How to Sell Your House
Selling your house can be one of the most stressful things, but it doesn’t have to be. With all of the moving parts (and boxes!) plus some unpredictables, it can be easy to get overwhelmed as a seller. Lucky for you, we’ve got this thing figured out. When you know what to expect, it is easier to make plans.
If you’ve got questions right away, shoot us an email or text or call us today to set up an info session. We are always happy to grab a cup of coffee or pop out to see your place and discuss this process anytime.
There are a lot of variables that affect how quickly and for how much a house will sell. The condition during showings (and in photos online) and the price are the biggest factors that we can influence so let’s dig into these two things.
Lots of sellers get overwhelmed about the amount of work to do before going on the market. This is why meeting with one of our agents can be helpful. We’ll walk through your house with you and help you decide which projects to focus on. You may find that you thought you needed to do a ton of work in every room of the house, but you really only need to focus on a few places. You will be amazed at how far you get just by packing up your stuff (which you’ll need to do anyway!) and touching up the paint or putting on a fresh coat. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to design. Leaving a blank slate that buyers can personalize is sometimes the safest bet.
Try to look at your house as if you’ve never seen it before. Start from the street and work your way in. How does the house look when you pull up? Is there a crooked light fixture that needs straightening? Does the trim around your garage door need to be painted? Do you have any overgrown shrubs that need to be trimmed? Adding a fresh coat of paint in a bright or contrasting color is an easy update that can make your house look much more attractive to potential buyers. Add a large and colorful potted plant or seasonal arrangement near the front door.
As you enter the house through the front door, what are the first few things you see? Is there an outdated light fixture that could be swapped out? Or piles of coats and shoes that could be packed up or stored elsewhere? This is your buyers first impression of the inside of your house so spend some time thinking about how it appears. A great looking rug encourages buyers to remove their shoes for their showing and can jazz up the entryway.
Continue through your house like this. Is there junk stacked up that can be gotten rid of or packed away? Too many appliances on your countertops? A mismatched stove you’ve been waiting to die before replacing? Has the handle on your microwave been like that forever and everyone in the family just knows the trick for how to open it? A missing piece of trim you’ve been meaning to install? Make a list of the small things you can tackle that will make big improvements in how your house shows.
Next go through again and note every thing that should/could be removed. While it’s nice to have some furniture and artwork left in a house (and of course daily necessities), your buyers want to see the spaces so that they can imagine what their things will look like in their new house. Keep simple decor but remove all family photos, kid related stuff that might identify where they go to school or daycare (safety first!), put away bills and important documents that could compromise your identity, and pack up your valuables. (Once, while showing a house to buyers, I saw a sticky note on the fridge with the seller’s routing and account number written on it!) These seem like basic tips but in the hustle and bustle of packing and getting ready for the market, somethings can get overlooked.
Here are the basics:
- Repair anything that is actually broken.
- Clean everything! (toilet seats down please! ;))
- Patch any holes and touch up paint.
- Make sure every fixture has lightbulbs (and that the lightbulbs are all the same color).
- Make sure you’ve got smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. (1 carbon and 1 smoke on each level plus 1 smoke in each bedroom.)
- Consider replacing that one mismatched appliance that you’ve been waiting to die.
- Pack up 30% (or more!) of your stuff. (Stack boxes neatly in the garage.)
- Put away valuables and anything with personal info.
- Round up a recent utility bill for gas/electric/water. (This is sort of personal but at least having the $ amounts readily available will be helpful, many buyers ask for it.)
- Make sure you have a key for the front door. (Again, you’d be amazed at how many people do not have a key for their own house.)
When you’re done with the things on this list, you should feel the most in love with your house and wonder why you’re even planning to sell! 😉
Pricing is a tough thing, especially if you have a unique property or have done a lot more (or less) updating than your neighbors. The age, size, condition, amenities, and location of your house are just a few of the factors that influence what your house might sell for. The good news is, we have a ton of technology and data at our disposal to help us narrow down the price range. The bad news is, what’s happening with your neighbors affects you a TON. After seeing your house, we’ll do some research on what similar properties in your neighborhood have sold for, ideally in the last six months. The more similar your house is to your neighbors, the easier it is to establish a price range.
If you’ve completed a full renovation with granite and stainless and all of the fancy finishes, but all of your neighbors are still hanging on tight to 1990’s almond and brass, it’s sad to say that your updates won’t get you as much as you might like. They ARE worth something, but not likely what you paid for them. This is the hardest thing with updating. In a perfect situation, your house slightly nicer than the rest of the neighborhood, and we can price it either slightly above or right at market, but you’ll attract a TON more buyers because of what you’ve done to it. A ton of buyers usually results in a few offers so you can pick the best candidate (more on this in a bit).
Cute sells. But only if the price is right.
What you paid for your house and what it is worth now are two different things. Most likely, you paid fair market value for your house when you bought it. But things have changed, the marketplace is different now.
What we list your house for is always left up to you, (i.e. we say let’s list it for 200k and you want to try for 210k). We want to educate you on the pricing process and determine your goal in selling. If you’ve got time and no real urgency to sell, by all means try to get a bit more for it (and you very well may! We have been surprised before!). Our experience has shown that pricing at or slightly below market usually results in a quicker sale (time is money!) and often multiple offers (which drives drives the price up, sometime dramatically above market value). If you want to sell your house faster, we advise pricing at market, or at the very least, responding to market feedback quickly once you are on the market.
It’s up to you to take our advice or not. However, overpricing a house usually leads to one of three things:
- Little or no showing activity (which results in an eventual price reduction)
- High Days On Market (DOM) (which results in lowball offers and an eventual price reduction)
- Super lowball offers (which are just plain irritating)
The final challenge with an overpriced house is the appraisal. Most buyers use bank financing to purchase a home. A bank will hire an appraiser to verify the condition and value of the asset (meaning the house is worth what the buyer has agreed to pay). If you manage to find a buyer who will agree to pay your asking price, but the bank values it below that, the price will need to come down or the buyer will need to bring cash to make up the difference, which is highly unlikely to happen. Remember, the choice is yours, it is your house! 🙂
Paperwork and Photoshoot!
Once we’ve agreed on a price, we are ready to get your house ready for the market! We’ll arrange a time to take photographs, measure your house, and collect all the information we will need to populate your MLS listing. This usually takes about an hour, more or less depending on how chatty we get. We will take as much time as we need to make sure you have all of your questions answered and understand what to expect.We love to shoot listings on clear, sunny days so your house is filled with natural light and we don’t have a boring gray sky in the background, but since we cannot control the weather, we will do the best that we can with your schedule. We will leave a lockbox on your front door and make arrangements for a sign to be put in your front yard.
Need to Sell to Buy?
This is a tricky situation but also very common. Depending on the current market conditions, we will advise you at our first appointment if you need to start shopping before your house goes on the market or after. Ideally, we line things up just right so you can close on the sale of your current house just a bit before you close on your purchase of a new house! Offers that are contingent on the sale of other real estate can be a more difficult to get accepted so it is great to have your listing completely ready to go live if we decide to wait until we’ve found you a new house. We can send over the photos of your house and let the seller’s agent know how much we intend to list for so they can help persuade their seller that we won’t have a hard time selling your current home and drag out their closing. (See more about buying a house here!)
You’re on the market!
When the day finally arrives, we’ll send you a preview of your listing so you can help us triple check for accuracy and then we’ll blast it all over the internet! We’ll use our MLS’s marketing tools as well as Zillow, social media and email marketing, plus some good old fashioned phone calls and flyers to get the word out about your listing. We want to drive as much traffic through your house in as short an amount of time as possible to get you some offers quickly and so you can get on with your move!
You can expect to receive showing requests via text and email and approve them the same way. These will come in at all hours of the day and night (real estate agents keep some crazy hours) and may occasionally be for short notice, but the actual appointments are usually from about 9a-8p. Do your best to accommodate showings, but if something doesn’t work, call your agent and let them know what does.
Buyer’s agent will receive the access information only after you approve their showing. They will request to see your house for an hour, but most showings only last about 15 minutes or so. Buyers prefer to see houses when the sellers are not present, so it is certainly an inconvenience for you (this is why we want to do this as fast as possible!). When the appointment is over or the buyers have left, you’re free to return home.
Here come the offers!
As offers are received, we will notify you immediately. We can discuss the details however you feel most comfortable, in your house, over the phone, or via text. If we find ourselves in a multiple offers situation we can discuss strategies and how you’ll prefer us to handle it. When we come to an agreement with the buyers we will sign the purchase agreement and you have a deal! The buyers will have a home inspection shortly thereafter and the bank will have an appraiser through. You’ll be busy packing and getting ready for your move! Most of the hard work is over now, and if all goes smoothly we’ll be off to closing in about 30-45 days.
Closing day can be fun but also emotional. Houses are special and lots of memories are made in them. You’ll have a small stack of paperwork to sign and hopefully get to meet your buyers to wish them well. Then you’re off on your next adventure!