Step to Selling a Home
The Crawford & Lee Guide To Selling Your Home
There’s a lot to know when it comes to selling a home. Whether you’re selling your first condo or house or you’re a seasoned Seller, our in-depth Selling Guide will take you through all the steps. Click through the tabs below to find out how to:
- Prepare your home and stage like a pro
- Price and market your house or condo (or know how to pick the right agent to do it for you)
- Be ready to show your home to prospective Buyers
- Negotiate and close on your home
You know what they say: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Preparing your home for sale is hard work, but do it right and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts in your bank account.
There are 4 steps to preparing your home for sale:
Step 1 – De-cluttering and De-personalizing (to a point)
We all have too much stuff, and too much stuff can be distracting to potential Buyers. When preparing your home for sale, you want to eliminate as much clutter as possible—books, knick-knacks, storage boxes, off-season clothes, your giant shoe collection, etc. It’s also important to neutralize your space as much as possible so that potential Buyers can see themselves living in your home—and that means putting away personal photos, mementoes and collections.
Step 2 – Cleaning
Think of the cleaning you need to do to prepare your home for sale as what you’d expect in a hotel room. Wash the baseboards, remove the cobwebs from the ceiling, clean inside your fridge and oven, clean inside your closets and kitchen cupboards, dust under your stuff and have the carpets professionally cleaned. Sadly, the cleaning won’t stop when your house goes on the market–every day, you’ll need to make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors and clean up after the kids.
Step 3 – Staging
Staging involves optimizing the use, look and feel of every room in your home. It might mean converting your home office to a bedroom, adding, removing or re-arranging furniture, painting the walls, replacing light fixtures or investing in some fluffy towels for the guest bathroom. Whether you bring in a professional stager or just work with your REALTOR, making your home appeal to the greatest number of Buyers doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will take time. But remember: the effort you put into transforming your home will impact how long it takes your home to sell and of course, the price you get.
Step 4 – Repairs and Renovations
Let’s face it, we all have a tendency to procrastinate fixing the little stuff – the leaky faucet, the peeling wallpaper, the dent in the kitchen cabinets, the loose gutters. Bringing in a handyman to complete all those little fixes will go a long way to communicating to potential Buyers that your home has been well-maintained (and you’ll wonder why you put it off so long). And make sure there are no burnt out light bulbs!
How the Crawford & Lee Team can help you prepare your home for sale
- We’ll tell you what others won’t. We’ll give you frank advice on what you can do to help get top dollar for your home, and yes, that might mean telling you precious Fido doesn’t smell very good. Or that you need to re-paint that pink wall.
- We’ll help with coordinating the preparation of your home and give you access to our trusted home professionals including handymen, painters, plumbers, gardeners and more.
- We’ll send in our stager and interior designer to consult with you about making your home look its best (no change for the consultation) – If your home needs to be furnished our stager’s warehouse is full of furniture and accessories to fit any décor (at an additional fee, but very much worth the investment)
- We are here to support you in this process, so if you need someone to wait for the locksmith or supervise the work being done, we’ve got you covered.
Your home is only worth what the Buyer’s perception of value in the current market, but the right pricing strategy can make the difference between how much money is left in your pocket and how much is left on the negotiating table.
Should you price your home for a bidding war? Price high and plan to negotiate? How do you factor in the time of year you decide to sell into your asking price? Should your listing price be a whole number (700,000) or end in 9’s (699,900) and does that even matter? What should you include in the price? When is it time to lower the price?
Your asking price is equivalent to naming the first number in a negotiation, so it’s important to select the right asking price. Price too high and you risk being on the market for a long time and getting less than you might have (had you priced at market value); price too low and risk leaving money on the table.
When it comes to determining how much your home is worth, it’s important to look at:
- recent sales in your neighborhood
- properties currently on the market
- current market conditions
- the pluses and minuses of your home
It’s also important to remember that the price of your home is a moving target, and will depend on the time of year you sell, who you’re competing with, and the number of homes active in your market along with the current absorption rate.
Contrary to what some agents will have you believe, there’s a lot more to marketing your home than just putting it on the MLS – at least there is if you want to get top dollar. When it comes to reaching Buyers, an ideal marketing plan should involve:
1. Identifying Your Ideal Buyer
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the big retail brands, it’s that effective marketing needs to target a specific audience, and the more you know about your Ideal Buyer, the better. Who is the most likely person to buy your home? Are they single or do they have kids? How old are they? How will they live in the home? Where are they living now? What features and benefits are important to them?
2. Marketing Materials that Resonate with your Ideal Buyer
Different Buyers will respond to different types of marketing, and it’s important that the marketing for your home is written and designed to appeal to your Ideal Buyer. Does your target Buyer read the postcards he gets in the mail or is the most likely to respond to a video or social media post? Is your Buyer already working with an agent or going-it-alone on Zillow? What words and language will your Buyer be most likely to respond to?
3. Looking Good and Being Found Online.
96% of Buyers look for a home online, so if they aren’t finding yours, you’re in trouble. Outstanding photos are crucial to capturing the interest of today’s Buyer, and no matter how many pixels the iPhone camera has these days, it’s just not enough. In our opinion, professional photography is non-negotiable. A comprehensive digital and social marketing plan allows Buyers to find you online, in the places where they’re already spending their online time.
4. Exposing Your Home to Buyers Who Don’t Even Know They’re Buyers Yet.
Sure, your Ideal Buyer might already be looking for a home right now…but what if they’re not? What if they aren’t working with an agent and not trolling realtor.com? Effective listing marketing reaches people who are already in the market for a home AND people who are not.
How the Crawford & Lee Team can help you price your home:
- We know the market and comparable sales. We live and breathe DMV real estate, and when we’re not out looking at properties with clients, we’re doing it ourselves.
- We physically see all your competition before and during the listing, so we know how to price ourselves accordingly.
- We know what sells, what doesn’t, and why.
How the Crawford & Lee Team Can Help You Market Your Home:
- We admit, we don’t market properties like everybody else. We take the best of traditional advertising and couple it with proven digital and social marketing to give the homes we list maximum exposure. We’re known for our leading-edge listing marketing (heck we often speak at conferences and teach other REALTORS how to do it!)
- We work with Buyers too, so we know how Buyers think. We’re pros at profiling your Ideal Buyer and figuring out where they are (so we can be there too).
- We don’t take photos with our phones or fool ourselves into thinking that we can create our own advertising. We work with professional photographers, designers, writers and web geeks to make your home look so good online that people can’t wait to see it in person.
- Our marketing strategies aren’t just custom to your Ideal Buyer, we use custom advertising campaigns targeting three specific audiences: Buyers who already in the market; real estate agents working with Buyers; and people who don’t even know they want to buy a house yet (let alone in your neighborhood).
- There’s nothing more effective than helping a potential Buyer experience your home, and we use video, 3D virtual tours, and interactive floor plans to do just that.
- We know how to make your home stand out in a crowd and get the attention it deserves.
Showing Your Home to Buyers
Your home is ready, the price is right, the marketing has worked, and the Buyers want to see it. Here’s our best advice for showing your home to potential Buyers:
1. Be flexible with showing times
Selling your home is an inconvenience, there’s no denying that. But if you want top dollar for your home, you’ll want to be flexible with when you allow people to see it. Remember that most people work from 9-5 Monday-Friday, so they’ll most likely want to see your home in the evenings or on weekends.
2. Leave your house during showings
While I’m sure you could tell potential Buyers all about your renovations and the leaky basement, Buyers aren’t comfortable looking at a house when the Sellers are home, so it’s best to let them explore at their own leisure. Go for a walk, catch a movie or temporarily move in with a friend—do whatever you need to do to allow potential Buyers free reign.
3. Make sure your home is always in top condition
Make your bed, do the dishes, wash the floors, close the toilet seat lid, clean the litter box—and always remember to crate the dog (or better yet, take him with you).
4. Open houses
While the official stats are that 0.5% of houses sell as a result of an open house, our personal experience is that they’re much more effective than that. Open houses allow potential Buyers (and let’s face it, curious neighbors) to see your house in a non-threatening, low-pressure environment. Many Buyers who weren’t in the market to buy a house fell in love at an open house.
Remember: what really matters in selling your home is what Buyers are seeing and feeling. Responding to their concerns and objections in a timely matter will go a long way to reducing how long your home is on the market.
How the Crawford & Lee Team Can Help You Show Your Property:
- When we host public open houses, our only goal is to sell YOUR property. We promote the open house to thousands of potential buyers and as a result, 17.3% of our listings sell because of the open house. That’s more than 34 times better than the national average.
- We solicit feedback from every agent who shows your home and send the feedback to you so WE know how Buyers are reacting to it.
- We provide weekly status reports about the number of showings, the feedback about your home and what’s been happening in the market while you’ve been listed.
Your hard work has paid off…and you’re getting an offer from a Buyer. Here’s what to expect:
The Buyer’s offer may be presented to your agent in person, your agent might receive it by e-mail or, in a throw-back to the 90’s, the offer may arrive by fax.
The offer will contain some important points of negotiation:
- The deposit
- The price
- The closing date
- The lender letter (if applicable)
- The title company information
- The conditions (inspections, appraisal, or home sales contingency)
Once you receive an offer, you can respond in one of 3 ways:
- Accept the offer as written – congratulations, you are now Under Contract!
- Make a counteroffer (with better conditions and/or price for yourself) – the Buyer at this point can accept your counteroffer, make another counteroffer or walk away altogether.
- Decline the offer and walk away.
Negotiating is a fine art, and if you’ve chosen your agent wisely, they’ll provide solid advice and guidance to get you the price you want. The final price decisions when selling your home are always yours to make, but it helps to have a strategic negotiator on your side that isn’t emotionally attached to the transaction.
How the Crawford & Lee Team can help you negotiate an offer on your home:
- Look, we’re just gonna say it: the Crawford & Lee Team kicks ass at negotiating. We know every trick in the book, and to quote a recent client: “Wow, it’s like they don’t realize they’re negotiating with the Master.”
- We’ll negotiate on your behalf as though we were selling our own home and won’t be bullied or pressured into making a move you aren’t comfortable with.
- We know the legal agreements backwards and forwards and can help you decipher the fine print. We’ll take the mystery out of all that legalese and do everything we can to make the process as painless as possible.