When you are attempting to sell your property this summer, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Pricing: Aggressive pricing has become the norm, but the problem is that many sellers are literally “pricing themselves out of the market.” This is a common problem during the latter part of a rapid run-up in prices. The seller thinks,”Prices grew by 15% last year, and that was last year; I think I’m going to price my place over its value so that the market can catch up to it.” This is almost always a serious mistake. When a property goes on the market, it has a certain number of days in which it is “fresh.” Once those days are over (usually about 30), the property drops from immediate consideration, and your agent has to carefully strategize to continue to get your property in front of the buyers who arrive on the market after your 30 day period of “freshness.” In most cases, it’s better to listen to your agent, and look carefully at the comparables (s)he gives you, and come to a conclusion based on the current statistics. Selling real estate is very much like selling cans of soup. If you go to a store, and see soup cans all lined up in their different varieties, and they are all $1.00, then in the middle you see one that’s the same brand and same type of soup, but it’s $1.50, which do you buy?? You know the answer to that one, right? You may argue with your agent, “But my home has granite counters!” Understand that it is in your agent’s best interest to get the highest price for your property. If (s)he tells you a lower price is the right one, it’s not because her “Uncle Bill” is waiting to buy it so you can get cheated. It’s because she’s telling you her perception of the right price. In essence, when you argue with your agent about pricing, you’re arguing with the market, and the market always wins. You can negotiate with a buyer, and with your agent, but the market will always prevail. I’ve seen this too many times to count. If you want to set the price a bit higher than your agent recommends, go ahead–but reduce it within two weeks to current market value, and recognize that you are always better to price TO the market rather than CHASE the market.
2. Repair first. A nice home always sells better than a home that has maintenance issues. Sometimes things like views override the “warts” that appear on the home, but for the most part, you will probably want to go through your home, and with the advice of your agent, repair some of the outstanding items in the home that need to be fixed. Such things may include items like a new countertop or sink, a new dishwasher, new toilets (mandated anyway in some cities), paint, and carpet. It’s always wise to avoid doing really expensive things, like putting in a new kitchen or bathroom, unless you can see a clear path to making money over and above the repair costs–unless a failure to repair expensive items eliminates your home from consideration by the average buyer for your price range. If you don’t have the money to fix things that need to be repaired, you will very likely lose ground in your pricing.
3. Get reports up front. Title reports, termite reports, and some other reports will identify issues that must be cared for before you can get your property through escrow. Some reports are typically “buyer pay,” (appraisal, physical inspection) and those should be left until you have an accepted offer, so that the buyer can choose the specific vendor he wants.