Q. CJ, my neighbor down the street needed to sell quickly and he ended up getting a lot less than he expected for his home. There wasn’t an open house, he didn’t want a lock box on his house so it was harder to show and the agent said it would sell fast so they didn’t even paint. I think they could have gotten a lot more and I want more for my own home too. Can you share some best practices to get the most value from the sale of my home in Campbell, Ca.?
A. Every seller–even a distressed seller–should believe there is a benefit in presenting the home in the best possible light in order to obtain the highest market dollar. Yet many sellers choose not to participate positively in the selling of their homes and slam doors to possible higher offers. Here are the top 5 reasons you may not get top dollar for your home.
#1 – If a buyer can’t see your home, they will not be able to make an offer; let alone top dollar. Yes, showing your home is an inconvenience but only investors make offers sight unseen. Allow your agent to place a a lock box on the home and provide a simple way for buyers and their agent to make an appointment. A digital lock box is more secure than a combination lock box.
Consistent hours during the day, early evening, and on weekends can help agents schedule showings. Open houses are great. They don’t have to be both days, but one open house every other week is a minimum for the first month on the market.
In addition, if a buyer can’t see your home because they are obsessing over the mess in your house, they will not write a top dollar offer. If they can tell you don’t care enough to clean up the kitchen, vacuum the floor, or clean the shower and toilet, they pretty much believe you have never taken care of the house since you owned it. Pick up the dirty clothes, buy some cleaning supplies, and take some pride in your home if you want the buyer to offer you their best price.
#2 – If there is one photo of your home, the buyer might simply skip over your home’s listing and you will not get top dollar. Your agent should be taking a minimum of 6 well lit, clear photos of your home. Those six photos should not be simply six photos of the front of the house.
With over 80% of consumers starting their home search on line, this is your best chance to get a buyer to come see your home and make an offer. At minimum there should be photos of the kitchen, main living area, master bedroom, all bathrooms, and back yard.
If you do not have a picture of your kitchen on line, buyers assume it is ugly. If you don’t have a picture of the bathrooms, the buyer assumes they are out dated and dirty. Before you hire your agent, have them show you listing photos of their current listings. If the listing photos look like they took them with their cell phone in the dark; interview another agent.
#3 – If you want a buyer to offer top dollar on your home, give them a reason by preparing your home for the market. Complete a property inspection and termite inspection (at minimum) before placing the home on the market. Many of the items called out will be minor and can be fixed immediately. If there are major issues, know that your listing price will need to be adjusted. If homes in your neighborhood sold for a great price, find out how your home can be like them. Did they have kitchen upgrades? Open floor plans? New roof? Best Schools? The closer you are in comparison, the closer you can get to their price. For everything you don’t have that they do/did, deduct from your asking price. To be a top dollar home, the home has to look like it. Pride of ownership, strong maintenance records, appropriate updates, clean, fresh, and good quality staging will help you meet your goal of highest sales price.
#4 – If you or your agent are mean, rude, or too busy; you may not get top dollar for your home. No kidding. Who wants to spend hundreds of thousand of dollars buying something from rude people? When prospective buyers come to see your home, leave politely and take a walk or drive around the block. If you are going to stay at the home, be friendly, answer questions honestly, and then give them space to look without you hovering over them. Your agent should be flexible, friendly, as responsive as possible to all inquiries from buyers and buyer agents. If your agent is complaining about every buyer and every agent, they are hurting your chances for a top dollar offer.
#5 – If you think someone owes you something, you may not get top dollar for your home. Just because you bought the home in 2006 for top of the market price you can not expect current buyers to eat your loss by an over inflated sales price. It is what it is. A bad turn of events. If you think the bank will approve your short sale or not foreclose after you withdrew hundreds of thousand of dollars simply because it was their decision to approve those loans, you are wrong. The banks are attempting to negate their loss, just like you. The best thing you can do is try to make both situations better. Work to get top dollar for your home so the amount short is reduced to bare minimum. Ripping out the new stove, or bashing in walls to teach the bank a lesson is simply childish behavior.
Selling a home in a “buyer’s market” takes commitment, proper promotion, serious negotiating skills, and confident kindness. If you are not getting top dollar offers on your home, there is a reason. If you are not sure what those reasons are, your agent should. If your agent doesn’t know why, find another agent.
If you are considering selling your home, contact me for a no-obligation consultation. I will present more than 5 ways you and I, working together, can achieve top dollar on the selling of your home.