Proven Strategies to Make Your House Sell Faster and For More Money
- Easy Sells: Make it Easy for Buyers to View
- Marketing: Maximum Exposure, Maximum Interest
- The Buzz: Event Pricing
- The Deal: Skilled 3rd Party Negotiation
- A great property.
- A motivated seller.
- An attractive price.
When it comes to selling your property, keep in mind that the target here is real buyers, not “tire-kickers.”Also (and this is crucial) never forget that the aim is getting the property sold for top dollar, not making things easy and convenient for yourself.So…at least for a few weeks your goal is to accommodate the buyers’ convenience, not yours.
Here are a couple of the key things to understand about today’s buyers.First, people who are in the process of buying a home are making a huge, life decision, which naturally carries with it a large amount of stress.Consequently, buyers are typically feeling a lot of stress as they go through the process of shopping for a new home.It’s good stress with lots of excitement, hopefully, but it’s still stress.
Second, people today are busier than ever, so they are trying to make this big decision and pick the perfect house with the least amount of inconvenience.Consequently, buyers will often resent special showing restrictions or instructions that make it a “pain in the neck” to view your house.In some cases, they will literally completely eliminate a property from their list of homes to look at because it is too much of a hassle.It sounds crazy, but even when there are a shortage of available homes, buyers will often conclude, “if the sellers are going to make it that difficult for us to even see their house, they must not really want to sell it.”
The reason for this seemingly irrational response from a buyer is the third key to understanding the psychology of today’s buyers…and that is that buying a house is above all an emotional decision.Once their budget is determined and the must-have size and location criteria have been established, the rest is all about what they want and how they feel about a house.And this can be much more powerful than people imagine.So now, when you combine the stress-factors inherent in buying a new home, and combine that with their already hectic lives, you want to make the prospect of buying your house as hassle-free and pleasant as possible.
If seeing your home requires extra inconvenience compared to the other homes they are viewing, buyers easily get irritated or annoyed about your property.This adds to their stress which they now attach to your house as a negative vibe.And yes, it is that important.So how can you position your home in the market to make your property feel like “home, sweet home” from the moment they are first aware of it?By making it easy for them to see it.So here are some tips to making the buyers feel great about your home before they even get to look at it.
Most of the serious, best buyers look at homes during the day, not in the evenings, and they are just as likely to be looking during the week as they are on the weekends.Weekenders (such as people who come to open houses) are much more likely to be unqualified non-buyers who are just window-shopping and wishing.The most serious and highly motivated buyers are “in the hunt,” and are out during the week searching for the perfect place to call “home.”
If your home is not readily available to be seen by qualified buyers on week days and on short notice, it will reduce the number of motivated buyers who will actually look at your house.It also adds to the buyer’s stress factor because of the inconvenience.Making it available to be seen on short notice and being willing to accommodate reasonable showing requests will always play in your favor.This is a significant benefit of having your home listed with a full-time real estate agent who uses a Supra lockbox which allows licensed agents to show their buyers without you being there.
If possible, keep your security alarm off on days when showings are happening.A security alarm that must be dis-armed by the buyers’ agent, is stressful for buyers and creates anxiety in buyers at the very moment you are wanting them to be feeling “at home” in the house.And, heaven forbid, if the alarm goes off, forget about it…the buyers are done at that house.Their first association with that property is a piercing siren, causing a sudden rush of adrenalin kicking in the fight-or-flight syndrome, and that does not leave the buyer with feelings of comfort and “home sweet home.”
Let’s talk about pets.Pets are a sensitive issue because, if you have animals, they are probably a part of the family, and after all this IS their home too.The problem is that you want the buyers walking through to feel like this is their own home, not a growling dog’s territory.A room, garage, or backyard that’s off-limits to buyers because of an animal (or sleeping person for that matter), is a big-time negative for the buyers.They are not trying to make it personal, but it’s virtually impossible for them to feel this house as being their home because the presence of your pet is a living reminder that they are an intruder on someone else’s turf.
I love cats.Unfortunately, if you have cats, their presence is a real negative when your house is on the market.A lot of people these days have allergies, especially to cats, which makes this a super sensitive issue to them.Even if the cat is gone, they know the dander remains.And if they are not pet owners, many buyers detest the presence of animal hair which seems to fill up every nook and cranny of a house where pets live.
Unfortunately, there is no convenient solution for this, but if at all possible, consider finding a place for your pets to stay while the house is active on the market.If you have a pro-active, skilled agent, that should not be a long period of time.Also, do everything possible, in terms of cleaning and deodorizing, to remove all signs of animals living in the house especially any hair and odors.
In summary, here are the key tips that make a house easy to show:
- House can be seen any time (within reason) with minimal notice.
- Security system off.
- Use a Supra lockbox.
- No pets at the house.
These are simply guidelines that will help make a house easier to show and sell.If you have special concerns or issues, discuss them with your agent and he/she will work with you to figure the best solution.Remember the key point is being willing to endure some inconvenience in order to get a better result.
Even if your property is a show-stopping, jaw-dropping, gorgeous, model home with no apologies, it won’t bring top-dollar if it’s not properly exposed to the right buyers.Let’s look at how you can get the best exposure for your house.
Ideally you want lots of “action”…fast and furious, right? High buyer interest creates urgency that causes kind of a buyer stampede.Buyers see lots of interest in your home as an indication that this is a desirable property, making them much more likely to submit an offer faster and for more money.
WHAT MARKETING MATTERS?
Obviously to create this type of action, you want to make sure you property is exposed to ALL the buyers in the market and to the BEST buyers in the market…all at the same time.Because of the internet and technology, this is actually much simpler than it used to be, provided it is being exposed through the best channels that hit the best buyers.Let’s look at what matters most.
First, who are the best buyers for your house?
#1) They have the funds and financing to purchase your home now.
#2) They are highly motivated and serious.Which means they are not casually looking at homes.They are focused on finding the right home and they want to make sure they don’t miss it.
Second, where are ALL of these best buyers really looking for homes?
Answer: Online and with an agent.That is why you want to market your house where all the best buyers are shopping.
Let’s say I’m a qualified, serious buyer.Which is what you’re looking for, correct?I need to buy a house now.I don’t want to waste my time or miss the perfect house.I have two options:
Number one, I can get a newspaper or look on internet, find some houses for sale, and then use my own car, my own gas, and my own energy and go look at a limited selection of houses, not really knowing what I’m going to find when I get there.And then do all the work myself and hope I find a house I like…and stumble through writing an offer and getting financing and hopefully being able to close on the house.
Or number two, I can find a professional buyer’s agent and their access to all the homes on the market.Plus I get use their car, their gas, their expertise, and their knowledge of the market to find the perfect house at a fair price without the hassle, and have professional guidance through the entire process. And that is what almost all motivated, qualified buyers do.
There is a reason that 90% of residential sales are properties listed on the Multiple Listing Service used by licensed Realtors.Agents who have the buyers rely almost exclusively on the Multiple Listing Service and other agents to find properties for sale.It puts all the homes in one central place.It provides complete and accurate information for the agent.Plus, they know that sellers who have listed their home with an agent are serious about selling, so they are not going to be wasting their buyers’ time.
THE “FOR SALE” SIGN
A sign in the yard is incredibly important for obvious reasons and for some not-so-obvious reasons as well.
It announces that the home is for sale to people who are coming to see it and to people who just happen to be passing by your house.People who live in your neighborhood may even have someone they know who is interested in living in their neighborhood.They are not looking for a house for sale in the neighborhood, but when they see your for sale sign, they immediately are calling their friend or family member to let them know.Also, buyers who are active and motivated still drive neighborhoods looking for the perfect home.You want to make sure they don’t miss yours if they’ve missed it online.
What if we don’t want a for sale sign?Consider this…
There is a psychology of customers that every retailer and manufacturer with a product to sell knows: The easier it is for the customer to find your product, the more likely they are to buy it.Therefore, you make the product you want to sell easy for the buyer to spot, and they are more likely to buy it.The same is true with home buyers.
It goes back to the power of the buyer’s emotion in the buying process.You want buyers to feel only positive emotions about your house when they come to see it.It’s part of the critical first impressions they have about your house.
When they are driving down the street to come see your house, the sign in the yard announces, “HERE I AM!”It’s easy to spot and welcoming and they feel good about that.
But, when there is no sign, the buyers and their agent are having to search for your house for sale by looking for a set of tiny numbers pasted on your house to distinguish it from all the other houses next to yours that are not for sale.Or by trying to spot it from the pictures they have seen.
I know it sounds crazy, but this causes confusion (“Which house is it?”) and then frustration (“Why don’t they have a for sale sign?They must not want to sell that bad.”).It may sound minor, but that negative thought affects the way they look at your property.
There is another reason a sign matters.A prominent for sale sign draws the focus straight to your home, which is where you want them focused.
On the other hand, if there is no sign, if forces them to pay attention to all the other houses around yours as they scour house numbers looking for yours.The last thing you want them doing as they drive up to your house is looking at the other houses.
“Wow, Honey, look at that gorgeous house!Is that the one?”“No…it’s this next one.”“Oh rats!I wish that house was the one for sale.”Oops.Now they are wishing they could buy your neighbor’s house.Not exactly the outcome you were going for, right?Sound farfetched?I’ve seen it happen multiple times.And, at the exact moment you want them falling in love with your house, they are wishing they could have another home next to yours.They lost interest in the very house you want them to buy at the very moment you want them falling in love with your house.
Remember, the goal is to get your home SOLD.Maximum exposure maximizes interest, which generates more demand thereby increasing the odds of a better offer.
If you have real security concerns or about having your house on the market or personal reasons for not making the marketing of your house public, discuss it with your real estate agent.He or she should be able to guide you and work with you in a way that serves your best interest.
Everyone likes new stuff.They don’t like stale, unwanted items that have been sitting on the shelf too long.This is true with milk, with bread, and with homes for sale.That is one of the major reasons to avoid pricing your property in a way that causes it to sit on the market and become stale.Just like a loaf of bread, homes on the market have a “shelf-life” too.
That is why strategic “Event Pricing” can be very powerful.Strategically you want your price to accomplish something.You want it to create urgency in the mind of the buyers, not resistance, because the buyer’s sense of urgency is what will help you get get more money.
As we have already discussed, buying is an incredibly emotional decision for buyers.This is why it’s important to understand the Buyer’s perspective, because what they see, BEFORE they see the house, is the price.Do you want buyers to come see your house emotionally eager and excited about your house?Of course.A great price makes them want to be excited about the house when they see it.
A high price makes them guarded, because they they don’t want to over-pay.The unintended consequence is that prospective buyers actually try to find reasons to NOT like your house because the price is higher than the competition.They are emotionally afraid to fall in love with your house just because of the price.
One of the most common (and biggest) pricing mistakes many homeowners make is to price their home high with the idea that “We can always come down.”Today’s buyers are much more market-savvy and knowledgeable than they used to be.They look at comps and at the competition and they know before they see the house if the price is realistic or not.Unrealistic prices can actually make buyers not look at all.
On the other hand, if your home is correctly priced it will make buyers feel they need to snap it up before someone else does.This creates urgency and buzz about your house, which increased the perceived “demand” for your property.
Think about it this way.There are two things that you want buyers to be excited about:
Number one, is your property.Over 90% of the time, they will see your property online before they will see it in person, so it is important that you have great quality pictures of your home on the Multiple Listing Service and on the internet.This is the first impression buyers will have of your home.If the pictures are not excellent, they may not even want to see your house.This is also the reason having your house show at its best is important.When they show up, you want them falling in love with your property.As the saying goes, you want your house to “sell itself.”
The second thing buyers must be excited about is the price.If they love your house, but feel like the price is high, they emotionally put up resistance to liking your house because of the price.This is the last thing you want.First, because it may cause them to not make an offer at all.And second, because even if they do decide to make an offer on the property, it causes them to be hesitant. They tend to think about it longer and look extra hard at other properties on the market (your competition) because they’re trying to find a way out of liking your house.The result is offers do not come in as quickly, and some will not come in at all.
On the other hand, when your property looks awesome AND your price is attractive to buyers, they flock to your property like moths to a flame.Best of all they come to see it wanting to fall in love with it…looking for every reason to justify why they should do whatever it takes to get that house.Now, your house is “THE BUZZ.”In any market, the best way to get top dollar for any house is to hit the market with a price that stimulates demand for that house.The result is the most interest, the most traffic, and the most offers, which (when coupled with the right negotiator) will always result in the highest price.
When a home is over-priced it actually ends up selling for less, because it sits on the market too long and becomes stagnant.And then, after weeks and weeks on the market the “WWWTH” Syndrome kicks in….”What’s Wrong With That House?”
You want someone who will fall in love with your house, because that is the buyer who will pay the most for it.The irony is that pricing it high will actually KEEP buyers from falling in love with your house.
Here are 4 Common Myths about Selling for Top Dollar:
MYTH: If a home gets an offer quickly it was probably priced too low.
REALITY: The day your home goes on the market, there are already qualified, motivated buyers in the market whose criteria matches your home.Often these are buyers who have already made offers on other homes and got beat out by a competing offer, so when your home hits the market there are often multiple buyers interested in your home.And when it’s priced and marketed correctly, these buyers will act quickly because they don’t want to risk losing the house to another buyer.MYTH : If we are willing to wait long enough we’ll get more for our home.
REALITY: There is a correlation between time on the market and the property getting top value, but not the correlation many sellers think.Generally, the longer it takes, the less the seller makes.Why?Because of the “WWWTH Syndrome” (“What’s Wrong With That House”).If a property has been on the market for an extended period of time, buyers begin to wonder why no one has bought that house.The result is often lower offers or no offer at all.MYTH : Better marketing of my home will get me a higher price.
REALITY: The reality is that marketing does not make your home worth any more.The importance of effective marketing is to put your home in front of the highest number of qualified buyers to get full market value for it.MYTH : I will just wait until the right buyer comes along who is willing to pay the price I want for my home.
REALITY: It is statistically proven that the longer a house sits on the market the lower the offers it will generate, whether it has price reductions or not.When new buyers come into the market, they want the fresh inventory, not the stale listings that all the previous buyers have rejected.Your home becomes a “been there, done that” property on the MLS, making agents and buyers much more likely to submit low offers, or even worse, pass over it completely.
As you can see, pricing your home right from the beginning is simply the best pricing strategy to get the most interest fast, the best offers, and consequently the best price and terms.
Of all ten strategies for getting top dollar for your property, this is very likely the most important and the most under-rated.While this chapter is not a crash-course on negotiations, it will give you some key points for negotiating the best offer for your property.
Your home has been prepared to show at its best.It is being massively marketed to the best buyers using the best marketing channels.And now you have interested buyers who love your house and who want to buy it!
With the first communication from the buyer or buyer’s agent, the negotiations have already begun.Is it possible to negotiate a higher price and better terms, even before you get the offer?Absolutely.Even before that!But, unfortunately, most Sellers and most agents and brokers, have no clue what to do next to maximize the value of the property.“Are the sellers firm on the price?”“Will the sellers accept $X price?”How an agent responds to those questions can make a huge difference in determining the type of offers you receive.Here are a couple of key negotiating strategies pre-offer:
First, being a highly motivated seller is a plus, not a negative, IF (and this is a big “IF”) you or your agent knows how to communicate that you are motivated without compromising the value of your property.The secret here is that an extremely motivated seller, when properly positioned, can almost create a feeding frenzy mentality with buyers.This is what you want.Some sellers mistakenly believe it is best to act likethey are not really that motivated at all.Playing “hard to get” is a fine line.A strong negotiator can communicate high motivation without giving the impression of desperation.That’s what you want…motivation, not desperation.
The one, two, three punch that increases demand for your house:
When positioned and negotiated correctly these three elements are a powerful combination to attract a feeding frenzy of motivated buyers and strong offers that will result in the best price and terms for you in the sale of your property.
You get the call from your broker or agent.Hurray!We have an offer!Or even better, you have multiple offers!What happens next?This is where it pays to have an agent that understands negotiating strategy.
Do they understand how to represent you and the value of your home well when a potential buyer or another agents asks, “Will the seller take less?” or “How much flexibility does the seller have on their price?”An agent skilled in negotiation will know how to answer that question simply and honestly in a way that does not give away one dime of your equity, AND at the same time does not make the other party feel like they are being stonewalled.
These are not skills that the average real estate agent will possess.One of the mistakes many sellers make is hiring an agent simply because they know them or they live in the neighborhood, or because they are friendly and nice (or even worse, because they’re cheap).While any of those reasons may have some advantage for you, the real keys are their knowledge and skill to effectively represent your best interest in a complex and large transaction.
It’s important to remember that IF TOP-DOLLAR is your goal, choosing the right agent has to be made as a business decision, not as a personal decision just because you know someone.The key here is simply to keep in mind your ultimate goal of getting top dollar for your house.
Some sellers wonder whether hiring an agent justifies the commission you pay.Think about it this way. There is a reason that highly-paid celebrities and professional athletes virtually never negotiate their own contracts in their respective fields.Just like in a real estate transaction, they use “agents,” because they know and understand the value and leverage of having a skilled third-party negotiator representing them.
Having a third party negotiator has several significant advantages.First, they have knowledge and skills that enable them to negotiate from a stronger position.Second, they are more objective and can keep emotions out of the equation.Third, they provide a communication buffer between the parties that allows you to respond more strategically.
However, an agent who does not understand the importance of skilled negotiating, can be more of a liability than an asset when it comes to getting top-dollar. In fact, in terms of value, an agent’s negotiating skill and understanding of how to close a transaction seamlessly is more more critical to your bottom line than their “marketing plan.”
CAUTION: Many agents will come into your home and all they talk about is what they are going to do to market your home.
Beware of an agent that thinks their main job is marketing.You need someone to REPRESENT YOU in getting the best RESULT.The marketing is only the front end of an agent’s responsibilities.
With the internet and technology, marketing your home has actually become one of the simplest things an agent does for you. Think about it, are you hiring an agent just to market your home…or to help you get top dollar?You want the result, right?
Another word of caution.When you put your home on the market, you are selling one of your most valuable assets, right?Don’t go cheap.There are times when it’s OK to cut corners, and there are times when it pays to invest in quality, competent professional representation.We’ve all heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.”When it comes to hiring skill, you get what you pay for.Every agent has the same state-issued license, but they most definitely do not have the same skill level to get YOU the best result.
One agent only cares about getting a commission check as fast as possible, and they will always follow the path of least resistance to get there.“Get the deal done,” is their modus operandi.This is not only true of many newer agents.It can be just as true of agents who have years of experience, but have never invested the time and resources to become truly skilled at negotiating.
An unskilled agent or one just wanting a commission can cost you tens of thousands of dollars of your your valuable equity by not knowing how to position your property to get the best offers or how to negotiate in a way that protects your hard-earned equity.And the worst part of it is that you will never know how much hiring that agent really cost you.
So how do you identify a skilled negotiator?It is really very simple.Ask them two or three questions regarding how they will handle a couple of possible scenarios we have just discussed.
QUESTION #1: “How will you respond when a buyer or agent asks you if we’ll take less than full price for our property?”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A comfortable, honest response from the agent, that does not give away any of the value of your property, and at the same time does not repel the buyer or the buyer’s broker/agent.A skilled answer will sound something like this, “That’s a great question.The sellers are very comfortable with their price, and if you’ve seen the recent, comparable sales, then I’m sure you’re already aware that the house is priced very well…Have you (your buyers) seen the property yet?”Notice the response does two things.First, it answers the questions in an effective way.Second, it turns the conversation towards the buyers’ situation.The skilled agent will now leverage this conversation to gather information about the buyers and their qualifications and motivation.Watch for a response that indicates the agent uses these interactions as opportunities to gather information, not to posture in a way that pits buyer against seller.That only creates resistance.
QUESTION #2: “If we receive multiple offers, how do you typically recommend that we respond to each of the offers?Do you recommend we counter all the offers, or just negotiate the best ones first?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: An agent who has a clear response strategy that honestly leverages the fact that you have multiple offers.The agent should understand that multiple offers have a short life span.Buyers and their agents become disinterested and frustrated very quickly if they feel they are being stalled or their offer is being shopped. Every offer is a good offer, even if it is a ridiculously low offer, because it gives you added negotiating leverage with any other offers.
The best response is one that gets all buyers to submit their highest and best offer AND that simultaneously keeps all buyers interested and at the table while all the offers come in.As a seller, it is critical to make sure you do not get greedy at this point.The time span is very short before buyers get frustrated or give up and walk away from the negotiating table.And the first round of offers is almost certainly going to be the best round because your property is new to the market and that’s when it has the most excitement.
A strong, experienced negotiator will have a strategic response for all the buyers that will look something like this:
“The seller is currently in possession of multiple offers.The Seller respectfully requests that all interested Buyers submit their best and highest offer by 5:00 PM, _____.” (a date two or three days later)
Of course, there is more that a skilled agent will do.The key thing is that a strong negotiator understands there is value in having more offers (the more the better), even “bad” offers are good because they give you leverage.This type of response keeps all buyers feeling they are being treated fairly and they have a shot at the property, so they will all stay in the game and come with their best offer to the table.
The worst response is any response that can cause any offers to be removed from the table, or that could make buyers frustrated or stressed.Giving no response at all is an even faster way to lose a buyer.Prompt and respectful communication keeps buyers interested.Slow response or no response leads to irritation often in only a matter of hours.Negative emotions cause buyers to lose interest very quickly.A good negotiator keeps the ball moving and does not leave the buyers and their agent in the dark.
QUESTION #3: How will you recommend we respond to a ridiculous, low-ball offer?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Any offer is a starting point to a conversation.A skilled agent will tell you to respond to EVERY offer as if it is a legitimate offer that could result in satisfactory terms.See, the reality is that you have no idea how much someone is willing to pay for a property based on their initial offer.They may be a cheap-skate who is unrealistic and dreaming.Or they may be willing to pay whatever they have to, but they want to know how low the seller will go, so they start very low to see how you will respond.It is almost never a buyer’s intent to offend you, the Seller, so don’t take any offer personally.A skilled negotiator will suggest a strong counter that forces the buyer to get more realistic without muddying the waters and make the buyer walk from the negotiating table.
These three questions will tell you a lot about an agent’s skill and preparedness in dealing with different negotiating scenarios.The key thing to look for is their confidence and certainty in the way they respond to your questions.If they appear uncertain or reluctant to communicate to you a pro-active negotiating strategy, let that be a red flag.And if they come across as adversarial or as if they are ready to go to battle against the buyer and the buyers’ agent, that can be even more ineffective at securing the best result for you.
A skilled negotiator makes everything sound easy and communicates confidence without coming across as cocky or trying to play the hero.You don’t want a hero, just a skilled, competent professional who knows how to deliver results.And when you find that person, not only will they protect your equity and maximize your cash, they will make the process much less stressful for you.