If you List It, They Might Not Come…



If they come, they might not buy it… It they buy it, they might not pay full price…

Today’s residential market may be the hottest since 2007 when all you needed to do was fog a mirror to qualify to buy a house. But that doesn’t mean sellers can skimp or take shortcuts with critical steps in the sales process and still expect top dollar for a fast sale.

First, not all markets are selling houses as fast as pancakes at a firemen’s benefit breakfast. Not marketing your home correctly in some markets will result in it being ignored. Even in hot markets, fast sales and bidding wars are reserved for homes that are properly prepared and promoted. Buyers paying prices above the asking price expect the home to be turnkey and ready to invite the family over to a celebratory party the day after moving in.

  1. The house must be priced right from day one. In hot markets, the price can be at the high end of very recent comparables and might get a price bump if a bidding war breaks out. For a quick sale in softer markets, you should price closely in line with comparables.

Pricing high and waiting for prices to catch up causes problems. For one, the longer it sits on the market, the more it becomes suspect of being a problem house as others around it sell faster. Also, once you have it in pristine condition and the longer it sits without selling, the more upkeep you’ll do waiting for prices to catch up. You’ll have those same two problems if you price it high and later reduce the price. Don’t allow your sentiments or personal attachment drive your pricing decision. Close to the comparables is where it will sell fast and qualify for a loan.

  1. Don’t dump it on the market “as-is”. Fast sales and top dollar go to the houses that have been prepared for sale. Clear out your unneeded belongings so the house doesn’t look cluttered. Give it a fresh coat of paint if needed. You know your home better than anyone does. Give it an honest assessment of what will be a turnoff to people viewing it for the first time and what is already a quality feature that can be further enhanced.
  2. Create first-rate marketing materials. Almost every buyer in the market today begins their search looking at online photos and promotional materials. Your home might look great “live and in-person” but it’s the photos and promotional materials that draw buyers to your house for that view. Smart phone cameras taken by an amateur photographer are not your best choice. Your real estate agent should have a professional camera and the skills needed to draw in multiple buyers. Still, you may want to hire a professional real estate photographer that can capture the best photos for viewing on computer screens, smart phones, and glossy promotional magazines.
  3. Make viewing your home easy and convenient. This goes back to the fact that you put work into making your home look pristine. Limiting viewing opportunities with tactics such as “by appointment only” will drag out the number of days you need to maintain the pristine appearance. You also run the risk that that your perfect buyer looks at other houses and makes an offer while yours isn’t available for viewing.

Consider and carefully review all offers that you receive. Even low-ball offers in a hot market may deliver a message that you need to hear. You can always ask what generated the low offer. Maybe a small improvement will make a big dollar difference. Or maybe the buyer isn’t tuned into the market and deserves to have his/her offer round filed. Just reading the entire offer and asking a question or two doesn’t obligate you to lower the price. If you have superior offers, you’ll clearly go with one of those. Still, don’t reject the low offer in an offensive way. The better deal isn’t done until money and signatures are exchanged at the closing table.

What else do you think makes houses pull in the best offers in a hot market? Please leave your comments below.

Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. In the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

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