If you are thinking about selling your house or condo, what are you waiting
for? Spring is traditionally the best time of year to sell homes for top dollar.
The reason is this is the peak season when the maximum number of home buyers are
in the market place searching for homes to buy.
With home mortgage interest rates remaining near record lows, 2005 looks like
another near-record year for home sales prices and volumes. To make things even
more exciting for sellers, many local home sales markets have a shortage of
house and condo listings.
Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.
That situation is known as a "seller's market," meaning there are more
qualified home buyers than homes available for sale. The result could be
multiple purchase offers if your home is in good condition and is priced
TO EARN TOP DOLLAR, SELL A "MODEL HOME." If you want to earn top
dollar for your home, first get it into almost "model home" condition. That
means all the buyer need do is turn the key in the front door and move in. Most
home buyers want a home which doesn't require immediate fix-up work and they are
willing to pay for it.
If you are not willing to get your home into tip-top condition before
exposing it to the market, don't expect to get top dollar. But there are lots of
buyers for "fixer upper houses."
For example, the current house where I have lived for 27 years had been
vacant at least four months before I purchased it. As a result, the sellers were
"motivated" and I got a good deal. However, after I moved in, I soon realized my
home had a few shortcomings, which made it less than a model home. That's why I
got a bargain price.
HOW TO GET YOUR HOME READY FOR SALE. Savvy home sellers realize
inexpensive fix-up can often make your home stand out from other competitive
listings and command top dollar. The most profitable improvement is a fresh cost
of paint, inside and outside.
Additional very profitable but inexpensive improvements include new light
fixtures, new carpets and refinished hardwood floors, fresh landscaping, and a
super-thorough clean-up. Look at your home through buyer's eyes. If something
needs fixing, spending a few dollars on fix-up can return thousands of extra
However, it's smart to avoid expensive major improvements, which often don't
add as much market value as they cost.
For example, if your kitchen and bathroom haven't been updated since the
Civil War, just give those rooms a fresh coat of paint, be sure the plumbing and
wiring are working, and install new appliances to be included in the sale. Lots
of prospective buyers either (a) like old-fashioned kitchens and bathrooms, or
(b) they want to remodel to their own standards. A sharp realty agent will
market your old-fashioned home as "cute" or "quaint."
EVEN IF YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR HOME ALONE, INTERVIEW AT LEAST THREE
SUCCESSFUL LOCAL REALTY AGENTS. After your home is in its tip-top best
condition ready to sell, it's time to call in the professionals. Even if you
think you can sell your home alone to "save the sales commission," interview at
least three successful local realty agents.
Be honest and let each agent know you are thinking about selling alone. After
you learn all the legal paperwork, pitfalls, and procedures required for a
lawsuit-free home sale today, you might change your mind.
But the realty agents you interview won't mind giving you their listing
presentations. The reason is they know most do-it-yourself home sellers give up
after 30 to 60 days and decide to list with a professional agent who has already
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM EACH AGENT YOU INTERVIEW. After each agent
inspects your home, the agent should prepare a written CMA (comparative market
This very valuable form shows (1) recent sales prices of comparable nearby
homes that have sold within the last few months, (2) asking prices of similar
neighborhood homes now listed for sale (your competition), (3) the asking prices
of recently expired listings of homes like yours, and (4) the agent's estimated
sales price for your home.
TEN KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK EACH AGENT INTERVIEWED. Be sure to ask each
agent you interview lots of questions. It's best to write these questions down
in advance so you won't forget.
The best agents will anticipate your questions, which might include (1) how
long have you been selling homes in my vicinity; (2) how many homes did you sell
within the last six months; (3) what real estate courses have you completed and
what professional designations do you hold; (4) what are the names and phone
numbers of your last six home sellers; (5) are you a full-time or part-time
agent (be wary of part-time agents unless they have very strong seller
references); (6) what is your written marketing plan for my home; (7) how many
listings do you have now (watch out for "numbers agents" who have too many
listings, lots of assistants, and little time to devote your home sale); (8)
what days of the week do you take off and who "covers" for you on those days;
(9) do you plan to take any vacation during my listing; and (10) what is your
minimum sales commission and minimum listing term; are these negotiable?
A few comments are appropriate: (1) Don't necessarily dismiss new agents.
They often have more time available and will work harder to sell your home than
a more experienced very busy agent with many listings. But before signing any
listing, be sure to check each agent's references of recent home sellers within
the last six months; (2) Unless you are selling an expensive home, cutting the
sales commission rate could mean buyer's agents won't show your home if they
will earn less commission than for selling competitive homes; (3) A 90-day
listing is usually sufficient to sell most homes (just in case you chose the
wrong agent) and you can always extend it if necessary; and (4) Unless a
part-time agent is very highly recommended by a trusted friend, you need a
full-time agent to earn top dollar and get the best service.
PRIMARY REASONS TO LIST WITH A PROFESSIONAL AGENT. In addition to the
sales and marketing skills of a professional agent, there are two additional
reasons to consider listing with an agent: (1) He or she should be a member of
the local multiple listing service (MLS), which exposes your home to the largest
possible number of prospective home buyers through the Internet at www.realtor.com and to local buyer's agents,
and (2) the agent can handle the 1,001 sales details from negotiating the sales
terms to arranging a successful closing.
The MLS is the most powerful sales tool available to realty agents. Because
over 70 percent of home buyers begin their search on the Internet, it is very
important to have this maximum MLS exposure for your home if you want top
SUMMARY: After your home is in tip-top condition, even if you want to
sell your home alone without professional help, interview at least three
successful realty agents who sell nearby homes. Only after interviewing these
agents, considering their CMAs, asking lots of questions, and checking their
seller references are you ready to decide how to get maximum market exposure for
your home to earn top dollar during this peak home sales season.
(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
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