Following is the first of a four-part series for how the real estate industry can weather the quarantine and the COVID-19 crisis as a whole. In this first part of the series, I will outline four tips for active sellers and four tips for those who were looking to list their home for sale. In the next installation, I’ll be offering tips for active and soon-to-be homebuyers.
TOP 5 REAL ESTATE TIPS FOR SELLERS ACTIVELY ON THE MARKET
No. 1: Stay in close contact with your listing agent to keep abreast of how the industry is impacted by regulations surrounding the virus. Understand that showings have decreased across the board and discuss the pros and cons of staying on the market (continuing to allow showings), changing your status to temporarily off the market, or withdrawing your listing (without penalty due to the crisis) if your situation has changed.
No. 2: Use some of your free time to review your agent’s online marketing and advertising brochures to make sure both properly convey every feature your home offers. Promotion of your house should tell the full story about your home and all it has to offer both inside and out. If your agent is missing key points that buyers need to know about, provide a list of features you want to have showcased and make sure they don’t miss promoting features, upgrades, updates and unique benefits buyers should know about.
No. 3: Create what I call the “Seller’s top 10 Reasons they Love their Home” list. Invite your children (if appropriate) to make their own list and/or create artwork to go with it. It doesn’t have to be ten reasons, but make it full of positive features that enable the buyer to picture themselves making memories of their own in your home. You can share bonus insights about the neighbors and subjective features that agents aren’t able to verify and include in their own brochures, but can include the list and quote from you. You could even go above and beyond and create a video tour that your agent can use in marketing in which you walk through your home and share features. Get the entire family involved!
No. 4: Have frank conversations with your agent about pricing, strategy and your ideal timeframe. Share any changes that the current state of affairs has caused, discuss outside the box ways to increase buyer traffic and contemplate pricing adjustments. None of us know with certainty what the crisis will do to the real estate market. Have the tough conversation sooner than later to determine what price would be one that you’d accept to get the sale behind you. Then strongly consider dropping to that price to spur the pervading stalled buyer interest. A price reduction combined with these tips could get you at the virtual closing table a lot sooner.
TOP 5 REAL ESTATE TIPS FOR THOSE PLANNING TO SELL SOON
No. 1: Make believe you’re a buyer. Step outside and analyze your house as if you pulled into your driveway for the very first time. Look at your home from the inside out with a critical eye and make a list of noticeable flaws. Focus first on curb appeal improvements (starting in the front of the house and moving through the main living areas), prioritizing enhancements you can start to make that would have the most impact on improving showing appeal. As you walk through your home, visualize how two buyers and an agent would fit through your living spaces and plan to clear large furniture or unnecessary items that crowd your rooms. I personally never have felt that it’s necessary to remove personal photos, but do encourage sellers to hide expensive items or medicines that could easily be pilfered.
No. 2: Make a list of every feature that your home offers, especially the ones that aren’t as obvious. Do you have energy star appliances, existing warranties, high efficiency toilets, recent upgrades, unique features, efficient utility bills? I always encourage sellers to share with me any detail that could potentially earn then an extra dollar at the closing table. Make a list of your top 10 favorite reasons you love your home. Make it a family affair and ask kids to contribute too, or provide artwork for your family list. Help your Realtor tell the full story of your home that will speak to the hearts of buyers who read about it online (and inspire them to take a tour).
No. 3: Start looking online and review listings and price tiers of homes similar to yours. Start getting a feel for what your house is worth and what your competition looks like. More important than what houses like yours are actively listed for is the price homes fetched at the closing table and how long it took them to get under contract). Notice what is appealing in photos and online marketing of other listings. Take notes about how you think your home can shine in comparison.
No. 4: Start contacting and researching agents to interview. Ask for sales statistics and references from past and current clients. Review a sample of their marketing brochure template and scrutinize their online property advertising. Pay special attention to the quality of their photos and writing skills. I suggest interviewing three agents, and letting each one know that you are doing so. Remember that discount brokerages can also mean discounted services, so know upfront what your agent promises to deliver before you sign a listing agreement. I never encourage listing agreements longer than three months. You can always extend if your property isn’t sold within that time frame.
Finally, make sure you review my other upcoming articles written for homebuyers, agents and for homeowners for other suggestions you can implement.