market research and provide you with comparable sales, land values and replacement costs. These factors will indicate where your property should be priced to best meet your goals — a fast sell, maximum profit, etc.

Tip #4 Know When to Get an Appraisal
Sometimes you can use a good appraisal to your benefit in marketing your property. Some buyers in the marketplace are more apt to accept the seller's opinion of value if it is backed by an appraisal, however, appraisals cost money. It has a limited life and you may not like the figure you hear.

Tip #5 Your Tax Assessment Means Almost Nothing
Some people look to tax assessments to assign a value. The problem here is that assessments are based on a number of criteria unrelated to property values, so they often don't necessarily reflect the true value of your property. Have you ever heard of two identical properties in the same neighborhood with dramatically different assessed values because one was purchased more recently than the other? Well, it happens quite often.

Tip #6 Find a Good Realtor
Nearly two-thirds of the people who sell their own property say they wouldn't do it themselves again, according to research by the National Association of Realtors. Sellers surveyed point to difficulties in setting a price, marketing handicaps and liability concerns among the primary reasons they would turn to a Realtor next time. And selling a property yourself usually eats up more time and effort than you might initially expect.

Once you understand how much work it will be to sell it yourself, talk to a Realtor you trust even if you decide to strike out on your own. Many top professionals are more than willing to help do-it-yourself sellers with the paperwork, contracts, etc. Plus you'll have a relationship with an agent if problems do arise that require professional help.

If you decide to work with a Realtor, contact two or three top Realtors® in the marketplace. Explain to each that you're thinking about putting your property on the market and you'd like to meet to talk about pricing and marketing. By having this group "evaluation" done, you should end up with a fairly tight price range to help guide your decision. Any Realtor who is substantially higher or lower than the group should be able to justify their estimate. Just as you should be concerned with too low of a price, beware of an agent who gives you the highest price they may be trying to "buy" your listing.

A good Realtor® knows the market and your neighborhood in particular. They will supply you with information on past sales, current listings, a marketing plan, something on their own background, and references from past clients. Take the time to carefully evaluate candidates on the basis of their experience, qualifications, enthusiasm, and personality. Most importantly, make sure you choose someone who is going to put in a lot of hard work on your behalf.

Tip #7 Give Yourself Room to Negotiate
Make sure you leave yourself enough room in which to bargain. If what you ask for is unacceptable to the buyer, and their first offer is unacceptable to you, then you better make sure you have someplace to go that is acceptable to you.

Start with the absolute minimum price you would accept, then pick the price you'd get if the world were perfect. This gives you your range to keep in mind when working with your Realtor to negotiate the sale.

In setting your asking price, review your priorities. Do you want to maximize your profit or sell quickly? You'll price high for the former and closer to market value if the latter is the case.

Tip #8 Maximize Your Property's Sales Potential
Each year, corporate North America spends billions of dollars on product and packaging design. The lesson here is that appearance is critical-and it would be foolish to ignore this when selling your property.

You may not be able to change your property's location or its floor plan, but you can do a lot to improve its appearance. And you should. The look and "feel" of your property generates a greater emotional response than any other factor. You may price your property to sell, but a prospective buyer reacts to what they see, hear, feel and smell.

Tip #9 Rely on Other People's Judgment as Well as Your Own
The key to effective marketing is knowing your product's good and bad points. In the case of your property, accentuating the good can mean a faster sale for more money; failing to deal with the bad can mean months on the market and a lower-than-desired sales price.

The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to rely solely on your own judgment. Remember this is your property, a place of fond memories. There are bound to be emotional issues that can impair your ability to make an honest assessment of your property's strengths and weaknesses.

In evaluating what improvements you can make, don't be shy about asking others for their opinions. But make sure you're getting an honest answer, some may try to spare your feelings, just what you don't need. Fortunately, your Realtor won't be shy in discussing what should be done to make a property more marketable.

Tip #10 Clean Like You've Never Cleaned Before
Pick up, straighten, unclutter, scrub, scour, dust... well, you get the idea. If your living room feels crowded, take out every piece of furniture you can get away with. If your property still isn't ready to appear in House Beautiful, then clean some more. Remember, you're not just competing with other people's properties-you're going up against brand-new properties as well.

Tip #11 Fix Everything No Matter How Insignificant it May Appear
The step that squeaks, the light switch that doesn't work, the hairline crack in the bathroom mirror-they might be minor annoyances to you, but they can also be deal-killers. The problem is that you never know what will turn a buyer off. And even something minor that's gone unattended can suggest that perhaps there are bigger, less visible problems present as well.

Tip #12 Remove All Trace of You From Your Property
The last thing you want others to feel while visiting your property is that they are intruding. Avoid this by making your property as neutral as possible. Anything that interferes with a prospective buyer's ability to see themselves living in your property must be eliminated. A few carefully chosen knickknacks and family portraits may add warmth and character to the property, too many are a distraction. Avoid unique or trendy color schemes-paint and carpet in neutral shades of white or beige.

Tip #13 The Little Touches Can Make the Difference
While personal items can detract, other small touches can help make your house an attractive property to buyers. A well-placed vase of flowers, accent pieces of sculpture, potpourri in the bathroom - all can enhance the attractiveness of your property in a subtle, soft-spoken way. Try perusing any of the property magazines for tips.

Tip #14 Don't Let a Smell Be Your Downfall
Odd smells kill deals quickly.
All traces of food, pet and smoking odors must be eliminated. Even when you're sure they're gone, don't encourage prospective buyers to imagine things. If they know that you're a smoker or that you have a dog, they'll start smelling odors and seeing stains that may not even exist. Be safe-don't leave any clues.

Tip #15 Disclose Everything
Smart sellers pro-actively-go above and beyond the laws to disclose all known defects to their buyers-in writing. If the buyer knows about a problem, he can't come back with a lawsuit later on.

Tip #16 The More Prospects, the Better
By maximizing your property's marketability, you'll increase your chances of attracting more than one prospective buyer. Why is this better? Because several buyers compete with each other; a single buyer ends up competing with you.

Tip #17 Don't Get Emotional During Negotiations
The extent of most people's experience in the art of negotiation begins and ends at their local auto dealership. And few of us have pleasant memories of haggling with car salesmen. But if you can just let go of the emotion you've invested in your property and approach negotiations in a detached, businesslike manner, you'll find the process to be a lot less painful. In fact, you might even enjoy it- and you'll definitely have an advantage over prospective buyers who get caught up in the emotion of the situation.

Tip #18 Know Your Buyer
In the negotiation process, your objective is to control the pace and set the duration. And the better you know your buyer, the more easily you can maintain control.

As a rule, buyers want the best property they can afford for the least amount of money. But knowing specifically what motivates your buyer enables you to negotiate more effectively. Maybe your buyer needs to move quickly. Or the maximum amount he can spend is just a little below your asking price. Knowing this information puts you in a better bargaining position.

Tip #19. Find Out What the Buyer Can Pay
As soon as possible, try to find out the mortgage amount the buyer is qualified to carry and the size of his down payment. If he makes a low offer, question his Realtor® about his client's ability to really pay what your property is worth.

Tip #20 Find Out When the Buyer Would Like to Close
When a buyer would "like" to close is often when they need to close. Knowing this gives you his/ her deadline for completing negotiations-again, an advantage in negotiations.

Tip #21 Don't Sign a Deal On Your Next Home Until You Close This One
If circumstances conspire to force you into closing on your new property while you're still making mortgage payments on the old one, you might end up turning yourself into a seller who is eager (or desperate) for the first deal that comes along.

Tip #22 Don't Give Yourself a Deadline
Forcing yourself to sell by a certain date adds unnecessary pressure and puts you at a serious disadvantage in negotiations.

Tip #23 Don't Take a Low Offer Personally 
The first offer is invariably well below what you know the buyer wift end up paying for your property. Don't get angry or feel insulted; evaluate the offer objectively. Make sure it spells out the offering price, adequate earnest money, amount of down payment, mortgage amount, a closing date and any special requests. Now you have a point from which you can negotiate.

Tip #24 A Really Low Offer May Mean the Buyer's Not Qualified
If you feel an offer is inadequate, now would be a good time to make sure the buyer has been qualified to carry a mortgage of the size this deal would require (if you haven't learned this already). Ask how they arrived at their figure, then suggest their agent use comparables to establish what properties are going for in your neighborhood.

Tip #25 Don't Take a Low-Ball Offer Seriously
An unacceptably low offer should not be taken personally or seriously. Rather, it should be countered, even with the slightest of reductions in your asking price. This lets a buyer know that their first offer isn't seen as a very serious one.

Tip #26 Make Sure the Contract is Complete
The best way to avoid problems is to make sure that all terms, costs and responsibilities are spelled out in the contract of sale. A contract should include the date it was made, the names of the parties involved in the transaction, the address of the property being sold, the purchase price, where deposit monies will be held, the date for loan approval, the date and place of closing, type of deed, any contingencies that remain to be settled, and whether there's any personal property included (or not) in the sale, among other things.

Tip #27 Don't Deviate From the Contract
Resist the temptation to diverge from the contract. For example, if the buyer requests a move in prior to closing, just say no. Now is not the time to take any chances of the deal falling through.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, it is. But it's to be expected when you're selling anything of such great value. You'll thank yourself for all the expense and hard work when the outcome works to your satisfaction.

Please feel free to call me if you woulti like further explanation on any of these topics, or if you have any real estate questions at all. I simply see my mission as striving to be as helpful as I possibly can to area property owners.

-Since 1979, Nancy Jenkins has been servicing the needs of the Northwestern Vermont market. Nancy has maintained her status as the No. 1 Agent in Vermont by providing not only the finest service, but also providing the most vital component of any successful real estate transaction- information.


Contact Information

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Nancy Jenkins
Nancy Jenkins Real Estate
140 Kennedy Drive, Suite 102
South Burlington VT 05403
Fax: 802-846-4899