10 Tips That Will Help You Sell Your House

10 Tips That Will Help You Sell Your House

10 Tips That Will Help You Sell Your House

1. Your house is over priced. Duh! That's always the first thing anybody will tell you, especially your agent! And while that may be true, it could also be …

2. Your house is ugly. Sorry … but houses are not people, and looks do matter. I do not care how much personality or sense of humor it has- if your house is bright pink with wood paneling and tortoise-shell mirrors, I'm not calling again!

3. Your house is viewable by "appointment only" because you have sensitive pets … and 12 kids … and visiting relatives. Hey, do you want to sell the house or not ?! Nobody's gonna buy it if they can not even get in to see it. Make it easier for people to get in there.

4. Your house smells like 1933. Again, sorry, but if your house smells like dust, mold or the recently deceased, and the walls are the color of Austin Powers' teeth, it's time to make some changes. Try some new paint and re-carpeting. You'd be surprised at what a difference that makes for a minimal expense. It does not even need to be nice carpet- the buyer will probably just tear it out and refinish the hardwood floors somebody decided to cover up in the early 60's for god-knows-what reason. The point is, it will not smell like FDR's inaugural bathrobe anymore.

5. Your house smells like cats. Litter-boxes are very much like screaming children: if you have them, it does not take long before you figure out how to pretend they are not there. However, other people do not have that luxury. Other people can still hear and smell … Imagine you're out at a restaurant and I'm at the next table over from you. Although you are evidently oblivious to it, I CAN hear your kids screaming and whining, no matter HOW good you've gotten at hiding inside your parental isolation bubble. The same is true when it comes to the stench emanating from that cat-toilet you keep in your bedroom. Look, I'm not going to judge you for letting an animal repeatedly relieve itself five feet from where you sleep. To each their own, as they say … But come on, it stinks … and I do not want a house that smells like that, and neither do my clients. End of story.

6. You have a collection of life-sized circus animals on display throughout your yard. I have actually seen this … Hey, I get it … the grandkids love the zoo and you thought it'd be super-cute to create a happy place for them to visit. Well that all changed when you decided to put your house on the market. It's not about the grandkids, anymore. Now your house is reduced to a punchline for snarky blog writers, and the first reaction of visitors is snickering and laughter. Probably not the reaction you want at an open house. Lose 'em!

7. You have WAY too many knick-knacks and personal items covering your shelves and walls. If your house looks like an indoor flea-market, potential buyers have a hard time imagining their own crappy junk littering the house. The same goes for pictures of your wedding, vacations or grandkids- if home shoppers feel like they're in your house, it's hard for them to begin to think of it as their house. Get yourself a professional staging expert. It is statistically proven that staged homes tend to sell faster and for more money, usually for more than enough to cover the staging expense. At the very least, do what you can to de-personalize your home. I know you have to keep living there and you want it to feel like it's still your home. But remember, once you've put it on the market, it's really somebody else's home. You're just waiting for them to show up.

8. Your neighbors live like extras from "Deliverance". No matter how nice your house may be … no matter how clean the kitchen is or how fresh the paint is on the trim, if your neighbors have 3 broken down cars on their lawn, beer bottles lining the driveway, and four layers of paint in various colors peeling away from the walls, your house will not sell quickly. If it looks like your neighbors are selling more drugs than Rite Aid, buyers will be scared away. Maybe it's time to have a friendly chat with them. For instance, you could tell them about CarAngel, a charity organization that will haul away their old beaters. Maybe you could offer to hire a couple of college kids on Craigslist to repaint their house or clean up the yard. Sure, it might be awkward, but it will probably go a long way toward getting your house sold without having to drop your price.

9. You picked the wrong listing agent. Believe it, or not, there are some not-so-good agents out there. Choosing a qualified listing agent is crucial and there is a lot more to being qualified than having the ability to stick a sign up in the yard. Being somebody's friend-of-a-friend or mother-in-law, or having 30 years in the business are not sufficient qualifications. Agents with decades of experience are often less likely to be aware of the latest developments in technology, rules and regulations, and marketing strategies, all of which are essential. Veteran agents are often a little too comfortable with their own track record and fail to remember that this business requires constant education, adjustment, and re-invention. Agents who are socially awkward, ill-prepared or under-qualified are often successful in spite of themselves, simply because they have been doing this for so long or because they happen to be related to somebody. There are also plenty of part-time real estate agents out there who decided to get a license because they were "thinking of buying a house, anyway" or "have lots of friends and family considering the market" and thought "hey, why not ? " However, real estate is NOT a part-time job. Good agents do this full-time, and then some. A great agent spends countless hours researching the market, networking, and mastering the art of negotiation, so that when they offer advice, they do so with the confidence and integrity that is only afforded through real effort and earned knowledge. Choosing an agent for any other reason leaves you exposed to the threat that they might inadvertently sabotage your listing or your offer, either through ignorance or social ineptitude. Either way, it's costing you money.

10. You're cheap. Guess what- if you are not offering a competitive selling commission (aka buyer's agent commission or SOC) on your listing, you are doing it wrong. It is time to get serious about selling your house, and short-changing the professionals whose job it is to get it sold is a great way to shoot yourself in the foot. This is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) financial transactions of your life. Do you really want to trust it in the hands of someone who is willing to take a fee-cut without even negotiating? While that last statement applies more to the listing agent, it goes both ways. Now, I know I'm not supposed to say there is a "standard" SOC, at least not according to WA state law. However, I can say that if there were such a standard, everybody would pretty much agree that it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3% (are there enough qualifiers there to keep me out of trouble ?!). There are agents, like myself, who understand that the ethical (and common sense) approach is to show homes based upon the needs of their clients, not their personal bank accounts. Those agents will show your house regardless of the offensive and laughable 1.5% SOC you are "offering." Those same agents are probably smart and confident enough to remind their clients that the SOC is negotiable and that their expertise and effort deserve respectable compensation, ie. 3%. And then there are the rest of the agents. Here's an example of what is probably a very common scenario.

An agent has out-of-town buyers visiting for a weekend. They have two days to find a suitable house, in order to close in time to start a new job. There is only enough time over those two days to comfortably tour 15 homes. An MLS search reveals 20 homes that more-or-less match the buyers' needs. Let's say 4 of those homes have reduced SOC's, the rest have 3%, with all other factors remaining equal. Which ones do you think will get crossed off the list first?

That's not even the worst of it. There is an unfolding trend that has become a major pet-peeve of mine. It starts with the aforementioned reduced SOC. Then there's the price drop. As I mentioned earlier, the price drop is almost always the first thing that happens when a house is not selling. And that's fine … it is usually a smart move, especially if your house has been listed for more than a few weeks, or months, these days … However, you're making a huge mistake, in my opinion, to reduce the price before raising the SOC. Here's a real-world example I saw earlier this week:

A home was listed for 6 weeks for $ 350,000 with an SOC of 2.25%, which is low by any standard. This week they dropped the asking price to $ 325,000. In case you do not have a calculator handy, that's a $ 25,000 drop. Want to know the difference between a 2.25% SOC and 3%? At the original asking price of $ 350k, that is a difference of $ 2625, barely more than 10% of the price drop. How does that make sense? Keep in mind here that it costs you NOTHING out of pocket to raise the commission vs. dropping the price. I understand that staging, painting and re-carpeting is expensive and requires out-of-pocket investment with no real guarantee of a return, but this costs you nothing. Instead, the person in this example just gave away $ 25,000 before any possible offer negotiations could begin. Why not do it the other way? I've seen agents offering 4% commissions, or combinations of cash bonuses to buyers and their agents. In the above scenario the owner could have raised the SOC to 4% AND offered a $ 10,000 buyer bonus (for paint, repairs or closing costs, etc.) and still come out $ 1000 ahead vs. the price drop. It will not necessarily get your house sold, but it will probably get you a lot more attention, and you can bet it will not be the first one crossed off the list anymore!
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