Houses are selling fast here in North Texas. I hear stories just about every day of houses that are on the market less than seven days.
Across the nation, home sales are up from last year, according to the National Association of Realtors.
With Spring here, interest rates still low, and all the buzz about real estate coming back, you may be interested in selling your house. We’ve got everything you need to know below about how to sell your house.
When it comes to real estate, they say all that matters is location. Well, when you are trying to sell you house that information doesn’t do a lot of good. You can’t change the location of your house (unless you’re rolling in a mobile home). Let’s focus on what you can do to sell your house. Let’s break it down into three factors:
- You can adjust the price and use better negotiation tactics.
- You can make your house more appealing by improving the condition.
- Lastly, you could do a better job of marketing your house to potential buyers.
Let’s look at each of these ways which should help you sell your house. Before we do that though, let’s mention working with an agent.
How to Sell Your House Working with an Agent
I spoke with Larry Kellum, friend and owner of WelcomeMat Services here in my home town and he said he just sold his house and decided to work with an agent. I asked him why he chose to use an agent versus doing it himself. He said, “I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle of selling it myself”.
It’s much easier to sell your house on your own these days. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider an agent. If you are going to use a professional real estate agent, a Realtor, then you won’t have to worry as much about pricing, marketing, or staging. The agent should guide you through each of those steps. That’s what you’re paying them for.
But an agent’s help will not come cheap. An agent will charge 6% commission to sell your house. For a 300,000 house, that’s $18,000. That’s a big enough chunk to wipe out a lot of the equity you may have in your house. If you’re in a market where house values are still recovering, this might not be an option.
Some agents may work with you for less if you are only interested in using a portion of their services, listing-only for instance. And there are now hybrid agent services available at a discount, like RealDirect.com, where you can potentially sell your house for a 2% commission.
But even if you avoid the selling agent’s portion of the commission (3%), you will still likely have to deal with the buyer’s agent and pay them their 3%. Because of this, many sellers reside just to use the services of an agent themselves.
José R. Figueroa, financial coach at FigueroaFinancial.com, offered up a great idea via Twitter. He suggested offering the buyer’s agent an additional incentive. So even if you opt out of using an agent on your end, you can use some of the savings to turn the heads of all the buyer’s agents in the area.
Even if you can easily afford a traditional agent, it’s good to know these other tips below to ensure your agent is doing a good job.
1. Pricing Your House to Sell
To price your house appropriately it helps tremendously to have full knowledge of the home sales prices in your neighborhood. This information can be obtained easily when working with an agent, as they will have direct access to the multiple listing service (MLS).
While you can’t use MLS on your own, you could work with alternative pricing services, like Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. The folks at BiggerPockets.com put together a larger list of places to look for house values.
While it’s good to understand your local market and neighborhood’s pricing, that doesn’t take into account improvements you’ve made over time. Be sure to add those into the total sales price. Some improvements add more value than others.
One last step to get a firm handle on your pricing is to have the house appraised. You can pay a professional appraiser around $300 to give you an appraisal. You can also pay a site like ForSaleByOwner.com to do an online appraisal/pricing report for $40.
Ultimately you won’t really know what your house is worth until someone buys your house. For that reason, you might want to start your listing at 5-10% more than your estimated (I’ve-got-my-heart-set-on-it) value. Then you will have room to negotiate with potential buyers, keeping in mind that if you aren’t using an agent, you’ll have a little extra wiggle room in the price, all things considered.
If you don’t have much room to negotiate on price, there are still some ways to add value to a sale offer. Is there something you could offer along with the house? For instance, some of the furniture or appliances? Or how about outdoor equipment like a trampoline, kid’s playhouse, or an above-ground pool?
Another option is to offer lawn or security service for a year? As crazy as it sounds, it’s not so uncommon for sellers to even offer a new car along with the house. Thanks to Lance from MoneyLifeandMore.com for this suggestion via Twitter.
2. Home Improvements and Staging to Sell Your House
To sell your house, it helps to have it in great condition and looking its best. If something is broke, fix it. If a buyer knows he or she will have to make several improvements to the house, then they will naturally subtract that amount from the price they are willing to pay. Improvements that make the biggest difference to sale price include minor kitchen remodels and outdoor decks.
Along with repairs and improvements, you will want to stage the house for viewing by buyers. “Buyers want to envision themselves in the house”, says Tai and Tarin Perry aka “The Double Saving Divas”. To do this, you may need to rent a storage space temporarily (to store all of your clutter), and it may even be wise to rent some furniture temporarily to improve upon what you already have.
More reading: 15 Secrets to Home Staging
Finally, give the front yard a face lift. Keep the lawn and landscaping in great condition. Also, make sure the front door and surrounding area are looking their best. This is the first place potential buyers meticulously inspect as they approach the house.
3. Marketing Your House to Sell
If the price is right and the condition is excellent, all that’s left to do to ensure a quick sale is the marketing. You need to inform as many people as possible, and the right kind of people, that your house is for sale.
For starters, get a professional looking sign in your yard. Take excellent pictures (at least one from each room) and list your house on Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, and other listing services. Consider adding a promotional flyer which you can leave with your sign using an attached display case or tube.
Brandon Turner at BiggerPockets.com suggests a couple of unique ideas for marketing your home. First, you could create your own website. Setting up a website using WordPress is really easy these days. No technical experience required.
Another idea he had was to advertise on Facebook. I can’t speak to the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, but I know it is relatively inexpensive and it’s easy to target your specific audience.
In summary, to sell your house, the house should be in the best condition possible, you should use all the resources at your disposal to market the house to potential buyers, and you should price your house appropriately, using incentives and good negotiation skills to close the deal.
Sold your house recently? What tips do you have for selling your house? Purchased a house recently? Did the seller provide an extra incentive for you to buy?