Ronald S. Cook, Licensed Real Estate Broker

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Seller Tips
 

1.  Commit to the Process

· The smart home seller makes a conscious decision and commitment to sell, plans carefully what to do when the sale occurs, chooses the timing carefully when possible, prices the home in accordance with recent comparable sales, keeps emotions in check and out of the way, listens to the advice of and lists the home with a professional and allocates adequate time off from work to handle all of the above.
· In any market there are homes that go up for sale and just don't sell. Believe it or not, the number of homes not selling (called expired listings in the trade) can be as high as 40-60%. Why? The reason is simple - commitment on behalf of the seller. Too often homes are listed for sale to "test the market", or to "see if we can get our price". At other times, the homes are just not in condition to be sold - at any price. Seller commitment, not to a listing, but to a sale, is critical.

2. Hire a Seller's Agent (Listing Agent) to Represent You

· Industry estimates vary but it is generally thought that over 90% of homes are sold with the assistance of a real estate agent. Unless you have significant home selling experience and current knowledge of applicable laws, regulations and market conditions it just makes good sense to hire a professional. After all, you would go to the Dentist for a toothache and visit an Attorney for your will. Why would you try a home remedy for a significant financial transaction like selling real estate?
· Most home buyers today are choosing to be represented in the transaction by a Buyer's Agent. This means that they are choosing to have someone on their side in the hope that it keeps the playing field level or perhaps tilts it in their direction. The prudent home seller will also choose to obtain professional assistance and representation. Visit the Seller's Page for further information on how to choose a Seller's Agent.

3. Clean Up / Fix Up / Inspect

· When selling a car or boat most people will fix it up, clean it up, wax and polish it, buy new tires for it, etc., etc. However, those same people often set out to sell their home with the idea that they should just be able to put a sign in their front yard and get ready to move. On the other hand, people that buy homes want a clean well kept place in which to live. They don't welcome taking on the task of correcting someone else's problems and neglect.
· It also pays the prudent home seller to arrange for an inspection prior to listing the home for sale. A licensed home inspector will turn up many issues which merit correction in the areas of structural integrity, repair & maintenance or safety. Since the home buyer will be sure to have his own inspection done prior to finalizing the deal it just makes good sense to find out these things early and take care of them up front. The result is a faster sale for more money.

4. Price It Right - The First Time

· If the first rule of real estate is location the second rule is price. One of the principle reasons homes do not sell in a reasonable period of time is because they are priced incorrectly - usually too high. Problem is, after a home has been on the market for a while without selling buyers become wary. . . "it has been for sale forever, there must be something wrong with it."
· "But we can always come down on the price" say the sellers. Yes, you can - and should. The problem is that homes that are priced too high to begin with usually don't receive a price reduction soon enough and eventually sell for less than they would have had they been priced properly to begin with. Solution: Hire an honest, competent Seller's Broker and follow his advice on pricing.

5. Time It Right

· Granted, not everyone has the luxury of being able to plan their move around the "selling season" and there is no doubt that homes are sold all year long. Problem is, too often discretionary sellers wait to get motivated until the season has passed them by. Then they spend time and effort getting the home fixed up, price it at (or above) the level where homes were selling during the "active time of year", put it on the market during the worst time of year and - wait, wait, wait.
· If the timing cannot be controlled, other things can. The astute seller will seek counsel with a trusted Seller's Broker as to market conditions and timing - and then act accordingly.

6. Market It Right

· It just makes common sense. If you want to sell a property it must be available to be seen by the prospective buyers - when they want to see it. Often this means short notice on showings. It also means that all agents need to have the easiest access possible to get their buyers in the door. In most markets this means a key box on the property.
· There is a general belief that advertising is the principle key in obtaining showings of homes for sale. Advertising is needed. In fact, the most effective advertisement is the professional For Sale sign in the yard. But, what is not well known, is that the next best advertising is not as readily seen by the general public. It is the Multiple Listing System. MLS is seen by those who actually sell real estate, RealtorsŇ / brokers / agents. Unless MLS does not exist in a given market the seller should depend on his Seller's Broker to properly display the home in MLS.
· In today's market it is also critical to use the latest technology. This means that you must have internet exposure and a Realtor® willing and able to manage your listing and sale accordingly.

7. Know Where You Are Going

· If you are selling it usually means that you will be moving. Not only will you be moving but the buyers will want to move in once the transaction is closed. Sounds easy enough. Problem is that sometimes sellers think that they can sell but there should be no urgency on their move out. Wrong. Buyers almost always want Possession at Closing and usually expect to close within in a reasonable period of time following an agreed Contract to Purchase - typically 30 to 45 days.
· There are many options for the seller, the easiest of which is already having another home purchased. If this is not feasible there are other possibilities to be explored but this needs to be done prior to beginning the selling process. An experienced Listing Agent can assist the home seller in evaluating these options and can usually represent the seller as a Buyer's Agent for the purchase or rental of the new property.

8. Insist on Pre Approved Buyers Only

· When a home seller receives an offer to purchase there should be one primary factor that is always considered first - and it is not price. This factor is whether or not the buyer is financially able to conclude the transaction. As a seller you have limited knowledge about who the buyer is or how reliable they may be. However, you do have the ability to insist that they demonstrate their financial ability.
· Many buyers require financing when they make a home purchase and the financing approval process is quite intense. When a home buyer has made the effort up front to get pre-approved a statement from the prospective lender regarding the buyer's pre-approval status can be provided.

9. Negotiate Smart

· So, you did most everything right and now have a written purchase offer in hand. What now? A lot depends on the price, terms and conditions of the offer and the strength of the buyer. There is no pat formula as to how to respond to an offer but some general negotiating principles usually apply.
· Try to understand the buyer's needs and reasoning. For example: Is the offer low because the buyer thinks excessive repairs will be needed? If so, does the buyer have a valid point? Now's the time to get realistic if you haven't already.
· Try to respond to the offer so that a Win/Win agreement can be reached. For example: It might be foolish in a strong seller's market to be relentless in extracting every possible dollar and concession from the buyer in the negotiation. After all, without this buyer there might not be a sale at all and the worst thing that can happen is "buyer's remorse" at the last minute and refusal to close.
· Sometimes an offer is just not acceptable or even worthy of a response and sometimes multiple offers are received at the same time. Your agent sees a lot more offers than you do and should be a key player in helping you make the right decisions in handling negotiations. If you haven't gotten a Listing Agent yet please visit the Seller's Page.

10. Be Pro-Active

· This may seem to be a given to most people but it is truly amazing how many home sellers think that all they have to do is sign the contract and everything else will magically occur without their participation. The fact is that there are many details that only the seller can resolve to assure a timely, trouble free sale and closing. The Seller's agent will counsel and assist throughout the process but the seller will have the best overall result by being fully aware of all aspects of the process and asking as many questions as possible along the way.

Pricing a home
If you're planning on selling a house, you'll have to decide what price you're going to ask for the home. This is one of the most important and difficult decisions you'll have to make. Buyers select by comparison shopping, so your home will have to have a fair market price in order for it to sell. A real estate professional can help you determine the market value of your home while still obtaining the top-dollar price for your piece of property.
 

Some of the things to consider when choosing your home price are:
What is the age & condition of your home?
Does it need updating?
What have similar homes in your area sold for?
Have homes in your area been increasing or decreasing in value?
Are there a lot of homes for sale in your area?
Remember, your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. By working with a qualified real estate professional, you can ensure that your property will receive the needed exposure to attract interested parties who are willing to make an offer.

Making Your Home Look Its Best
When you're selling your home you'll want to put forth the very best product. Buyers aren't coming for just a quick look but for a careful inspection. Keep the exterior neat by painting the trim, clipping the hedges, mowing, edging, and weeding the lawn and you may even want to plant a few flowers.
Inside you'll want to lighten up the darker corners, perhaps add some fresh paint and put the clutter away to give the rooms an open feeling. Make sure there are no "stale" odors in the home. This can be especially important for remote areas such as a basement or attic. On the day of your open house, you may want to consider baking some cookies or bring in some fragrant fresh flowers. This will add a cheery and pleasant scent to your home. These little things just may help you sell your home a bit more quickly.


Marketing Your Home
When selling your home, you must realize that it's not likely that the right buyer will simply walk through your door on their own. Generally, you have to bring your home to the buyer, and that means counting on a real estate professional to put forth a successful marketing campaign. You'll want an agent who will make the best use of television and newspaper advertising, and one who uses state-of-the-art techniques such as an interactive voice-response system, a front end MLS system and the internet. And, you'll want to have a number of open houses to expose your property to a wide variety of "window shoppers". Make sure your agent is trained not only in the financial aspect of a real estate transaction, but the marketing aspect as well.

An Offer!
When you have a home for sale, eventually a prospective buyer will "make an offer." As the seller, you basically have three options: you can accept the offer, reject the offer or give a counter offer. A counter offer usually will encourage a buyer to continue their negotiations. You may also receive multiple offers. You may prefer to take slightly less for your property from someone who is willing to pay cash, versus someone who needs to sell their current home first. Contingencies, move-in dates, and financing are all things to consider when weighing an offer. If things seem a bit overwhelming, rely on your experienced real estate professional, who can go over the various points with you, and help you choose the best offer.
 

The Closing
Once you've accepted an offer on your property there's a number of details that still need to be finished. There will probably be an inspection of your home by a professional who will determine the condition and integrity of your property for the buyer. The buyer's mortgage company may choose to send out an appraiser who will assure the lender of your property's worth. The title company will warranty that there are no liens or existing encumbrances which would inhibit a transfer of title to the buyer. Either you or the buyer may chose to be represented by an attorney. First time sellers and buyers often feel more comfortable to have the paper work reviewed prior to signing. Rest assured that you can always rely on your real estate professional to make sure the entire home selling process proceeds smoothly.


 

Copyright © Ronald S. Cook, Licensed Real Estate Broker, New York