It’s no secret that the housing market has been in an upturn for well over two years. In Florida, March 2014 was the 28th month in a row of a steady rise in housing prices. That’s good news for sellers, but it also means that competition to sell properties is higher than ever. Homeowners trying to sell their homes and properties without turning the process over completely to an agent often find themselves fighting an uphill battle to compete against all the other homes on the market. But there are some common-sense techniques homeowners can use to help make their home shine in the market.
Remember: it’s not enough just to list your home and wait for the fish to nibble. You have to entice good buyers to consider your home. In other words, you have to not just offer it for sale, you have to sell it.
- Educate yourself on the market. The Orlando market is far different from the Miami market; prices in Santa Rosa County are going to be substantially different from those in Volusia or Palm Beach. It’s great to set your selling price based on what you want to make from your sale, but be aware that you should modify your price based on what similar homes are selling for in your area. This is where a well-informed agent comes in very handy. It’s his or her job to know your local market like your tongue knows your teeth. His or her in-depth knowledge can make the difference between making the sale and having your property languish on the market, or getting what you want for your property (or more!) and losing your shirt. Underpricing your house compared to the other homes on the market, even by just a percentage point or two, is a classic tactic to draw potential buyers.
- Clean house! You’d be amazed at how many people just slap their house on the market and don’t even clean the stove. Give your house or property a thorough, top-to-bottom cleaning, and don’t hesitate to bring in a professional cleaner to “dig out” your home. You’ll recoup the $150 you spend on a professional cleaning job ten times over in your sale price. Recruit friends and family, especially your favorite “clean freaks,” to go through your house with a critical eye. Have them make a list, or take photos on their phones, of the areas that need more attention. Clean them. Then do it again.
- Refresh and refurbish. Nail holes in your walls? Fill them, and not with toothpaste – veteran home buyers know those kinds of tricks, and will walk out of your house as soon as they spot them. Paint job peeling or washed out? Repaint, and choose a neutral color instead of the screaming purple your Uncle Lem insisted on using in the guest room. Steam-clean the carpets. Fix or replace broken furniture – you might even consider renting furniture to make a good impression, especially if your taste in furniture and decorating are somewhat unusual. Remember, you want your prospective buyers to be able to picture themselves living happily in your home. They may not do that in a home laden down with wood paneling and featuring stuffed marmosets on the mantle. Little things count: a broken light switch can sour a buyer on your home.
- The outside of your home should be as immaculate and inviting as the inside. Mow the lawn and trim the edges. Trim and shape your bushes. Florida has a tremendous fire ant problem; any buyer who steps in an anthill and finds himself dancing and cursing across your yard is not going to be in a receptive frame of mind about buying. Get ’em out of there.
- You might even consider hiring a professional home staging service.
- Buyers want to take part in showings at times that are convenient to them, and agents’ time is often limited. Be as flexible on showing times as you possibly can. The prospective buyer who wants to walk through your home at a time inconvenient for you may well be the one to offer you more than your asking price.
- What are your home’s best features? Fireplace? Modern kitchen? Play up your advantages, and minimize (don’t hide) the problematic areas.
You can negotiate on aspects of the sale other than price. Your prospective buyer might not want to pay your asking price, but might be more amenable to an extended closing date or some other deal sweetener instead of a substantial price reduction. But don’t automatically balk at an offer that’s lower than your preferred price. Flexibility is the key to selling in today’s market.
Everything you do to sell your house must be to entice buyers to feel “at home” in your home. The more you do to make them feel good about your home, the more likely they are to make an offer.