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Getting The Highest Price Possible For Your Home A Sellers Guide
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Getting The Highest Price Possible For Your Home A Sellers Guide


Sell for the highest Price

Sell for the highest Price

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  • 1. Content Before You Put Your House Up For Sale ................................................. 1 How a Real Estate Agent Helps You How to Find a Real Estate Agent Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Setting the Price for Your Home ............................................................ 8 The Benefits of Setting the Right Price House versus Home: What’s the Difference? Staging Your Home for a Faster Sale ................................................... 11 What is Home Staging? Improving Your Curb Appeal De-Clutter and Clean Nix the Knick Knacks Visit a Model Home for Ideas Eliminate Offensive Odors Make Minor Repairs Let the Light In Rent an Item if You Don’t Own It Hiring a Professional Home Stager Keeping Your Home Picture Perfect Common Mistakes Most Sellers Make ................................................ 20 Conclusion ....................................................................................... 29 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 2. Before You Put Your House Up for Sale The days of sticking a “for sale” sign on the front lawn and expecting a house to sell are long gone. Selling a house isn’t easy — a lot of hard work goes into getting your home ready for the market. In today’s competitive marketplace, careful steps must be taken to ensure that you receive the best possible price for your house. The selling process can seem intimidating. There’s so much to do — from finding the best real estate agent to making your home as attractive as possible to potential buyers. But all it takes is the right information to show you the way. How a Real Estate Agent Helps You If you want to sell your home, you’ll need to hire an experienced real estate professional to represent your interests during the sales process. In return for their services, you must pay a certain commission percentage based on the final selling price of the house, which is discharged from the proceeds of the sale. The ideal real estate agent will have a good working knowledge of local real estate market conditions and will be prepared to deliver dedicated, professional service to you, their client. Most importantly, a good agent will get the results you want — a sold sign on your front lawn! 1 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 3. Your real estate agent is your negotiator and consultant during the sales process. As such, they will perform the following duties for you: • Create the “listing agreement”, your formal contract with the real estate brokerage firm • Explain the selling process to you in detail • Give you a comprehensive market analysis that compares your house to similar properties recently sold in your area • Advise you on how to enhance your home so it sells faster • Design and implement a marketing plan to showcase your home • Schedule appointments and show your home to potential buyers • Negotiate the offer to purchase on your behalf and present your counter-offers to the buyer • Advise you of your legal and financial duties • Help you complete the sale 2 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 4. How to Find a Real Estate Agent You see advertisements every week from your local real estate agents — you know who’s out there selling homes but how do you choose the right agent to suit your needs? Finding a real estate agent can be fairly simple — start by calling the real estate agent who sold you your home or ask friends , family or co-workers who they have used recently. Referrals are a big part of any real estate agent’s business, so be sure to tell your agent who recommended him or her to you. You can also check out your local real estate publications to get some names of busy real estate agents in your area. Why not contact some of the agents who have sent you flyers, post cards or door hangers? You may need to meet with several agents before finding the right one. A good agent will sit down with you and learn all about your family, your interests and your goals. In short, your real estate agent is a sort of combination personal advisor, consultant and negotiator. Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before signing any listing agreement to sell your home, make sure you ask the following questions: 3 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 5. • Could you send me some information about yourself? You can get a good idea of how professional an agent is by the quality of their marketing materials. If their information isn’t professional-looking, how well are they going to be able to market your home? • How long have you been selling real estate? You may wish to have an agent with several years of experience or you may choose to go with someone new, if they seem particularly capable or knowledgeable. • Do you primarily represent Buyers or Sellers? • Are you a full-time agent? This shows their commitment to selling your house and affects how long your house might be on the market. If the agent only works part-time, you can expect part-time results. • Can we cancel the listing if we’re not happy? Do you have a performance guarantee? Sometimes you can find an agent who is willing to guarantee your satisfaction, meaning that if you are dissatisfied in any way they will cancel your listing agreement. But if your agent doesn’t have such a guarantee in writing, this doesn’t mean that they’re not motivated to perform. • Do you have a licensed personal assistant to make sure all details are covered? It’s not uncommon for high-performing real estate professionals to hire a team to work with them. Make sure you know who will be handling each step in the selling process and meet 4 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 6. with the entire team before committing to the agent. By employing others to handle the minute details of their business, an agent can then spend more time servicing the needs of their customers. • How will I keep in touch with you during the selling process? Set reasonable expectations here. You might expect your agent to call, fax or e-mail you every few days to keep you up to date with any action concerning your home. • Are you fully automated with the latest technology? Today’s real estate agent should be full equipped with a cell phone, fax, computer, website etc. • What professional designations do you hold? At the bare minimum, your agent should be a provincially-licensed professional who is a member of your local real estate board and your local multiple listing service. They should also be a member of the real estate association in your province and the Canadian Real Estate Association ( • How many homes have you listed and how many have you sold in the last six months? Look for an agent who is experienced with homes similar to yours and is active in your area. Your agent should have a good track record of selling homes, not just listing them. • What is your average market time? How does that compare with other agents? Don’t assume shorter is better — this could reflect the 5 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 7. habit of selling homes quickly at lowball prices. Compare the asking price to the selling price — an agent who sells close to the asking price but takes a bit longer to sell might be preferable in your case. • How will you market my home? Ask your real estate agent to give you a clear idea about how they will advertise your home, such as: Multiple Listing Service, open houses, Internet, direct mail etc. Make sure your agent is using the most innovative technologies to generate sales leads, which will help sell your home faster and for more money. • What part of your business is from referrals or past clients? A good agent will get lots of referrals from satisfied clients and past clients will continue doing business with them. • Can I contact some past clients for references? Contacting references is a good way to learn how the agent works and whether or not this style is agreeable to you. • Will you provide me with a written activity report? This report outlines exactly what action has been taken with your home. It should tell you how many viewings took place that week, plus any comments from prospective buyers. • What is included in the listing agreement? This contract will specify that your agent is acting as a “sellers agent”, meaning that they are working for you and only you — and looking out for your best interests 6 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 8. during the sale of your house. Have your agent go over every detail in the listing agreement, including the beginning and expiration dates (standard is three months) and what the fee schedule will be. Lower commission fees aren’t necessarily better — if an agent stands to make very little money from the sale of your home, they might not be motivated to spend the time and effort needed to market your home effectively. Normal commission is between five and seven percent. Keep in mind that there are usually two agents involved in most transactions, so only part of the commission goes to the listing agent’s company — the rest goes to the company representing the buyer. • Do you belong to the Multiple Listing Service? This should be laid out in your listing agreement. Your agent should list your home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) immediately. The MLS is a database of all of the homes listed by local real estate agents who are members of the service. It is definitely in your best interest to have your house listed on the MLS, as your sales force is automatically multiplied by the number of agents who are members of your local MLS. If your house is not listed, then you only have one agent working for you instead of many. 7 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 9. Setting the Price for Your Home A good agent will give you a comparative market analysis of homes that have recently sold in your area. This will help determine the best price for your home. Your agent will take into consideration such factors as the age and condition of your home and any special amenities you may have (i.e. finished basement, central air conditioning etc.) before setting a selling price. Remember that setting your price too high may result in your home sitting on the market for a long time, as homebuyers will prefer larger or more attractive homes in the same price range. A comparative market analysis is an indicator of what current buyers are willing to pay for a home. Before you set a selling price for your home, you should consider the following points: • Location • Size • Style • Condition • Features within your community • Market conditions When a house is priced too high, there is less activity and fewer interested buyers. You may have to drop your price to get any action, but by that time your house has been for sale too long and some buyers may be scared off and reject the house. If your house is overpriced, potential buyers looking in a lower price 8 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 10. range (the actual range your home should be in!) will never see your listing. And those who can afford a home at your asking price will quickly realize that they can find a better value somewhere else. Therefore, the most important decision you can make with your real estate agent is finding the right asking price for your property. Once you’ve set a realistic selling price, you can expect to sell your home for the best possible price in the least amount of time. The Benefits of Setting the Right Price • Your property will be exposed to more qualified buyers, so it sells faster • Your home doesn’t lose its appeal by staying on the market too long • The closer to market value your home is listed at, the higher the offers you will receive • Other real estate agents will be enthusiastic about presenting your home to their clients In the end, what to set the selling price at will be your decision. But take your agent’s experience into consideration too — they know what buyers are willing to pay. Remember, you have the best chance of selling your home for the highest possible price within the first 30 days it’s on the market, so set your asking price accordingly. 9 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 11. Sure, you might think that you can simply lower your price at a later date, but this makes you look desperate to potential buyers, so they might offer you even less. By overpricing your home at the start, you could set yourself up for a disappointment if you have to accept a lower price than you would have normally received. House versus Home: What’s the Difference? When speaking with real estate agents, you will find that when they talk to you about buying, they refer to your purchase as a “home”, but when you are selling, they will call it a “house”. And for good reason. Buying a piece of real estate is usually an emotional decision — perhaps you’ve recently married or need a larger place for your growing family. But when selling real estate, you need to detach your feelings and take emotion out of the equation completely — you need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Your goal is to get buyers to see the house as their potential home, not yours. 10 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 12. Staging Your Home for a Faster Sale What is Home Staging? Most real estate agents agree — home staging is the best way to make your home appealing to potential buyers. The goal of staging is to make your home a marketable commodity. Staging your home is all about playing up the best features of the house, downplaying its flaws and maximizing your chance of a quick sale. Staging can include anything from setting up appropriate displays to represent the purpose of each room to adding fragrance, flowers and carefully chosen artwork. To successfully stage your home you need to be able to separate your emotions from the selling process — and change your perception that “this is my family’s home” to “this is a house, a commodity I need to sell”. Improving Your Curb Appeal First impressions count — most buyers decide whether or not they like a house within the first five seconds, even before they get out of the car. Appearances matter, but you have to hook a buyer quickly — there’s no second chance to make a great first impression. 11 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 13. The outside of your home is the first thing a buyer will see, so regular maintenance is essential. Keep the grass well-watered and mowed and plant some mature flowers. Have your trees trimmed and cut back any overgrowth. Out of sight means out of mind, so keep toys, bicycles, roller-skates, and gardening tools in the garage, not the front yard. At a bare minimum, freshen up the paint on the front of your house and touch up the trim. After dark, turn on your exterior lighting and replace any burned out light bulbs. If you know the roof leaks, fix it. If you don’t repair a faulty roof, you will have to disclose the problem to any potential buyers — and they might ask for an entire new roof, not a simple repair. Ignoring problems now could mean legal headaches down the line, as nothing upsets buyers more than finding problems after the fact. Go outside and look at your home as if you’ve never seen it before. What catches your eye? Do you like what you see? Does the home seem welcoming? Neat and tidy? If you see any problems, take care of them immediately, before buyers notice them too. De-Clutter and Clean If you’ve been in your home any length of time, you have probably collected a lot of clutter. Closets may be overflowing, the garage is so full of boxes and tools that you can’t fit in a vehicle and your kitchen cupboards are jam-packed. Clear out any items you don’t immediately need to free up as much closet space as possible — this can make even the smallest closets seem roomy. 12 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 14. Basements, attics, and garages also accumulate junk, such as broken tennis racquets, unused exercise equipment and boxes of children’s schoolwork. Clean out these areas and throw away as much as possible. If you can’t bear to part with some things for sentimental reasons, put these in off-site storage. Kitchens are usually the biggest selling feature in any home. Make yours as large and inviting as possible by clearing of all the counters and storing the toaster in a cupboard — this is the time to hide everything, even the mail. Clean out your junk drawer and the rest of your cupboards. Throw out any old boxes of cereal or stale cookies that take up valuable space but will never get eaten. Tidy up under the kitchen sink too and store your cleaning supplies somewhere else. If there are any tell-tale signs of water damage, get the pipes fixed. You don’t want to give any potential buyers a reason not to choose your home. Clear off the refrigerator and take down all the pictures of your children and put fresh flowers on the kitchen table — buyers want to see your house at its absolute best. The whole time your house is on the market, it needs to be so clean it sparkles. You might want to start by hiring a cleaning crew and then maintaining this new level of cleanliness on your own. And a professional cleaner will be happy to do all the heavy work that you might not have time to do yourself, such as cleaning all the windows and washing down the walls. 13 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 15. Next to the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms to keep clean. Eliminate any mold or mildew with a bleach solution and keep the toilet spotless. Empty the wastebasket, wipe down the sink and shine the faucets every day. Hang some fluffy new towels and a new shower curtain and hide away all of your toiletries and cleaning products. As your home is being shown, buyers will be trying to picture themselves living there, and that includes the bedroom. The master bedroom needs to appear spacious, even if it’s not. Remove any laundry baskets and excess clothing from the closet to make it seem larger. Make the bed the focal point of the room and dress it up with a new bedspread or comforter and some attractive designer pillows. Clear off your nightstands and remove the heaps of books that pile up there — make a simple arrangement of a few treasured photos and one or two well-chosen books instead. The children’s bedrooms can be particularly challenging. Wash off any handprints from the walls and repaint if necessary. Buy several Rubbermaid style storage bins and pack away as many toys as possible, leaving out only a few of their favorites. Take down any posters and touch up any chipped paint on the walls. Since children aren’t adept at keeping their rooms clean, expect to come in and tidy up every day. 14 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 16. Nix the Knack Knacks Although it’s the little touches that make a home, this is exactly what you want to eliminate while your house is on the market. But uncluttering your personal possessions is the toughest thing for many people to do — they are so attached to their knick knacks and photos that they don’t realize how messy they make the house appear. Although it might seem difficult to box away your treasures, you want as much clear space as possible in your home. Visit a Model Home for Ideas If you’re not sure how to best stage your home, go visit a model home in one of the new subdivisions in your area. When you walk in, you’ll notice that there are only a few very carefully chosen decorator touches in any room. Each model home is tasteful, yet spare and without a distinct personality — this is the feeling you want to reproduce in your home. You want your potential buyers to step into your house and picture themselves living there, so put away the family photos, sports trophies and Grandma’s doilies until you’re in your new home. Over the years, you accumulate more and more furniture—and most people have too much. Stand back and review each room with an unbiased eye — then remove any piece that is out of place or overpowering. Put a few pieces on an angle to create a cozy feeling without seeming boring or boxy. 15 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 17. Avoid any décor that seems too distinctive, such as a brightly patterned sofa that will draw the buyer’s eye away from the home and towards the furnishings instead. One way to discover what needs to be removed from a room is to stand in the doorway and see where your eye naturally falls. Then cut this clutter by at least 50%. It’s a fact — buyers won’t purchase a home they can’t see. If your home is stuffed with too much furniture, overflowing closets, crowded kitchen and bathroom countertops or lots of family photos or collectibles on display, potential buyers won’t get a true feeling for the house. Get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Resist the urge to pack your garage full of belongings — rent some storage space if that’s what it takes to make room in your home. Eliminate Offensive Odors Many people are extremely sensitive to offensive odors. If your home is smelly to visitors, you need to take action. Bathe your pets, change the cat litter box daily, steam clean your carpets, and empty kitchen garbage cans and recycling bins often. Baking soda is a great odor eliminator, so place several boxes in smell-prone areas, and don’t cook with heavy spices, onions, garlic or other pungent foods. Introduce pleasing smells by placing flowers or potpourri in several rooms or using air fresheners. Baking some homemade cookies or some other yummy treat is another good idea. 16 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 18. Make Minor Repairs Buyers expect their new home to perfect and observant buyers will notice any minor maintenance problems you’ve ignored. Leaky faucets, burned-out light bulbs, broken windows, and water-stained ceilings should be fixed before you put your home on the market. These are all little things, but left undone they can lead buyers to question the care that’s gone into your home. Potential buyers want to see your home at its absolute best and this means paying attention to the little details — set the dining room table with your special china. Paint the living room in a neutral color. Fix the jiggly doorknobs. Glue down any peeling wallpaper. Potential buyers will notice all the flaws that you’ve come to ignore over the years. They will notice the frayed carpet that your cat has torn up, the warped floor tiles in the kitchen and the leaky faucet in the tub that’s left rust stains. Your house will be dramatically more desirable if you take the time to view it as an outsider would and fix all of these seemingly minor irritations. Let the Light In Natural light makes a home seem more welcoming and inviting. Open all the draperies to let in as much sunlight as possible and turn on all the lights during a viewing to eliminate any dark corners. 17 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 19. Rent an Item if You Don’t Own It If you know what sort of mood or feeling you want to create but you don’t have the right furniture for it, why not rent it? Artwork, lamps, sofas and tables can all be rented to enhance your home without making a permanent dent in your wallet. Hiring a Professional Home Stager If you have the budget for it, hiring a professional home stager can make your home much more appealing to buyers. Fortunately, staging a home doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive. A basic staging consultation with a home stylist usually costs between $150 and $300, plus the cost of any purchases or rentals; organizing your belongings will be extra. Professional stagers will always try to stay within a seller’s budget, so talk about your price limitations before you begin. Although it might seem decadent to hire a professional, an impartial set of eyes can see your home in a whole new light, opening up many possibilities that you would have never considered before. Keeping Your Home Picture Perfect Now that your home is staged, you must keep it looking ideal — the way you normally live in your home and the way you live in your home when you’re trying to sell it are too very different things. Follow your staging advice to a tee and keep the new furniture arrangements as 18 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 20. they are, even if they don’t feel entirely natural to you and maintain your clutter-free lifestyle. You can help keep your home’s staged perfection with these simple steps: • Make all beds daily • Don’t use the new towels on display, keep them hanging straight. Use old towels for bathing and put them in the laundry promptly. • Clean up the kitchen immediately after every meal and wash the dishes promptly. Keep the countertops clear. • Turn on all the lights when showing the house and keep a radio turned low for background music • Keep dirty laundry off the floor and out of sight • Vacuum and sweep daily — it’s easier to maintain a floor a little bit every day than to try to do a full vacuum once a week. 19 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 21. Common Mistakes Most Sellers Make Selling a home is a business transaction, but sellers often make emotional or impulsive decisions that cost them money and time. Here are some common mistakes that plague many sellers — make sure you’re not one of them. Pricing your house too high Every seller wants to get the most money for their house. But the best way to do this is NOT to list the house at an incredibly high price. A high listing price will only cause prospective buyers to lose interest before even seeing your property. Also, it may lead other buyers to expect more than what you have to offer. As a result, overpriced properties tend to take an unusually long time to sell, and they end up being sold at a lower price. Not showcasing your home If you’re trying to sell your house, don’t forget to make it look as pleasant as possible. Make necessary repairs. Clean. Make sure everything functions and looks presentable. A poorly maintained home in need of repairs will lower the selling price of your property and turn off many potential buyers. 20 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 22. First opinions of your home are formed as soon as a buyer pulls into the driveway, so don’t eliminate your home from the buyer’s list before they even step in the door. Make sure that your lawn is mowed and free of weeds. Toys and garden equipment should be put away. Eliminate any clutter, bad stains, and unpleasant odors on the inside. Brighten up the front door area with a wreath or fresh coat of paint — the little things really do make a big difference. Using hard sell tactics Buying a house is an emotional decision that takes time, so allow prospective buyers to comfortably examine your property in peace. Don’t let your agent haggle or use forceful selling techniques. Instead, make sure your agent is friendly and inviting — have him or her point out any subtle amenities while being open to questions. Trying to sell to “tire kickers” A prospective buyer who shows only interest because of a “for sale” sign on the lawn may not really be on the market to purchase. Buyers who do not come through a Realtor could be almost a year away from buying — they are more interested in seeing what’s out there than in actually making a purchase. They may still have to sell their house, or may not be able to afford a house yet. They might not even know for sure if they want to relocate to your town or city. 21 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 23. Being ignorant of your rights and responsibilities Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, which can often be complex and confusing — know what you are responsible for before signing on the dotted line. Not fulfilling your obligations due to ignorance could end up costing you a lot amount of money. Using a family member (or friend) as your real estate agent Just because a family member or a friend is a real estate agent, doesn’t mean they’re qualified to sell your home. Use tough standards when selecting an agent, just as you would when hiring a lawyer, a doctor, or a mechanic. Your family member should understand and appreciate that this is a business decision and you will ultimately decide to go with the best person to help you with your listing. And consider this — do you really want to risk damaging a friendship or family relationship if a problem should arise? Going with the only agent who agrees with your selling price Some agents will tell you exactly what you want to hear, just to get the listing. In the real estate profession, this is known as “buying a listing”, which is a very poor strategy. You want to find an agent who knows the market inside and out, not just someone who sees dollar signs. 22 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 24. Not getting references Any real estate agent might seem nice and knowledgeable when you first meet them, but a quick impression just doesn’t cut it for such an important decision. You need to find out for yourself if the agent is competent and the best way to do that is to check up on references. Ask for several references from recent sales and call these people — find out how these customers feel about their selling experience, both the good and the bad. And don’t rely on the length of time an agent has been in business as a sign that they are good. Even though an agent may be very experienced, they may have grown jaded over the years and may not work as hard for you, while newer agents can make up in enthusiasm and effort what they lack in experience. Using the agent with the lowest commission You get what you pay for. Paying a cut-rate commission will often get you a sign in the front yard and placement in the Multiple Listing Service, but little else from the agent. Real estate agents use their own resources to market and advertise your home — and this costs money. Therefore, the lower the commission, the less incentive an agent has to put up his or her own money to market your home. An agent who is earning a full commission will often drop everything 23 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 25. to sell your house — but an agent earning only a small commission doesn’t have that same incentive to perform. Incentive is also important to the buyer’s agent. Since there are almost always two agents involved in every sale, they split the commission according to the listing agent’s instructions. When your listing agent drops his commission, does he also reduce the commission that will be paid to the buyers’ agent? If so, you won’t find as many agents willing to show your house — they’ll be out showing houses that offer the traditional commission structure for the buyer’s agent. Picking an agent from a less established company Agents who work for large well-established companies do have some advantages over smaller or newer brokerages. Large companies generally have longer office hours, so someone is always available to answer a call about your home. And established real estate companies often have lots of agents. This is important because when your house is newly on the market, the company may stage an “office preview” where every agent in the office comes through and tours your home. Every agent who views your home and likes it is one more agent working on your sales team. Larger companies are often better at offering ongoing education to their agents too. As a result, your agent may be better qualified and prepared to offer a quality service. 24 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 26. Since they have the same license, all agents are the same Although all real estate agents must pass the same tests to become licensed, the real estate profession is constantly changing. The best real estate professionals stay on top of those changes by continuing their education — going beyond the minimum requirements. Many agents acquire “professional designations” that show they took additional specialized courses. Depending on open houses to sell your home Open houses do sell homes, but just not your home. Real estate agents use open houses as a way to “prospect” for potential clients. If they develop a rapport with those visitors to your open house, they can find out about their housing needs and sell them the home that most closely matches those needs, which may or may not be your house. Savvy agents know better than to depend on open houses to sell your house — so they concentrate on using more efficient marketing methods. The most effective way to market your house is not directly to the public, but to other agents. By getting other agents interested in your home, your listing agent multiplies your sales force beyond just themselves. Relying on high selling volume as a symbol of quality Selling a lot of homes should only be the beginning. What is more 25 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 27. important, an agent who listed 34 homes and sold 25 or an agent who listed 14 homes and sold all of them? When presented with some impressive numbers, you need to do some digging — how many of their listings did not sell? How many were repeatedly reduced before they finally sold? How long were the houses on the market? Was the agent helpful when there were questions or problems? Numbers count, but only if all of the quality questions exceed your expectations. Over improving before selling Sellers often unwittingly spend thousands of dollars doing the wrong upgrades to their homes before trying to sell in the mistaken belief they will recoup this cost. If you’re upgrading your home for your personal enjoyment, then go ahead. But if you are thinking of selling, you should be aware that only certain upgrades are cost effective. Always consult with a real estate agent before upgrading your home — it could save you a lot of unnecessary expense. Not being able to get out of a listing agreement Sometimes circumstances change. For example, a job might be downsized, you get seriously ill or an agent is not performing well. In cases such as these, you deserve the right to cancel your listing agreement. Always protect yourself—make sure you can cancel your listing. 26 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 28. Not taking the first offer seriously Most sellers believe that they will receive many offers on their house, so they don’t accept the first offer that comes along — they want to hold out for a higher price. This can be especially true if the offer comes in immediately after the home goes on the market. However, experience shows that the first offer is often the best since the house is most saleable in the beginning of the marketing period — meaning you most likely to get top dollar right at the start. Wasting your time with an unqualified prospect It’s your agent’s responsibility to screen a prospect’s qualifications. Don’t waste time with a buyer who can’t afford your home or isn’t ready to move yet. Testing the market Never put your home up for sale unless you are serious about moving — staging a home can lead to fast offers, often at full price, so be prepared to take action. Not making necessary repairs You can often recoup three to five times the cost of minor improvements. Listen to your agent if they make suggestions — and you can significantly increase the value of your home. 27 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 29. Making it difficult to show your home It’s important that your home is accessible to buyers and their agents, so allow your real estate agent to place a lock box on your front door for easy entry. You can still insist on being asked permission before any showings. 28 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.
  • 30. Conclusion Selling you home is an exciting, yet sometimes stressful, time of your life. There’s so much to do and prepare to get your home ready for the market. Using an experienced real estate agent will make the whole process run much more smoothly—follow their advice, set a fair price for your house and then go out of your way to make your house as attractive as possible. Before you know it, your house will be sold and you’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. Good luck! 29 GETTING THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE PRICE FOR YOUR HOME: A SELLER’S GUIDE © 2004 WebTechDezine Inc.