I’ve been practicing real estate for 12 years and I’ve seen a lot of mistakes during that time. Not necessarily mistakes that I’ve made, but more along the lines of mistakes that sellers make when putting their home on the market. Honestly, I don’t expect the sellers to know how to properly sell their home. Most people don’t sell a home every year so they really don’t know what to do, but their agent should know. Actually, choosing the right Realtor to help you is a great place to start.
1) Interview Multiple Agents. I recently met with a home seller who told me he was interviewing seven Realtors for the job of selling his home. I said to him, “Wow! You’ve been burned by an incompetent Realtor in the past, haven’t you? Most people rarely meet with more than one agent. If they don’t personally know a Realtor, they might interview two or three agents at the very most.” He explained that he when he bought this home, he had a horrible experience and he wanted to make absolutely sure he had an experienced Realtor working for him this time. (I got the job, by the way.)
Unfortunately this is all too common. Most people I meet with will tell me their previous experience working with a Realtor was not good. That’s why the general public has such a disdain for Realtors in general. The truth is that a very large percentage of licensed real estate agents today are part-time, untrained, incompetent, or unethical agents – See more at: http://www.kansascityagent.com/get-rons-book#sthash.X0vWluNm.dpuf
2) Get a Home Inspection before putting it on the Market: Very few people actually do this because it’s not the norm, but especially if you own an older home (more than 30 years) then I think it’s a good idea to have a “pre-listing home inspection” done before putting your home on the market. Here’s the question I ask, “When do you want to know your home has $5,000 of repairs needed? Before you put your home on the market or when you are in the middle of selling it to a buyer?” If you have a professional home inspector come over and go through the house top to bottom, then find some major issues, you still have plenty of time to get several bids and choose who you want to do the job. If you wait until after the home is already under contract, typically you only have a couple of weeks to get the repairs completed so you’re forced to either pay top dollar or beg someone to come make the repairs (sometimes both). Even if you only have minor repairs that are necessary, having all the repairs completed makes the buyers and their agents feel good about paying top dollar for your home because they know everything has already been fixed. My suggestion: spend $400 up front for a home inspection and you’ll be glad you did.
3) Get Advice on What to Update or Replace: This is where an experienced agent can really shine. A great real estate agent should be able to advise you on the best upgrades without spending a fortune. They should be able to advise you about paint colors, carpet, tile choices, lighting and plumbing fixtures. They should know what’s in style and what’s not. They should also be able to give you a list of vendors to help you with repairs. My real estate team works with hundreds of buyers so it just makes sense for a seller to ask us what the buyers will like. We know how to get you top dollar.
4) Prepare for Picky or Rude Comments from Buyers: As humans, we’re just geared to be naturally negative about some things. After watching hundreds of buyers tour various homes, it’s been my experience that they tend to focus on the things they don’t like. They tour several homes at once, so when they’re giving feedback about your home, they typically remember the things they didn’t like about it. If the negative feedback is going to offend you, then I suggest doing everything possible to make all repairs, professionally stage the home, and keep it super clean for all showings. If you do those things and they still complain, then that’s their problem and not yours.
5) Stage the Home using a Professional Home Stager: Right behind the importance of making repairs and minor upgrades comes professionally staging the home. If you tour 10 homes back to back, it will be very obvious which homes are staged and which ones are not. I’m always surprised that even in today’s educated world of real estate, there are still sellers that don’t bother to stage their home before putting it on the market. I believe it’s critical to the overall success of a home sale and that’s why I pay for a home stager for all my sellers. Taking the extra step to stage a home can make a huge difference in how a buyer values it and the price a seller might get for it.