Tips for Sellers
Plan of Action
Analyze why you are selling – If you understand your motives, you will be able to better negotiate and to get what it is that you want, whether it be a quick sale, high price, or somewhere in the middle.
Prepare your home for the buyer – Maximize the strengths of your property and fix up its weaknesses. You want the buyer to walk away from your home with a lasting good impression.
Find a good real estate agent that understands your needs – Make sure that your agent is loyal to you, and can negotiate to help you achieve your goals. In addition, they should be assertive and honest with both you and the buyer.
Be prepared for negotiation – Learn and understand your buyer’s situation; what are their motives? Can you demand a big deposit from them? Try to lock in the buyer so that the deal goes through.
Negotiate for the best price and the best terms – Learn how to counter offer to get maximum value from every offer.
Make sure the contract is accurate and complete – Be honest with your disclosures; you do not want to lose the deal because you were lying or diminishing your home’s defects. Insist the buyers get a professional inspection. This will protect both you and the buyer.
For Sale By Owner – A Good Idea?
FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo), or For Sale By Owner, is a way of selling your home without the use of a professional real estate agent or broker. The idea behind FSBO is that by selling your home yourself, you save the approximate 6% that would be the agents’ commission.
6% may not sound like a lot, but it can add up, especially on more expensive homes. But before you run off and decide to sell your home FSBO, you must remember that to get a savings like that, there must be a cost. So what’s the catch? Selling FSBO is hard. A lot harder.
Only about 10% of sellers that decide to do FSBO are successful at it. And not all of them end up saving themselves money. FSBO sellers often end up accepting a lower price for their home than they would with an agent.
There are of course other issues as well. Can you afford to make selling your home your full-time job? Because for a lot of FSBO sellers, that’s exactly what it is. Do you have the time and capital to spend on the marketing, advertising, inspections, paperwork, phone calls, showings, and problems that come up when any home is sold?
Selling with a professional agent also has other advantages. An agent can get your home listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and other popular websites where not only homebuyers but also other agents can easily find it. Professional real estate agents also have an extensive network that allows them to more easily find a buyer.
So before you decide to sell your home yourself, thoughtfully consider just how much time and effort you can spare for selling your home, as well as how important it is that your home sell sooner rather than later.
Insist on a Home Inspection
A professional home inspection protects both you and the buyer. It allows both you and the buyer the opportunity to learn about the property’s defects.
A home inspection usually covers the following:
- Plumbing conditions – if there is leakage or clogging
- Roofing conditions – the extent of deterioration, if there is leakage
- Electrical conditions – if there are inadequate circuits or potential fire hazards
- Structural problems – if there are problems with the underlying foundation of your home
As a seller, the home inspection reports protect you because it establishes the actual condition of the property at the time of sale.
Finding the Right Agent
Not all agents work the same way. The most important attribute of an agent is that he/she is well connected to the real estate industry. He/she should know the market and provide information on past sales, current listings, his or her marketing plan, and at least 4 solid references. In addition, you also want to look for an agent that is honest, assertive, and one that best understands your needs.
Try to go with a local agent. They can better serve your needs because they should be more familiar with the local market conditions, local prices, and what’s hot or not in your community.
Making a Good First Impression
If you want buyers to be interested in your home, you need to show it in its best light. A good first impression can influence a buyer both emotionally and visually, thus prompting them to make an offer. In addition, what the buyer first sees is what they think of when they consider the asking price.
A bad first impression can dissuade a potential buyer. Don’t show your property until it’s all fixed up. You do not want to give buyers the chance to use the negative first impression they have as means of negotiation.
Ask around for the opinions others have of your home. Real estate agents who see houses everyday can give solid advice on what needs to be done. Consider what architects or landscape designers have to say. What you need are objective opinions, and it’s sometimes hard to separate the personal and emotional ties you have for the home from the property itself.
Typically, there are some general fix ups that need to be done both outside and on the inside. As a seller, you should consider the following:
- Landscaping – Has the front yard been maintained? Are areas of the house visible to the street in good condition?
- Cleaning or Redoing the driveway – Is your driveway cluttered with toys, tools, trash etc.?
- Painting – Does both the exterior and the interior look like they have been well taken care of?
- Carpeting – Does the carpet have stains? Or does the carpet look old and dirty?
Know Why You Are Selling
If you know exactly why you are selling then it is easier for you to follow the right plan of action for getting what you want.
If you are a seller who needs to close a sale as quickly as possible, then you should know that getting the highest price possible is not one of your priorities. It does not mean that you won’t or cannot get the highest price, but it means that the price is not the deciding factor. A buyer who can give you a quick closing time will appeal much more to you than a buyer who can offer you more money but the negotiation and closing time drag on.
It’s always good to know how low you will go in terms of selling price. This will help to eliminate some of the offers that you find simply offensive or ridiculous. Even though you should consider all offers seriously and take into consideration the terms of each offer, sometimes, if you know the bottom line and are strict about it, you can save yourself time.
Once you know what your limits and reasons are, discuss them with your agent so that they can help you set your goals realistically. If you decide to list your home on your own, make sure you do research on the current market, and you get the proper advice you need in terms of legal issues, etc. The key is to be realistic and to know what your goals are so they can be met.
When reading an offer, keep in mind that you are out to get the best price AND the best terms for you. If you focus solely on the price, you may overlook terms that could be favorable to you as a buyer.
Some terms that may work in your favor:
- higher-than-market-interest in a second mortgage for your home
- the buyer will pay for most or all of the closing costs
- the buyer will take care of any repairs
- quick close – the buyer is pre-approved and ready to close in a timeframe that best suits you
- all-cash deal
When reading through offers, remember to look at the whole package. Take the time that you need to assess what is being offered and if it meets your needs.
Setting the Price
The price is the first thing buyers notice about your property. If you set your price too high, then the chance of alienating buyers is higher. You want your house to be taken seriously, and the asking price reflects how serious you are about selling your home.
Several factors will contribute to your final decision. First, you should compare your house to others that are in the market. If you use an agent, he/she will provide you with a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis). The CMA will reflect the following:
- houses in your price range and area that were sold within the last half-year
- asking and selling prices of houses
- current inventory of houses on the market
- features of each house on the market
From the CMA, you will learn the difference between the asking price and selling price for all homes sold, the condition of the market, and other houses comparable to yours.
Also, try to find out what types of houses are selling and see if it applies to your area. Buyers follow trends, and these trends can help you set your price.
Always be realistic. Understand and set your price to reflect the current market situation.
What is a Short Sale Anyway?
An increase in foreclosure rates will inevitably bring with it an increase in short sales. But what is a short sale?
A short sale happens when you sell your house for less than your remaining mortgage balance, the proceeds of which go to the lender and in return the lender forgives the remaining balance. Selling your home as a short sale is one way to avoid foreclosure.
As a general rule, lenders lose money when they foreclose on a property. Consequently, they would rather not have to foreclose if it can be avoided. A short sale represents an opportunity to cut their losses because a short sale usually allows them to recoup more of the cost of the loan than a foreclosure process would.
However, don’t think that a short sale is an easy thing to accomplish. In order to get permission for a short sale, you must provide documentation showing a genuine financial hardship. And don’t think that the decision for accepting a short sale is solely in the hands of the lender. Sure the lender must first agree, but this is not the final word. If there is mortgage insurance involved, this company also gets input on the decision. If there is an investor backing the mortgage, they also get input as to whether to accept a short sale.
The transaction process for a short sale can be rather cumbersome as well, whether you’re on the buying or selling side. Many short sales fail due to additional demands by the lender, such as requiring the broker to reduce his or her commission and/or that the seller signs a document requiring him or her to pay back the shortfall.
If you’re on the selling side of a short sale, consider having your agent or other experienced professional negotiate with your lender for a better deal. And remember, if the lender does accept a short sale and forgives part of your debt, that is considered taxable income and you must declare it as such to the IRS.
Getting the Highest Price in the Shortest Time
In order to get the highest price in the shortest time, you need to know how to market your home. The better you market your home, the more offers you will get. And the more offers you get, the more choices you have to get the price and terms you want.
The most important factor of marketing your home is pricing it right. Your price should be adjusted to reflect the market and your property’s worth. The key is to get as many people as possible checking out your fairly priced property. If your property is not priced fairly, there will be no buyers because your price is set too high.
Another important factor is the condition of your home. Make sure that your home looks ready to be sold. Fix any defects (peeling or faded paint, cracks, stains, etc.) Condition alone can sometimes prompt fast buying decisions. Not only should you fix any defects, but consider upgrading your home by making major repairs and cosmetic improvements before selling. A nice looking home triggers the emotional response that can lead to a financial response.
Learn how to negotiate the best terms for all parties involved. Terms are another factor that may be adjusted to attract buyers. If you insist on getting your asking price, think of what you can offer to the buyers. For example, improvements you’ve made or even offering seller financing at a lower than market interest rate on a portion of the sale price. Convince them why they should be paying the price you have set.
Lastly, get the buzz out about your home. List your house with a hot agent that ensures your house is listed on the MLS and on the Internet. On your own, get the word out. It should always be visible to passersby that your house is for sale, whether it is through signs, local advertisements or you telling friends, family, and acquaintances.