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Hello, and thank you for visiting the Best Homes Team “Top 10 ways to get the highest possible price for your home” page.
If you’ve come here through an internet click or by referral, you’re probably considering a sale of a home. You want the same things that most home sellers want – the highest possible price in the shortest possible time. This is generally the goal of all home sellers; a successful sale is often the end-point of the best possible price in relation to the headache of having your home on the market.
There is a price to be paid for having your home in “model home condition” for a longer period of time. Yep – most of us are not complete slobs, but at the same time we don’t keep our homes “showing ready” 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a lot of work to keep the home pristine for buyer visits.
So, when you decide the time is right, you’ll want to get the home on the market, have dynamite marketing implemented, and generate the highest possible offer for you in a reasonably short period of time.
But not too short a time frame – Brokers who sell homes too quickly generally underprice their client’s homes.
It’s a fine balance between pushing the market limits to get the highest possible price, pricing too high, and underpricing. By taking a few minutes and perusing this page, regardless of which Broker you choose hopefully we’ll help you to achieve this balance, to get the highest possible price for your home in the shortest possible time.
Reviewing this information will take a few minutes, but it may be worth $10,000, $20,000, $50,000, or even $100,000's of thousands more in a final sales price for you. Is a few minutes of your time worth $1,000's more in your account at closing?
Let’s jump in. Here’s how you can get the highest return for your home at sale.
Number 1 – Prepare the home. Is it a cliché or a fact? – You only have one chance to make a first impression. Folks, I go on so many appointments where the home seller tells me, “We’re ready to go on the market tomorrow.” Seldom am I in a home that is ready to go on the market without a little bit of tuning-up. We recently closed escrow on homes in Fletcher Hills Highlands, La Mesa Highlands, and in North Park where the sellers took our advice on home preparation. All three homes sold well above the comparable sales after a few steps were taken to thin personal property in the interior, touch up paint, fix little items that need attention, spruce up landscaping, and make a few more simple enhancements. One of the clients on the sales noted above, after seeing the yard of the property she was handling for the family trust with the jungle-like landscaping cut-back, said, “Oh my gosh, I had no idea how BIG the lot was!” Your home has one chance to make a first impression on each buyer who sees it – so let’s make that first impression a “WOW” experience! Throughout this discussion, you’ll see that “WOW” is the key to getting the highest possible price
Step 2 – make relevant improvements. We are in an age of clean, neat, and new or near new. We have one client with whom we've had 4 sales over our 3 decade home-selling span who simply won't buy a "used" home. Buyers like crisp and clean and new. And if you decide to make upgrades, don’t go cheap. You don't have to have pure gold faucets or sculpted wool carpets or designer draperies or the finest distressed hardwood, but at the same time, if you’re upgrading, make improvements that will catch a buyer’s eye. Before making improvements, consult a Realtor! And take their advice! Recently, a client had us out for an evaluation of their home. They showed us quality hardwood flooring samples, stone countertop samples, and medium grade but still high quality carpet samples. We agreed upon a price and the home would go on the market after the improvements were installed. About five weeks later they called me back… They’d changed to an inexpensive flooring, the old Formica countertops were not replaced with stone but rather sprayed with a coating, and the carpeting they had chosen was low grade. They put in a great deal of time and effort to enhance the home, but the enhancements were not relevant. Our marketing brought buyers in and the home was neat and clean, but the response was the same – buyers were viewing this home as a fixer-upper! The seller probably saved $2,000 to $3,000 on improvements, but lost $10,000 to $15,000 on their final selling price. So before making pre-sale improvements to your home, consult a Realtor, or even a few Realtors, on which improvements will most improve your price!
Step Number 3 for getting the highest possible price – Staging the home. Some homes need no staging, some only a little staging, and some need a little more. The level of staging you choose is up to you, but staging is a proven method to increase appeal, and thereby increase price. In step number 1 & 2 we talked about market preparation and improvements, but keep in mind – these are not staging. Staging might be moving furniture, painting to add color (not just touching up), moving unnecessary items to storage, reducing closet contents by 50%, cleaning carpets, cleaning windows, improving traffic flow in the home, or a myriad of different, low-cost things to enhance your home and increase the “WOW” factor. Our team has a great eye for the little details that will increase your bottom line, and there are many real estate agents out there who offer similar services. We have a wonderful group of workers to help with any action items we might suggest and you might choose to implement. Is staging a necessity to get the highest possible price? Not always, but it helps. Do you have to stage your home to get it sold? Nope! But getting free, no obligation recommendations from a professional can’t hurt. It’s your home and your choice!
And on to Step 4 – Setting your price. There are many websites offering opinions on price structure. Some offer sales figures for nearby homes and some even offer recommendations on pricing. Do not – I repeat – DO NOT – base your asking price on anything you read on the Internet. A real estate broker, hopefully with local knowledge, is your best bet for receiving an accurate pricing opinion. Better yet – seek opinions from multiple agents in regard to pricing. As brokers, we are out daily with buyers. We see their reactions to different homes and neighborhoods. We have a finger on the proverbial “pulse” of the market. We can give real price recommendations based upon what’s happening in the real world. And take market conditions into consideration… If the market is rising and inventory of available homes is low, it might be prudent to price slightly above comparable sales at the onset of your selling adventure. Remember – by implementing steps 1, 2, and 3 above, you’ve made your home as “WOW” a property as possible. Why not push the market a little? If the market is flat, or falling, with increasing inventory, you may want to price more in-line with the comparable sales. And what about value range pricing? I believe that with a home marketed correctly, Value Range Pricing – the marketing of a home in a price range instead of a set price - can be a powerful tool used to a seller’s benefit. Conversely, if not understood or abused by your broker, this tool can cost you. Be certain that you understand this concept before choosing the strategy. The nuances of Value Range Pricing are too voluminous to go into detail here, but we’d be happy to discuss this in a personal meeting. Generally, we recommend a set price, but occasionally we’ll recommend the range. What is right to get the best price for your home? A professional knows, so consult one - or even a few. Look at comparable sales, market trends, interest rates, and demand. Then price slightly aggressively, but not too high as to scare away buyers.
Then comes Step 5 – Choosing a Broker… This is the most important step in the process to the Highest Possible Price. There is so much to consider. But the foremost thing to look for in a Broker is Local Knowledge! Does your agent have to be locally based to get the highest price for you? Not necessarily, but the agent MUST have an understanding of the local market. Schools, traffic patterns, future development, intimate knowledge of comparable sales… Even restaurant recommendations! Everything matters! I am 100% certain that many of our sales at above market prices have come because I was able to steer a buyer to the best pizza or the best margarita in the area after a viewing. We’ve arranged meetings with the local soccer clubs and travel baseball coaches for the parents as they considered our client’s listing as their home. We don’t sell homes – we sell communities! And local knowledge is the key. Did you know that most top brokers actually only sell 40%, or less, of the listings they take on? That means 60%, or more, of the listings they take DO NOT sell. And often, these “top producers” never even have a hand in their sales. A Broker with local knowledge offering personalized service is your best bet in obtaining the Highest Possible Price. And what about commissions, or marketing fees? So many people are caught up on the fee amount. I actually had a past client a few years ago tell me they chose another broker because he charged 1% less. Well, about 2 months into the listing they were on their 2nd price reduction and asked to be released from the listing… “No, No, No…” said the discount Broker. Eventually the home sold, and the seller paid a 1% lower fee, but they sold at least $15,000 – probably closer to $20,000 - under market. The savings the client thought they were getting turned into a huge loss! Placing a cut-rate broker’s sign on your property is like advertising “Discount!” When interviewing a Broker – and you should be talking to a Broker – not just an agent – the fee is part of the package. You are investing in Broker! Invest wisely for the highest return. And of course, during the interview process take the other 9 steps noted here into consideration. It is a complete package.
You’ve prepared. You’ve staged. You’ve set the price, and chosen an agent. Now you’re ready to go to market. What’s next?
Step 6 to achieving the highest possible price – Photos! In the 1990’s, we were the first in the area to offer multiple photos of our listings on-line for buyers to see. Well, let me break
the news to you – buyers don’t use the internet simply to find homes any longer. Nope – now buyers use the internet to ELIMINATE the homes they don’t want to see. Dynamite, “WOW” photos are a must in getting the highest possible price for a home. In 2004 we took on a home in La Jolla previously listed by a “top” local agent, and by simply changing the photo presentation we were able to sell the home without reducing the price. And another home, this one in Fletcher Hills, was previously listed by an alleged “top” local group. We took over the listing, used a professional photographer to take photos, and by making buyers say “WOW”, we sold the home at the highest price ever recorded for this floor plan. Today, we use a professional photographer to do nearly all our photographs and virtual tours. To get the highest possible price for your home, buyers need to keep your home on their list. “WOW” photos – photos that induce an emotional response - keep buyers looking and bring them out to see the home. Regardless of who you choose to market your home, make certain they provide “WOW” photography. And remember – at Best Homes Team – we provide the finest photography available.
Step 7 – On-line Presentation – after your “WOW” photo layouts are done, it’s time to go on-line. “On-Line” is where, as they say in the racing profession, “The rubber meets the road…” Is a racing analogy appropriate for real estate? You bet! When we go On-Line the marketing race has started. This is where the “buyer meets the property!” Here is where all the work & planning you and your broker have done comes together. Again, going back in these steps – we must remember – “you have only one chance to make a first impression.” To get the highest possible price for you, that first impression must be captivating and all encompassing. The photos must be complete and must offer captions that put the potential buyer in the scene depicted. It is not enough to simply place the professional photo out there to see – your agent must bring the buyer into the picture. On-line presentation is such a huge part of the marketing equation. Proper syndication, on-line ad placement, how the photos are laid out with descriptive prose added – this is critical. Over 60% of searches are done on a mobile device – did you know that most agents’ websites are not even mobile-optimized? Many agents don’t even feature their listings on their Website, preferring to direct consumers to an MLS portal to find listings! This is absurd! You are paying $1,000’s in marketing fees – your Broker MUST offer the finest in on-line presentation. The marketing goal must be to bring the buyers in and keep them looking at your home, NOT the entire MLS inventory.
Step 8 – Marketing! – The famous philosopher René Descartes taught the world – “Perception Becomes Reality.” 300 years later, this teaching is the basis for modern-era marketing. To obtain the Highest Possible Price, buyers must perceive that everyone wants YOUR home. And that perception need only become a reality for one buyer. But ONE is all you need! Your Broker’s marketing program must generate enough interest in your home that a buyer will fear that they will lose out if they don’t act quickly, with a strong offer. Fear of loss in a buyer, generated by the manufac-tured perception of demand, is the strongest weapon in a Broker’s marketing arsenal. There is simply not enough space here to elaborate on all of the special steps we implement to create the perception of demand in your home through marketing. With complete certainty, steps 1-7 above are a part of manifesting this perception, but marketing is the active presentation of your property to the public, and to that one buyer who will ultimately pay TOP DOLLAR for your home. Do open houses sell homes? In some cases, you bet! But only if performed properly to create, or enhance, that perception of demand. Is print a thing of the past? Hardly! Print, used properly, still remains one of the strongest tools to create interest in a home. Certainly the on-line marketing highway is the best viewing medium for your home, but targeted print can create the on-ramp a buyer may take to reach the "WOW" presentation we’ve created on-line. Marketing is the big picture in getting the Highest Possible Price for you! Everything matters! How is the phone answered at the office handling your listing? Or is it answered at all?!?! How do buyers reach the "WOW", on-line presentation specific to your property? If an agent’s answer is “We syndicate to all the major sites…” you’re being sold a bill of goods. To capture buyers and keep them looking at your home, your agent must offer a specific website to isolate buyer interest in your property. As noted previously – there is too much to cover on all points of marketing here – we’d be on this subject too long. Just remember – anyone can sell a home, but to get the Highest Possible Price, you need dynamite marketing. If you’re serious about getting the best price for your home, call us to review our entire marketing program with you personally. It could mean the difference of thousands, or even tens-of-thousands of extra dollars at closing for you.
Step 9 - Getting an Offer and Negotiating – The home looks its best, buyers are saying WOW over the professional photos and on-line presentation, the perception of demand created by marketing is instilling a fear of loss in at least one buyer, and someone has decided they must have this home. If your home has been properly marketed and steps 1-8 already noted have been implemented, offers will come. How an offer (or in many cases offers), is handled can, once again, lead to $1,000’s of even tens-of-$1,000's in your bottom line. As with marketing, this section could ramble on. So let’s keep this as short as possible. Foremost - How your Broker handles an offer, or offers, should be discussed during your interview process. So many alleged top agents today have remarks in the MLS – “E-mail your offer to ‘email@example.com’” – In these cases, the listing agent never speaks to the buyer’s agent, but rather presents the offer, or offers, blindly to the owner. There is no knowledge of the buyer’s motivation, ability to qualify, need for schools, medical facilities, job situation, or any little detail that might be helpful. We recently closed a transaction at an above-market price in Fletcher Hills. During the negotiations, we discovered that the buyers were expecting their second child. Certainly the home looked great – we prepared and staged and had professional photos and dynamite marketing in place – but it was finding out about the buyer and their motivation that sealed the deal. The buyer was completely unaware of the opportunity to join the local recreational club where the local kids congregate. I told them of the potential babysitters located all around the home, introduced them to neighbors and told them of the miles of walking trails throughout the development. The buyers’ agent knew nothing of the neighborhood, but by finding out about the buyers’ motivation and needs we were able to help them reach a point of acceptance of our higher price. We’ve helped place buyers in local schools, found homes for them on travel baseball teams and in Little League, and made introductions to coaches of local soccer clubs. Your Broker taking a few minutes to investigate a buyers’ motivation is a huge benefit in negotiations.
And there is so much more – How about timing of delivery of a counter offer? Do you think a buyer might be motivated to pay more $$$$ if a counter offer is delivered a few hours prior to an open house starting? Imagine a buyer, with a counter offer in hand, sitting in front of an open house watching 50 parties march in & out. We’ve had more homes sold at higher prices with this method than I can remember. Once, a buyer even walked into the open house with the counter offer in hand, placed it on the counter, and with other potential clients looking the buyer with the counter offer signed it and announced, “Everyone go home. This property is sold!” The perception of demand, the fear of loss, and the sheer timing of the delivery of the counter offer sold that property $72,000 higher than the recommended list price of another agent. It has happened time & again.
And then what about multiple offers? Simply stated – every buyer presenting a reasonable offer should have a counter offer prepared and delivered to their agent. Yet some agents recommend to their selling clients that only the best offer should be considered. This is ludicrous! Folks, to get the Highest Possible Price for your home, set a bidding war in motion. Send out multiple counter offers and let the buyers know there are multiple counter offers being delivered! Your Broker must create a competitive bidding environment for you! Studies show that loss aversion is a stronger motivator than achieving gain! In a competitive bidding environment, often we will receive subsequent counter offers from a buyer at a price higher than our original counter offer! With regularity, it is not the buyer with the highest offer originally who pays the highest price. To help you get the Highest Possible Price, your Broker must counter all reasonable offers. Certainly this takes more time, especially if your Broker is determining buyers’ motivation and needs, but remember – you’re paying your Broker $1,000’s to get you $1,000’s more. Your Broker must take the extra time to issue multiple counter offers. So during the interview process, be sure to ask, “How do you handle multiple offer situations?” If the agent answers, "We deal with the highest offer", show that agent out!
Finally, the negotiations in the offer stage and the terms and conditions set forth and agreed upon are the glue to keeping an offer together during the escrow and closing process. Over-negotiate, and you can chase a buyer away. Many agents place ridiculous stipulations into their offer terms – per diem penalties for late closing, deposit forfeitures for missed deadlines, ridiculously short periods for loan approval and inspections… I’ve seen so many alleged “Top Agents” chase so many good buyers away, costing their clients $1,000’s and even tens-of-$1,000’s by over-negotiating. Conversely, if your agent negotiates too softly and you may end up with a contract that allows too much time for buyer contingencies (Loan approval, Inspections, Disclosure approvals); your property might be tied up for weeks longer than necessary. There is a fine line between over-negotiation, weak negotiation, and writing the best possible contract. Be certain in the interview process that you’re hiring a broker with a firm understanding of the nuances of getting you the Highest Possible Price while maintaining a strong enough offer to ‘glue’ the deal together. The rule here – shorten the contingency periods as much as possible, while still keeping the buyer’s interest at a peak!
Step 10 - Escrow & Closing. The escrow and contingency period is where the buyers conduct inspections and review all the documentation regarding the home. Insurance claims (if any) come up. Past reports are presented, title searches and reports are done, along with Home Owner’s Association documents if your property has an HOA. And the biggest hurdle of all comes now – the Physical Inspection. The buyer hires a professional trained to locate property defects. These reports are mostly overblown and even inflammatory as to findings in regard to systems and structural aspects of your property, but the findings often take some of the luster off of the home for the buyer. The inspector has told them the home they loved is not as wonderful as they had thought. Working through this process is a minefield. Your Broker has negotiated the Highest Possible Price for you; maintaining that price and keeping the sale together is paramount to your best interests. To maintain your position, your broker must be prepared to diffuse or soften the findings of the inspector, and work to reach a mid-point between the buyer’s requests and what might be reasonable in the way of work or credit. Sometimes we'll bring out professionals to counter findings we feel are erroneous. The bottom line on this - if the inspection and requests are handled incorrectly, it could cost you. Remember too - a buyer motivated by the perception of demand is less likely to make requests for repair or $$$$ credit during the inspection process.
On the The Appraisal... In almost every transaction there is an appraisal contingency. An appraisal is required to get nearly every loan that we use for the purchase of real estate. There are a few cases where an appraisal is not a "must", but in most cases your sale will be subject to a price opinion rendered by an appraiser. Whenever possible, you should have this condition removed as a contingency , however this occurrence is rare and your sale will likely be subject to appraisal. Your Broker MUST handle the appraisal situation properly. Most appraisers today have a lock-box key for access. DO NOT - I repeat - DO NOT let an appraiser into your home without meeting your Broker. A meeting with the appraiser allows your Broker to present comparable sales and discuss upgrades and the possible differences between homes. Research, often extensive, must be performed to supply the appraiser comparable sales and data to justify the higher prices at which we often sell our client's homes. A botched appraisal can unwind all the work we do in the other 9 steps to reach the Highest Possible Price. Properly handled, a seasoned Broker meeting the appraiser can make the difference between a low evaluation, and an evaluation that meets, or even exceeds, the selling price.
Another "MUST" in the escrow process - do not allow a buyer to complete their inspection and then order an appraisal. During the contract negotiations, your Broker must add the condition that the appraisal and inspection(s) will be completed simultaneously.
With the inspection, appraisal, and other contingencies are completed, the buyer removes contingencies and you're on to closing, at the Highest Possible Price!
Looking for an experienced Broker to help you in your transaction? Best Homes Team is available & ready. Call us at 619-466-4556 or email Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org