If you are like most homeowners (and you aren’t a real estate agent), chances are you don’t sell homes on a regular basis. Before committing to selling your home on your own, it’s best to get a better understanding of what it takes when getting your home on the market. While you can save a significant amount of money on real estate commissions by listing your home as “for sale by owner” (F.S.B.O), you should be sure that you have the TIME, RESOURCES, and PATIENCE to successfully sell your home.
Here are the 8 things you need to when getting your home on the market . . .
(1). Embrace your home’s shortcomings / get some outside perspective on your home
We all love our homes . . . and think everyone else will love them too. But the fact is that there are things that will impact how people see your home, which will ultimately influence what they are willing to offer you. Here are three things you should be doing to gain perspective on how your home will be viewed by potential buyers:
Talk to friends that DON’T live in your neighborhood
For this one, you have to be willing to accept a little negative feedback. But honest feedback will provide you with valuable perspective on your home’s appeal. One way to do this is to send a couple trusted friends an email asking for them to detail three things they LOVE about your home/neighborhood and three things that would make your home/neighborhood MORE APPEALING.
Consult with a real estate professional
A strong real estate professional should be able to give you a sense of what (if anything) in your home you should think about changing/fixing/upgrading BEFORE putting your home on the market. What may seem like a huge detractor to you may actually be a minor detail for someone that understands what buyers are looking for in a home. The opposite scenario is also important to know before putting your home on the market. It’s always better to know upfront before investing time and money.
COST: Most real estate professionals will perform a quick walk through for FREE.
Consult an independent home inspector
In today’s world people value transparency. Twenty years ago people buying used cars often took them to mechanics before making a decision. Since then, companies like Carmax and CarFax brought transparency to the used car market by performing inspections up front and certifying the car on the back end. We believe that home buyers should have similar insight into the condition of a home. This will also help YOU in pricing your home and will help minimize surprises after an offer has been made – no one likes to head back to the negotiation table if a major defect is identified in a post-contract home inspection.
COST: Depending on where you live, a certified home inspection could cost between $200 – $500
(2). Understand your goals
Are you looking to sell fast, maximize value, or just test the waters? The questions below will help you think through your home sale strategy.
When is your ideal timeline to move? 30, 60, 90 days? 6 months? 12 months?
With this in mind, you’ll want to then look at the average days on market for homes like yours, at the time of the year you are looking to sell.
What’s your bottom line home sale price?
Here you’ll need to think about the range you’ll be willing to accept. This range can then be compared to other homes on the market/recent sales.
Do you really need to sell your home?
This may seem like an obvious one, but it could significantly impact your sales strategy. If you urgently need the cash from the sale of your current home to purchase a new one, you may need to be more flexible on the price in order to meet a deadline. If having cash available is NOT a requirement to purchase your next home, you might have the luxury of holding out for a higher offer or, perhaps, deciding to rent your existing home for a period of time.
(3). Study the competition and set a price
It’s important that you price your home right for the market, time of year, etc. Taking some time to understand and analyze the competition will give you a competitive edge. A huge indicator of what your home could sell for are homes that have already sold within the past couple of months. Although each home is unique, for the most part, your immediate neighborhood will have fairly similar homes in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. This is what appraisers will look at when it comes down to providing a value for your home. Other things that factor into the price of a home are: condition of home, upgrades added (hardwood, granite, backsplash, new bathrooms, new paint, deck, location of the lot, new windows, new roof, new hvac, etc.), the number of similar homes currently on the market, and the time of year.
You can get started right away with a competitive market assessment from UpsideDoor.
(4). Get your home ready for sale
You’ll want to be thinking of things from the perspective of a prospective buyer. They are going to be asking themselves “can I see myself in this place?” Make it easy for them to paint that mental picture.
If you’ve recently painted your home with neutral colors, then you have nothing to worry about. Keep in mind that not all people have the same great taste in color as you may have, so you may want to think about repainting your walls to more neutral colors (similar to what you might see in model homes). That said, Zillow just did a study of over 32,000 photos from homes that have sold around the country. What they found is that paint colors can make a real difference in the average sale price of a home. Here’s a summary of what they found:
Soft grey-blue Kitchens sold for a $1,809 premium
Light blue Bathrooms sold for a $5,440 premium
Light beige, pale taupe or oatmeal colored Living Rooms sold for a $1,926 premium
“Griege” (a mix of gray and beige) Exteriors sold for a $3,496 premium
Remove the Clutter
You want potential buyers to focus on the space your home offers, and if there’s clutter, it will become a distraction that some will have trouble seeing past.
When people arrive at your home for the first time, you want them to immediately see potential and not all the work they’ll need to put in to make it their home. The good news is that you don’t have to completely change the look of your home to make this happen. Start by making sure that flower beds are weed free, edged, tidy, and freshly mulched. If you have a porch, you may want to lightly accessorize it to make it feel like a home.
(5) Photograph your home
With 91% of people starting their searches for a home online, you’ve got to get the pics right – and it’s not as easy as it sounds. That said, here are some quick tips for getting it right . . .
Make a list of the photos you think best showcase your home
While it’s not necessary to photograph every corner of your home, everyone is going to expect to see the main living areas – the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, the family room, the office, and outside spaces. If there are unique spaces (e.g. movie room, home gym, etc.), make sure you put them on the list – they will help your home stand out. Keep in mind that you are not limited to a single shot of each room. If multiple angles will give buyers a better sense of what it feels like to actually be inside your home, make sure you capture them.
Clean and lightly stage your home
Now that most people have high resolution screens, it’s important to make sure your place is clean and free of clutter. You can be sure that people are going to be zooming in on photos and you don’t want them to become distracted by a pile of laundry kicked off to the corner. When staging, think about making your home appear spacious and inviting. This might mean that you temporarily remove pieces of furniture – you’ll be amazed by the difference it can make.
Light your home (inside and out)
This is a big one. Professional photographers use sophisticated lighting systems to make a room beautiful. They may even combine several shots into one. But few of us have the equipment and the skills of a professional photographer. There are, however, a few tricks that we can all use.
First, start with a plan. Don’t just decide that you have to photograph your home after you get the kids to bed. If your home has lots of natural light, you might schedule your photoshoot in the late afternoon to help create a nice soft feeling. And even if you have an abundance of natural light, don’t forget to use the lighting you have INSIDE the room – this will help create a sense of warmth.
When shooting the exterior of your home, make sure you pay attention to the weather and lighting. Try to avoid shots that will capture harsh sun glares that will cast shadows.
Find the “best side” of every shot
Selfie culture has reinforced that we all have a “best side.” The same holds true for the rooms in your house. You don’t have to just settle for the first shot you think of when walking into a room. Play around with different angles and approaches to photographing a room. Don’t be afraid to get creative* – you might be surprised by what you end up liking.
* While you are getting creative, keep an eye on the mirrors and other reflective surfaces – you don’t want your flannel pajamas to draw attention from an otherwise perfect shot 🙂
Use the right equipment
You could spend hours researching the best equipment, but there is little value (for most of us) in wading too deep into this topic. If you follow the above tips on staging, lighting and image composition, you are way ahead of most. That said, keep in mind that the sharper the image, the better. Just because you are doing a photoshoot, don’t think you need to drag out that old digital camera that’s been stuffed in a drawer. While our photographer might take issue with this, most of us have all we need with a current smartphone. Just remember to turn off the flash and rely on natural and other in-room light sources.
Cost: If you don’t feel up to the task of photographing your home on your own, a professional photographer will run you about $400 for a full set of pictures that you can use online and in print materials like brochures.
Keep in mind that all homes listed by UpsideDoor include professional photography.
(6). Write your home’s ad
Pricing set *check*, home staged and photographed *check*, now it’s time to think about how to best talk about your home. Believe it or not, there is a science to doing this right – particularly when people are searching online. But when it comes to your home, you’re the person who knows the most about it. A couple of important things to keep in mind when talking about the place you call home:
Point out the things you love about the home (location, great schools, neighborhood lifestyle, desirability of neighborhood, upgrades in your home, etc.).
Be sure to mention things that will differentiate your home from the one down the street. Don’t assume that everyone in your neighborhood has made all the upgrades that you have. And even if they have made upgrades, don’t be shy about calling yours out. Buyers today are looking for things like new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops (or other types of upgraded surfaces), and new hard surface flooring.
(7). Let people know your home is for sale
People rarely drive around neighborhoods seeking out “for sale” signs. Most start online and you need to be there when they are looking.
Majority of people starting to look at buying or selling a home start the process online. With buyers, 90% of people start looking at Zillow and Trulia. Potential homebuyers will contact you directly and it is your responsibility to vet them to make sure you’re pre-approved and then schedule a showing with them.
Online listing platforms reach a huge amount of buyers, but they also alert other agents that you are “For Sale By Owner”. Be prepared to get flooded with calls from real estate agents trying to list your home or promising they have buyers for you.
By using a “For Sale By Owner” service, you’ll gain access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), but you still have to do all the heavy lifting. You will pay an upfront fee with no guarantee that your house will sell.
(8). Order supplies
Now that you are set for online buyers, you need to think about selling your home in the physical world. Be sure to order a yard sign, directional signs (if you plan on hosting an open house), and a lock box for showings. Finally, print brochures for your listing that include photos – people often like to walk away with something in hand.