If you want to sell your home this year, it's time to get started!
Last year was a great year for real estate on the North Shore, and especially for Highland Park. About 15% MORE homes sold in 2012 than the two previous years, and market time was down! Inventory was also at its lowest point in 3 years... and that, coupled with still-low interest rates, means good news for sellers - the buyers will be out there, and ready to buy!
So if you are thinking about selling your home, seriously consider they whys and hows of it, and if it is the right time for you to sell, do it right! Here's how...
1) Commit to listing earlier in the season, rather than later. The real estate market is already heating up -- low inventory coupled with still-low interest rates are combining to make a very palatable environment for buyers, who are already out there. And consider that last year, homes listed in January and February sold for 8% more than homes listed in March and April!
2) Determine if you may be in the position of a short sale, or even foreclosure -- and get help if you need it! A short sale is when you cannot sell your home for more than the mortgage you have to pay off, thus you will be "shorting" the lender. Having to sell in a distressed situation is difficult, but there are Realtors out there who can help you make the best of the situation. Nothing's worse than hiding your head in the sand and ignoring the situation, so take action!
3)Understand your local market. Look online, tour open houses, and hire a competent Realtor to do all of the research for you! It’s incredibly important to understand the competitive landscape so you can position your home right, which leads us to…
4) Hire a Realtor who will help you understand the sale process and navigate you through it. There are many steps, and many parties, involved in a home sale. I always see myself as the “hub of the wheel” — I’m in the center, and each spoke is a different person or entity involved in the process (buyers, buyers’ agent(s), title company, inspector, attorneys, mortgage lenders…etc). An agent’s job is to filter all of the information from each different party to their client and make it easily comprehensible. Also, ask your agent to prepare an estimate of closing costs so that your know what selling your home will cost you (http://hofmanonhomes.com/2010/08/19/what-will-selling-your-home-cost-you/).
5) Prepare your home for sale. My favorite word: declutter! Get rid of anything you don’t love, don’t wear/use, or don’t need. Just dump it or donate it. You’re going to purge when you move, so here’s a way to get a jump-start on it while making your home look better. Then get to fixing up your home: touch up any scuffed paint, replace lightbulbs (use the highest wattage possible), fix leaky faucets, have your carpets professionally cleaned, have the windows washed, re-stain the front door, plant some bright flowers (when it gets warm enough)…seemingly minute fixes can make a huge difference! Your agent can also give you loads of recommendations on how to best prepare your home for market.
6) Price your home right from the start. Your first few weeks on the market are important – you are only the “belle of the ball” once, and this is when all of the neighborhood agents will bring their clients through. If you don’t have your pricing right, you’ll miss that crucial window and risk becoming another stale listing. Don’t “just try” a higher price than your agent recommends; you will lose precious time on the market, and in the long run, you could very well end up getting LESS money than if you priced it right from the beginning. Remember that buyers look within their price range, so if you price your home above what comps are showing your home is worth, you will have the wrong buyers coming in -- and they will just see your home as an overpriced listing, and pass on it. (And, many of you sellers will be buying also, so remember you can't have your cake and eat it too - if you're going to expect a discount when you purchase a home, remember that your buyer is thinking the same thing!)
7) Be flexible. It’s inconvenient to be a seller, there's no doubt about that. You have to be ready to show your home at the whim of the buyer. That’s part of the process, so make peace with the fact that you may be asked to evacuate the premises (but only after leaving it looking neat and clean!) at short notice. If you get desperate, do what I did: throw all of the clutter and stuff you don’t have time to put away into a laundry basket and put it in the back of your car!
8) And, most importantly: when you do get an offer, don’t let ego or greed stand in your way. We all have an inflated sense of what our house should sell for, we all think our house is the “best.” And we should, we live there, it’s our home. But try to keep an objective view. Your agent should keep you updated regularly as to what’s going on in the market so you can make informed decisions when you negotiate an offer, and come away with the best possible results.
To see my resolutions for home buyers, click here!