Putting your home on the market can be one of the most stressful times of your life. Usually selling your house means that there’s a significant change going on in your life.
It could be merely upgrading to something better, or it could be a move across town, across the state, or across the country. Regardless, with time almost always a factor when you’re moving, the goal is to get your home sold at an acceptable dollar amount as quickly as possible.
Failing to do so can have catastrophic effects on your pocketbook. If you move to a new house while your old one is still on the market, you risk paying two mortgages for months at a time, not to mention things like HOA fees and costs of maintaining your yard. Additionally, it’s a universal truth in real estate that the longer a house sits on the market, the less money you’ll get for it.
According to Redfin, the average house takes a little more than two months – about 70 days – to sell. That’s two months extra in mortgage and two months of holding off your plans to move to a new place.
But what if you could cut that timeframe down significantly without quitting your job to become your house’s own personal marketing representative?
There are several easy hacks that can not only generate more interest in your home but also maintain that attention once potential buyers have made contact and viewed the property. Here are five tips to consider when it’s time to put your home on the market.
Use a real estate agent.
This might sound like a bit of a no-brainer, but 13% of the home-buying population in 2017 sold their homes themselves. While this gives you more control over parts of the process, it also consumes a lot more of your time as you have to answer every phone call and email from a potential buyer, along with showing the house yourself.
And then there’s the financial consideration. According to Realtor.com, the average home sold through a real estate agent goes for $250,000, while the average home sold by the owner goes for $215,00. Take out a high-end realtor commission of 6% ($15,000), and you’re still coming away with $235,000 – $20,000 more than selling it on your own.
Not to mention that these are professionals who do not get paid unless the house sells. They put as much effort into that process as possible to get a satisfying result.
Create a website for your home.
Some real estate agents will do this themselves, by taking a lot of photos and writing copy for a listing page on their business website. But who knows your home better than you?
Sites through hosting companies like WordPress can be created free of charge and easily constructed to give Internet browsers a personalized, stylized tour of your home. With high-quality photos and videos easily accessible thanks to smartphone technology, you can create a “highlight reel” of the very best parts of your home.
You can control the narrative about what the best features are and make your words and images stick in the mind of potential buyers. It also makes the listing of your home easy to share on social media which can exponentially expand the number of potential buyers seeing your listing and the best version of your house.
The dogs and the cats need a vacation.
Most of us don’t feel complete without our favorite four-legged friends at home, but Fifi and Fido need to find a temporary home away from home once showings of the house have commenced. The reason is three-fold.
First of all, not everyone likes felines and canines as much as you, and if one is loose in your home during the showing and wants to get a tummy rub and be friends, that can turn a buyer off in the first five seconds.
Seconds, dogs in particular, even if they are in a cage, a crate, or the backyard, tend to not take kindly to intruders in the house and might bark from the moment the tour starts until the potential customers have left.
But the biggest sale-killer of all is the potential of allergens infesting your house. An estimated 10% of the population is allergic to dog or cat dander. Before the showings start, find suitable temporary homes for your animals, then use a cleaning service to get the whole house done.
You might have people come to a showing who love your house, but if it turns into a sneeze-fest for them because of their allergies, their subconscious minds will be trying to cross your property off the list.
That’s your escape plan?
There’s only one thing worse than your pets being home when a real estate agent drives up to show the house, and that’s you being there. It can make for an incredibly awkward situation as strangers walk through your home sizing it up with a real estate agent in tow while you’re there watching TV, eating dinner, or doing the laundry.
You need to create a list of things you can go and do if the real estate agent calls with the knowledge that someone wants to tour the house. If you’re single or married without kids, this is a lot easier task – grab a snack, take in a movie, hit up the Internet cafe of your choice, etc.
Most showings rarely take longer than 20-30 minutes. If you have kids, there’s always a trip to a relative or friend’s house, a stop at the playground, or to see what the grandparents are up to today.
Make every effort possible to vacate your home before the interested parties arrive. You don’t want them seeing the property as your house but as the potential of their future residence.
Show off your space.
If you’ve been in a house for a long time or if you have a lot of furniture and personal decorations, it can be tough for interested buyers to visualize the space without the stuff. That’s where the real estate art of staging comes in.
With the help of your real estate agent, you can temporarily relegate your possessions to the garage or a storage facility and replace them with furniture and decorations that accent the space in a minimalistic way.
Doing this allows your family to continue functioning inside the house, but shows off the angles, areas, and flow of a property, making it easier for potential buyers to envision what their furniture and decorations would look like inside.
It’s a great idea if you’ve already moved out and you have no furniture or decorations left. Sometimes, an empty house is as difficult to sell as one filled with someone else’s stuff.
Maximize the outdoor appeal.
Your house might be Martha Stewart’s dream on the inside, but if you’ve got weeds and wasp nests on the outside, buyers will be disappointed before they even step inside. Consider hiring a lawn crew or merely heading to the local garden center to get some fresh sod and brightly-colored flowers to spruce up your front yard.
Keep the grass mowed and edged on a weekly basis to catch the buyers’ eyes and consider adding some decorations to the lawn, patio, or porch. If you like to grill, make sure that outdoor area is spotless; ditto with any kids’ play equipment that is part of the property.
Don’t let the buyers see the blemishes when it just takes a little investment of time and money to clean them up.