Just like buying a home, selling a home is a process. To be successful and net the most money, you don’t just wake up one day, decide to sell your house and put a sign in the yard. Selling takes proper preparation, a strategic game plan and dynamic marketing. If you’re considering selling your home in Austin, here are 18 things every first time home seller needs to know.
Spend a Considerable Amount of Time Preparing Your House to Meet It’s New Owners
Surprisingly, many homeowners spend more time preparing their cars to sell then they do preparing their homes. When selling your biggest asset, you want to make it look as appealing to as many buyers as you can. The way to do that is preparing your home to sell before you put it on the market. Things like decluttering, deep cleaning and paint can go a long way to turning your average looking house into the best value on the market. Even if you don’t have unlimited funds, there are still many things you can do to prepare to sell your home on a limited budget. Here are 7 inexpensive upgrades to maximize a seller’s ROI.
Complete as Many Homeowner Maintenance Tasks as You Can
Basic homeowner maintenance issues are 80% of most home inspection reports. Things like missing caulk, exposed wood and trees growing too close to the house are inexpensive fixes most homeowners can complete themselves. Though they are not usually serious issues, buyers often want these items addressed before they move-in. Unless stated otherwise, repairs negotiated during the transaction must be done by licensed professionals, which turns a $4 caulking job into a $300 expense. The more tasks you can complete before a buyer sees your house, the less you’ll spend on repairs.
Get a Your House Inspected Before You Put it on the Market
Pre-inspections haven’t caught on in Austin the way they have in other parts of the country. In many areas, every home seller gets their home inspected before they list it. They use it as a marketing tool and also as a way to disclose as much as they can about the condition of their home. As you’ll see below in the disclosure section, disclosure is a risk reduction tool for a seller and money well spent.
Pre-inspections allow a seller to find out what’s wrong with their home before they are blind sided by a buyer during their option period. Buyers use the inspection to renegotiate the terms of their deal and often they are successful at getting sellers to kick in money or make repairs. Getting a pre-inspection before you list your home will allow you to see what a buyer might call out and get it taken care of. If you are handy, a pre-inspection is a big money saver as it allows you to make repairs for the cost of materials only.
Hire an Experienced Realtor
An experienced Realtor is invaluable in the transaction. They’ll help you paperwork is done right, which reduces a seller’s risk. When you get an offer, they’ll tell you what aspects of the offer are customary and what aspects of the offer you should counter. They’ll also work hard to fight for your price and keep as many dollars on your side of the table as possible. Remember, not all Realtors are created equal. Here are a list of
questions to ask Realtors you’re interviewing to sell your home. This will help you hire the best possible Realtor for the job.
Insist on Professional Photos
Experienced sellers know professional photos are the secret weapon of home selling and have been proven to be worth $1,000 or more to a seller’s bottom line. Your first showing is what a buyer sees online. If they aren’t compelled to see your home in person by the pictures shown online, they won’t take the time to see it. We hire a professional photographer to shoot every single home we list – at no cost to the seller. You should insist your Realtor do the same. Here are some tips on preparing your home for a professional photographer.
Set the Right Price from Day 1 to Ensure You Get Top Dollar
The first 12 days your home is on the market is when interest is at it’s highest level. You might see increased interest after a price reduction, but it will never be as high as it was during the first twelve days. Homes that stand out to potential buyers as a value are the most talked about, first to get offers and first to sell. Position your home as a value by setting the right list price from day 1 and you’ll attract more buyers and maybe even a multiple offer situation, which is the best way to get top dollar for your home. Pricing right does not mean pricing low. Work with an experienced Realtor who knows the market and can help you set the right list price so you net the highest return.
Ensure You are Adequately Insured and You’ve Removed Trip Hazards
There are going to be quite a few people going in and out of your house. The last thing you want is someone to get hurt and find out you have inadequate insurance coverage. The first step is to check for potential trip hazards and dangers to someone who isn’t familiar with your house. Next, check with your homeowners insurance provider to make sure you’re adequately insured.
Consider Including Some Difficult to Move Items
If you’re planning on getting a new refrigerator, washer and dryer, or TV when you move to your new home, consider offering these items as part of the purchase. Moving heavy items can get pretty expensive and if you are planning to replace them anyway, you may as well use them to attract buyers. Remember, many buyers are spending a great deal of their savings for down payment, closing costs and moving expenses. Buying a refrigerator, washer and dryer and TV might be a stretch for them. If they are comparing your house with similar homes that don’t include these items, you’re home will likely be worth more to them. You can use the extra money (plus the money you saved moving these items) to buy new stuff that fits your new house.
Disclose All Known Defects
In Texas, a seller is required to disclose what he/she knows about the property. Completing the seller’s disclosure properly and completely is also a risk reduction tool. Several courts have held sellers responsible for damages for not disclosing what they know about the property, which can be costly. Bottom line – if there’s something you know about your home, even if the issue has been remedied, disclose it.
Consider Adding Stainless Steel Appliances and Quartz Countertops
Buyers are all looking for stainless steel appliances and Quartz countertops and many check for them before they explore the rest of the house. If they see stainless steel appliances and Quartz counters, it gets them excited about the rest of the house. If not, they judge the rest of the house more harshly than they would have if the kitchen had Quartz and stainless appliances. Though I wouldn’t recommend a total kitchen remodel to sell your home, I would recommend appliances and counters, especially in kitchens that are 10-15 years old. These two changes can make a decade old kitchen look brand new. If you have a 50-60 year old kitchen, this strategy probably won’t get you a return on your investment as a buyer is still going to see the need for an entire remodel. Our recommendation in that case would be to simply leave it as is.
Don’t Sell During Winter Unless You Have To
Winter is the slowest time of year to sell a home in Austin. People get distracted with sports, Holidays, work and the weather. Spring is the busiest home selling season in Austin and we always see higher demand. Sellers who sell during the peak Spring home buying season usually get more than those that sell during other times of the year. That being said, you might not always get a choice for when you have to sell your home. If you have to sell during winter, here are some tips for how to sell your home faster in Winter.
Leave Your House for Buyer Showings
The fastest way to encourage a buyer to leave your home before they’re ready is to hover over them while they’re looking at your house. It is awkward enough for a buyer to tour your home without feeling like they’re snooping. You being there just makes them nervous and doesn’t allow them to envision themselves living there. I know it’s tough to live in a home while you’re trying to sell it, but, discouraging buyers from falling in love with your house will only prolong your inconvenience. Make a plan to get out of the house when you have a showing scheduled, even if that means walking to the park or driving around the neighborhood.
Don’t Turn Down Showings
If a Realtor with a buyer wants to show your house and they give you adequate notice, don’t turn down a showing because it is inconvenient thinking they’ll just reschedule. Often times buyers come from out of the area and have limited time to see homes. Other times buyers find something else they like before they can schedule a showing of your house and move forward with it instead. Either way, turning down a showing is a missed opportunity for a qualified buyer to see your home. I know it is inconvenient, but it will be more inconvenient when the home selling process goes on for longer than it has to. Make a game plan to prepare your home for showings, so you and your family can quickly get out of the house if necessary.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Whether it be because of some negative feedback you got, a low ball offer, a buyer who doesn’t like your choice of counters or an agent who is rude on the phone, don’t take anything personally. This is probably the hardest part of the process because it’s hard not to take an insult about your house personally. But, if you can set your emotions aside and understand some buyers go about negotiating the wrong way and others are just plain rude, you’ll have a lot less stressful home selling experience.
Respond to all “Low Ball” Offers
Sellers who don’t respond to all offers, no matter what they start at, are missing out on a huge opportunity. Most buyers who make low offers would be willing to come up, and some will come up substantially. They want to test your motivation and the market before they tell you what they’re really willing to pay for your house. Sellers who don’t respond cause buyers act emotionally and stop the negotiation process. I know you will also feel emotional and insulted when you receive a low ball offer. But, if you act emotionally as well, you might lose a buyer who was willing to pay what you’re asking. Our recommendation is to respond to all offers and continue the conversation until you agree or can’t find common ground.
Expect a Buyer to Ask for Every Repair on the Home Inspection – and Maybe Some of Your Furniture
All buyers feel they overpaid for your house, especially in a competitive market. Instead of simply backing out, they’ll use the repair addendum to “stick it” to a “greedy” seller. They’ll ask for everything on the inspection report to be repaired and sometimes ask for personal items – like furniture or storage buildings that weren’t negotiated during the contract. This is yet another time where unemotional sellers can get more of what they want by simply acting rationally. Don’t come back with a counter amendment that is equally as infuriating to a buyer (I’ve seen a seller come back and propose to increase the price by $10k) as that will just escalate the situation. As with the strategy for responding to a low ball offer, treat this the same way. Respond with what repairs you will make and then say no if the buyer comes back with another unrealistic request. 95% of the time buyer and seller are able to come to some sort of common ground if they set their emotions aside. If you can start the negotiation process professionally, you’ll have a better chance to diffuse the situation and come to an agreement.
Expecting Buyers to Complete Inspections and Secure Financing in Unrealistic Timeframes only Sets You up for Disappointment
During the busy home buying season, we started to see sellers demanding short option periods, minimal financing contingencies and quick closes. Frustrated buyers agreed with these terms and then found they didn’t have time to do what needed to be done. Inspectors were booked up over a week in advance and lenders couldn’t process the paperwork that quickly. So, what did they do? Asked for an extension. Sellers were furious, but most agreed because they didn’t want to start all over again with another buyer. Do yourself a favor and set realistic timeframes for a buyer to complete their inspections and get financing. Or, if you want to set a short timeframe, understand a buyer will likely ask for an extension and have a plan to deal with delays.
Make Sure the Buyer is Qualified Before you Accept a Contract
When you accept a contract, you are essentially taking your home off the market. Should the house come back on the market after it was marked as “pending”, buyers are going to question what’s wrong with the house, even if it was simply a case of a buyer changing their mind. To minimize the chances of a buyer canceling for a reason you could have uncovered before you accepted an offer (i.e. not pre-approved and can’t qualify for a loan), here are 10 questions you should ask before accepting an offer.
Have Questions About Home Selling?
Have a question about home selling that wasn’t covered here? Check out our Frequent Seller Questions section or email us at info@11OaksRealty.com. We’ll get you an answer as quickly as we can!
Considering Selling Your Home in Austin?
We have a combined 60+ years of experience in residential real estate and know the Austin real estate market. We will help you make a game plan that will net the highest return on your home and fight for your price in negotiations. Even if you’re not sure you’re ready to sell, we are happy to help you evaluate your options. Check out our Austin Home Sellers page to learn why our home selling system is the best in Austin. Then, fill out our Seller Survey, email us at info@11OaksRealty.com or call us at (512) 827-8323 to schedule a no obligation consultation.