Anyone who has sold more than a couple homes has probably heard all the pitches from different agents, stories from neighbors, and maybe even read some books about selling a home. And all of those things probably have worked somewhere, sometime.
Once I took a listing, walked out to my car and as I was placing a “For Sale” sign in the front yard a buyer pulled up and wanted to see the house. They walked through it, loved it, bought it that night. Once I was sitting an “Open House” that was vacant and a couple walked in needing somewhere to move into the next week as the home they were buying caught fire and their apartment had been leased. My home was the best they saw that day that was also vacant and ready for immediate possession, so they bought it. Once I sent out “Just Listed” postcards in the neighborhood around a home I just put on the market and a neighbor called me. I showed her the home and she bought it for her son.
So does that mean that the best way to sell a house is a yard sign, open house, or postcard? Of course not. Usually selling a home (for top dollar) takes a lot of marketing, money and diligent effort.
And times have changed. Newspapers used to bring buyers, now they’re not nearly as popular unless you place full color (expensive) block ads, which we do. Open houses used to be a much bigger deal. Now, most people prefer to take a virtual tour of a home at their convenience. The internet didn’t exist in real estate ten years ago, now it’s the most powerful form of marketing available.
In my experience there are five things that matter most when selling a home.
Accessibility is important because if people can’t see the home they won’t buy it. This is why it’s important to have keybox. And most MLS systems now support an electronic keybox that is much safer and allows greater access by the agents. These are much better than a combo keybox that anyone can get into if they know the code.
Condition is important to selling, but mostly it’s important to selling for top dollar. If your agent can help you stage your home it will help, or even better- call an interior designer and have them come out for a consultation. They will usually walk through your home with your and give you tips on making your home look it’s best for under $200. Money well spent if brings an offer for thousands more.
Price of course makes the biggest difference, and pricing your home effectively is a very important piece to selling. Over-price and you miss out on the first critical weeks on the market because buyers are comparing your home to homes that are actually worth that price. But nobody wants to leave money on the table, and pricing a home too low can leave a seller out $Thousands.
The MLS is where all the agents, and their buyers, are finding homes. And unless it’s a roaring hot sellers market, agents don’t usually show For Sale By Owner homes, so if you aren’t listed on the MLS you’re missing out on showing it to most all of the buyers. And just being on the MLS is not the end of the story- if you are with an entry-only or limited services broker that hurts, just like an MLS listing that has no information about the home hurts. You need to utilize the entire breadth of value from the MLS- photos and virtual tour, detailed home information, a good co-broker commission and well-written comments about the home that entice people to see it.
The Internet is where all the buyers are looking. To get on the biggest, and only relevant websites you need to be on the MLS because this is where the big sites all get their feeds and information. Being on the websites that have the traffic will expose a home to more buyers than all the other stuff combined. And there must be a virtual tour to have the best exposure. Buyers and agents look at the homes with tours first, and many only look at homes with tours.
Of these five things, a home seller is responsible for three of them. The seller determines how accessible a home is going to be. And they are responsible for the condition a home is in and for keeping it looking it’s best while it is for sale. And, regardless of what some agents will tell you, the seller is responsible for the price. It’s their home and their money. A professional Realtor will help with all three of these things.
And a professional Realtor will also be able to help market the property on the MLS correctly and place the property, with a virtual tour, on the relevant websites, as well as help you with the negotiations, paperwork, and coordination of the transaction.