Depending on your home’s condition, there are three kinds of improvements that will impress buyers and help you sell for top market value: renovations, upgrades and repairs, reorganization and maintenance. Along these lines, what follows are a few proven, cost-effective ideas that will help your home look its best so you get top market value. Bear in mind, an experienced REALTOR® knows what today’s discerning buyers are looking for and can provide more ideas that will maximize your home’s
appeal. Sometimes a small investment in time and money can give you a big edge over your competition and generate a faster sale at a higher price.
Renovations – Which Ones Are Market-Smart?
Generally, few home owners renovate their homes in order to sell them because they know they won’t recoup the full cost of the renovations in the sales price. However, in some cases minor renovations can really improve the overall impression of a property’s character and quality and, as such, will more than pay for themselves.
When considering renovations in anticipation of selling, there are two important rules: don’t over-renovate, and be careful not to make renovations which please you personally, but which might turn off otherwise interested buyers. Both scenarios will cost you. An experienced REALTOR® will be able to counsel you on which renovations are likely to be good investments in terms of your overall plan.
Small Upgrades And Repairs Can Make A Big Difference
There are few things that put buyers off more than viewing a home that screams of being uncared for. If you want to maximize your chances for getting top dollar, you might need to make some minor upgrades, but you’ll definitely need to make all necessary repairs – even those that are “out of sight, out of mind”.
Reorganization And Maintenance – The Obvious That Needs Doing
Similar to necessary repairs, basic reorganization and maintenance tasks are “must-dos”. While buyers might not notice such work when it is done, they’re sure to notice when it isn’t. This impression of neglect will make it more difficult for them to comfortably project themselves into your home’s living space.
Here are a few reorganization and maintenance tasks that can improve your
home’s curb appeal and inside hominess.
• Mow and rake the lawn, trim hedges and shrubs, weed and edge gardens.
• Clean sidewalks and driveway, remove any litter.
• Remove unnecessary items from the exterior of the house.
• Power wash the porch, siding, deck and patio.
• Clean off your outdoor furniture and remove any in poor repair.
• Clean your air conditioner.
• Clear out the garage of everything but cars. If yours has become a two-car
attic, throw out all unnecessary items, and then thoroughly organize and
clean everything that remains.
• If you have a pool, make sure it’s clean and functioning well or
properly closed in the off-season.
• Clean and tidy the entrance, clear stairs and halls.
• Create space by storing all excess furniture.
• Remove from closets, cabinets and shelves any clothes and other items you
won’t need until after moving. Pre-pack and store if possible.
• Organize kitchen counter tops, removing some appliances if necessary, to
make them look as spacious as possible.
• Thoroughly clean everything in and out of sight.
• Remove all odors and add air freshener, dishes of potpourri, etc. for scent.
• Throw out any unnecessary items in an unfinished basement, and then
thoroughly organize and clean everything that remains.
A Few Words About Clutter
For most buyers, cluttered homes tend to appear smaller, less full of air and light, and somehow requiring of more maintenance. Conversely, clutter-free homes generally seem brighter, more open and spacious, perhaps cleaner and requiring of less work. Additionally, clutter-free homes can make it easier for buyers to visualize their own interior design ideas, as well as the placement of all their belongings.
CMA is real estate shorthand for “Comparative Market Analysis”. A CMA is a report prepared by a real estate agent providing data comparing your property to similar properties in the marketplace.
The first thing an agent will need to do to provide you with a CMA is to inspect your property. Generally, this inspection won’t be overly detailed (she or he is not going to crawl under the house to examine the foundation), nor does the house need to be totally cleaned up and ready for an open house. It should be in such a condition that the agent will be able to make an accurate assessment of its condition and worth. If you plan to make changes before selling, inform the agent at this time.
The next step is for the agent to obtain data on comparable properties. This data is usually available through MLS (Multiple Listing Service), but a qualified agent will also know of properties that are on the market or have sold without being part of the MLS. This will give the agent an idea how much your property is worth in the current market. Please note that the CMA is not an appraisal. An appraisal must be performed by a licensed appraiser.
The CMA process takes place before your home is listed for sale. This is a good assessment of what your house could potentially sell for.
CMAs are not only for prospective sellers. Buyers should consider requesting a CMA for properties they are seriously looking at to determine whether the asking price is a true reflection of the current market. Owners who are upgrading or remodeling can benefit from a CMA when it’s used to see if the intended changes will “over-improve” their property compared to others in the neighborhood.
So What’s Your Home Really Worth?
In a perfect world, your home’s value would be everything you think and need it to be. Perhaps you have specific financial goals or you’ve just made an offer on another home that’s is dependent on selling your home at a certain price in a given time frame. However, simply put, your home’s value is not determined by you, but by what the market is willing to pay for it at a given time.
In trying to determine your home’s true market value and, as such, set your expectations for what you’re likely to sell it for, you should:
1) Try to be impartial. Your home may have features that you highly value, but which might actually reduce its market value by reducing potential buyers. Your Realtor will discuss these concerns with you and point out any of these issues.
2) Remember why you are selling. Do you want to sell or do you need to sell? If you need to sell, pricing your home for maximum effect would be best, as it would increase the chance that it will sell quickly.
3) Do your research and ask your Realtor questions about the market and it’s trends. Make sure you understand what type of market you are in, a Buyer’s or Seller’s market, and how this will affect the price you decide on for your home.
The Consequences of Overpricing
The strategy of overpricing your home when you list, knowing that you can reduce the price later, might seem to make sense at first glance. However, it seldom works. In fact, sellers who overprice their homes – even just 10% above market value – and then reduce the price one or more times often end up getting less than they would have if they’d priced it realistically from the start, as you miss the serious Buyers’ in your home’s price bracket.
In order to maximize the impact of the property’s preparation and pricing strategies, your home needs to be effectively exposed to the marketplace through a variety of advertising media. Currently, the internet (including REALTOR.com®, REALTOR® websites, social media, blogs, etc.) and direct contact with REALTORS® are far and away the main sources of home information for buyers . Other sources include yard signs, open houses, newspaper and real estate magazine ads, home builders and television. You would want a combination of these to maximize your home’s exposure to the public.
Buyers Are Flocking To The Web
The internet is revolutionizing real estate advertising. Clearly, your REALTOR® needs to have an internet marketing strategy in place to target these desirable and more market-informed internet buyers.
This means that your REALTOR® should have a compelling web presence where buyers are known to go online for real estate information. In addition, the internet marketing plan should include emphasis on information rich sites that offer lots of property details and photos, virtual tours, community and school
reports, and mapping.
Marketing Your Community As Well As Your Home
Real estate industry surveys have repeatedly found that neighborhood quality is the most important reason why home buyers choose where to live. In fact, experience shows that buyers usually “buy” an area first, and are often willing to pay a premium for homes there. That’s why it’s crucial to highlight your community’s amenities – like proximity to quality schools, restaurants and shopping, local parks and attractions, as well as other benefits that impact on lifestyle. REALTORS® have access to the kinds of detailed community and school information that today’s buyers are looking for, and they are highly capable of portraying the relationship between the value and benefits of your community and home together.
Property Title – A summary of the public records relating to the legal ownership of a particular property from the time of the first transfer to the present.
Appraisal – A professional appraiser’s estimate of the market value of a property based on local market data and the recent sale prices
of similar properties.
Assessed Value – The value placed on a home by municipal assessors for the purposes of determining property taxes.
Closing – The final steps in the transfer of property ownership. On the Closing Date, as specified by the sales agreement, the buyer inspects and signs all the documents relating to the transaction and the final disbursements are paid. Also referred to as the Settlement.
Closing Costs – The costs to complete a real estate transaction in addition to the price of the home, to include: points, taxes, title insurance, appraisal fees and legal fees.
Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) – A REALTOR®-prepared document, typically included in a listing presentation to a prospective seller, designed to help the seller set a strategic asking price for their home. Drawn from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a CMA presents pricing and property information for homes similar to the seller’s that recently sold, failed to sell, or are currently on the market.
Counter-offer – An offer, made in response to a previous offer, that rejects all or part of it while enabling negotiations to continue towards a mutually-acceptable sales contract.
Down Payment – The money paid by the buyer to the lender at the time of the closing. The amount is the difference between the sales price and the mortgage loan. Requirements vary by loan type. Smaller down payments, less than 20%, usually requires mortgage insurance.
Deposit Cheque – A deposit given by the buyer to bind a purchase offer and which is held in escrow. If the property sale is closed, the deposit is applied to the purchase price. If the buyer does not fulfill all contract obligations, the deposit may be forfeited.
Easements – Legal right of access to use of a property by individuals or groups for specific purposes. Easements may affect property values and are sometimes part of the deed.
Free Market Evaluation – An offer by a REALTOR®, usually presented in marketing materials, to provide a complimentary assessment of your home’s current market value.
Home Inspection – Professional inspection of a home, paid for by the buyer, to evaluate the quality and safety of its plumbing, heating, wiring, appliances, roof, foundation, etc.
Homeowner’s Insurance – A policy that protects you and the lender from fire or flood, a liability such as visitor injury, or damage to your personal property. Lien – A claim or charge on property for payment of a debt. With a mortgage, the lender has the right to take the title to your property if you don’t make the mortgage payments.
Lien – A claim or charge on property for payment of a debt. With a mortgage, the lender has the right to take the title to your property if you don’t make the mortgage payments.
Listing Presentation – A presentation given by a REALTOR® to a prospective home seller in hopes that the seller will allow the REALTOR® to represent their interests throughout the sales process. Typically delivered in the seller’s home, the presentation includes the REALTOR’S® pricing, marketing and showing strategies, as well as a suggested asking price.
Market Value – The amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for a home. An appraised value is an estimate of the current fair market value. Mortgage Insurance – Purchased by the buyer to protect the lender in the event of default (typically for loans with less than 20% down.
Possession Date – The date, as specified by the sales agreement, that the buyer can move into the property. Generally, the it occurs within a couple days of the Closing Date.
Title – The right to, and the ownership of, property. A Title or Deed is sometimes used as proof of ownership of land. Clear title refers to a title that has no legal defects.
Title Insurance – Insurance policy that guarantees the accuracy of the title search and protects lenders and homeowners against legal problems with the title.
Title Search – A historical review of all legal documents relating to ownership of a property to determine if there have been any flaws in prior transfers of ownership or if there are any claims or encumbrances on the title to the property.