Set yourself up for a quick sale
The peak homebuying season may be over, but there are still steps you can take to ensure a speedy sale. Setting the right price and making an excellent first impression are both essential to attracting buyers, but what else can you do to get the offers rolling in? Here are 10 tips to help you sell your home as quickly as possible - even in the offseason.
Price it right from the start.
Sellers often think they should start the asking price high and then lower it later if the house fails to sell. But that can result in a slower sale - sometimes even at a lower price. "The first 30 days' activity of your house being on the market is always the best activity you're going to see," says Michael Mahon, general manager of HER Realtors in Columbus, Ohio. If the price is too high, many buyers and their agents will stay away, assuming you're not serious about selling or you're unwilling to negotiate.
Enhance your home's curb appeal
This could mean adding new sod, planting flowers, painting the front door or replacing the mailbox. Prospective buyers form an opinion the moment they spot the home. "Curb appeal is everything," Mahon says. Driving into the driveway and walking into that front door sets the expectations.
Update the interior and exterior
New fixtures, fresh paint and updated landscaping are all fairly easy and affordable ways to give your home a makeover. "It's got to look up to the current market conditions and what's in style," Mahon says.
Clean, declutter and depersonalize
The fewer things there are in the home, the larger it will look, so remove knickknacks and excess furniture. Also take down family photos, religious items and political posters so prospective buyers can envision their family in the house, not yours. Finally, you may want to hire a cleaning service to do a deep cleaning.
Stage the house to show how the rooms are supposed to be used
If you have odd rooms with no obvious role, give them one. An odd alcove off the kitchen could be staged as an office or a pantry, for example.
Make the property easy to show
The more flexible you are about visits, the more people will be able to see your home. Be ready for prospective visitors early in the morning, at night and on weekends, with little notice. Also, leave when the house is shown so would-be buyers can feel free to move about without feeling like intruders and discuss the home's pros and cons honestly.
Remove your pets
Also remove their paraphernalia, such as dog dishes and cat litter boxes (or at least hide them). A prospective buyer shouldn't even know that a pet lives in the home if you can help it, Mahon says.
Make sure your listing is on all the major online portals
This is usually part of an agent's service, but it doesn't hurt to double-check that your listing is on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. It also helps if your agent showcases the home on social media. "We sell as many homes off Facebook as we do off the [multiple listing service]," Mahon says. Both the agency and the individual agents have Facebook business pages where they share listings.
Ensure the listing has good photos, and lots of them
Most homebuyers start their search online and decide which homes they want to see based on the photos. You probably want something better than snapshots taken quickly with your agent's phone.
Share information about life in the neighborhood
The listing should include photos not only of the house, but also of nearby recreation, dining and shopping areas. If the schools are good, make sure that information is in the listing. "You're not only marketing the home - you're marketing the lifestyle," Mahon says.
by Teresa Mears, reprinted from U.S. News and World Report