The peak spring home-buying season is approaching, and you’re ready to sell your home, the quicker the better. How can you make it happen?
First, of course, you want to make sure your home looks its best. “Curb appeal is everything,” says Michael Mahon, general manager of HER Realtors in Columbus, Ohio. “Driving into the driveway and walking into that front door sets the expectations.”
Another factor that’s equally important for a speedy sale: setting the right price.
Many sellers think they should start the price high and then lower it later if the house fails to sell. But some agents say that’s often a recipe for a slower sale – sometimes even at a lower price.
In a neighborhood of similar homes with frequent sales, it’s easy to estimate the correct sales price of your home by looking at the per-square-foot price of recently sold homes and making adjustments for yours based on condition and features.
In an area where the homes vary widely or there are few recent sales, estimating the sales price is more challenging. Start by looking at homes that have sold in your area and comparable neighborhoods in the past six months. Look at the listing photos and descriptions to compare features. See what the homes eventually sold for and how long they were on the market. Then find homes currently for sale, which will be your competition. All of these factors will give you an idea of the right sale price.
Call at least three real estate agents and ask each to prepare a comparative market analysis, which will include a recommended price for your house as well as data on comparable sales. Make sure you study the agents’ comparable properties carefully.
When choosing an agent, don’t assume that the one who suggests the highest price for your home is the best option. If that’s not the right price for the house, he or she may actually cause you more trouble because it could take longer to sell your home, and it may end up selling for less.
Before you start showing the home, look over it with a critical eye. Make sure it’s ready for prime time, sparkling clean and free of clutter.
“Once a potential buyer has seen the house, they’ve seen it! And if they don’t like what they see, they won’t be back for a second look,” home stager Lori Matzke, author of “Home Staging: Creating Buyer-Friendly Rooms to Sell Your House,” wrote on her blog. “But when a property shows well from the start, it creates a momentum and sense of urgency among buyers, giving the seller a marketable advantage over the competition.”
Here are 14 tips to make your home sell faster.
Price it right from the start. Agents and buyers know when they find a good deal, and they know they need to move quickly. You’ll save yourself time and hassle if you skip the high-price shenanigans altogether.
Enhance your home’s curb appeal. That could mean adding new sod, planting flowers, painting the front door or replacing the mailbox. Prospective buyers form an opinion the moment they spot the home.
Update the interior and exterior. New fixtures, fresh paint and updated landscaping are all fairly easy and affordable ways to give your home a makeover. “It’s got to look up to the current market conditions and what’s in style,” Mahon says.
Clean and declutter. Remove knickknacks and excess furniture. The fewer things there are in the home, the larger it will look. You may want to hire a cleaning service to do a deep cleaning, including washing the windows.
Depersonalize. Remove family photos, religious items and political posters. Get all the children’s drawings off the refrigerator. You want prospective buyers to envision their family in the house, not yours.
Fix anything that’s obviously broken. A cracked windowpane may not bother you, but it gives the impression that the homeowner is careless about maintenance.
Stage the house to show how the rooms are supposed to be used. If you have odd rooms with no obvious role, give them one. An odd alcove off the kitchen could be staged as an office or a pantry, for example.
Make the property easy to show. The more flexible you are about visits, the more people will be able to see your home. Be ready to welcome prospective visitors early in the morning, at night and on weekends, with little notice.
Go away when the house is shown. You want would-be buyers to imagine themselves living in the home and to peek into closets without feeling like intruders. Leaving the house also gives them the freedom to discuss its pros and cons honestly without worrying about offending the seller.
Deal with an agent who’s going to showcase your house on social media. Share the listing yourself, too. “We sell as many homes off Facebook as we do off the [multiple listing service],” Mahon says. Both the agency and the individual agents have Facebook business pages where they share listings.
Make sure your listing is on all the major online portals, including Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. This is usually part of an agent’s service, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. Some sites allow you to go online and add comments and details about your house.
Ensure the listing has good photos, and lots of them. Most homebuyers start their search online and decide which homes they want to see based on the photos. You probably want something better than snapshots taken quickly with your agent’s phone.
Share information about life in the neighborhood. The listing should include photos not only of the house, but also of nearby recreation, dining and shopping areas. If the schools are good, make sure that information is in the listing. “You’re not only marketing the home – you’re marketing the lifestyle,” Mahon says.
A version of this story appeared previously at U.S. News & World Report.