How To Turn “For Sale” to “Sold” – Shrewd Advise Without Lowering the Price

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Perhaps, your house has been on the market for several months and still has not sold.  Your agent suggests lowering the price.  After all, that is an easy cop out for him and makes his job easier.  Don’t leave money on the table without pursuing the suggestions below to get top dollar for your home and a faster sale.

Wrong Agent

If your house has not sold and the listing agreement is getting ready to expire, consider changing agents.  He had his chance and did not get the job done.  If he has no clear plan, besides lowering the price, why give him a second chance?

The right agent is critical for selling your house.  A professional agent with years of local experience has a lot in his tool kit to get the job done.  Not only does he have a professional network but must have marketing skills to promote your home to the correct buyer segment.  One can’t just rely on MLS, a sign out front and an open house to do the job! 

Marketing

Does your agent effectively market YOUR property, not just himself?  Does your agent also market to other real estate agents?  While offline marketing is important, the first stop buyers make is online.  If your house does not appear or make a good first impression online, then buyers will never take a second step to view it.  Online marketing should cover multiple channels, multiple web sites and utilize several targeting advertising methods – showcasing your house; not just the Real Estate company.   At Eillu, we customize a marketing plan to target the demographic your house appeals to and invest in paid advertising to reach buyers from outside the area.  We even design a custom page on our website to showcase YOUR house.

Images

One cannot discuss marketing without stressing the importance of professional pictures that highlight what makes your house special and the rare value it represents.  It is not as simple as taking a few exterior shots, some interior shots and posting the results.  One has to stage the house with a critical eye and take appealing photos that show off the homes best features and in the best light.  Attention to details is important at this stage.  Psychologically, small details can make a person turn off from your house without them even knowing why.  Is the toilet seat down in a bathroom photo?  Are the beds made with nice linens and extra pillows?  Pets are cute and we love them like family, but they have no place in a real estate sale photo.  What order are the photos displayed on the website?  All these things impact buyers first impression and if they will take the next step to view your home.

Videos are increasing becoming more important and can convey a more powerful message than still photos.  Some videos, like 360, allow the viewer to have a virtual tour of the home.  Drone videos provide content to the specific location of the house very effectively.  This can be effective for home with unique topography, to show proximity to nearby landmarks or in a waterfront location.

Buyers screen the houses that want to view using the photos and videos on the internet.  If your pictures are poorly done, your house will not be on the list for them to view.  Less viewings and traffic results in a lower probability of sale.

Staging

Not only does the house need to be staged for the online images and videos but should also be picture perfect for any viewings.  Seldom is anybody this perfect; but it is what needs to be striven for. 

The goal of staging is to allow the buyer to picture themselves in your home while showcasing the best features of your homes design.  Staging can encompass a wide range of meanings. 

From removing clutter, personal pictures and mementos to moving all furniture to storage, and having rented furnishing positioned by an interior designer to show your house in the best manner possible. Some agents even recommend moving out of the house while it is on the market so it can be shown in the best light with little to no notice. 

Few families are able to go to this extreme and most struggle with day to day demands to even keep up with the housekeeping.  If this is an issue consider hiring a professional cleaner to do a deep clean before the sale and return each week while it is on the market.

Most people who discuss staging emphasize the visual elements.  I believe it encompasses all of ones senses.  Does the home have a peculiar odor?  Maybe some fresh popcorn or baked items will minimize it.  Does the home have loud traffic noise, maybe a fountain will drown it out?  Especially if the home has pets, it is important to minimize the presence of any animals that will disturb buyers from viewing the home and any associated odors.

Curb Appeal

Staging is not limited to the inside of the house.  One must also stage the outside of the house to make sure buyers do not keep on driving by.  Most buyers will form an impression immediately upon driving up to the house and unconsciously seek out other details to support that initial impression. 

After you have lived in your house for a while you no longer see the imperfections, small repairs and needed improvements, which an outsider will notice.  Make sure your landscaping is neat, trimmed and has mulch in the beds with a few blooming flowers.  Make sure your mail box is in good repair.  You don’t want buyers to see a broken or rusty mailbox and look for other items that have not been maintained. Sidewalks should be power washed and edged.  The front door should have a fresh coat of paint. 

I saw one study years ago that suggested that houses with yellow front doors sold faster than any other color.  I’m not sure of the soundness of the statistics, but believe a bright color to lead a visitor to the front door is that much more welcoming.  Pay attention to small details; like a fresh welcome mat at the front door.  Even, your house numbers should be fresh and easy to spot at a distance.  You want to make it easy for buyers to find your house. 

One frequently over looked item is lighting.  During daylight showings, open curtains for natural light and supplement with other lighting to create a bright and airy space.  Add to exterior lighting to spotlight the home and walkways for any evening viewings.  In addition, keep adequate light on inside and out for any buyers doing a “drive-by” look; so they will want to come back and see more.

Repairs & Maintenance

While curb appeal applies to the front yard and the first impression.  The same idea also applies the rest of the yard, exterior and interior of the home. 

Look at your home with fresh eyes.  Fix everything worn or broken.  Replace the knob that has been broken for years that you don’t even pay attention to anymore.  Put fresh paint on any surface that needs an update.  Typically, neutral colors are recommended, but a splash of color here and there can grab attention and make a space more dramatic.  Replace worn carpeting or reveal and refinish a wood floor.  In short, remove any obvious objections the buyer may have about your home.  Unlike investors, typical buyers do not have imagination.  If you have dated wallpaper; rip it down and paint the wall.  A buyer will overestimate the time and effort needed for even simple projects.  The buyers wants to move into a house that is ready to be THEIR home! 

All of the staging, repairs, curb appeal items and painting must be done BEFORE you put the house on the market.  Always put your best foot forward. You never have a second chance to make a first impression.

Price

So, if you house has been on the market and has not sold – should you lower the price?    That depends if you over priced it to begin with.  A proper analysis of the CMA will allow you and your agent to be confident in establishing the market price. 

Over the course of six months, the market may have changed.  While you can ask your agent for new comparables and recently sold homes to see how other houses within your range compare, why not go and see the other homes competing with yours to get the same first impression as your target buyers have? 

Some symptoms’ your price is too high is when you have very few showings. One rule of thumb is when there are no showings, your price is least 10% too high.  Showings without any offers means your price is about 5% too high. What are the typical number of days on the market for your area for a home in your price range?  Has your home exceeded it? Is your home over improved for the neighborhood and your agent priced it based on square footage? How many homes are available for sale at your homes price range?

Many sellers believe setting the initial price high will allow them to have wiggle room to lower the price.  Unfortunately, buyers will not always make an offer on an overpriced property.  Often times, an overpriced property will just get by passed by buyers because it is out of their price range.  After the home has been on the market a while, if the seller starts to lower the price the listing is already stigmatized and buyers will wonder what is wrong with the home.

Contrary to most sellers’ belief, sometimes setting an initial price below market can have the opposite effect.  It gets immediate attention and starts a bidding war with multiple offers. Finally, consider the price ranges that buyers’ consider. If a buyer is looking at homes in the $400k to $450k range and your home is priced at $460; it will not be considered by that buyer.

What is the current state of your market? Is it a seller’s market where prices are increasing and inventory is low or is it a buyer’s market where you will have a lot of competition for a limited number of buyers? Price your property to stay ahead of the trend.  Alternatively, pull the listing off the market and wait for conditions to shift.

Which leads to the final question, what is your motivation? Is a quick sale more important than maximizing your sales price?  Or do you want to maximize your sales price no matter how long it takes? You are the only one who can determine your motivation and determine how to price your home and set your expectations accordingly.  Your agent should be responsive to your needs and desires.

If you do these 6 things, your home will sell for the highest price possible and in the shortest amount of time.  Let Eillu be your guide to turn “for sale” into “sold”!

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