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If you’re in the market to sell, it’s probably time to clean the house. Literally. Selling a home requires preparation, patience, and in most cases, good-old-fashioned elbow grease. From list to closing, we’ll walk you through the most important steps and terminology.
The job of a full-service real estate agent is to represent your best interests through every step of the sales process. Your agent should listen to your needs and understand the market in which you are selling a home. They should be experts in marketing, negotiation, transaction forms, and finance options, as well as have an understanding of technology and how it can enhance the marketing of your home.
Determining the right price is hands-down the most important part of achieving the highest return in the least amount of time. There are a lot of factors that go into determining a home’s market value, such as the sales price of nearby homes that have recently sold, the listing price of similar homes that are currently on the market, as well as the condition and location of a home. In order to determine pricing, your Windermere agent will provide a comparable market analysis which walks you through what your home is worth—and why.
First impressions are key when selling a home, so before the ‘for sale’ sign goes up, put in the time to make sure it’s in ship shape. Fresh paint, clean closets, and cheery flowers – there’s a lot you can do to make even the most humble of abodes look like a million bucks. Check out the Get Ready To Sell checklist for a list of ideas and tips.
Marketing Your Home
Creating a plan to market your home will help attract the interest of the right buyer. Today, the vast majority of homebuyers use the internet in their home search, so your marketing plan should include focused online activities, in addition to print advertising and open houses.
Home Staging and Showings
Showings are an inconvenient, yet necessary part of the home selling process. When your home is on the market it has the potential to be shown at any time, so it’s important to maintain a certain level of cleanliness; clear dishes from the sink, make beds, put away dirty laundry, and vacuum and dust regularly. It’s also a good idea to clear out; it makes buyers uncomfortable to tour a home when the owners are in the next room, so for the sake of your sale, vacate your home for showings.
Purchase and Sale Agreement
Once an offer on a property has been made by a buyer and accepted by the seller, they enter into a legal contract known as a Purchase and Sale Agreement. This document outlines the specific terms and conditions of the transaction and is acknowledged by both parties by the signing of the document.
Once a buyer and seller reach mutual acceptance on a property, a home inspector is hired to investigate every nook and cranny to determine if the home is in need of any repairs. An inspector will check items, such as the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, structure, plumbing, and electrical. Afterwards, buyers will have a chance to negotiate with the sellers to cover the costs of certain repairs or to ask for concessions.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, negotiation is the key to getting the best deal. Negotiations can involve everything from settling on a sales price to concessions and financing. Windermere Real Estate agents are expert negotiators whose job it is to represent your interests during the give and take of a real estate transaction.
Once the offer is accepted and a closing date agreed upon, escrow allows the buyer and the seller to have an outside party ensure all parts of the contact are complete. Your Windermere agent can help coordinate the completion of all necessary forms to the escrow company and monitor the escrow process until the transaction is complete.
At closing, all the paperwork is signed by the buyer and seller, both parties pay any settlement fees and the documents are officially recorded. Prior to closing, you’ll receive a settlement statement outlining any fees which may apply to you.
Content courtesy of Windermere.com
Realtors come in all shapes and sizes. To find a Realtor who will be the best advocate for you in your real estate transaction consider the following tips.
Listen to those you trust.
Referrals are a great way to get started in choosing a Realtor. Speak to those who know you and what is important to you in the transaction.
Visit with the Realtor to confirm their expertise in your area of interest.
What experience does the Realtor have in your geographic area and price point? What is the Realtor’s proposed strategy used in today’s market to maximize the seller’s return?
Choose a real estate licensee who participates in the Realtor Association and the local MLS shared database.
Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. As a member of the National Association of Realtors, your Realtor has made a commitment to follow a Code of Ethics in their practice. Access to all local real estate sites and databases is critical for the Realtor of choice to maximize exposure of your home in their marketing efforts.
Ask for a resume.
Start the process by visiting with the Realtor over the phone. Next, ask them to provide a resume in order to give you an idea of what they will bring to the table to assist in your success.
Meet the Realtor personally.
Your Realtor of choice will be representing you in your presence and in your absence. Do they present themselves well and do they have the confidence to represent you well in your absence as your professional advocate?
Ask questions about the market trends.
Does the Realtor know the specifics about how consumers are moving in the marketplace or do they answer with generalities? How many days on the market before the typical home sells in the market today? How far off of the list price are buyers negotiating on the homes that are selling?
Do not choose your Realtor by the price they would set for your home.
If you have the Realtor price your home as part of the interview process, focus on the Realtors process of coming to the price and the strategy offered in maximizing your proceeds in a reasonable time frame. Too many homeowners have chosen the Realtor who suggested the highest list price only to find out that the Realtor had unrealistic expectations of the market and may have cost your precious time and money.
Choose the Realtor who maximizes your net proceeds, not the one who minimizes your expenses.
As they say, “you get what you pay for.” The best Realtor in the market place is usually not the cheapest, but they are the person who can navigate the transaction to maximize your return on your investment (your home) even after you have paid them!
As a Residential Realtor in Lane County, it is my job to assist clients in ‘moving smart’ in the marketplace. Realtors are in the precarious position of having to predict the future actions of consumers. Sure, we have data available of recent sales of similar properties in close proximity as a reference point and that helps. But forecasting the consumers next move; what they are willing to pay tomorrow for the unique opportunity, is full of challenge. Anticipating the sales price of a home is not like ‘blue book’ pricing a car and that is why remote pricing mechanisms like Zillow fall short.
A home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay in today’s market.
Sounds simple. But as you peel off the layers within that statement, you discover my challenge as your Realtor. First, who is the buyer? By identifying for whom the home will have the greatest appeal, helps me to understand the level of demand in the marketplace. For example, a second floor, one-room condominium will appeal to some buyers, but not all buyers. The floor plan of the home plays a significant role in defining the next owner as well. If the home has four bedrooms and only one common area (Living room but no family room), it is not likely that a family who would use all four rooms as bedrooms would find the common areas sufficient as daytime living space. And a home with the second bath off of the laundry room versus, the second bath located off one of the bedrooms, which has less appeal.
The condition of the home has a significant impact on the price.
This is because the home is competing among all other homes available homes on the market when listed. Buyers will look at the home with an educated and critical eye. In forecasting the sales price of a home, I walk through the home considering what I buyer will perceive that they will need to repair or remodel during their ownership.
Positioning the home for success among the competition in the marketplace is critical.
A key component in coaching sellers on how to position themselves for success as they set their price is what other homes are being offered at the time of listing. If the home being listed is a unique opportunity and there are few opportunities available that are similar, the timing of your listing may offer a financial upside.
The location is the most significant influence on pricing.
Zillow offers similar sales within the radius of the home without regard to the fact that the subject property is tucked on a quiet side street and it is being compared to a home on a nearby major arterial street. When pricing, I handpick the similar neighborhood sales that parallel the subject property for opportunity based on its location.
The broader market trends do influence pricing.
Today’s market trends speak to the consumer confidence and selling climate. When the prices are going up in an “appreciating” marketplace, the risk is in overshooting the anticipated list price and later have to deeply discount price to regain the buyer’s attention. Or worse, to underprice the home and leave money on the table. As your Realtor, I look at the activity trends in great detail, but I look specific to your home’s area and price point. How far off the list price are buyers negotiating in your market? What is the median days on market? These touch points allow the seller to read the feedback on their home as they enter the market. During the depreciating market in during the recession the fear was that the home if overpriced initially, sellers find themselves chasing the market downward and taking a long time to sell.
Available financing has an influence on price.
Among the other considerations in pricing: the finance terms available for a home like yours. If the home is in the condition and price point that it could qualify for FHA and VA financing this increases the pool of potential buyers, for example.
The amount of exposure the home gets in the marketplace will drive the price.
If everyone who should know about the property does know of it, your Realtor has served you well by maximizing the demand.
You’ve made the decision to sell. So, now what? Every house is as unique as the person who owns it, but when you put your home on the market, there are some universal truths you should abide by if you want to make even the most humble of abodes look like a million bucks. It all starts with the “3 C’s”: curb appeal, clutter (as in de-clutter), and cleanliness. The list below will walk you through this and everything else you need to know about getting a home in ship shape for selling. Remember, your Windermere agent is an expert on this subject, so take advantage of that resource when the time is right.
Make a Checklist:
- Remove peeling and chipped paint; replace with a fresh coat.
- Clear gutters and downspouts.
- Make sure there is good exterior lighting and all walkway lights and front-door lanterns work.
- Remove any moss from the roof.
- Mow and trim grass; re-seed and fertilize where necessary.
- Prune all overgrown trees and shrubs.
- Remove or replace dead or diseased plants, shrubs and trees.
- Clean grease and oil stains from driveway.
- Weed flower beds.
- Paint or stain worn areas in wood decks.
- Remove grass growing in concrete cracks; sweep off debris from shrubs and trees.
- Clean all deck rails and make sure they’re secure; replace missing slats or posts.
- Polish the hardware on the door until it shines.
- Add a fresh coat of paint to get rid of nicks.
- Clean the glass on the storm door; make certain the screen is secure.
- Make sure the doorbell operates properly and there are no squeaks when the door is opened or closed.
- Clean all windows—inside and out.
- If needed, add a fresh coat of paint to the window trims and sills.
- Make sure all windows open and close easily.
- Replace cracked windowpanes and those with broken seals.
- Make sure window screens are secure; replace any screens with holes or tears.
- Clean entryway floors and area rugs.
- Downsize clutter in entry closet to give the appearance of spaciousness.
- Double-check entry lighting to make sure it works.
Living Room/Dining Room/Family Room
- Give the room a fresh coat of paint if necessary (use neutral colors where possible).
- Repair cracks and holes in ceiling and walls.
- Make sure all wallpaper is secure.
- Repaint any woodwork that is worn or chipped.
- Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
- Make sure draperies and blinds open and close.
- Wash windows.
- Steam-clean carpets. Clean rugs and wood flooring, and remove any stains or odors.
- Position the furniture to showcase the size and space of the room.
- Put away toys and hobby supplies; remove extra magazines and books from tables.
- Store family photos and other personal effects.
- Leave some lighting on – especially in rooms without a lot of natural light.
- Make sure countertops and sinks are clean, de-cluttered, and stain-free.
- Fix dripping faucets.
- Organize pantry and cupboards so they appear clean, neat, and spacious.
- Make sure the refrigerator and freezer are defrosted and free of odors.
- Clean the oven and cook-top thoroughly.
- Make sure dirty dishes are cleaned and put away every day.
- Make sure sinks, tubs, showers, and countertops are clean and free of stains.
- Repair any leaky faucets.
- Remove grout and soap stains from tile.
- Replace any missing or cracked tiles or grout.
- Make sure all joints are caulked.
- Make sure all fixtures, including heat lamps and exhaust fans, are operating.
- Install a new shower curtain.
- Store all supplies, such as toilet paper, shampoo bottles, and cleansers.
- Put away prescriptions, jewelry, and any items/valuables that are at risk for theft.
- Repair cracks in ceiling and walls.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint if necessary.
- Make sure wallpaper is secure.
- Clean draperies and blinds; open them to maximize light.
- Put away toys, clothes.
- Neatly make up the beds.
- Keep all closets clean and organized; treat any odors.
- Make bed every day; put away dirty laundry; keep bedside table clear of clutter.
- Check for water penetration or dampness; call for professional repairs if necessary.
- Get rid of musty odors.
- Clean furnace and drains.
- Make sure light fixtures work.
- Arrange storage area in a neat and organized manner.
- Sweep/vacuum floor.
- Make sure stairway handrail is secure.
- Plant flowers to brighten a walkway and enrich the entry.
- Remove any indoor houseplants that are brown or losing their leaves.
- Remove all “fixer” cars, campers, and boats from the property.
- Discard the clutter of magazines on the coffee and end tables.
- Put away any personal effects, such as family photos, children’s artwork, etc.
- Turn on lamps for ambient lighting; makes rooms feel more inviting.
- Hide or get rid of worn-out throw pillows.
- Replace shower curtains and invest in a matching set of towels in the bathroom.
- At night, turn on porch light and outdoor lighting to keep home illuminated in dark.
Content courtesy of Windermere.com
As the saying goes, first impressions are everything. And the same holds true when selling your home. Beyond making sure that your home is squeaky clean, staging can be the difference between boring and breathtaking. Staging highlights your home’s best features and helps minimize any drawbacks. It allows buyers to feel comfortable and visualize themselves in your home without distraction. This is especially important if it is not occupied because an empty home has a difficult time communicating its potential to prospective buyers. When staging your home, you can either hire a professional stager or simply make adjustments to your own décor using the following guidelines.
Enhance Your Home’s Appeal
When preparing your home for sale, think about why you fell in love with your home in the first place, and what you still love about it. Did the entryway feel particularly welcoming? Do you love the flow of the living spaces? Perhaps it’s how the sunlight pours into the kitchen? Enhancing and highlighting these details can help evoke the same feeling for prospective buyers. Another useful tactic is to look at your home through the eyes of a buyer; it’s this process that is sometimes hard for sellers and why hiring a professional home stager can be the way to go. If hiring someone is out of the question, you can also look to your real estate agent for help with this process; they don’t have a sentimental attachment to your home, so it’s easier for them to provide an objective opinion.
Keep it Neutral
You may love your bright red accent wall or colorful art collection, but potential home buyers may not. Before showing your home, you will want to make an effort to tone down loud colors and create something of a blank canvas so buyers can better envision themselves—and their things—in your home. Kids’ rooms are no exception; you may want to avoid overly gendered or bold colors in bedrooms and bathrooms. A future homeowner may not have children or may see the space as an office or guest room, so showcasing rooms in a versatile light is best. Keeping it neutral applies to smell too. Don’t overpower your home with heavy scents using air fresheners or potpourri, but at the same time, you don’t want your closet smelling like sweat socks, so use your best judgment.
Less is More
It’s time to clear out the clutter. You may not think of family photographs or books and trinkets as clutter, but to the prospective buyer, they’re exactly that. As such, all personal and superfluous items should be stored away—offsite if your home’s storage is at a premium. Excess furniture can make a room feel cluttered too, so it’s a good idea to store, sell, or give away surplus or bulky furniture. Bookcases should be thinned out and closets cleared to the point of almost being empty. Any religious memorabilia or political ideologies should also be absent from your home so as to not offend a prospective buyer who may not share your same beliefs. Once your home is staged, it may not feel as functional or personal, but it will do a better job of showcasing the space for buyers.
Let There Be Light
Another important element is the lighting. Bright, well-lit houses seem more spacious and cheerful. During the day, all the curtains and drapes should be open. If the view is unappealing, you can simply purchase sheer window coverings that let light through, but mask the view. Another way to brighten up your home is to turn on all the lamps, even during the day. And don’t forget about hallways, closets and stairways—they too need their share of light.
Feels Like Home
You don’t want to remove all the personality from your home; rather you want to showcase the space in the best possible light while making it feel welcome and comfortable. You may want to rearrange furniture to fit the rooms better, de-centralize the television, pull furniture away from the walls, or create cozy spaces to invoke a certain feeling or environment. Staging is especially important if the home is not occupied because an empty home has a difficult time communicating its potential to prospective buyers. In fact, studies show staged homes typically sell faster (and for more money) than empty homes, so consider rental furniture to fill the space and give it a sense of hominess.
Helpful Home Staging Tips:
- Go through your home room-by-room and make changes holistically for each space.
- Store any unnecessary objects and personal items (off-site if possible).
- Group furniture in a way to make rooms feel more spacious.
- Clean up closets, cabinets, and other built-ins to make spaces look larger and more organized.
- Paint over bold wall paint with more neutral colors to appeal to a larger audience of buyers.
- Well-lit homes are more inviting; the right lighting also makes rooms appear more spacious.
- Enhance your home’s greatest assets and minimize the drawbacks.
- Look for opportunities to repurpose or reorganize spaces into usable rooms (i.e., convert storage space into an exercise studio).
- Make a special effort in bedrooms and bathrooms with nice linens; this makes rooms feel more intimate, polished, and appealing to potential buyers.
- ONStable décor (i.e., candle sticks, flowers, etc.).
- Replace old curtains, cushions, and area rugs (you can find inexpensive replacements at discount stores and thrift shops).
- Keep counters clear of clutter; remove drying racks, fridge magnets, drinking glasses, toothbrush holders, and anything else that can be distracting to the eye.
- Remember, when staging a home, less is usually more!
Content courtesy of Windermere.com
Reach Realtors and Buyers
According to a 2015 poll by the National Association of Realtors, buyers found their home through:
Tools I use to reach Realtors® include:
- Windermere Broker Tour
- RMLS Broker Tour
- Top 200 Realtors® Virtual Tour
- Calling campaign to Brokers with similar homes for sale
Print Marketing with The Register-Guard
- High Frequency
Every listing held by Marcia is guaranteed to be advertised twice monthly.
- Broad Distribution
The Real Estate Section is issued every Saturday in the Register Guard and is delivered to over 75,000 homes in Lane County.
On-Site Marketing At Your Home
- Yard signs are still an excellent way for buyers to locate listings in their area of interest.
- 11% of buyers indicated that they found their home by driving through neighborhoods of interest.
- Consumers want information immediately, e-flyers eliminate the wait and hassle.
- E-flyers are onsite flyers.
- Maximum access is vital to optimize opportunities to get buyers into your property.
- The lockbox provides a secure on-site key for Realtors.
- The lockbox electronically notifies me when someone accesses the key for security purposes and for follow-ups and reporting.