to Sell Your Home
Consider our Experience
Sample Marketing Plan
Pricing Your Home:
your home according to recent comparable sales in your area. What is a
comparable sale? Houses and neighborhoods are unique. Picking good
"comparables" is very subjective. It may not be the house next
door, which is too different, or a house two streets away may be too far.
There may be five sales in your neighborhood that work, or the best
comparable may be a mile away.
market analyses provided by title companies and the MLS system are
frequently fancy hokum -- like toilet paper, they come in fancy packages,
quilted with meaningless data for extra thickness. Unfortunately,
computerized data analysis can not factor in the unique attributes of
neighborhoods and homes. This is why appraisal calculations must be
performed manually. The analysis is very subjective and the subjective
criteria should be explained to you.
the agents presenting the "comparables" what criteria they used
and how they adjusted the prices for the variables in each criterion. That
should not be a hard question to answer if the agent has done their homework
and truly understands the process. A good property valuation should take
several approaches, which reach a similar conclusion. The conclusion should
be a price range, because this is not a pure science and it is impossible to
come up with a precise number.
is a saying "price changes go one way." Don't price too low.
Although in a "hot market" under-pricing can start a bidding
frenzy, which drives the price sky high. This is a risky strategy.
the other hand, the real estate marketplace defies common logic. Few agents
will take the time to make offers substantially below list price -- even if
the list price is way out-of-line. Lazy? Probably, but it is a phenomenon.
Don't price to high. I've gotten great deals for buyers on over-priced
homes, because our low offer was the only offer.
time stigma. Many agents/clients are afraid of homes, which have been on the
market too long. The assumption is that there is something wrong with the
house. Buyers think that if you are having problems selling, then they might
have problems when they need to sell.
the urgency of the sale. The lower the price the shorter the marketing time,
the higher the price the higher the profit. Does it really need to sell that
the commission. It is not set in stone. How hard will your house be to sell?
If it is a main-stream "cream-puff" which will sell in three days,
who needs to pay 6%. If your house needs special attention and has major
problems, how can incentives motivate the market? I sometimes suggest
advertising a higher percentage to the Buyer's agents on very tough home
sales -- it works. Tie commissions to performance or marketing time -- you
are the boss.
for a reduced commission for dual representation (double-ended) transaction
at the time of listing. If your listing agent is representing both buyer and
seller, he or she is doing more work, but not twice as much. The buyer may
also expect a price reduction, since they believe that they are representing
themselves (though not usually the case). The agent's liability exposure
increases under dual representation, and that should be considered.
the buyer negotiates credits or closing costs are paid by the seller, the
commission should reflect these reductions of the seller's net proceeds.
This should be stated in the listing agreement, and reflected in the
contract, usually in a counter offer or addendum.
Showcasing the Home:
your home look as appealing as possible to the widest range of buyers. Main
stream homes sell very quickly. Specialty homes take more time, or require
discounts so people will adapt.
to model homes to get ideas. These homes are professionally decorated and
staged for maximum effect (E-mail me for examples).
to follow these guidelines if you can.
Avoid extremes in colors/decor. Neutral is good, bold is risky.
The more light the better. But avoid a stark "hospital" look.
Light and warm colors work best.
Replace worn or dated carpet and window coverings -- simple & sharp.
Get rid of clutter, and put away excess furniture. The home should look
as spacious as possible. Don't be defensive about your realtor's suggestions.
Rent a storage locker.
Don't expect Buyers to visualize how it could look - show them.
everything in good working order. If buyers see deferred maintenance issues,
they might think that there are many unseen issues as well. Get those things
fixed. Think of the efforts Proctor & Gamble put forth to package toilet
paper and soap. The package can be more important than the product,
especially in an emotional issue.
having inspections (pest control
and home inspections) performed before
you put your house on the market. Knowledge is power. Surprises during
escrow inspections lead to difficult negotiations, and sometime abandoned
escrows. Knowing the problems in advance will allow you to fix them or
address them to your advantage. A cancelled escrow is a stigma on your home,
and can mean several weeks of lost marketing time.
your home on the market during the prime months: March, April, May, June and
July. These are the best months of the year to sell. That's the time when
the most buyers expect to buy.
sure your home shows well. Turn on lights when you leave the house. Make
sure there are no potent odors. Tobacco, fish dinners, pet dander, litter
boxes. These are all normal smells, but they do turn-off buyers. Provide
mood music. Don't necessarily pick your favorite, go neutral light classical
or jazz. Use a medium that will repeat or play all day. If you use a radio
station, pick one with few commercials (I can help).
out of the way when buyers view the home, and don't take them on a tour.
Buyers generally dislike that and it may communicate anxiety to them. If
buyers come back a second time, that is a good sign, leave the home if you
can. Give them the "space" to envision their new home.
Should it Take?
your home doesn't get an offer within 2 or 3 weeks of coming on the market,
talk with your agent about the problem, because there is one. Consider a
price reduction, but that is not the automatic solution. Consider possible
problems and their symptoms. Is the house being shown? Is there a problem
with entry, with pets, with perceptions? How much activity are competing
all homes will sell quickly. The more unique the home is, the less likely
that the right buyer will be looking just when you decide to sell. A lower
price might entice another buyer to adapt. Can you wait for the right buyer?
If you can you will make more money.
the process in perspective. Your home is a very personal possession, but,
selling your home might be your biggest business deal this year. What could
have more impact on your bottom line? Think business, think smart, and put
aside emotion if you can. Play to win, not to teach someone a lesson in
manners, etiquette, or taste.
over estimate the logic of the buyer. This is an emotional process. Those
who keep their heads will win the prize. Use this to your advantage.
the contracts that you are signing. Counter-offers and addenda are part of
the contract. These should not be treated like memos between agents
(common). Sometimes it is best to abandon a sloppy contract of negotiation,
and replace it with a comprehensive document which clearly states the
intentions of both sides, when the negotiations are complete. Ambiguities
cause arguments and worry lenders – worried lenders delay escrows.
is a process where items are placed with a third party pending the fulfillment
of a contract. Your deposit is placed with the escrow company in the beginning.
Toward the end the home, the lenders money, the sellers money, and the rest of
your money flow into the escrow. At the end, you get the house, the lender gets
a note, and the seller gets the money. In practice escrow is the time period
where pest control and
inspections are done and funds are secured. It's kind of like a circus. The
inspectors make the seller jump through hoops and the lenders make the buyers
crawl through fire.
Escrow is usually
performed by a title company, which also issues a title
insurance policy. These
policies protect the buyer and are generally required by lenders.
Traditionally the buyer pays most fees.
several top agents. Pick one who is experienced and knowledgeable in
negotiations, contracts and the inspection/disclosure process. Be careful of
"Neighborhood Experts" who don't access out-of-area buyers. Just
because someone sold a house in your area, does not mean that it was sold
well, or to the Seller's advantage. Some issues will haunt sellers for years
after the close of escrow. Ignorance is not bliss.
hire a rookie, but avoid "experience" that has lost touch with the
modern marketplace. The recent requirements for complete disclosure and the
trend toward detailed buyer inspections can make the selling process a
technical one. How do you know that a buyer's requests for repairs are
legitimate or reasonable? What is the law? What are the customs in the
marketplace? Make sure that you realtor knows the answers.
with any emotional decision, a buyer's course of action is subject to
persuasion and perception. Select a savvy agent who can help you turn
lookers into buyers. Use an agent who knows how to help you pick the best
offer, and understands how to keep the buyers interested and committed to
the deal. Personality and communications truly are important factors. The
buyer is likely to meet your agent and the agent's presentation and
credibility are important.
to see examples of an agent's contracts and addenda (past transactions). Ask
them to explain the process of those negotiations. Is the content clear? Are
there loose ends? There should be no slang, sentence fragments, or
ambiguities. These are binding contracts. Good fences make good neighbors,
and good contracts make good deals.
your home sale like a business. How do you interview job applicants at work?
How do you pick your employees? Should you check references?
a 'big name" brokerage an advantage. There are good and bad agents in
big offices, in small offices and operating as one person shops. The type of
brokerage affiliation really makes very little difference in selling your
home. What is very important is that the agent is a member of the local
multiple listing service, licensed by the state, and has a good reputation
with the other agents in the community.
agents start with large brokerages to get some credibility when they have no
experience. Large agencies offer office space and support staff for
part-time agents - this enables clerical staff to fill-in when the agents
are not available. Agents with a strong customer base often become
independent to eliminate the brokers fees and commission splits. Agents
should be evaluated on an individual basis.
most important factor is the human relationship. The agent you choose
should understand your objectives, and communication between you and your
agent should be easy and candid. This is a very personal process, and liking
the agent makes the process go smoother. You should also be able to trust
the agent. This is not always easy, because realtors in general are not
should findout how accessible the agent is. You would be surprised how many
agents are ill-equipped for what should be a virtually all day access by
clients or buyers. In today's electronic age, those agents without good
communication tools are left in the dust, and so are their clients.