Tips from Real Estate Insiders on Selling Your Home

While many Americans consider selling their home an emotional experience, in actuality it's not - selling your home is a business transaction and should be treated as one. From locking down repairs to staging a home, smart homeowners leave no stone unturned when maximizing their return on investment when selling their residence. What are the best - and most creative - ways to get every dollar you can out of a house sale? Read on - and see what actual real estate industry professionals would do to boost profits if they were selling their homes.


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Master the 'first glimpse' moment
Master the 'first glimpse' moment

Homebuyers can be fickle and are more than ready to move on to the next home if the vibe isn't right. Change that equation by painting a picture of what their life would be like in your home. "What you need to do that is a quick home improvement list," says Teris Pantazes, co-founder of EFynch.com, a homeowner and handyman community firm located in Baltimore. "Emphasize doing something unique - but not over-the-top - to make your place memorable." 

How do you accomplish that?

"You could borrow a classic car and park it in your garage or install matching light bulbs in all fixtures with constant lighting tones," Pantazes, adds. "Open all windows as much as possible to remove any unique odors, and if you can't open your windows, bake some bread the day of a showing, just before a home tour."

Focus on small repairs
Focus on small repairs

Don't forget about the small fixes that you've grown accustomed to living with - chances are homebuyers will notice, says Chris Taylor, a real estate broker with Boston-based Advantage Real Estate. "Touching up paint, fixing that kitchen cabinet so that it doesn't sit at an angle, are just a few examples of easy, cheap fixes that you need to make," Taylor notes. "You want buyers to be looking at all of the counter space the kitchen has and not focused on that crooked cabinet door that keeps catching their eye."

Scrub your home spotless
Scrub your home spotless

The number one turn off for buyers is filth, says Bill Leeper, a real estate agent with Your Colorado Home Group, in Denver. "Nobody keeps a perfectly spotless home 100% of the time, but buyers are very unforgiving to the home that has a sticky residue on the kitchen countertops or that has dirty clothes on the floor that have to be stepped over during the showing," Leeper says. "Give the house a deep clean first and clean it before every showing."

Get a home appraisal
Get a home appraisal

Pricing your home correctly is 80% of the task in selling a home, says Bruce Ailion, a realtor and attorney with RE/MAX Town and Country in Atlanta. The right price solves issues of location, home condition issues, market condition issues, and market appeal issues. "Price solves all problems," Ailion notes. "There is a price at which any property will sell, and there are prices at which a particular property will never sell." When Ailion meets with a seller, he provides a professional opinion of value. "If we disagree, I will suggest they get an appraisal," he explains. "I'll list at the appraised price for 30 days, and we can test the market before reducing the price. If the property sells at or above the appraisal that is higher than my opinion of value, I'll pay for the appraisal."

Get all your inspections up front
Get all your inspections up front

"The number one thing I tell my sellers is to complete as many inspections on the property as possible," says Greg Hamer, a realtor at Alain Pinel Realtors in Carmel, Calid. "When you perform inspections like termite, septic/sewer and roof, you can eliminate a whole slew of unknowns. This enables the buyer to make a true offer knowing all the possible deficiencies that may come with the property. It also lets the seller know that there might be an upfront cost associated with repairing the property to the point that it is marketable."

In addition, having all inspections done gives you a bargaining chip during negotiations. "Want to take a cheaper offer? Sure, but the buyer takes care of the pest repairs or other known deficiencies," Hamer adds.

Focus on the CMA
Focus on the CMA

Pay attention to your real estate agent's Competitive Market Analysis (CMA), says Irene Keene, a licensed realtor in Madison, Conn. "Your agent put a lot of time into coming up with a price range based on recent comps," Keene offers. "Don't downplay his or her suggested list price just because it isn't anywhere near the number you had in your head." Keene says it doesn't matter that your neighbor's house sold for X-amount, and you feel that your house is better and should be priced higher.

"It doesn't matter what you have to walk away with, and it doesn't matter that you paid $50,000 to $100,000 more than the agent's suggested list price just because you purchased before the market crashed," she adds. "Go with a competitive list price that will challenge the market, and bring buyers to your door. At the end of the day a house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay."

Invite good advice
Invite good advice

Let your agent bring his or her office colleagues through the house, and pay attention to the suggestions given, Keene advises. "Once a week most real estate offices have an in-house meeting, after which the agents tour the office's newest listings," she says. "Agents fill out a slip of paper with price suggestion and comments. If 15 agents have gone through your home, and all the response cards note that you should mitigate pet odor, touch up paint (interior and/or exterior), remove wallpaper, or declutter, there's a reason for that. Heed the advice."

Make your home new again
Make your home new again

Today's buyers (especially younger ones) want an updated home, notes Marie Phelan Gordon, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Fox and Roach, in Wayne, Pa. "Buyers don't want to take on projects in general," Gordon says. "If there's more than one tired-looking area of the home, a property sits or gets lowball offers. Sweat equity doesn't have any appeal to those buyers."

Gordon says that one local property was recently selected over another because it only required a kitchen renovation and updated baths. "The other rejected property was in a better location, had great curb appeal and a more desirable floor plan but had the original kitchens and baths," she says.

Rent a storage unit
Rent a storage unit

Clean homes sell, and sell fast, says Missi Wilson, a Realtor with Northbrook Realty in Dallas. "If I were selling my home, I'd put a majority of my belongings in storage and clean the entire house," Wilson says. "If a home looks and feels crowded, it will lose potential buyers, who need to be able to envision where they'll put their own belongings."

Write a book
Write a book

Wilson advises home sellers to create a "book of information" that buyers can flip through when they're viewing the home. "The book should include a written welcome letter that states the best features of the home, as well as information on the home, recent repairs with receipts, floor plan, and pictures," she says.

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