There are 16 crucial things your agent must do for you when selling your home if you want the highest price in the shortest amount of time.
Before I got into real estate, I was a process improvement consultant and the author of two books on the subject. Then, as a top-producing real estate agent, I sold over 750 homes in my 17-year career. Now, as the founder and CEO of Relevate Real Estate, I’m back to spending all my time on process improvement.
In this article I am going to explain the first eight of 16 things your agent MUST do for you when selling your home, and why each of these is cruicial for the successful sale of your home. Let’s go.
The first thing your agent must do is…
1. Bring a Solid Plan to Get You the HIGHEST PRICE in the SHORTEST AMOUNT OF TIME.
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, when homeowners are ready to sell their home, they want the highest price in the shortest amount of time. And in fact, sellers actually prioritize “fast sale” as slightly more important than “highest price”.
That’s a little surprising but it’s actually understandable. Selling a home is a big project and there are a lot of reasons to want to get it done quickly. For example, to you can buy another home or, maybe you already bought that other home, and you don’t want to make two mortgage payments forever. Right?
Most homeowners, and even most real estate agents assume those two important objectives (high price and fast sale) are in conflict with one another. Like “Which do you want, a high price or a fast sale?”
But.. if your agent does it right, as I’ll explain, your home will have maximum showing traffic the minute it goes on the market. This will create a sense of urgency, which quickly produces the highest possible offers and maybe even a bidding war. That’s what will get you the highest price in the shortest amount of time.
This all starts with how well your agent executes The Four P’s Of Home Selling:
Let’s dig into these “FOUR P’s”. PREPARATION and PRICE go together.
To get Preparation and Price right, your agent must first…
2. Give You An Accurate Analysis Of The As-Is Selling Price Of Your Home
But, your agent must not stop there. They must also…
3. Give you a Report About Potential Improvements that Will Make You an Additional Profit When You Sell
Unless your home is brand new, there are always opportunities for you to spend a little on the right improvement projects, and make thousands of dollars more on the sale of your home.
This report should list:
- The potential improvements
- The cost of each
- The new (and higher) sales price of your home, and
- The PROFIT from those improvements (the increase in sales price minus the cost of making the improvements)
The research to produce this report is a ton of work, as you might imagine, and the best real estate firms have internal teams to help their agents do this analysis quickly and accurately. Also your agent should never “push” you to make these improvements, because it’s your house; but as a basic part of their job, they need to inform you of the opportunity to make more money so you can make an informed decision.
If you do decide to move ahead with the improvement plan, your agent should…
4. Give You a Detailed Report of the Best Styles, Colors And Vendors For the Improvements
For example, if you decide to move foreward with your agent’s recommendation for new countertops, they should suggest a specific type (granite v quartz), a style/color, a provider from which to get the material, a vendor to install them (and often a backsplash as well), a recommendation for a specific sink and faucet, and a plumber to hook it up. They should provide the same detailed help for flooring, paint, window treatments, etc.
All of what I’ve explained so far should be provided at no cost to you. It should be part of the normal service, every time, by a reputable agent.
In addition, your agent should be able to arrange for…
5. Expert Project Management In Case You Would Prefer Someone Else To Manage The Improvement Process
Most homeowners prefer not to be involved in managing the improvements. This is a service you’ll need to pay for as it requires a lot of additional work. The cost is usually between $500 and $2500, depending on how big your improvement opportunities are.
And by the way, when it comes to project management or recommending vendors and suppliers, your agent should not be making any money from any of that, or getting any kickbacks from vendors. That’s not cool. Their advice should be 100% based on what’s best for you, not based on other ways for them to make a buck.
Your agent should only make money when they get the job done by selling your home.
Okay, so let’s assume, like 80% of homeowners in our experience, you want to move forward with the improvement opportunities your agent presented to you because you’re ready for that great short-term return-on-investment.
As a result there’s a period of time when we wait for improvements to be completed. During this time, your agent must be…
6. Marketing Your Home Aggressively Even Before Your Home is “On the Market”
“Mike, what the heck do you mean, ‘marketing my home before it’s on the market?’” Here’s inside scoop: normally agents are not permitted to market your home until it is activated on the MLS.
However, there is a loophole that allows them to market your home to other agents in their firm and to those agents’ buyers. Your agent should be doing that aggressively… and actually that should have started well before, because they would have brought a list of buyers who have criteria similar to your home, to that first meeting with you.
Now you might be thinking, “But Mike… I thought we didn’t want to expose our home to the market until it was fully prepared?” But what if, before you’re too far down the road with the improvements, someone wants to give you an offer that’s significantly above your as-is selling price, maybe even close to the post-improvement price? You’d want to know about that, right? You’d probably say “sure, let’s get this thing over with and move on!”
Well that’s why marketing is so important. The psychology of buyers is such that when a home is not available to the general public, it’s more exciting; there’s a feeling of “I can grab this home before anyone else knows about it”and since they know you have an alternative plan in the works to get more for the home as a result of the improvements, they’re really bidding against that plan. So they’ve got to come with a strong offer if they want you to consider selling early.
If your agent is really on top of this strategy, this can happen for up to 20% of all of their listings. And they need to be doing their best to make that happen for you.
Once your home is fully prepared, and if it isn’t already sold pre-market, your agent must deliver on that 3rd “P” and…
7. PRESENT Your Home Perfectly for Maximum Early Showing Volume
I’ll explain the details of that in a moment but first, in order to PRESENT your home for the best results, your agent cannot fail to …
8. Stage Your Home in the Smartest, Most Cost-Effective Way Possible
Let’s talk about staging for a moment. The data shows that when done right, staging is the single best return-on-investment you can do when selling your home. 10 to 1. That means if you invest $750 in staging the right way, you’ll increase your selling price by $7,500.
So, what’s the right way to stage, and why does it give such a good return?
Based on years of testing, what makes sense in staging is wall hangings like paintings and mirrors, and accessories in the kitchen and master bathroom. Staging with furniture is very expensive, and it does not have an additional impact on the selling price.
Why does staging give such a good ROI? Because staging makes the photography look better, and if buyers don’t like the photos in the MLS, they won’t schedule a showing. Then, when buyers visit your home, they get to experience those extra touches in person and are reminded what they liked so much in the photos. That’s why, by the way, virtual Photoshop staging is counterproductive.
Here’s a secret. BUYERS DON’T BUY HOMES. They buy the feeling they have when they’re in the home. And good staging is a big part of making that feeling happen. That’s why staging gives such a high ROI.
Are there a few sellers that have their home looking so perfect, with the most current decorating style, that they don’t need staging? Yes, but that only accounts for 10%. Your agent should be able to give you accurate advice, but don’t lose out on a 10 to 1 return just to save a few up front bucks. Staging isn’t a cost, it’s an investment.
Again, make sure your agent doesn’t make money by staging. Otherwise, is their advice truly trustworthy?
The very best real estate firms have internal staging professionals with warehouses full of the latest styles of wall hangings and accessories. Watch out for staging firms that try to save money by not regularly updating their inventory. Out-of-style decorations will reduce, not increase, the selling price of your home.
Okay, so once the staging is completed, it’s time for your agent to deliver the rest of the third “P”, PRESENTATION. Your agent should be scheduling and PAYING for:
- PROFESSIONAL measurements and great-looking floor plans to upload to the MLS. And…
- PROFESSIONAL photography (with professional equipment and wide-angle lenses). If your agent is doing it with an phone, that’s not going to be good for you.
Once everything is done perfectly to present your home, your agent really needs to kick the marketing into high gear by…
NEXT: The 9th Through 16th Things Your Agent Must Do When Selling Your Home
I’ll explain eight more things your agent should do for you when selling your home in the next article. What do you think so far? When you sell your home do you want an agent who will do everything for you that we’ve talked about so far? You bet you do.
If you’re thinking about selling or buying or know someone else who is, we are never too busy for you or your referrals to your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. If you already know a Relevate agent just give them a call and they’ll be happy to help. If you don’t already have a relationship with one of our agents, or if you live in an area where Relevate isn’t (yet), just send an email to me at email@example.com, or call me at 919-74-7000, and I’ll be glad to introduce you to one of our best agents, or a great agent from our network in your area of the country.