Homeowners considering selling their homes are many times aware of potential shortfalls or flaws which may prevent certain prospects from considering their homes. At other times, we come across people who are unsure or inexperienced at evaluating how their homes stack up from a competitive standpoint to that of local competition. There are a couple things each homeowner can do to assist them in objectively comparing how their home may stack up, something that is critical in evaluating how you price the home, whether or not you need updates, etc.
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1. Research online for homes which have sold or are active in your neighborhood of similar size and value. Nowadays, most homes can be toured online, something that allows the viewer to evaluate the age of kitchen features, master bath, paint and decor, etc. Google Earth/Maps is also an invaluable tool in comparing waterfrontage if you happen to live on Lake Norman and are considering selling your home. When you look online, does your home look more like the homes that have sold, or more like the ones that have been sitting?
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2. Be overly critical. Its very unusual to find an owner who’s as critical about the pros and cons of their home, as the marketplace is going to be. There are a lot of homes on the market, and yes, people expect to get the moon for a great price and they will dissect your home microscopically. Yes, there is someone out there who might buy your home and then update the kitchen, paint, redo the hardwood floors, etc., but that prospect is a very small subset of what is a smaller pool of buyers to begin with. There are only so many people who will come through in a year that may like your home enough to buy it, and if you have flaws, you might cut that very small number by as much as 75%. People moving from out of state, those who have busy family schedules, etc. do not want to deal with updating a house, particularly if they have never done it before (something that leaves huge unknowns for them financially at a time when they are moving). If you choose not to maximize your home’s potential, that’s obviously a personal choice, just understand that if there are going to be 10 sales in your range this year, you might be narrowing down the prospects for your home to only 2-3 of that group, a very challenging proposition.
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3. Ask for experienced help and advice. Many homeowners will ask their friends, etc. for opinions. The best sources for advice, are the people who are in homes similar to your’s on a daily and weekly basis. If you’re considering staging, is it a stager who’s worked in your price point? The same can be said for advice from realtors. Your Aunt in California may have her license, but that doesn’t mean that she’s been in the last 10 homes to sell in close proximity to your’s and within your price range. Get advice from someone who’s experienced in your type of property and knows how your flaws compare to the homes that have sold. Particularly true if you decide to update. We are constantly amazed at the number of people who decide to update, and then do it poorly or without getting any advice on what might maximize the impact of the updating.
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4. Inspect personally. Take opportunities to pop in to a neighborhood open house, go through open models, or ask your realtor to take you through some vacant homes in your range. The old addage that a picture paints a thousand words is never more accurate than when you can visually compare your home to another in your competitive range.
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After you’ve done all of that, even if you can not afford wholesale changes, you can undertake many simple improvements that will help show your home. Clean carpets, improved sidewalk and entry areas with flowers, trimming and cleaning up landscaping, purging your home and garage of clutter, changing out knobs and fixtures, replacing lightbulbs, purging closets of old clothes to give the appearance of more room, can all help bring the “house” out visually. Less is more. A home in maximized condition just has far superior odds of attracting an offer. Even in this challenging market, we are seeing the occasional home that pops on the market with few or no flaws, and they almost always shoot to the top of the short list for people who’ve been looking in that range and usually attract a premium to competition.