Selling your home is a BIG DEAL. The wrong home selling strategies could cost you tens of thousands of dollars and cause some serious stress that you definitely don’t need. But, if you use the right strategies, you can get great results, and quickly. Stay tuned for five tips that will help you have a very successful home selling experience…
Hi I’m Mike Regan. 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 was blessed to be able to personally sell over 750 homes in my 15 year career. Now, as the founder and CEO of Relevate Real Estate, I spend my time developing improvements for the residential real
The first big tip to get the highest price for your home in the shortest amount of time is to …
1. Make buyers fall in love with your home
The first rule of marketing is to understand how buyers think. When buyers look at homes, the process is more like dating than shopping. The home buyer is thinking, “I’m going to live in this home every day for years.” This is a big commitment, and there is no return policy. These buyers are looking to fall in love and they are going to keep looking at homes until they do fall in love. They are not looking for “a” home; they are looking for “the” home: their “dream” home. They are tired of seeing homes (9 out of 10) that are not ready for sale. They want a clean, fresh, move-in-ready home. Most buyers will run from even minor projects.
As a seller, it is important to understand the mind of the buyer. Buyers do not buy your home; they buy the feeling they get when they look at your home. They aren’t using their brains to decide, they’re using their hearts. And in good markets or tough markets, when a buyer finds the right home, they will fall in love, and that home will sell for the highest possible price.
We personally witnessed one of our buyers considering two identical homes on the same street, in the same neighborhood, with identical lots, and then paying $15,000 more for the one that spent $750 preparing the home for sale. The agent told the buyer… “Hey, you can spend that $750 on that other house and save yourself $15,000”. The buyer said “Nope, I really like it, and that’s the home I want to buy.” Similarly, we’ve seen homes sit on the market for a year, then sell in 30 days (at a higher price) after a few small adjustments to improve the buyer’s perception of the home. The right changes make a big difference.
If you want to sell your home for the highest price in the shortest amount of time, emphasize or add elements that will cause buyers to fall in love, and fix or remove issues that will cause them to hesitate.
Are there some analytical investor type buyers out there who truly decide with their brains, and whose first priority is a good deal? Yes, for sure. But you don’t want those buyers right? You don’t want anyone getting a good deal on your home, right? So we can ignore those analytical investor types. They represent less than 20% of buyers, and they are not your target buyers. What you want is a buyer to come into your home, fall in love, and impulsively write an offer at (or near, or over) your asking price. So focus your efforts on the 80% of buyers who buy emotionally. The additional time and effort you put into preparing your home to attract those buyers will pay for itself many times over. I assure you, you’ll get a much higher price, much faster.
The next tip is to …
2. Make a profit when you sell with smart investments
This follows our first tip. By making the right investments in your home, you will not only cause buyers to fall in love, but you will also make a profit. Depending on your neighborhood, your price point, and the size of your home, the following improvements will generally produce at least $2 or more in increased sales price for every $1 you invest. And anything that increases your price will also reduce the amount of time it takes to sell your home. Here are six no-brainer investments that apply to almost any home:
- First, install granite countertops in the kitchen. You should be able to get them for $45 per square foot, installed. Go with the standard, lower-priced choice. For higher-end homes, consider granite in the master bath as well.
- Second: stainless steel appliances. You should be able to get a refrigerator, oven, microwave, and dishwasher for under $3000.
- Third, replace old carpets. If they are over five years old, they will not look new when cleaned, unless they are of very good quality. New carpet also helps a home smell new.
- Fourth, remove wallpaper. Buyers today strongly dislike wallpaper, except for a very subtle pattern in the powder room.
- Fifth, refinish dull and scratched hardwood floors. Shining floors make a stunning impact on buyers.
- Sixth: Paint. You want a paint color that is a combination of beige and gray, and a darker shade makes the home look more expensive and makes white trim “pop.” Paint your front door and shutters black.
This advice is subject to modification based on the specifics of your home, and over time as buyer tastes evolve. For example, in the future buyers might love wallpaper again and green refrigerators might be the thing. I recommend getting the advice of a staging consultant who works with real estate agents. Most interior decorators do not specialize in preparing homes for buyers; they are more focused on what their clients like, which might be very different from what will cause the average buyer to fall in love and pay the highest possible price for a home.
One quick additional point: When it comes to aesthetic issues like flooring, paint and countertops, fixing problems is always better than offering an allowance, because to make up for the problem in the buyer’s eyes, you will have to reduce your price more than it would have cost you to fix it.
The next tip is to do the EASY things…
3. Do these easy things
Here is a list of low-cost, easy improvements that will pay for themselves many times over:
- Clean every inch of your home. Get help if you need it.
- Spread new mulch. Use dark brown “triple-shredded dark stained bark.” The stain keeps it looking better for much longer. Pine straw is cheaper but it also looks cheaper.
- Plant many, many flowers. More than you think you need. Curb appeal is how your home makes its first impression. Flowers may be the single best investment you can make in selling your home.
- Remove clutter. Remove personal pictures. Remove everything from horizontal surfaces except a few decorations.
- Remove window treatments. Leave the blinds.
- Remove basketball goals, play sets, and tree houses. These will turn some people off, and no one will ever say “I would have bought that home if only it had a basketball goal.” If you have a flat driveway they can install one if they choose. Especially removing trampolines. They make many mothers nervous.
Next, a really simple but powerful tip…
4. Use temporary storage containers
Our sellers have had very good experiences using temporary storage containers (such as PODS or PackRat) to store clutter while preparing their home for sale. Some sellers end up using them for the entire move, often in combination with hired labor. As of this writing, a 16-foot container (holds approximately 4 rooms) was $100 for drop off and pick up, plus $225/month for secure, climate-controlled storage, plus a second $100 for final drop off and pick up. These prices vary day to day based on supply and demand. The other alternative is hauling material to and from a storage location, which is less expensive, but much more work for you.
And the final tip in this article is to
5. Get your improvements permitted and inspected
If you have made any structural changes, or added any rooms to your property that were not permitted and inspected, you will have to tell the buyer on the required Residential Property Disclosure Statement. That will make most buyers nervous, and even if they are not concerned, they will use it as a negotiation lever. As a result, it is almost always better to get the space inspected and make any necessary repairs. If you did it right in the first place, it is usually not a big deal. The inspections are inexpensive and fairly quick. If you have questions, call the city or town (or the county if you are not in an incorporated area) and ask them anonymously so you don’t get any unneeded attention until you want it.
By using the right strategies when you sell your home, you can often increase your selling price by tens of thousands of dollars, and sell your home much more quickly.
You may have other questions as well, for example, “When is the best time of year to sell my home?” Or “How should I manage the timing of selling and buying at the same time?” Head over to our Learning Center for articles about these and many other topics.
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Relevate Real Estate isn’t right for everyone, but 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.