Even if you have a beautiful home, and it’s well priced, you still have an important role to play in the sale of your home. By being as proactive as possible, you can ensure that the home sells for the highest price, and in the shortest timeframe possible. Even if you’re using a real estate agent to sell your home, what you do in the background, and how you handle the negotiations, can either help or hurt the sale.
Here’s what you can do to help.
Be Ready to Help the Real Estate Agent Show Your Home
In most cases, this means not being home when the agent is showing your property. When you are using a real estate agent to sell your home, there times when you need to step back and let the agent do his or her job. Nowhere is this truer than when an agent is showing your property.
You should prepare to have a routine to vacate the property any time an agent wants to bring a prospective buyer around. This, of course, should include your children and any pets, if you have any. You could simply step outside when the home is being shown, or even be prepared to take a short trip to the store, the bank, or the park.
Not being in the home when it is being shown will enable buyers to look at the home without feeling as though they are intruding on your privacy. That’s important because they need to be free to open closet doors and inspect the construction closely. They may not feel comfortable doing that while you’re sitting in the next room.
Get Involved in the Marketing of the Home
While it may be tempting to sit back and rely on the multiple listing or a page on Realtor.com to sell your home, you may want to get involved in the marketing. Exactly how much of this you will do will depend upon the agreement that you have with your listing real estate agent. Some may appreciate your efforts, while others may prefer that you step back and let them handle it.
If your agent is agreeable, or if you are not satisfied with how well the agent is marketing the property, you may want to get involved. Simple marketing steps can include sending out an email blast to everyone you know, announcing that your property is for sale, or posting flyers at work, at church, or in local shops.
You don’t want to interfere with the agent’s marketing efforts, but just getting the word out to as many places and people as possible can never hurt.
Be Ready to Host an Open House if Your Agent Doesn’t
Some real estate agents will offer to do just one open house when they first list the home. Others may agree to hold two or three events. If you’re not satisfied with the number that they agree to, you can usually host an open house yourself.
You don’t want to get involved in the direct selling of the home, but an open house invites people to come and take a look. Once there, you can let them roam around the home, and then provide them with sales flyers. If anyone is interested in making an offer, you can simply refer them to the real estate agent that you’re working with.
Keep the Property in Saleable Condition
Something that I’ve learned from real estate agents and from selling a couple of houses myself is that your home has to look as if no one lives there.
That may sound ridiculous because obviously you and your family still live in the home. But always remember that a buyer is looking to purchase your home and not your lifestyle. How the property presents itself will determine whether or not this is the case.
Declutter the house. Before you even put your home on the market, you must do a serious decluttering job. That means removing everything from each room in the house that isn’t absolutely necessary. That even includes removing excess furniture. Too much furniture in a room can make it look smaller. Also cleanout storage spaces, like your basement, your garage, and most of all your closets. People will be looking at all of those areas, and they should look open and inviting.
Fix whatever is broken. When a buyer is looking at your home, they’re often looking for what isn’t right. Seemingly small details, like a loose door handle, a light switch that doesn’t work, or a broken garage door opener can be a deal killer. A buyer may consider a single defective item to be evidence of general neglect. You’ll help your cause by fixing anything in the home that’s broken.
Landscaping needs to be neat. Though you may be perfectly okay with slightly overgrown hedges, grass that’s a couple of days past needing a cut, or weeds overgrowing the edges of your driveway, buyers won’t be so forgiving. If you’re not into landscaping, hire a lawn service to maintain the property while you’re trying to sell it.
Keep the home clean. This is especially important in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Those are the rooms most likely to sell the home. They should be hotel clean (good hotels, at any rate). Wash down any spots on the walls that are dirty, or consider painting them. Clean any dust accumulations on the wood trim at the base of walls.
Be sure the home smells clean and fresh. It’s not ridiculous to say that how your house smells could affect the sale. A smell that is the least bit offensive could turn a buyer off completely. Have the carpets cleaned, and use disinfectant throughout the home. When you know the home is going to be shown, or there’s going to be an open house, place scented candles around the home. Also, be sure to throw out your kitchen trash every day.
Be Flexible in the Negotiations
A lot of home sales breakdown because either the buyer or the seller become inflexible on certain points. There’s always the possibility that the buyer will take this position, but just make sure that it’s not you whose doing it. After all, you want to make the negotiations – and especially the closing – as smooth as possible.
That means that you should be prepared to be flexible on any points of concern, short of the sale price. In fact, if you get anything reasonably close to your asking price, you should be fully prepared to be as flexible as possible with everything else.
That means being flexible with the closing date, choice and location of attorney or closing agent, and even in the performance of minor repairs. The price that you are getting for your home is almost always the primary issue. Once you get past that, everything else is just a matter of wrapping up details. Be prepared to do just that, and you’ll help bring the sale of your home from initial offer to closing in the shortest time possible.