You don’t often hear Realtors giving advice to help people sell their homes themselves. But being a DIY kind of gal, I can empathize with people who prefer to take on projects themselves either to save a bit of money, or to maintain control over an important event in their lives. And honestly, if someone can save thousands of dollars by selling their home themselves, and they have the time and resources to invest in doing it, more power to them!
Here are a few tips to help you get the best price for the sale of your home:
Marketing Starts Early ~ Many people think that Realtors enter a home into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and that is the end of their marketing. In fact, before that even happens, agents who get the best prices for their homes have invested quite a bit of time in what I call “pre-marketing.” Pre-marketing is when we inform other agents and the general public that the home is coming soon, but isn’t quite ready yet. I usually invest in some Facebook ads where buyers are shown a few pictures to whet their appetite and they can sign up for an update when the home is available to start showing.
You need a business page for Facebook in order to run paid ads (which, if you’re feeling courageous only takes a few minutes to set up), but By Owner sellers could accomplish at least some social media advertising by sharing on your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram and then asking your friends to do the same. But don’t leave it at that! Collect email addresses to let potential buyers know when you’re ready to show, just in case they have forgotten about your home by the time it’s ready.
Also, don’t forget to inform all your neighbors that you are moving. Neighbors have a vested interest in finding great people to move into your home. You can use a free program like Canva.com to create beautiful fliers to share in your neighborhood and online. Remember, beautiful marketing materials will catch people’s eye so make the effort to communicate your product beautifully.
Present well online ~ Everyone knows that buyers do the majority of their home shopping online these days. But for some reason I still see owners trying to sell their own homes with unprofessional pictures and messy, cluttered homes. This absolutely will impact the number of people who come see your home and consequently, the price that you get for your home.
Buying a home is an emotional process. When a buyer looks at your home (in person or online) they are trying to imagine themselves living in your home. And they can’t do that with pictures of your kids on the walls, closets over-stuffed with memorabilia and clutter all over your kitchen counters.
Of course, most of our homes don’t look like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine cover. We actually have to live in them and we need our stuff! But when a buyer is house-hunting they are imagining that they live in that BHG photo. Your job is to feed their imagination.
Before taking professional pictures, you’ll want to prepare your home. When you live in your home every day, you don’t necessarily notice the little scuffs and imperfections that buyers will zero in on. And when buyers are taking note of the flaws, that means they are preparing for negotiations and subtracting from their offer for each item they notice. In lieu of a Realtor, a home stager can provide you with objective advice about how buyers will view your home, along with a comprehensive list of things you’ll need to do to get your home ready. The cost for this consultation is around $150. A home stager can also bring in rented items to give your home a designer feel for an extra fee. I use Professional HomeStaging and Design for my staging needs. They are easy to work with and very good at what they do.
For about $200 you can hire a photographer to shoot your home. While all these little costs add up, remember that Realtors have a marketing budget for marketing your home over and above the cost of the MLS and so should you. After all, you’ll be competing against those professionally marketed properties. If you want the best price, don’t skimp on these essentials.
Be Available and Accessible ~ There is nothing more frustrating to a buyers agent, than a seller who doesn’t answer the phone or return calls quickly when her buyer wants to see their property. And if you’re selling your home yourself, you’re probably going to have to work with buyers agents, because most buyers have them.
You’ll need to be available during the business day to show your home. A FSBO seller might think that the majority of buyers shop for homes only on nights and weekends, after working hours. But that simply isn’t the case, especially in a market like the Triangle with so many relocation buyers and retirees. Knowing how the system works will help you work as a team with the buyers agent and increase your likelihood of completing the home sale without an agent.
Buyers agents generally schedule appointments through a service called Centralized Showing Service or CSS. CSS is an automated switchboard that allows buyers agents to quickly and efficiently request showings, and those requests are communicated to sellers and their agents (who can also approve the showing) through the automated service by text, email or phone, whichever is most convenient for the parties involved. Combined with the lockbox, it allows buyers to see homes at their convenience, even when sellers are unavailable to show the home.
While this system isn’t available to FSBO sellers, you should know that working outside the Centralized Showing System can put a strain on the logistics of how agents show homes. In most cases, agents are showing 5-7 homes at a time to each prospective buyer. After requesting the appointments, because of the simplicity of the system, most sellers have approved the showing within minutes, or usually in no longer than an hour. Agents schedule about an hour between showings because that is how long it usually takes to both drive to and view the home.
Imagine that a FSBO property is the 3rd home on the list and everyone else has responded to approve the showing except the FSBO. At this point, if the agent and her buyers wait to hear from you, and you don’t respond, they have to reschedule all the other showings after yours for an hour earlier. But if they wait too long, the sellers, having already rearranged their schedule for the original showing time, may not be able to accommodate the earlier one. Kids naps, meals, removing pets and all kinds of things impact sellers showing, so giving some advanced notice is usually necessary. The most reasonable thing to do is to skip the FSBO and reschedule the others as early as possible, so as to not risk losing the other showings.
This happens more often than you would expect. Having a clear plan for how to manage scheduling your showing appointments will go a long way to being able to complete the transaction without an agent. Enlisting the help of family and friends can lighten the load on the homeowner.
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Ellen is the founder of Harmony Realty, a socially conscious realty company. Ellen believes in empowering her clients through education and open communication. Ellen is a number-cruncher at heart and takes great pleasure in following and analyzing the trends of the housing industry. She loves communicating the big picture to her clients and helping them to understand how the market affects their sale or purchase. Her honest and down-to-earth approach allows her clients to make informed and intelligent decisions to get the most out of their offers and negotiations.
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