4 SELLING SUCCESS FACTORS
As you prepare to sell your home, there are four main factors to which you and your agent should pay close attention: the marketing plan, pricing strategy, condition of your home, and location. These four factors will determine the success you achieve in the sale of your home.
The Marketing Plan
Chris establishes a unique marketing plan for each home that he sells due to the fact that the prospective buyer and buyer preferences vary according to the individual property. For example, the focus of the brochures, verbiage within internet postings, and target audience will change depending on the type of home, location and price range. Chris will provide you with a unique plan for the sale of your home in a separate document. However, there are a number of elements to each marketing plan that remain consistent. Following are the elements that every customer can expect their plan to contain.
- A detailed, color brochure with an appealing description and high resolution photographs of your home for prospective buyers and agents who visit your home.
- Direct mail pieces to the neighborhood and move-up communities to advertise your property and open house(s).
- RE/MAX “For Sale” signs in your yard (if applicable).
- Directional signs in and around your community to direct passers-by to your property.
- Host an open house the first week that the home is listed, with additional open houses as necessary thereafter.
- Notify other agents about the property through email, phone and Broker’s Open Houses.
In order to reach a worldwide audience, Chris uses a number of internet resources including his website, www.DominickSellsHomes.com, where your home will frequently be featured on the front page, as well as a dedicated URL for your property. However, these are not the only internet sites where your listing will be found. Full color, high resolution, digital photographs of your home, as well as a detailed description will be available to any of the millions of people with internet access to over 40 search engines, such as:
The single most important element to getting a home sold in today’s market is setting a realistic price for the property. The price that you ultimately select for the property should depend upon how fast you want the property sold. More often than not, a direct correlation exists between price and time on the market.
Comparative Market Analysis
In order to accurately price your property from the beginning, Chris will perform a Comparative Market Analysis which will consider all the market factors and determine a fair market value that will result in the highest price and the fastest sale of your home. Market value is the value of your house as seen through the eyes of a prospective buyer and his or her agent, who have many properties from which to choose. In other words, your home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it as opposed to the amount for which you think it should sell.
A market analysis takes into account many factors, such as:
- Condition and location of the home and surrounding properties
- Characteristics of the property
- Current market conditions and interest rates
- Recent sales and the number of houses currently for sale in the neighborhood and surrounding area
The proper interpretation of all of these market factors is more of an art form than a science which is why you need a broker with extensive experience and real-time market information.
Benefits of Accurate Pricing
It pays to work with a Realtor who will spend time and energy at the front end to determine an accurate price for your home. If a home is properly priced,
- more cooperative Realtors will be encouraged to show your property.
- your property will receive more showings, leading to more contracts, resulting in higher offers.
- you will take advantage of the largest possible pool of buyers – those currently searching, who may have started their search as long as six months ago – increasing your chances for a good contract.
- the state of the housing market will not prevent you from selling your property.
Additionally, most buyers look at 20-30 homes before buying. You want to be priced accurately to appear competitive against those other properties.
Pitfalls to Overpricing
- The property stays on the market too long creating a great deal of frustration to the seller and the Realtor.
- Results in fewer showings by other Realtors, markedly as time passes. Real estate agents show buyers what is currently on the market in their price range, and then wait for new listings in the same price range to come on the market. Therefore, the most activity will take place in the first 30 days of a listing. Your home will probably receive its highest and best offers during this time. After that initial period, the majority of the prospects looking at your home will be new buyers entering the marketplace.
- If the property is priced too high for negotiation, a lot of showings will occur with no contracts registered.
- If the property is listed much too high, there will be very few showings, if any at all, and no contracts will be registered.
- The property will become an old listing, typically resulting in low ball offers from potential purchasers. Prospects may wonder why it has been on the market so long or if something is wrong with the property. It becomes stigmatized.
- Once the property has been on the market for a significant amount of time, the sellers will usually reduce the price, sometimes multiple times, before a contract is registered. This price is usually below market value.
- If your property is overpriced, agents may use it to convince buyers why they should purchase other, better-priced homes in your area. In fact, your home may be used to demonstrate the good value of other properties. Your objective should be to enter the market in a position that will attract prospects, not sell your competitors’ homes for them.
Prospective buyers and agents are not the only groups who will be analyzing your selling price. An appraiser will also review your property to assess the value, and they will use the same set of market data as your agent, which is plentiful and easily accessible. The potential difference between your selling price and the value that the appraiser assigns to your home is a function of how the market data is interpreted. For example, suppose you price your home higher than the market indicates, and somehow get a contract for that price. At that point, the lender for the buyer will conduct an appraisal of your property. Due to the significant increase over the last several years in mortgage defaults lenders are being much more conservative with property valuations. As a result, the appraisal will likely come in at a justifiable market price below the contract price, rendering the buyer unable to obtain financing on your home, keeping your home on the market.
Finally, there is a difference between aggressive pricing and unrealistic pricing. Do not list your home with whatever Realtor recommends the highest selling price. As you can see from the preceding paragraph, overpricing runs contrary to your long term interests and merely serves the agent. Aggressive pricing can be good, but overpricing is not.
Condition of Your Home
It is imperative that your house make a good first impression, and you must take the steps to ensure this happens. Complete all your repairs, improvements, and enhancements prior to your first showing. Your best showings come early in the listing period, so have your home ready before the first prospect steps into your home, and then maintain the appearance of your property until you accept an offer. You live in and maintain a home differently when it is for sale, and you must be committed to this change in lifestyle. Remember, your goal is to sell your home.
In order to be fully prepared, take a look at your house through the critical eyes of a buyer, considering both the exterior and interior appearance of your home.
- Keep the lawn trimmed and edged.
- Weed and cultivate flower gardens. Fresh mulch is the exterior equivalent to a fresh coat of paint.
- Trim shrubs and remove dead trees and branches.
- Pick-up and put away any debris, toys and lawn equipment.
- Repair fences and gates, applying a fresh coat of paint or stain if necessary.
- Ensure that the roof, gutters and downspouts are in good condition.
- Replace cracked windows and torn screens.
- Clean the entrance way and front door, applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to the door if necessary.
- Check that the doorbell is in working order.
- Wash the mailbox, porch light, railings, and other exterior items.
- The walls should be clean and free of smudges, fingerprints and dents. Consider a fresh coat of paint, if necessary.
- The kitchen should always be clean, dishes put away, and garbage can empty.
- Closets should appear neat and tidy. Hang clothes carefully, and arrange shoes and other objects in order. Full closets are acceptable, but if they appear filled to capacity, consider placing seasonal clothing in storage.
- Bathrooms should be sparkling clean with no stains or mildew. Repair caulking in tubs and showers, and fix leaky faucets. If necessary, replace shower curtain and set out fresh towels.
- Curtains and drapes should be freshly laundered or in good condition.
- Shampoo rugs and carpets or replace, if necessary.
- Repair or remove wallpaper, as necessary.
- Floors should be clean or refinished if necessary.
- Repair loose doorknobs, sticking doors or windows, and warped kitchen drawers and cabinet doors.
- Remove clutter from children’s rooms.
- Tighten loose stair banisters and be sure steps are free of objects.
- Light fixtures should be cleaned and in good repair. Light bulbs should work and be the highest recommended wattage for the fixture. Replace discolored or cracked switch and outlet plates.
- Clean windows (interior and exterior) to maximize the amount of light entering your home.
- Use packing boxes to clean up the basement, attic and garage.
Renovations, updating and other improvements to your home yield many benefits. They add to your enjoyment of your home, improve it aesthetically, and may provide you with a greater return when the time comes to sell. Before you begin a renovation project, however, be aware that some costly improvements may not add an equivalent value to your home, in which case you would only recover a portion of the improvement’s cost when you sell.
Studies show that improvements such as landscaping, adding an extra bedroom, providing additional closet space, and upgrading bathrooms and kitchens usually add value to your home equal to and sometimes more than their cost to you. Other expensive changes, like putting in a swimming pool or simple redecorating, are usually not justified in terms of increase in value compared to cost, so these improvements should be done for your living enjoyment only, not for resale value.
Even improvements which normally add significant value may not do so in every case. When contemplating improvements, ask yourself if the sales prices in your neighborhood support the cost of the improvements you are planning. If you “over-improve” in relation to your neighborhood, you will not receive the full benefit from these “value enhancing” improvements.
It would be to your benefit to call Chris before making the investment in an improvement project to determine if the cost/value ratio is supported in your neighborhood.
Location is often the key factor in determining the value of your home. It is also the only aspect that cannot be changed. As a result, the analysis and acceptance of the location of your home by prospective buyers, and how this affects the perceived value of your home are critically important. Some of the main factors affecting the value of your home location include:
- Convenience to commuting routes and/or access to public transportation
- Strength of the school district
- Distance to retail, grocery and convenience stores, entertainment options and places of worship
- Proximity to high traffic roads, noise, or unsightly utilities
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
(Listing Agreement to Offer)
- Seller signs listing agreement.
- Chris and seller determine appropriate “home staging” strategy.
- Chris takes pictures of the staged home.
- Seller orders Homeowner Association documents.
- Chris creates color brochures to be placed in the home.
- Chris places “For Sale” sign in the front yard (where applicable) and lockbox on the door.
- Chris inputs listing and photos into MLS and other online marketing sites.
- Chris mails direct mail pieces to targeted audience.
- Chris hosts 1st Open House within one week of the home being listed.
- Chris provides feedback to the seller from the prospects who visited the Open House.
- Seller notifies Chris of prospects visiting the property.
- Chris and seller meet to review marketing, pricing and sales activity in and around the community.
- Chris restocks brochures as necessary.
- Chris hosts 2nd Open House, if necessary.
- Chris and seller continue weekly strategy meetings, making appropriate marketing and pricing adjustments as needed until an offer is received and accepted.
THE ROLE OF THE SELLER
Hiring a top-notch Realtor to list your home is a great way to begin the process of selling your home. However, even the best Realtor will need the partnership of the seller in order to maximize the success of the sale. Remember, selling your home is a team effort!
As Chris pours 100% effort into the sale of your home, he will rely on you to carry out the following:
- Carefully consider the analysis that Chris assembles in order to accurately price your home.
- Ask him for an honest assessment of what is needed to sell your home and follow through on his recommendations.
- Stage the property according to the input that Chris provides.
- Maintain the cleanliness and condition of your home from the day your home is listed until the moment you accept an offer.
- Provide accurate information for the listing.
- Make your property easily accessible by utilizing a lockbox and allowing prospects to visit on short notice.
- Leave the property (or remain inconspicuous) when the property is shown to allow potential buyers a more relaxed visit. If you must be in the home during the showing, the ideal approach is to simply say, “I’ll be right here if you have any questions.”
- Email Chris the contact information of agents who show your property so that he can contact them immediately after the showing to gauge their interest and answer questions. Agents will leave a business card in your house during the showing from which you can pull their contact information to send to Chris.
- Allow Chris to present all contracts to you personally.
- Meet with Chris regularly to review the marketing plan and pricing strategy.
- Be willing to consider a price adjustment, if necessary. The market will tell you and Chris what to do from a pricing standpoint, but you must be willing to listen.
- Voice your thoughts and concerns, if any, to Chris without delay so that he can respond accordingly.