Once people decide to sell their house, they usually don’t want the experience to drag on too long. Here are some tips to sell your house quickly. Some may surprise you.
Choose a Good Realtor
Although it may seem self-serving to suggest hiring a Realtor as the first order of business, I do so in good faith. Even those who do not stand to benefit from this recommendation agree with me.
A Realtor will help you assess your property’s market value; advertise your property locally, online, and via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS); share information about your property with other real estate professionals; coordinate inspections; and guide you through the process so you can avoid expensive mistakes. Remember, a Realtor has a fiduciary responsibility to deal honestly and in your best interest. This is not just an ethical responsibility, but a legal one.
Set the Right Price
Many sellers are under the mistaken impression that if they set their property’s listing price high, it’s fine because buyers will bid them down. Paradoxically, houses listed at too high a price often end up selling for less.
The vast majority of buyers are working with Realtors who know the market. When Realtors believe a property is over-priced, they are less likely to show it and the listing becomes stale. When a property remains on the market for too long, buyers begin making low-ball offers because they assume the sellers are eager to sell.
On the other hand, when you price your house at market rates, you can inspire a bidding war among buyers, which is more likely to increase the final sale price.
In a competitive market like the one we’re in now, it’s extra important to increase your property’s visual appeal as much as possible. Replace old carpets. Paint the walls with neutral colors. Update outdated light fixtures and appliances, and spruce up the yard.
If you’ll be living in the house while it’s on the market, declutter by removing at least a third of furniture and closet contents. Then, clean the house until it sparkles before each showing.
If the house will be vacant, hire a professional stager (your Realtor can recommend one). According to a Homelight.com survey, 83 percent of top agents agree that staged homes sell faster, with 71 percent claiming they sell at least 6-10 percent faster than vacant houses that are not staged.
Talk to your Realtor about completing all relevant inspections as soon as you list the property, including a home inspection, pest and fungus, roof, heat/air, well and septic, and depending on your property, maybe a few others (natural hazards and flood certifications come to mind).
Consider All the Costs
To sell your house quickly, your Realtor will almost certainly recommend some up-front expenses. Sometimes sellers balk at this because they fail to consider the cost of NOT doing these things. In economics, there’s a term called opportunity cost, which describes the cost of the foregone alternative. What are you giving up when you choose to invest (or not invest) in a given activity?
For example, imagine your house is on the market for $500,000. It is vacant, so you want a quick sale. If you have no loan on the property, the opportunity cost of having that house on the market is about $40 per day. So the question is, is it worth spending a few hundred dollars on good photos by a professional photographer who has the skill and experience to keep your neighbor’s 1984 pick-up truck and trash bins out of the exterior photos, one who knows how to photograph a bathroom without making the toilet the centerpiece? I’d say yes, especially when you consider that most people narrow their homebuying selections based on their online searches—that is, on the photos of your property.
Spending a little money up-front can actually save you money (or make you money) when the transaction is all said and done.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.