Posted in For Sellers, Investing in Real Estate, Real Estate 101 | By Blair Newman and Dave Emerson | Tags: Business, For Sellers, Home Sellers, Lakewood real estate, Long Beach California real estate, Market Trends and Projections, Orange County California real estate, real estate seller tips, real estate slump, real estate strategies, real estate trends, Southern California Real Estate
Selling for top dollar fast isn’t all that hard, even in today’s slow market. Last month we took three listings, and had all three in escrow within 14 days of hitting the market.
In fact, our 30 years of experience has taught us that if you don’t sell in 30 days, you almost certainly won’t get top dollar. You’ll also be more frustrated with the whole process.
It’s not rocket science, either. The technology’s changed, but the basic steps to selling fast for top dollar remain the same. We’ve been teaching classes on them for almost two decades. There are only six key steps, yet very few agents or sellers complete even four of them correctly:
1. Preview & plan with a trusted adviser, often a Realtor with at least 15 years experience–one who’s been through a few slumps before. Actually, the most important step seems to be picking the right agent, and then picking his or her brains as early in the process as possible. We recommend starting by checking out our “Top 5 Ways not to Pick a Listing Agent.”
Develop priorities for steps 2 & 3 below, discuss what would be the best time to get the home on the market, and get a rough idea of the price & net you can expect.
2. Prepare the property. By now you should have determined which repairs and upgrades deserve your attention, and the time you have to get them done. Most sellers focus on the wrong things–things that bug them, as residents, but that most buyers don’t even notice.
Concentrate on things that a person would notice when just spending 60 seconds touring the home, because the first 60 seconds are the critical first impression period. That means the front yard, the front room, the kitchen, baths, & master bedroom. Don’t even think about fixing broken things that aren’t obvious, like an inoperable dishwasher. Those will be negotiated after the home inspection, and the buyer may not even care.
3. Stage the home. This is putting your best foot forward–like shining your shoes before a job interview. It usually involves removing clutter and some furniture throughout the home. Sometimes we recommend adding or changing furniture so that the home will appeal to the most likely buyer. For example, many sellers have converted a bedroom into an office or den after their kids have moved out, but frequently buyers need an extra bedroom more than a den. We actually have an inventory of what we call “instant beds” to use in such a situation. The slower the market, the more critical this step is.
We also instruct our sellers how to stage the home before each showing, which usually includes turning on extra lights and moving to the front yard while the home is shown. We usually discuss the questions they can expect from buyers and agents, and the best ways to respond (rule #1 is “Never lie.”)
4. Price accurately. Not too high, not too low. Based not just on recent sales but also on an evaluation of your competition–the best priced, most attractive homes currently on the market. Not based on what the seller values, but on the values of the most likely buyers, who are usually quite a bit younger than the seller. Here’s another place where an inexperienced, dishonest or lazy agent can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Also one who isn’t familiar with your neighborhood.
5. Wise, aggressive marketing. This involves doing dozens of things right: flyers, Multiple Listing Information & photos, web photos and virtual tours, property search placement, web and print advertising, open houses, etc. There’s a right way and many wrong ways to do each one.
For example, the only phone numbers on our signs and flyers are our cell phones. Sign calls don’t go to an 18 year old receptionist who’s never seen the property, but to one of the two listing agents, day or night. We’re even careful about the time of day and day of the week we input our listings. We shoot our own virtual tours because Blair’s a great photographer and we know what buyers are looking for (for an example, check out LosAlDreamHome.com. Each home gets it’s own website with an appropriate domain we buy just for it. Our goal is to obtain competing offers the first weekend or two. By the way, we’re counting the 30 days to sell from the day it hits the market to the day you accept an offer.
5. Negotiate wisely. Again, dozens of things that need to be done right. Herb Cohen’s You Can Negotiate Anything is one of my favorite layman’s books on negotiations, but the real secret is to find an agent who’s an expert at it. It’s not just about price–terms, time frames, repairs, deposits, release of deposits, and the buyers’ ability to qualify & intention to close are also critical.
6. Disclose wisely, follow up regularly, and don’t blow it during the escrow. My mentor used to say 90% of our work is done once the escrow’s opened. With today’s crazy news and lending climate, that’s even more true today than it was in 1980.
We’re talking about correct execution of basic fundamentals.
And yes, you still can sell your home for top dollar in 30 days, with the right approach and the right help.
For a real-life example of the sort of teamwork necessary to implement this approach in today’s market, including some of the challenges, check out “The team that made it happen.”
As always, your questions, comments, and feedback is appreciated. You can also call us directly at 562.822.SOLD.
Tags: Business, For Sellers, Home Sellers, Lakewood real estate, Long Beach California real estate, Market Trends and Projections, Orange County California real estate, real estate seller tips, real estate slump, real estate strategies, real estate trends, Southern California Real Estate