The sale of your home isn’t quite as simple as sticking up a ‘for sale’ sign and waiting for the buyers to come to you. Here is an overview of 100 things of the various steps involved in selling a property. You can use this list as a guide when selling a house or call a professional listing broker to take care of it for you.
I’ve included various marketing tips along the way that will be part of my new book on “Marketing Tips To Sell A Home” scheduled to be published sometime in 2016
From the moment the prospective buyers drive up to your property, they are judging your home. I've seen personally when buyers don't even bother to come inside because they have already made up their mind at a first glance. Your front yard, your entrance and every single room or space in a home should be a “wow” of some sort, providing something that is beyond what’s expected to the prospective buyer. First impressions apply to each and every single room or space in a home as well.
Try to appeal to everyone who might come through your property by using neutral designs throughout your house.. from the colors of the walls to furniture, even statues and paintings on the wall. You must remain neutral and not force a strong conviction that would only appeal to a smaller percentage of your visitors.
From all my years of experience and talking to perhaps thousands of people about homes and real estate. I ascertained this concept which I found it to be true and factual over and over again. Most buyers are shopping for a new lifestyle...not a house. All your marketing materials should refer to this fact.
As soon as a house is in the market, it becomes a product and is all business from there. You can't avoid the emotional aspects of selling a home...but you better hide them well if you want to sell it for the most money at a timing that fit your plans.
Selling a home with a "just testing the water" attitude will not lead you to a positive outcome. Specially when it comes to the pricing of the property. Every house has a reputation and you need to protect it. As you accumulate "Days On Market" your chances of getting your home sold for the highest amount it can bear is almost impossible. You will end up attracting only low-ball offers looking for a bargain as your home sits unsold with the appearance that "there must be something wrong with that property being in the market so loooong!". Commit to sell or wait until you are…
You need guidance, advice and direction from an experienced professional if you want to sell it for the most money. Know the difference when a commission is an EXPENSE versus when a commission is an INVESTMENT for you. Every single location, town or place in the USA is littered with discounted services that have only ONE VALUE TO OFFER : Their low commissions! A commission should never be an expenditure ...rather it should be an investment to help you get the most money for your house at a timing that fits your plans
Know the facts and study it carefully . The pricing of your home should not be set on hope, automatic computerized CMA's and/or false homeowner illusions. The price of your home should be set by square foot comparisons, current local market conditions, major improvements or lack of , pending sales, sold comps and the number of similar active listings in the area. You need guidance, advice and direction from an experienced professional to set the right price to sell, follow their advice and don't look back.
If timing is unimportant to you, selling it on the "right season" could bring you better results. In general, Spring marks the beginning of the busiest home-selling and home-buying season in most areas, followed by the Summer, Fall and Winter. If you are selling your home, finding the "optimal time to sell" should be considered, if you want to sell it for the most money. Beware that there are also other major factors involved on this. Competition numbers, local market conditions and local impact changes like a new plant or factory nearby...all or some may affect the timing when to put your home for sale. Your agent should advise you if you don't have any preferences, as they have their pulse in the local market and put your home for sale during the most optimal time.
#9 Curb Appeal Sells –
Potential home buyers form their first impression of a home from its curb appeal. Ideally you will want to get started cleaning up your yard a few weeks before you plan on showing your house. Plants and flowers need a little time to get them ready and give a good impression. You can't do this the day before your home comes in the market....really!
#10 Pressure Washing –
The siding, the deck, sidewalks and even the driveway should be done carefully without damaging their surfaces and surrounding plants. Rent a power washer for a weekend and wash away!
#11 Paint Front Porch & Front Door –
Even if you don't have a front porch, at least you have a front door. Potential buyers congregate around this area while waiting for their agent to open the door. A "good feel fresh impression" in this area will put your house at the top of their list. Peeling paint and rotted wood? ..that will certainly put you at the bottom of that list.
#12 Pools, Hot Tubs and Garbage Cans –
If you have a pool, you need to stage it for fun and not stage it for endless work to the future buyer. Stage the pool area with clear water, lounge chairs and margarita glasses and NOT with vacuum hoses , nets and pool brushes thrown all around. Hide them all away! . If you purchased a Hot Tub for $5,000. . .NO you may NOT add $5,000 to the price of your house. .finally hide all garbage cans from view, they are not helping you if they are displayed all around the backyard. You are going for the "WOW" feeling...not the "YUCK" feeling.
#13 Impress Them With Easy To Read House Numbers –
Nice brand new polished brilliant numbers are around five bucks each at Home Depot. Not only your house will be easy to spot from outside but, you will be above 90% of your competition with your new house numbers looking spiffy and ready to attract buyers. I saw many beautiful houses before with broken or rusted numbers that were too hard to read. Avoid the urge to paint them over and finish the job in 5 minutes with the “amateur painting frame effect” around the numbers.
#14 Impress Them with a New Mailbox –
Mailboxes are so overlooked by many home sellers. Another simple and inexpensive way to make a good first impression. Old beat up rusted, mailboxes with broken hinges gives only one initial buyer sentiment , “the homeowner does not care. . wait to see what’s inside!”
#15 Fresh Mulch and Grass Seeds –
This is more of sweat equity rather than monetary cost. One weekend of sweat labor could make a world of difference, Fresh mulch always is good advice when it comes to landscaping. Drop some grass seeds to those bald areas around your lawn and pull the weeds from your garden(s)
#16 Your Neighbor - Friend or Foe? –
What if your neighbor still has Christmas lights hanging in the middle of July? or the grass gets cut only when one of their pets goes missing?. Curb appeal applies to your house and the houses around you, if you can control it...you or your agent must act upon it. Offer them to pay for handyman services and get it done or ignore it and risk losing thousands of dollars at the closing table when you finally sell...Your agent should be the one approaching them with this script: " I'm selling the house next door and I have in my budget money allocated to prepare the house to sell. ...By selling our listing for the most money, your equity will benefit tremendously as well. I have some money left over to clean the common areas and I would like to include your yard to this ...would it be OK to take care of it . at no cost to you?"
#17 Don’t Ignore Your Roof –
If your house is 20 /25 years old and the roof was never changed, you may have to offer a concession for a new roof despite it's condition. Asphalt shingle/composition roofs last an average of 20 to 30 years. You better off facing that fact prior to selling it rather than later after a home inspection surprises the homebuyer. This is how we can control a negative aspect in a house and turn it around as a positive thing. Potential buyers will always appreciate honesty and candor.
#18 A New Welcoming Mat at the Front Door –
Placed at your home’s entrance, a door mat is very inexpensive but critical when you want to make a great first impression. Avoid strong colors or funny slogans or designs. Stay as neutral as possible. You want it fresh, welcoming and new.
#19 Paint or Repaint Exterior Wood Trim –
This is another chance to make a good first impression. A fresh coat of paint and some caulking is the best and quickest way to make your house look better.
#20 Your Fence Tells a Story –
Don’t let the fence tell a false story of how you have maintained the property during your ownership. Fix it, paint it and use it as an statement that you kept the house in good condition. A broken dilapidated and unpainted fence says a lot about the seller and that is not going to help you get the most money for your house when you sell it.
#21 Rotted Wood - Rotted Results –
This is another area I see many sellers fail. Rotted wood at the base of an outside door tells also the same story as the fence. Wood rot looks unsightly to all buyers and cause them to wonder. . what else might be in disrepair?
#22 Have all Windows Cleaned Inside and Out –
Buyers need a clear view and vision before making the commitment to buy. Help them with a bottle of Windex.
#23 The Front Door Knob and Key Lock –
Perhaps, you have use it thousands of times. If your door knob looks scratchy, old and you have to wiggle the key to the right or to the left to make it work. . perhaps it's time to update it!
#24 “If Smells . . .It Won’t Sell” –
Buyers can be turned off or offended by smells emanating from pets, smoking, heavy cooking and other sources. The human sense of smell could trigger powerful emotions to a potential buyer. Ask a neighbor or a friend to come in to your house and perform a "smell test". You don't count if you live in the house, because time develops immunity to certain smells....better yet, ask your agent to be honest about this...and fix it.
#25 Go for the "WOW" at the Entrance –
Many homes are sold at this point. If buyers are expecting 7, go for 10 or more. This is the area where the lifestyle buyers are seeking for is clearly defined and finally bought.
#26 Clean Like Your Mother-in-law is Coming to Stay –
A complete general cleaning of the house, even the tiniest detail. Pay special attention to highest usage areas like, light switches, door knobs, and other areas where is often touched and used all the time. Consider hiring a cleaning service.
#27 The Kitchen is the Most Influential Room to the Sale –
The heart of every house is the kitchen. Any appearances of discomfort found by buyers will cost you thousands of dollars. Your number one priority in preparing a house to sell should be to make the kitchen shine and if you can afford it and needs it…. change to new appliances, change old counters, cabinets, door cabinets and install a new splash wall before selling. The money you invest in modernizing your kitchen, will be returned handsomely at the closing table.
#28 The Bathroom(s) is Next. . . –
Perhaps no other scenario could make this point as strong as it should be. If you are a parent, and your child "must" use a dirty, moldy, with broken tiles gas station bathroom...you hold your breath, you instruct your child to avoid touching anything and you are out of there as quickly as possible. . .that’s the silent litmus test the MOM of the buyers performs when looking for a new home to buy.... as she imagines her loved ones using the bathrooms of their new house. No black spots, no soap scum, no USW's * and missing caulking. . (*USW's) "Unidentified Spots on the Walls" - Clean it 3 times!
#29 Clear Out the Clutter –
You want buyers to focus on how awesome your house is, not how messy it looks. The attention should be directed to the house...and not to your valuable collections or your wonderful family photos. Get rid of unneeded items, donate them, sell them or put all the extra stuff in storage. Less is best when it comes to furniture, items inside your closets, pictures on walls and items on top of your kitchen / bathroom counters. Give them a view of the house….not your stuff.
#30 Remove the Deer Head From The Wall Please –
As proud as you must be, getting a shot in the midst of danger and killing a deer, avoid the tendency of displaying it proudly to potential buyers. (This includes tigers and lions as well)...You are NOT selling yourself. . . remove any “offensive artwork” before selling a house. You want to appeal to 100% of all buyers….not just a few.
#31 Remove the Confederate Flag From The Wall Please –
Your beliefs, political affiliations and favorite team(s), will appeal to perhaps only 50% of the potential buyers coming to your house....you may want to shoot for 100% here.
#32 Clear Fridge of All Magnets –
Depersonalizing your house is important before selling. Your family may love all those magnet memories all over your fridge's door...but the potential buyer for your house may be so distracted that will forget what your house looks like once they leave.
#33 Stage Your Refrigerator? –
Yes!, a potential buyer opens up your fridge and imagines the joy of ownership as they we were already there.. You control what they see. Avoid the temptation of staging it with leftover pizza, cans of soda and spilled food all over the surface rather than going for the clean look of a spotless refrigerator. While selling, keep it organized from top to bottom packed with fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of room for more…
#34 Cabinets and Drawers –
Old outdated cabinet doors and drawers in some cases could be transformed with a creamy antique white paint to freshen it up and modernizing it as well. In some other cases when you have wood cabinets, a deep clean, lite sand and a coat of clear varnish could also make a world of difference.
#35 Change Your Cabinet Hardware –
From pulls, handles and hinges, this is an inexpensive way to also transform your kitchen. Just replacing old and outdated brass knobs with more modern pewter or ceramic looks... could be the small difference that will end up selling the house.
#36 Replace Light Bulbs –
This is not the time to save a few bucks on your monthly electric bill. Replace light bulbs to a higher wattage to bring more light, specially to those dark rooms that need showcasing. Keep them on during showing times.
#37 Update Outlet and Switches Wall Plates –
Replace them with the same color of the outlets to match. Avoid the temptation to mix them for a ‘cooler - look” trust me, keep them the same color. Cost: in most cases under $20 and it makes a world of difference the way you showcase your home.
#38 Stage Your Closets –
A potential buyer opens up your closet and imagines the joy of ownership as they we were already there.. You control what they see. This is even more important in your master bedroom. Your closets need to give the appearance of being roomy and very clean...not stuffed with clothes and boxes that could potentially harm an unexpected buyer with a concussion from your grandmother’s shoes ..just because they opened your closet door, the “normal way”
#39 Small Necessary Repairs, Don't Ignore them! –
A leaky faucet, a broken cabinet door, a broken door knob, broken windows, broken hinges, door stops, fixtures...etc, If it is broken...fix it!
#40 Your Carpet is like The Floor Mats In Your Car –
You are selling your car and while cleaning it, you observe the floor mats are all worn and dirty. You replace them and instantly change the look of the interior to help you possibly get more money for your car. The same concept applies to your house. Pretend the carpet in your house are the floor mats of your car before selling it.... If worn, discolored, dirty and looks all used up...change it! - If they are still in good shape, have them professionally cleaned.
#41 Paint Over Scuffs and Wall Imperfections –
A potential buyer sees your house as a blank canvas for them to paint a new life on....make sure you give them that white canvas and not divert their attention to little areas that one stroke of a paint brush would have fixed it. Take a sample of the paint (a paint chip would do) to Home Depot and they will mix the exact color paint for you.
#42 Strong Colors Are Recommended but, Not On The Walls! –
Not on the walls, but the fresh colorful flowers on the table, the small decorating items that contrast neutral areas. Just having the right item(s) in the right places can brighten an entire room at first glance...just don't over do it.
#43 Remove Your Collections –
At least while you are selling your home. You want to appeal to the broadest number of potential buyers. Do not paint yourself in the corner, sitting with an unsold home months later while mulling over your Burmese Python collection... that nobody seems to appreciate.
#43 Forget Your Lifestyle and Origins–
Keep it to a bare minimum and resist the urge to tell all the potential buyers all about your origin and culture. This includes religious items, statues and worship altar candles. Try to keep it at a bare minimum. As much as this means to you and your family, you need to balance the feel of the house to be as neutral as possible, Try to remove or hide any areas of distraction or personal beliefs.
#44 Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa –
A few dollars spent in staging your bathroom will go a long way. Remember, they are looking for change in their lifestyle...give it to them with a few scented candles, colored soaps, body lotions and fresh soft towels.
#45 Hide Your Money –
This is the time to take the necessary steps and secure all your valuables and remove any temptation from the strangers who’ll be looking around your closets, drawers, and cabinets in your house. This includes jewelry, credit cards, pre-approved credit card offers and cash money.
#46 Hide Your Guns –
This is the time to take the necessary steps and secure/lock all your guns and remove any temptation from the strangers who’ll be looking around your closets, drawers, and cabinets in your house. Besides, leaving guns out in the open is not safe for you and/or any other person in the house.
#47 Hide All Of Your Prescription Drugs –
This is the time to take the necessary steps and hide all your prescription drugs from all the potential buyers who will be roaming your house. Prescription drugs, especially painkillers are sought after by unscrupulous pretend buyers working with unaware helpful Real Estate Agents. Remove the temptation and hide them all away.
#48 Hide Your Pets –
Preferably, you would want to relocate your pet(s) during the time of selling your house. I know how difficult that can be for so many people, but you still need to relocate them to a special room or place in the house. It's only fair to warn potential buyers before stepping foot inside a property that a pet resides inside the house. Most of my clients lock their pets in a little-used room during showings or move them to the backyard or basement when a showing occurs.
“Ready Set and ……Wait!”
#49 Check Your Price One More Time –
Before you make your house available to the public, check and review one more time your pricing strategy. During the period of time it took to prepare your home to sell, things may have changed. Ask your Real Estate Agent to perform another detailed CMA to evaluate the current market conditions. I always preview the competition I’m facing before my listing goes on the market.
#50 Pricing Strategy With Zeroes –
Do you know most people search for homes on the Internet by the 100’s and 150’s (round numbers) Your pricing should also be in round numbers. Let’s say you determine your home is worth around $400K, based on this pricing strategy, you should price it at $400K and not at $399,999.00 ….Buyers looking for homes between $400K to $450K will miss your listing altogether. If a buyer is looking for a $400K house and you have one to sell...don’t hide it by pricing it @ $399,999.00.
#51 Photography As Important As Ever –
We live in a fast media heavy, internet driven world. There was a time when incredibly high quality photos were reserved only for luxury million dollar homes. Well, this is no longer the case.
A great listing photo could sell your house. Your home is just like every other house on the market right now. Most potential buyers will give your home one look, and that look will be online. Every detail you show in your photos is one more reason that buyers will use to differentiate between your house vs your competition. You want attention when selling a home and photos are a great way to achieve it.
More tips on photography here : "The Importance of Good Pictures"
#52 Videos –
Just like photos, videos are an extra edge I use vs my competition. Before I put a house in the market, I download a video to YouTube with the address of the house as the title for the video. A few days later, when you put your house in the market and your listing is picked by all the aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com ..etc. Your video will compete strongly on 1st page of Google because it came first.
You want to control what buyers are seeing about your listing and not just to be one of thousands out there with the same canned message.
#53 Your Brochure –
You want to control what buyers are seeing about your listing and not just to be one of thousands out there with the same canned message. This is why I developed a eBrochure for my listings. I want to give them reasons why they should choose to buy my house over others. Marketing is about conveying a message and amplifying your selling points better than your competition...and eBrochure will give you both.
See a sample eBrochure I use for my listings click here*
#54 “Coming Soon Listing” –
Our local “Multiple Listing Service” now makes it convenient to manage our pre-market listings through the “Coming Soon” status. This is a great way to market your home prior to making it available to the public. It creates urgency and attention to your listing even days before is available. In our market, we can create a “coming soon” listing at least 21 days before it actually is ready for sale. During this time, you don’t have to show it, but buyers now know what is coming soon...
#55 Best Day Of The Week To Put Your House For Sale –
I believe Tuesday Mornings are the best times for a seller to put a property on the MLS. You need to wait at least 72 hours for 3rd party sites to pick it up and have it available all over the Internet. This is perfect for the coming weekend where most buyers are very active seeking fro properties. In addition, Tuesdays are generally the day where agents have office meetings as they discuss any new listings in the area. Does it matter what day of the week your listing should go on? probably not, but being strategic about the first weekend could be just the right timing that causes your house to sell.
#56 Hide The Reasons Why You Are Selling. –
The reason(s) you are selling your home may affect the way you negotiate its sale. By keeping this between yourself and your agent will not impact the negotiation process when selling your house. Why provide ammunition to your prospective buyer(s) when you don't have to. Some buyers are sneaky and if provided with the right opportunity they will ask you personal questions to learn of this fact. All questions, should be forwarded to your agent and if you must provide a reason, all you have to say is: “your housing needs have changed” and leave it at that.
#57 You Can’t Buy What You Can’t See –
Keep your house ready for showings as much as possible. Buyers will not buy what they can't see. Make it easier and not harder to show your house and accommodate buyers as much as possible. Putting rules not to show your house at certain times and days will not be smart. Is better to be inconvenient for a few days than the inconvenience to have a house that does not sell for months!
Whenever possible, make it easier (not harder) to show your house. I have seen it numerous times, the best homes may not get sold simply because they weren’t available at the buyer's convenience.
By appointment only? . . Are you sure?
#58 Disclose, Disclose, Disclose –
Everytime we take a listing I make sure my sellers are proactive in disclosing all known defects to their buyers in writing. This can reduce liability for the both of us and prevent law suits later on. This is another reason why you should be working with a professional that will advise you specifically about any disclosure issues for your house before selling it.
#59 Don’t Move...Yet –
It has been proven that it's more difficult to sell a home for top dollar when is vacant ...simply because buyers start getting the message that perhaps you have a another home and you are probably very motivated to sell now. This could cost you thousands of dollars when selling a home. If possible, sell your home while occupied to get the most money for your house.
“Ready Set and Go - Let’s Sell It Now!”
#60 Offering a Competitive Buyer’s Agent Incentives –
Understanding that human nature is one side of the equation and ethical behavior is the other. While every agent will boldly state they will show all listings which a client wants to see, my advise to all my clients is not to take any chances. I always suggest that the selling buyer agent commission be consistent with what other similar homes are being offered for in your area.
Don't miss a sale just because an unethical agent decides to hide your house from their buyers just because....they believe they are not making enough money.
#61 Don’t Interact And Help Sell –
Let the home buyers need feel as comfortable as possible when looking at your home for sale. It’s a big investment, and they should feel welcome to be at ease and open closets, look in cabinets, open refrigerators and lift carpets. A serious buyer of a property needs to do whatever they can to learn about the home on their own. DO NOT HELP SELL your own property while your home is being shown. In actuality, people seldom really sell homes...homes sell homes.
Sellers most often tend to talk too much and the wrong word and it could cost them several thousands of dollars at closing. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. In most cases, I always ask my seller not to interfere and let me do all the selling and negotiations for them.
#62 Use a Lockbox –
A real estate lock box helps prevent unwanted intruders, yet leaves a property conveniently accessible to licensed agents..but when it comes to combination combo lockboxes that are easily accessible by anyone, there is a chance that the wrong person could have access to your house just because they found the combo number to be 1-2-3-4 . Always insist on high-tech lock boxes only accessible by Real Estate Agents. They are designed to work within a specific regional real estate market, at a convenient time for you and most importantly, It can only be opened by licensed professional real estate agents and we know exactly who opened?, what time? and how long they stayed at the house?
#63 Feedback is Important –
Everyone agrees that obtaining buyer feedback is an essential part of successfully selling homes. Yet, not all showing agents will be participating by sharing the feedback of their clients with listing agents. The role of a good listing agent is to extract any information that could be relevant to the strategy of selling a home. Sometimes, a problem could be averted very early in the process simply by listening what potential buyers and their agents are saying. We have developed a system that requires agents to give us feedback in all our listings after being shown.
#64 Doing Open Houses The Right Way –
It used to be that selling houses was all about open houses, newspaper ads, yard signs -black & white flyers advertising and you have the home sold. . . actually, it still kind of is, but things have gotten a lot more sophisticated and challenging lately when you consider the Internet and the high demand for instant information. Any house now can have an open house 24-7. My policy is to have one traditional open house to “INTRODUCE” the house to the neighbors and concentrate in real marketing techniques that helps sell homes. Do not allow a real estate agent to use your house as a buyer's bait..while your house remains unsold.
Serous approved buyers, do not need an open house to access your home.
#65 Keeping Your Home Show Ready –
My clients have often asked me this question: How do you keep a house ready to show at any time while my family still living in it? Simple, avoid using rooms that are not necessary to everyday living, stay on top of the laundry, make the beds first thing in the morning, keep the dishes clean and cook as little as possible.
#66 How Many Showings Before a Contract? –
Normally, it's not quantity of showings...It's quality of showings what sells homes. There is no rule of thumb about this because there are many variables; but if you house does not produce an offer between 10-12 showings, something needs adjusting.
#67 Craigslist - Forums –
By using any means necessary to spread your message, you can only amplify your chances in selling your house. Craigslist is such a place, eBay Classifieds, Oodle, Adoos, Hoobly and any local forums where your neighbors congregate to discuss about many issues. All you need to do is write a quality description with all of the most important information about your house and a link to the eBrochure that I strongly recommend for you to write. Put a few “exceptional” photos of the most important rooms or features in your home and relist your ad every other day if possible on each service you utilize.
This is free and it only requires a few minutes of your time when selling a home.
#68 Facebook Ads and Groups –
Facebook has become a major marketing tool for all kinds of businesses across the nation, and real estate is no exception. However, it’s important you have a direct plan of action and invest your marketing dollars to the best of your advantage. Facebook, will let you pick your audience by setting the right demographic and geo target areas to connect, with potential buyers based on their income, needs, location, age and other assorted choices that can help you pinpoint the right buyer(s). Let's put it this way; if you have a house to sell across a hospital XYZ, Facebook will allow you to put your listing for all medical personnel in the area...as their timeline on Facebook will contain a beautiful picture of your house and the question: Are you looking to buy a home across XYZ Hospital in (City Name)? Click here! and let your eBrochure do it’s work.
#69 Neighbors Know People... –
In most cases, this is the only reason why I do an open house in a listing; I want to introduce the house to all the neighbors. Your neighbors may have a friend or relative that wants to move to the area. You need to enlist this person as your advocate. That maybe the only reason why you sell your house may sell promptly. Postcards, knocking on doors to invite them before your open house is considered one of the oldest methods of selling 101.
#70 Don’t Forget The Renters in the Vicinity –
Renters will always be around us. There are many types from never having owned a home to losing their former residence in foreclosure. You need to include them into your marketing. They lived around you and some may be ready to make the transition into homeownership.
Why market to nearby renters? You are making it easy for them. They already like the area, most likely their children are in the same school district and your house may be the perfect place for them. They are very easy to find, just target nearby apartment buildings and all absentee homeowners in your neighborhood. (Any agent should know how to get this list) Send them a postcard highlighting the average monthly payment for an average credit score to buy your house...so the can compare to their monthly rental payments. They’ll take the hint.
#71 Military, Investors and Your Property’s Location For Jobs –
The military community are the largest group of relocating families in the US. If you live near a base or military installation, you should not ignore them. Investors are also a huge pool of buyers that may be interested in your home. You must find a good reason before you start marketing to them. Look for the largest employers near your area, they are also a good source of buyers for your house.
Where to reach directly to them? The easiest way I found is Facebook. You can target direct your advertising directly to these groups by reaching them where they are.
#72 Networking With Top Agents –
It is amazing that most real estate agents do not pay particular attention to networking with other agents. Not understanding how important networking is in the real estate business will keep agents average and with very little business. The buyer of your house is most likely working with an agent right now….you need to reach that agent and your house could be SOLD! . Here are some of the best practices I’ve gathered over the years to reach to buyer agents in my area to market my listings to. I print out a sales report for the last 12 months around a one mile perimeter where may listing is located, I separated the agents that sold more than one property and I target them with a eBrochure or a letter stroking their ego. “The reason you are getting this package is because you are one of the “TOP AGENTS” and I would like to invite you to preview this house”
These are the same agents I invite to an “Open Broker House” if the situation warrants it.
#73 Broker Open House –
A Broker Open House is event designed to showcase a home you have for sale to other real estate agents. Broker's open houses are different from standard open house events. They are designed strictly for real estate agents and not for the general public. This is how we can target and showcase a home directly to those agents working with buyers. You can take advantage to the fact that is very important for real estate agents to visit and preview homes through a Broker Open House. . they may just have the buyer for you. This is another opportunity to target the most active real estate agents in the area. Once you identified them, a CALL is very important here...to invite the, directly to your Broker Open House...don't forget to stroke their ego. “The reason, I’m inviting you personally is because you are a TOP agent in this neighborhood..”
#74 Finding Highly Motivated Buyers –
The goal to marketing is to originate buyer interest through many direct marketing efforts. Your marketing must connect highly motivated house buyers that match your house as their criteria. Here I share one of the best sources I’ve gathered over the years to reach highly motivated buyers and market my listings to. These are the sellers that just signed up a contract to sell their homes. You know, the ones that had their houses for sale and now...they are showing as “Under Contract” because they have already found a buyer and they have 30 to 45 days to complete the sale of their house. These sellers are highly motivated buyers, since most of them need to buy another house to live and time is running out. Any agent could easily target those homes that went under contract with a eBrochure or a postcard about your home. Most people move up (? up) after selling their homes, meaning that if a seller had their home under contract at $300,000, they are looking for $400,000 + homes..if your house is in that price range, you just found a great source of highly motivated buyers.
Negotiating a Contract:
#75 Dealing with Low Ball Offers and Turn It Around –
What is a Low Ball Offer in real estate? When a buyer thinks that your house is overpriced and they figure you can’t sell it. . this is when they appear most often. Should you dismiss a low ball offer altogether? Should you as the seller get angry or insulted? A low ball offer doesn't necessarily mean the buyers aren't serious. They are just misguided and misinformed. Here’s a way how to deal with them.
I can assure you that low ball offers are better than no offers at all. There is a right way and a wrong way to handle them. The wrong way is to be all emotional about it and dismiss it altogether. The right way is to counter just slightly below your list price, conceding by perhaps $1,000 below... to let them know, you are willing to negotiate but, you are not ready to give your home away. In many cases, this open up a long term negotiation that eventually sells a house.
#76 Price Negotiation Techniques –
As a seller, you need to be prepared to accept, counter or reject a potential buyer's initial bid on your home. Understand that buyers usually expect a back-and-forth negotiation, so most likely, their initial offer will be lower than what they are actually willing to pay. You and your agent need to know this and it's very important for you to understand it..that is if you want to maximize the sale price of your house. Negotiating back-and-forth- between a potential buyer and a seller is like juggling knives, one mistake and you lose the game. This is why you should let a professional do this for you. They know when to push for more money and they know when to stop and advice you to accept it. It is a skill that takes years to develop...the tone of their voice, what they say, what they don't say, key questions asked, in many cases buyers are willing to pay a higher price if you counter with a plan that will cost them less money at closing. In this case, you are amplifying the bottom line so the buyers can be willing to accept a higher price. Just remember, that if buyers aren't excited about the property you're offering, they will be quickly turned off by hardball tactics and simply walk away. KNOW YOUR PRODUCT and KNOW WHEN TO PUSH!
#77 Home Inspection Pitfalls –
The Home Inspection is another area where negotiation takes place.
This is critical on the seller side of the transaction because it could cost them thousands of dollars. Some aggressive buyer agents may advise their clients to demand hefty price reductions from the seller for relatively minor repairs that are discovered during the Buyer’s home inspection. You or your agent need to be prepared for this and there are ways how to do it without losing your shirt.
Doing a Home Inspection before putting your home for sale is advisable when your home’s condition warrants it and may be used by unscrupulous agents as a tool to force you into lowering your price.
Negotiate this at the beginning of the contract as a way to give them a discount on the house but they waive their home inspection in return. Being proactive is always a good plan. If you know you have a problem in the house, deal with it right from the start and don’t ignore it.
#78 Qualifying the Buyer, The Loan Officer and Their Real Estate Agent –
One of the most important steps when selling a home is to find out whether the buyers have good credit, earn adequate income, and have enough money in the bank to purchase your home. You have to rely on given information, you are not actually reviewing their pay stubs and tax returns; understanding that an unqualified buyer can cost you precious time and money if they end up being unable to acquire financing and you proceed with the sale. A bad buyer...and you can potentially lose several weeks of hoping for a sale that would never come.
Since you have to rely on given information about the buyer for your house, it is important that you review the qualifications of the loan officer and the buyer’s real estate agent. l have experienced the worst and the best during my years in real estate. Asking the right questions will put you in control of the situation. Ask if they have verified funds?, pay stubs? tax records? Is the buyer’s loan locked and will have no surprises? An experienced buyer's agent is supposed to do all of this for you...but is your house, your sale and your plans...don’t rely on them.
#79 Accepting a Home Selling Contingency –
Sometimes, buyers start wrong and they find themselves with the perfect house but, they have to sell their house in order to buy it.
You may see an offer with a contingency that the buyer will perform provided they sell their home before buying yours….
This is not a good situation for you but, you must consider your current situation and the details of the offer before turning them down.
For example, there is a big difference in a contingency offer when the buyers already have the house they need to sell under contract (just not closed) OR they want to buy your home and now they are ready to put their home in the market. If that is the case then you are essentially giving all control to sell your house to someone else. What if that house is overpriced? what if the condition is below average? The house may never sell and you are stuck removing your house off the market while they try.
Market conditions, the condition of your house and your current situation should also play a big role in your decision. Your agent should be able to advise you whether is a good deal for you or not.
#80 Ensure the Contract and All Disclosures Are Complete –
Selling a house is not a simple process, it can become quickly very complicated and expensive if someone did not take the time; dot the i’s and cross the t’s before completely accepting a contract. There are some unscrupulous buyers out there, that they will deliberately forget initialing or signing parts of the document to give themselves a reason to get out. There are other instances where the buyer may be giving themselves the right to sell your house to another party and switching their position as buyers with them...after a handsome profit of course!. You remain obligated to the contract simply because you missed reading a checked box on page 29.
You need to review the contract with the help of an experienced person. Your agent, or your attorney if you selling your house on your own. Do you own due diligence...
#81 Negotiating The Timing Of The Sale To Your Benefit –
Make sure that you or your real estate agent negotiate the day of closing before you ratify the final contract. This is another area where you can control the sale of your house and pick the date where it will benefit you as the seller the most. Your agent should advise you about the timing and how it affects your last mortgage payment, any taxes that are due, the best day to move and save hundreds of dollars from moving company charges. You need to control this as well...to fit your plans and benefit your bottom line. To squeeze every last penny from your mortgage.
#82 “Win - Win” is a Myth Don’t Fall For it! –
Most people will tell you that negotiating effectively is about making everyone feel like they got a win. . but the reason we negotiate is to get the best for you and not the other party!. As long as you are ethical and truthful during your negotiations...my job as a broker representing my seller is to make the other party pay as high as possible and still consummate the sale. A lot of real estate agents confuse this and behave passive and too open to give your money away. If you sell it for more, I make more money on commissions...this is why I always say...is a win-win for my seller and my company...not for the seller and buyer; as the buyer have their own representation.
#83 No Move-In Prior To Closing Period –
This instance is actually pretty rare, and quite risky. Allowing a buyer to take possession prior to closing. I have never allowed this to happen in my years of practice and my reason are very simple.
Anything can happen with their loan or finances... it could be a nightmare to remove and evict them. Another horrible thought is that the buyer is now complaining about all the little things that they did not noticed before. Now, they wanted fixed! This could equate to a long list of demands and they know you have no choice but to fix them...since they are already moved in. Avoid this at all costs, in some cases this maybe a solution to save a deal...but, make the right decision by consulting with your real estate agent and your home insurance agent.
The Finishing Touches
#84 Negotiating During The Home Inspection Is Critical and Costly–
Check your contract and check with your real estate agent. In some cases you may not be obligated to repair the issues the buyer found during the home inspection. Preparation is your best move here. By being upfront and honest when you first offer your home for sale and through the course of the sale itself. I’ve seen many sales fall apart during the home inspection. When the buyer does ask you to help resolve the issues, be fair and understanding and try to either fix them or give them credit at closing.
In many cases, it is preferable to give the buyer credit and not fix it yourself. Oftentimes when a repair is being conducted, it leads to other more costly repairs that were not noticed before...why take the chance when a fair credit at closing would suffice.
My goal when selling a home is to achieve results with minimum drama. This will depend at my ability to convey a message for compromise to my seller when home inspections issues arise.
#85 Can The Appraisal Be Influenced? –
Many agents have misinformation that we should never contact the appraiser or risk the chance of losing our licenses. This is so far from the true, in many markets; we agents may have valuable information that appraisers can’t find on our local MLS. If this information affects the value of your client’s property, why keep it to yourself? My job as a listing broker is to amplify the value of my client’s home during the sale of the property...I’m not going to stop this until we close the sale.
#86 Plan Your Moving Date Carefully –
Before you make your move...be certain that the buyer is ready to perform on time and nothing is left to chance. When a contract is accepted, there is normally a financing contingency that must be removed from the contract to complete the sale. Removing this financing contingency will put pressure on the buyer (s) and the loan officer to perform as the contract specifies….or they risk the chance on losing their deposit. Not a good position to be when your sale does not happen and you are already out of the house.
#87 Finding Another Home –
If you are relocating to another area/city/state, don't feel pressure to go ahead and buy a home. Most often, it is advisable to experience life in a new location before you make a permanent move. Remember, you are choosing a house based on your own experiences in a city you are moving away...there is always other important criteria and facts you should consider before committing to buy your home somewhere else outside of your city or area. Temporary rentals are available everywhere...it may cost you a little more money and cause you to move twice..but you will be assured that you found the right neighborhood to raise your family.
If you are moving up and staying in the same area, your best bet is to ask your listing agent to also help you secure a new home. It takes careful planning to have a simultaneous closing where you sell and buy your home at the same time. Your agent must perform under the gun for you and take responsibility that this happens as planned.
#88 Moving Techniques –
Before moving day arrives, make sure you have a written plan and direct yourself with a step by step checking list. This technique I found it to be very successful for many of my clients over the years. Your checklist must be separated by periods of time. Eight weeks before, six weeks, four weeks, two weeks and finally the day before of your moving. Each time period should have the all the steps necessary to make your moving experience a fun experience. . the more detailed your plan is , the less chances of something going wrong.
#89 Closing Data Verification –
RESPA requires that the title company provides you with the HUD-1 at least one day prior to the closing. This rule is frequently violated by title companies. You must insist and ask in a very nice way. Sometimes, we get the HUD-1 days before closing so we have time to check all the figures and prorations for accuracy.
#90 Loan Officer’s Time To Shine –
Knowing what questions to ask, what to expect and communicating with all parties involved in the sale of the house are key to a successful closing. The loan officer holds an important role. The funding of the loan so they buyers can buy your house. This is why you need to hold the loan officer accountable to all the steps necessary to get the sale completed. I’ve seen loan officers that wait until the last minute because they don't have an assistant or they are just risk takers and not “too detail oriented”. The final approval has to come from the loan’s underwriter and they can't do this until they have all the completed documents from the loan officer.
No lender funds or closes on a loan without the approval of an underwriter.
Closing Day - Closing Escrow
#91 Review all Documents At The Table –
Right before the closing, the buyers and sellers will need to be sure that everything is in order before the keys are given. Important things that needs reviewing are:
The seller’s deed;
Proof that encumbrances have been removed
The survey showing the exact boundaries of the property.
All the credits and deposits verified.
Any warranties as per the contract.
All the results of any inspections, repairs, or alterations.
If the house is rented, any leases that pertain to the property.
Any “extra” fees that may have been added on the HUD-1 by the title company.
All commissions, as specified in your listing agreement.
The seller’s net checked for accuracy
#92 Warranties, Keys, Alarms and Miscellaneous (BE KIND) –
Warranties are negotiated prior to accepting a contract. Make sure you pick the warranty company as a seller and not accept the one they insert on the final day by the buyer that could cost you several hundreds of dollars more. All the keys, alarms and garage door openers should exchange hands at the table as soon as the signatures are completed. Be kind and surprise the buyers with a token of appreciation by leaving something that they may need for an easy transition. Extra filters, extra keys, extra paint, extra tiles or matching wood floors pieces..etc. This goes a long way and it s most likely that you will receive the same treatment on the new house you are buying..
#93 All Utilities Transfers & Post Office–
You would think this is pretty straight forward and simple. However, when it comes time to preparing yourself for closing, a seller needs to be on top of switching your utilities to avoid extra charges later on. Any mistakes here and the seller pays while the buyers enjoy some “free utilities” days. Bring your water meter reading to closing to avoid confusion or unnecessary assumptions.
#94 Don’t Be Bullied At The Closing Table –
What happens when the final walk-through is a disaster and the buyers are dissatisfied. This is when the experience and quality of the representing agents pays the most. I’ve seen not-so-ethical weak agents using this opportunity to “prove “ to their buyers that they were worth the money they made on the sale and make outrageous demands at the closing table by threatening to walk out if they are not met by the sellers. I usually ask to have a separate conference room and have a one and one chat with the buyer's agent. I first remind them or our purpose and roles, that we want a solution and not create a problem. Oftentimes, I make an effort to unmask them in private by letting them know that the proof of a good real estate agent is not who yells the loudest. but...who presents a solution that is amiable to both parties.
#95 Bring ID’s and Receipts –
Before you head off to your closing, make sure you are bringing everything your need to consummate the deal.
Copies of all of the keys to the house and any extras
Garage door openers
Codes for keyless entry to the house or alarm system
Postal codes/keys and location and number of mailbox if multiples.
Certified or cashier’s check made payable to the title or closing company, if you owe more to the bank that your final net.
Each seller needs a government issued photo I.D., such as a driver’s license or a passport.
#96 Getting Paid Wire Transfer or Check? –
Your money is available the day you sell your house at the closing table. In some states you may have to wait until the deed is recorded with the appropriate county records. . .usually this takes a few days. If you are receiving funds at closing, you may want to ask for wire transfer of proceeds directly to your account before electing to have a check. You will get to your money quicker that way.
#97 What Happens If the House You Are Buying Is Not Ready Yet? –
A post settlement occupancy agreement allows a seller to continue to live in his home after settlement. Both buyers and sellers must agree to this days before closing ...and not at the closing table. under a post occupancy agreement, the seller is essentially renting the home back from the new purchaser for a number of days...
This type of arrangement can be a life-saver for you as the seller if your next house is not ready. Remember, this action could affect a lot of people including the buyers, and the new occupants of the buyers home….this is the reason it must be discussed as early as possible.
#98 What Happens If Buyers Do Not Perform? –
Everyone needs to follow the contract to the letter; If the buyer breaches the day of close by not signing, this is when you need to seek legal advice..your real estate agent is not authorized to give it to you except by saying that.. “you should seek legal advice”
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Benjamin Franklin wrote those wise words back in 1735 and all parties that participate in the sale and purchase of a home should follow it to prevent surprises. A buyer not showing up to the closing table should NOT be a surprise to a good real estate agent...there are tell tale signs prior of this occurrence and it should be confronted as early as possible.
#99 What Happens If The House Gets Damaged Before Closing Day? –
Under the standard real estate agreement used accepting the purchase and sale of a home, the buyer accepts the condition of the property on the date that they sign the agreement, consequently if there is damage to the house prior to closing, after signing a contract of sale...the insurance company should take over the repairs but sellers may still be liable if the repairs or deductibles are not up to par.
If the damage is substantial, seeking legal advice should be your next step...and remember your real estate agent can not give you legal advice.
#100 S O L D !!!! Congratulations! –
Settlement day is an exciting day for all parties, provided that everything went according to plan. Once you relinquish the keys and legal rights to your property in exchange for money, there is only one thing to do...CELEBRATE - CONGRATULATIONS….you have sold your home!
About the author: This information is being provided by Fernando Herboso. He is currently a broker owner for Maxus Real Estate Group (Herboso & Associates) located in Montgomery County - Clarksburg Maryland.
Servicing MD, DC and VA
If you are thinking of selling your home in Maryland DC or Northern Virginia areas and you need to maximize your net while avoiding problems at a timing that satisfies your needs..then you should contact Fernando by phone: 301-246-0001 or by eMail Fernando@ReallyNiceHomes.com
Fernando has been in real estate since 1990 and has advised and helped sell nearly one thousand sellers from all walks of life.
His main website is www.ReallyNiceHomes.com
More about Fernando