The busy spring home-buying season is getting underway. And with slower price growth and lower mortgage rates, that means sellers will need to be more strategic about how they price, market and negotiate their home sale if they want to get the right buyer through the door.
Here, Bankrate offers five listing strategies sellers can implement to ensure they sell their home quickly and for top dollar.
1. Time your sale right
You have a competitive home price and great listing photos, but another strategy that shouldn’t be ignored is the date you list your home for sale. Research shows that sellers typically get the highest prices and sell their homes more quickly when they list during the first week of April, according to Realtor.com. Homes listed in that week logged an average of 14 more views on Realtor.com and have 5 percent less competition from other sellers.
Even more enticing for sellers: Homes listed the first week of April see 6 percent higher prices—a gain of $17,000 more for a typical home.
One big reason why? Available housing inventory typically reaches its highest levels in May, so listing in early April when there aren’t as many homes on the market means you [as a seller] could capture buyers who won’t have the ability to compare your house with one on the next block. You don’t have to compete as much to stand out with the best upgrades and a lower price.
2. Price competitively from the start
When casting a wide net for potential buyers, it’s critical to price a home right from the get-go. Some sellers can let their emotions dictate their selling price rather than relying on their real estate agent’s expert opinion and market data, and that’s a big mistake. If you list too high, you could end up selling your home for less, and it will take longer.
Overpricing a home can lead to multiple price cuts, which adds time to the transaction and the loss of interest in your listing. Your listing agent will run a comparative analysis of homes that are for sale and have sold in your neighborhood in recent months to help gauge your property’s market value. It’s always better to list a little lower than to overprice to attract a wider range of buyers.
3. Don’t wait until the home inspection to make repairs
If you know about any major issues that will get flagged by a home inspection, it’s a good idea to fix them before you list your home for sale. Otherwise, you risk turning off some buyers. You’ll also add unnecessary time to late-stage negotiations that can delay your closing.
While buyers plan and budget for their down payment and closing costs, and maybe have some reserves, it’s probably not enough to replace an HVAC system and other big items. Unless you’re selling a true fixer-upper home and marketing to investors who fix-and-flip homes, don’t assume selling your home “as-is” will attract many buyers.
4. Set the stage
Your real estate agent will likely tell you to declutter your home before taking listing photos and holding showings. Some home experts recommend sellers take it a step further and hire a professional home stager—especially for high-end homes that can take longer to sell and have a more limited buyer pool. Nationally, professional home staging costs an average of $922, according to HomeAdvisor.
Homeowners pay between $325 on the low end up to $1,518 on average, HomeAdvisor found. Don’t want to shell out the cash for a stager? You can still do inexpensive things to spruce up your home. A fresh coat of white or off-white interior paint makes a big impact and isn’t expensive, and a professional window cleaning is also another inexpensive way to make a good first impression.
5. Vet buyers’ offers closely
If you receive multiple offers for your home, and one or two that are way over asking price, zero in on a buyer’s preapproval letter and offer. Try to understand why they’re willing to pay a steep premium. Do they plan on making a small down payment? Do they have to sell their home first to buy yours? Have they put in multiple contact contingencies or requests for seller credits or an extension to close?
Too many conditions in an offer may lead to a more difficult negotiation process—and it could take longer to get to the closing table. There’s also a risk that your home may not appraise for a too-high offer price. Your agent can help you make an informed decision as you sift through offers. Ultimately, your goal is to net a sales price that meets your financial needs while getting to the closing table with as little difficulty as possible.