If you’ve waited out this long, harsh winter to put your home on the market, your patience is about to be rewarded. The real estate market is making a promising comeback—multiple offers are enticing home sellers, and the bidding wars have begun! We know you want to be holding the prize for at least one of those bidding wars, so we’ve compiled a few tips for making your home the one that buyers are willing to fight for.
Remember, we’re entering the busiest time of year for home sales, so most likely you’ll have some competition. Here are the key ingredients for a home that is going to command an audience.
Price it at fair market value.
First, start with price. The biggest mistake many homeowners make is overpricing right off the bat and expecting home buyers to come in with a bid that’s closer to market. What’s actually happening is your competition is listing their homes at market value, and many are selling the first week. A strategy of dropping the price after a few weeks or months if it hasn’t sold yet will come back to haunt you; people who already came and saw your home already moved on and bought a neighbor’s comparable house at market value. Those buyers are not coming back.
Ask your realtor to show you some comps in the community so you can get a good idea of market value and where you should price your home. Better yet, be proactive and do a bit of research on your own. If you want to receive at least a few genuinely solid offers, know your market and your competition, and price your home accordingly. No buyer is going to pay more than market value in a community with plenty of fairly priced options. Don’t over-price your home if you’re not willing to sell low later in the season, or still be living in it by fall.
Make sure it shows like Town & Country just photographed it for their cover.
Of course you want it clean and neat, but if you want your home to stand out and entrance buyers, it must look fabulous. Home buyers usually look no further when they find a place in which they can see themselves living. In today’s competitive market, you want your home to elicit an emotional connection from buyers. You want them to picture themselves entertaining, having out-of-town guests for a weekend, throwing birthday parties for family members. You’ve given yourself a great start by understanding the importance of pricing the home at market value. Now take the extra step and make it a page-out-of-a-magazine perfect for the online listing’s professional photo shoot. Most buyers will see your home first via the Internet, so you want to make these photos count; you want buyers to want to come see your house right away, and to be excited at the prospect.
Let the sun into every room, paint the walls in warm, neutral tones, place fresh flowers in bedrooms, living room and dining room, and spring for the upgrades in the kitchen and baths if you know they’re needed. Clear most of your belongings out and into storage, and stage the home to present a spacious, warm and casually elegant environment. Make it look effortless, like Martha Stewart herself approved the end result.
Of course, you have control over the price you put on your home and the way it shows to buyers. Hopefully, when you bought the home, you did so with location in mind as well.
Location. Location. Location.
Location is extremely important to most home buyers. They want convenience, a great community that suits their lifestyles, close proximity to schools, churches and work. Younger buyers and empty nesters often want to be close to the downtown scene, where they can easily walk to stores, museums, restaurants and the like. Living in the city is a plus for most of us who aren’t raising children at the moment and like the close proximity to lots of activity. Of course, the same rings true for suburban and rural communities, which are usually most desirable for families with active children, or the avid sports enthusiasts who like to be close to ski slopes, mountain trails and the associated peace and quiet that goes along with a more serene setting.
If your home is located on a heavily trafficked highway, or in the flight path to an international airport, you might have a bit of a harder sell on your hands. But every homeowner has their own priorities; keep that in mind when you’re staging the home to show off it’s unique qualities and beautiful interior features, insulated sun porch, newly remodeled kitchen, etc. Yours could be the perfect find for an airline employee hoping to be close to the airport, or someone who loves the idea of being in their car and downtown for work in five minutes. Accentuate the positive!
So, it boils down to three key elements that get bidding wars started on for-sale properties: price, charm, and location. Buyers look for perceived value, which is why those priced over market value rarely sell during that critical first week. If your home is priced fairly and all the qualities are there, buyers will drive the price above your asking because they have found what they want and they’re willing to compete to pay more. Usually when one buyer falls in love you can expect others to follow. Make sure to work with a local professional real estate agent who knows the area and can offer any advice you may need on maximizing your home’s selling points.