5 Tips to Help Sell Your House Faster Than Your Neighbors
Posted by Andrew Fortune on Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 8:02am. 110,562 Views
The two most important questions that home sellers want to know the answer to are “How much is my house worth?” and “How long will it take to sell my house?”. Many people will base the answer to these questions off of their neighbor’s recent experience selling their home. If your neighbor’s house recently took 6 months to sell, then it seems likely that your house may take 6 months to sell as well, right? Not necessarily. There are numerous factors that determine how quickly a house will sell.
Sometimes it can take a long time to sell a house because the neighborhood is far from town and there are fewer buyers in the area. Under these circumstances, you may be correct in assuming that your house will take a while to sell. For people who live within city limits where homes sell every day, the days on the market for your neighborhood will usually vary dramatically, based on each individual property. I just ran some MLS comparables for a property in Fountain, CO this week and the days on the market ranged from 2 to 400+ out of 15 properties that have sold within the last 6 months.
As I will cover later in this blog post, there are 3 major factors that determine the resale performance of a home: Price, Location, and Condition. There are many other details that can affect the sale of a home, such as bad marketing, but these are the 3 most consistent variables that dominate the real estate market. My first 3 tips below cover the best ways to present a home for sale in order to amplify it’s condition, and sell it at it’s highest possible value. The 4th point is a marketing trick to help you receive added visibility when listing your house for sale. The last point will focus mainly on the importance of pricing a home right. These tips have proven to work for me over the years as I have helped others sell their real estate. I have also sold quite a few homes of my own, using these tips as well.
Here are 5 tips to help you sell your house faster than your neighbors did.
Update Your Landscaping
Statistically, home buyers will emotionally attach to a home for sale within the first few minutes of a property showing. The landscaping is the first point of contact for potential home buyers, making it an extremely important part of the buyer’s experience. You may have beautiful landscaping already, but it is important to make it look like NEW landscaping. Adding some new mulch, removing any dead or damaged vegetation, and planting a few bright and colorful flowers can dramatically change the curb appeal of your home. All of this can be done in a day or two with very minimal cost, depending on the size of your yard. If you have no landscaping at all and you are adding it for the first time, this can be more expensive and take days or weeks to complete.
In order to understand the impact of landscaping, you first have to think like a home shopper. Go online and look for a few homes for sale within your price range and organize them in order of your most favorite. (if you’re looking in Colorado Springs, you can use my site GreatColoradoHomes.com). Now take the homes at the top of your list and look at the picture of the front of the house. Do any of the homes in your list need landscaping in the front yard? Probably not. Chances are very high that the homes you chose are well landscaped. There may be other homes similar to the ones you have chosen that you probably looked right past because the initial picture(s) of the front of the house was unappealing in comparison to the others. This is why you want to have nice landscaping.
Move Out (or make it appear that you have moved out)
This is a tough tip to accept, but it’s the brutal reality of the real estate market. Vacant Homes usually show much better than occupied homes. It’s hard for potential homebuyers to visualize their furniture and accessories in a property that is loaded with other people’s stuff. The best thing to do is to completely move out and stage the property to sell. You stand the highest chance of getting a strong offer this way because your property is always accessible for showing and is always ready to be shown. Your house will always look larger with minimal furniture in it as well. Vacant homes seem much larger than occupied homes.
If moving out is not an option, then you can rent a storage unit and move as much stuff out of your house as possible in preparation for your next move. Remove as many personal pictures, decorations, book shelves, and personal items as you can possibly stand to live without for the time that your house is on the market. Since you plan on moving anyway, this is work that will have to be done at some point, regardless. You might as well do it at the start of the home selling process and reap the benefits of having a beautifully shown home. With your home in staged condition, buyers can picture themselves living in your home and are more likely to consider purchasing it. When I show homes, I notice that buyers consistently feel more attached to homes that are vacant.
You may be thinking, “that’s easy for you to say, but there is no way that I(we) can afford to move out before I(we) sell the house!” I understand. My wife and I have bought and sold many homes over the past few years. We have lived in them while we showed them and we have moved out and sold them vacant. We have learned from experience that is it much easier (and sometimes more cost effective) to move out before selling. We did it right on our last house. We bought it the house 3 years prior to selling and it had been on the market for over 2 years before we bought it. The people that we bought it from were living in the property when we bought it. It showed poorly, was not very clean, and was over priced. We did not want to make the same mistake that the previous homeowners had made. We decided to lease a temporary residence and moved out before we started preparing the house for sale. As soon as we were moved out, we started painting, repairing, and staging our house to put on the market. We sold it for a full price cash offer in 5 days. Whatever money we spent in moving expenses and extra rent was easily recouped because we closed within 3 weeks of listing our house and got a full price offer. I’ve seen this scenario in my listings as well. I will never list my home for sale while we are living in it, especially while having kids at home.
Add New Paint and Flooring
If you have to ask the question, “Should we add new paint and/or change those floors?”, then the answer is most likely “Yes”. When you live in a home and walk on the same floors every day, it’s easy to feel as though those floors are good enough, but you need to compare them to the other homes on the market. If other properties in your price range are offering new flooring and paint, then your house is going to highlight the fact that those homes are better than yours and you will be helping to sell those properties. I always say there are two types of homes on the market: homes that sell, and homes that sell the other homes. Your home will sit on the market until there are no other properties available with new paint and floors. It’s just the nature of the business.
If your carpet is more than 3 years old and you can afford to change the carpet, I highly suggest doing it. If your wood floors are more than 5 years old and they have never been refinished, I would suggest refinishing or replacing them. It’s important to look at upgrades in terms of percentage to the overall price of the home. In Colorado Springs, the average home price is around $250,000. New flooring usually cost around $10,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the home and type of floor installed. (New flooring can easily cost up to $30,000+ if you go with the most expensive materials, but we’re talking about basic flooring here.) That means the cost of new flooring is roughly 1.5% of the over price of the home. That is not a lot of money in comparison to the home’s price. However, the impact of new flooring is HUGE. Home buyer’s will say that they are willing to put new floors into a house, but when it comes right down to it, most of them will choose a home with floors that they like. Market your home with new floors and fresh neutral paint and watch it sell fast!
A Professional Video Walkthrough
A professional video walkthrough is a very powerful selling tool. I have had buyers sit at the closing table and tell me that the video walkthrough was the #1 thing that sold them on the property that I listed. After looking at many homes and then going back and revisiting their potential properties online, good video walkthroughs will resell the home to the buyers every time they watch it, if the video is done properly. You can add descriptive text and highlight important features and basically sell the house to the buyers before they ever even see the home. Since most listings do not have good video walkthroughs, your listing will stand out over and above in appealing to online home buyers.
A good video walkthrough will consist of actual video footage using high quality videocameras and possibly arial drones with creative GoPro footage (if appropriate). Professionals who use this technology notice a huge increase in traffic when listing a home. Videos that simply use the same photos that are in the MLS listing are not as powerful. No one really cares to watch a slowed down version of the picture slideshow with cheesy keyboard music over the top of it. There are hundreds of these videos on YouTube and they rarely get many views. An actual video walkthrough that gives buyers a first hand look into the home and displays the best features of the property is what you want to provide home buyers. Give them great content and they will keep consuming it. It should sell your house to the viewer each time that they watch it.
Price It Right the First Time
I’ve saved the most important tip for last. Any experienced REALTOR® will tell you that there are three things that sell homes: Price, Location, and Condition. Of those 3 points, PRICE is the most critical. People will look past condition and location if the price is right. People will also look right past your property listing if the price is wrong. The real estate market is always under pressure from both the buyer and seller’s expectations. Buyers always want more than they can afford, and sellers always want more than their property is worth. This is the consistent tension that makes the real estate market so interesting to so many people. Pricing your home right and offering something that other homes in your price range do not, is a strategy that finds much greater success in securing a solid offer, than the non-strategy of simply pricing at market value and seeing what happens.
All buyers want a special deal, so you should come up with a plan to give them that special deal in order to sell in a timely manor. This starts with knowing your neighborhoods price ceiling and average price per square foot. Don’t base the price of your home off of other listings that are currently active. Often, many of those listings have been poorly coached by the agents and are over-priced. You should base your homes price ONLY off of what has already sold. These are proven sales that have actually happened. Try to remain objective in comparing the condition of your home with the condition of the recent sold properties. Very commonly sellers are able to dismiss the flaws in their home, but not those of the competition. If yours is honestly as nice as the properties that have sold, it would be wise to list your home at the sold price per square foot of the similar sold properties. Adjust your asking price based off of the amenities of your property in comparison with the previous sold homes within the last 6 months in your neighborhood.