Selling a house can’t be that hard, right? Especially if you hire a real estate agent who handles all the phone calls, showing appointments, negotiations, paperwork …
Well, not so fast.
Selling a house is a huge endeavor. Think about what it takes to sell a car: If you want to maximize the sale, then you’ll detail the inside, shine the tires, polish the hood (things you might not have done since your second child was born). Or at least pay for those things to happen.
So goes selling a house … but times one hundred. A house needs to be in tip-top shape if you want to sell, and sell in a reasonable amount of time. And depending upon the current shape, it means a lot of cleaning, an investment in repairs, and possible updates to certain features.
Otherwise you might find your house sitting on the market for a long time … which can impact your house negatively. And all this starts with price.
- Blue-sky price tag
You love your home. You’ve been there for years. Watched your three children grow from toddlers to young adults. Memories are abundant: in the living room with the fireplace, the fenced in backyard, the attic converted into a playroom.
Unfortunately, those memories mean nothing to buyers. They don’t share the same memories as you do. All they see is a fire place, a fenced in backyard, and an attic.
Sure, they’ll imagine their own memories … but they won’t be yours, and so this transaction is little more than business to them. Therefore, they won’t understand why your home is $50,000 over market … and simply ignore it.
If your home is lingering on the market, it’s probably because of price. It’s priced too high compared to your local market. Price your house right, however, will overcome any objections, and you’ll usually see interest and multiple offers.
- Loud or obsolete decorations
A great house can be missed if it is drowning in bad colors, dreadful window treatments, and gaudy furniture. If the home looks like it belongs in the 1970s or was designed by someone with a beehive, then you can bet you’ll turn off buyers and linger on the market.
Paint over loud colors with neutral tones, and, for goodness sake’s, remove tacky furniture. And dropping $10,000 to replace the black and gold on wood cabinets in the kitchen could mean the difference between selling in six months and three weeks.
- Sorry condition exceed purchase price
There is a law to owning a house: it will decay. Luck and construction quality have little to do with it. Homes simply fall apart. That means if you want a home in good condition, then you need to stay on top of the repairs – and not wait when it comes time to sell.
Cracks in the cultured-marble of the bathroom sinks, the warping wood on the backyard deck, the rotting portico, the peeling roofing shingles, shabby carpet, leaky windows … if you don’t stay on top of these repairs, they add up.
And try to put a house in this condition on the market, and price it too high, it will sit. And sit. And sit.
Buyers notice these things and expect you to price accordingly if you don’t make the repairs. Even if home values are going up in your market, don’t expect your home to make the same adjustment in that sorry condition.
- Bad location
Like drinking and driving, a great house and bad location don’t mix. A freeway in your backyard … waste-treatment facility down the road … power plant in the distance … these are the kinds of landmarks you don’t want your house near. There is a good chance you’ll have to slash your price in order to sell your house.
A neighborhood that goes to pot also doesn’t bode well for a great house. It’s the fear of every house owner: a housing development can sell houses so they start renting, suppressing prices in the neighboring houses, leading to more rentals … ultimately, pushing up crime. This will suck any value your home might have. Forget about selling your house for a profit.
Not to mention if you’ve resorted to renters you’ll find it difficult to show your house since renters don’t like the thought they’re going to be kicked out, and probably will be less than happy to clean up to show the house.
- Terrible design
Your income and growing family might have forced you to build additions that were practical to you, but not anyone else. You might have eaten up part of the driveway, or you have to walk through a bedroom to get to the living room. That’s not convenient. Odd floor plans and quirky lot configurations can block a sale, too.
- Upgrading a home beyond the market
Upgrading a home usually leads to higher value. However, if you exceed in value the homes around you, don’t expect your home to continue to rise in value. People buy homes for the home itself, but they also buy homes for everything around it. If the houses around your home aren’t equal or greater in value than your home, you might have to step down from your luxury price to move it. Bottom line: don’t be the most expensive home in your neighborhood.
- Bad photos
More than likely buyers will look at your home online before they see it in person. Attractive photos are critical. Clean up the mess in your house before you take photos. Declutter your house. In fact, you should hire someone to stage your house, and then hire a professional photographer.
And experts say that less is more: eight photos that highlight the best part of your house are all you need. Leave some mystery. People are not interested in the tiny details that are important to you like the shoe rack you installed along the wall in the master closet.
The bottom line when it comes to selling your home is you want days on the market to be less than average … and the best way to achieve that is to prepare your house to sell fast. This means make it look as good as possible, at the right price.
It’s a great idea to invite a realtor to help you evaluate a home. Ask them to make a list of what kinds of repairs and staging you should do. A good agent should be able to tell you that overhauling the master bathroom at this point isn’t going to bring any additional value. However, removing the clutter from the laundry room is essential. Take their list and work through it.
Paint walls, remove gaudy mirrors, clean appliances, and repair that leaning mailbox. And keep in mind that any recommendation you refuse to make you’ll have to compensate through price to sell. It’s a truism that price can overcome any objection … even if that means you have a hydro-electric tower behind your house.