When I work with buyers I always urge them to think long term about when the time comes to sell. This is especially important when a property has some distinguishing quality that may not be appealing to most others. Still, many times, the realities (and challenges) of selling a home do not become clear until well into the process.
I have put together this list as a resource for anyone who may sell a home in the future. Review it before the time comes.
Better yet, review it before you buy your next home! Many of these are the opinion of the writer, only. Some are common sense.
- Being healthy (condition) is always better than an insurance policy that helps deal with problems later. Offering a home warranty (insurance, sort of) does not compensate for poorly maintained/prepared homes.
- Add ons and improvements should be done without an expectation of an expected return of investment. It is all about what an owner likes now when it comes to improvements.
- Over-improvements don't mean much. If a simple pool (no screen enclosure, no salt system, end of life equipment) adds 22% to the price of your home then consider it an over-improvement. Prospective buyers will! There is never a 1:1 return on investment. Buyers do not care what you paid for anything!
- Not everyone wants a pool, really! Just because someone is moving to Florida does not mean they absolutely must have a home with a pool.
- Real estate brokers are not created equal. Being a "big box" brokerage does not mean there is an audience size advantage. Size does not matter - its the message and method of delivery.
- Functional obsolescence must be priced out and not explained in. Trying to rationalize (marketing as vintage, retro, etc.) structural design and preferences of decades ago rarely translate to value today.
- Colors and style do matter. Tacky rarely sells. Of course, tacky is in the eye of the beholder! Buyers know what they want and understand what they see. Piecemeal (found) updating and rehab looks like piecemeal updating.
- Staging can help sell your home. When getting your home ready for selling remember a great staging job will not overcome deficiencies in design, structure or condition. Your house is what it is.
- Outside often reflects inside. The outside of a house is almost always an indicator of how well the inside is maintained. If the yard is neglected, paint is fading, plants are dead it is quite likely the inside will show neglect. It all starts with curb appeal.
- Location can't be changed unless its an RV. A new coat of paint will not change the zip code. The house may look great but it will always be location, location, location.
- Price should reflect three things if a seller is motivated: condition, location and competition. Proper pricing takes into account issues. If your house is just like the rest, then the price will be pretty much just like the rest!
- Quick closings are always preferable. The longer the time between the contract and the scheduled closing the greater the chance something will happen to derail the transaction.
- Memories are mobile. Sometimes sellers attempt to price in their memories when they are trying to sell their home. If memories could have a price tag associated with them you can be sure the seller's price will not be anywhere near a prospective buyer's value.
- Emotions must be contained. Selling a home requires sellers to keep emotions in check. When deciding on a listing price for your home an unemotional cost-benefit analysis is a good starting point.
When buying, prospective buyers will find reasons to pay less. When selling, prospective sellers will find reasons to price their home higher. A good, local knowledgeable Realtor, whether working with buyer or seller, is critical.