According to the National Association of Realtors®, more than 4.25 million homes sold in 2011. That’s a lot of real estate and such numbers raise the question: How are sellers doing it?
“Because individual homes are unique, there isn’t one single strategy that works equally well for every property,” says Wendy Forsythe, the executive vice president of a real estate company. “The real trick is understanding that today’s marketplace is cash driven, quick and highly competitive. Owners who understand their local markets and work with a knowledgeable agent are those most likely to succeed.”
In March roughly one-third of all sales were cash, meaning a large number of buyers are not dependent on lender financing, the sale of their existing home or a settlement that might be 45 to 60 days in the future.
Instead, they can act quickly and in many cases seek properties which can be bought today and occupied tomorrow.
To ready a home for sale in today’s marketplace, Forsythe says owners should consider six basic keys to selling success.
Six Keys to Success
1) Curb appeal counts. Most home buyers want homes which look great from the outside. It’s not just a question of curb appeal — it’s about perception. If a home looks good from the street it probably means the property is ready for a new occupant without a lot of cost or hassle.
Buyers tend to pass on a home that doesn’t appeal to them from the street — not even bothering to look inside. An experienced local REALTOR® can show you how to generate the most curb appeal with the least cost.
2) A clutter-free home. With the new emphasis on cash sales and speed owners must show homes which are free and clear of clutter. A clutter-free home will make interior spaces look larger and eliminates the need to get rid of stuff when you are in the throes of moving. It makes sense to donate or reduce clutter before a home is placed on the market — not only as a sales tactic but also as a practical step toward relocation.
3) Working condition. Having your home’s systems in good mechanical condition is an advantage in today’s market. Most distressed homes can’t compete when it comes to such basics as working heating, plumbing and air-conditioning. Properties that can readily pass a professional home inspection are often easier to finance, and are generally more appealing to buyers who don’t want to face the unknown costs and delays sometimes associated with major renovations.
4) List and negotiate properly. According to Forsythe, “a seasoned REALTOR® can show owners how best to market a particular home according to such factors as location, price, condition and financing. Owners want to work with us because our experience brings value and confidence to a transaction, factors that are enormously important in a changing marketplace.”
5) Seek prequalified buyers. While many sales may be for cash, the majority still require financing. It would be frustrating to enter into a sales contract with a potential buyer who ultimately cannot obtain financing to purchase your home — meaning you have lost time — and potentially money — and then you have to start over. When a home is shown by appointment, the buyer should have a pre-qualification letter in hand.
Such letters from lenders are not binding but at least show that the purchaser sat down with a loan officer and has some realistic sense of what he or she can reasonably afford.
6) Distressed properties. Roughly 30 percent of today’s home sales involve “distressed” properties — a term which includes short sales and foreclosed properties owned by lenders. You need to consider the distressed properties in your neighborhood when pricing and marketing your home. These properties typically sell at discount, especially in major foreclosure centers and sometimes require substantial repair and rehabilitation.
“Home sellers can compete with these offerings,” according to Forsythe. “There’s no question that a large number of distressed properties in a local market will impact prices, but price is not the only factor buyers consider. While distressed homes work for some purchasers, they’re not the right choice for buyers who want homes that offer move-in condition — homes in better shape that can often command higher prices.”
While the housing market is just in the beginning stages of a recovery, it’s still possible to successfully sell your home by making sure you’re catering to the kind of buyers in the market today, and by making sure that you — and your home — are ready to move as quickly as these buyers are.