Spring is best time to sell real estate for top dollar
Get tips on repairs, selecting an agent

Friday, May 20, 2021

By Robert J. Bruss
Inman News

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 reasonably.

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 profit dollars.

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 been interviewed.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM EACH AGENT YOU INTERVIEW. After each agent inspects your home, the agent should prepare a written CMA (comparative market analysis).

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 dollar.

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
Real Estate Center).

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Copyright 2005 Inman News


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