You’ve made a big decision to sell your home and enter a new chapter in your life. But before you can dive in, you need to close the sale.
If you’ve never sold a home, you’re in uncharted waters. Follow these four steps to avoid making common mistakes that prolong the home-sales process, so you can start living your newest dream.
Step 1: Hire an agent or a company
You might be thinking you can sell your home without an agent and save that 6% commission. However, “For Sale By Owner” isn’t the best idea.
When you meet potential buyers, you may encounter a buyer’s agent, which puts you in a vulnerable position. Buyer’s agents have years of experience negotiating home sales, and you could end up getting far less than what your home is worth.
In many cases, saving that 6% won’t come close to what you could lose if you attempt negotiations without experience.
An agent saves you time
Selling a house isn’t a part-time gig. It entails a huge commitment and will demand more of your time than you probably think.
You’ll have to rush home from work at odd hours to meet prospects, and dash about to tidy up before they arrive. Your boss probably won’t be happy about your intermittent absences.
Agents have the time meet all potential buyers in a professional manner. Paying a professional to do what he or she does best is an investment in your peace of mind and ultimately successful sale.
An agent can get your home more exposure
Only a licensed real estate agent can list your property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. Listed homes get picked up and syndicated to thousands of websites. Agents pay money every year to be able to list homes in this database.
An agent can prevent you from getting sued
An agent can help you keep from getting sued for failure to disclose a hazard or defect you didn’t know you were supposed to disclose. Agents know disclosure regulations inside and out, and can give you sound advice about items you should fix in your home to pass your pre-sale home inspection before putting it on the market.
An agent can keep you safe
Going it alone is a risky business because you never know who will show up at your door. Agents generally require people to meet them at their office, where they record the prospective buyer’s phone number, address, and driver’s license and give that information to someone else prior to showing the home.
You can collect people’s information as well, but if you don’t have a separate office where they can meet you, and another person to give the information to, the process is not as secure.
Step 2: Prepare your home
The next step is to prepare your home. Less-than-obvious ways to do this include:
- Hire a professional staging company
You might love the eclectic set of furniture you’ve collected over the years, but arranging to have your home professionally staged can dramatically increase the sale price and how fast it sells.
- Depersonalize your home
You want your home to be neutral for potential buyers so they can easily picture themselves and their family living in the space. Create a neutral environment by removing all family photos, and any décor that represents specific political or other affiliations. Also, switch out any themed bedroom décor (such as cartoon bedspreads and curtains) for a more neutral look.It’s also a good idea to remove toiletries from the bathroom: toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, used bar soap, and makeup. Many people don’t like to have anything on the sink, so the less clutter you have, the better.Make sure you stash a few extra rolls of toilet paper under the sink, and make clean hand towels available to switch out as needed.
- Maximize the lighting in all rooms
Natural light pouring into the home is a natural mood lifter, and can greatly increase your chance of making the sale. Open all the blinds and pull back the curtains in every room to let the sunshine in. For areas that are darker, place a quality floor lamp in an area that will light up the space.
- Paint your walls neutral colors
The color of your walls will have an impact on the final sale price. Your kids may have loved alternating red and purple walls with striped trim, but they’re going to be a point against you when you try to sell your home.It’s well established by the marketing industry that colors affect people’s buying decisions. A study by Virginia Tech engineer Rajesh Bagchi found that when consumers had to compete with each other to buy a rare product, such as in eBay auctions, the color red (instead to blue) increased their willingness to pay more. On the other hand, when consumers could negotiate a price for a readily available product, red weakened their willingness to pay.Bagchi explains the difference: “… in auction situations, aggressive buyers want to ensure acquisition of the item by outbidding other buyers, so they offer higher bid jumps — aggression increases willingness to pay. In negotiations, however, buyers negotiate one-on-one with sellers. Aggressive buyers want to get the best deal possible, so they make lower offers.” He summarizes his findings in this two-minute video.
Since colors induce emotions, it’s best to paint your walls neutral hues that naturally brighten a room, like white, cream, or beige.
Step 3: Maximize the space in each room
When you’re selling your home, it’s worthwhile for every room to look and feel open and not crowded. If you’ve lived in your home a while, you may have accumulated items that are stashed here and there. Remove all the excess pieces of furniture and décor, and clean out closets to a minimum.
Step 4: Have a friend babysit your pets
Not everyone who comes to view your home is going to appreciate your cat rubbing against their legs … especially if he or she’s allergic. Whenever possible, play it safe and have a friend or relative to take care of your animals until you sell your home. Box up toys, litter boxes, and extra food and hide them away. Get a good carpet cleaning service to come in and clean the rugs to remove odors, stains, and dander.
Want help selling your home?
For years, Green Residential has helped countless people in the Houston area buy and sell homes. Our flat-rate fees create the ability to maximize the ROI on the sale of your home. Use this tool to see how much money we can save you with our flat-rate fees.
Contact us today for a free comparative market analysis, and let us assist with all your home buying or selling needs.