There are times when a homeowner can take a casual, steady approach to selling a house — and times when, hot market or cold, that house needs to be sold, and sold now. Homeowners can boost their chances of standing out from the crowd, and can entice prospective buyers, with a mix of tried-and-true tactics and smart moves that tap into current trends.
What the homeowner can control:
Price it right from the start. This isn’t a time to be emotional. A homeowner needs to make sure he’s not factoring in the love and attention he’s lavished on his home — besides the hard value-added dollars and cents. He doesn’t have time to hang around and lower the price in stages.
And he also needs to be cognizant of the market in his area. Starter-home sales, for example, may be stifled by a large local population of millennials already saddled with high student debt (a common challenge: In a 2015 study by American Student Assistance, more than half of respondents, 55 percent, said their student loan debts affected their ability to purchase a home).
Declutter. Depersonalize. Prospective homebuyers need to imagine their family in the space, not the current homeowner’s. So the knickknacks, photos, off-season clothes, the floor lamp in the awkward corner? It all needs to go, and the homeowner should consider renting a storage unit to keep it out of the house until she sells.
Make sure every room in the house has a “role.” Empty bedrooms can become home offices; awkward spaces on the second-floor landing can become a reading nook or child’s play space. Again, it’ll be easier for prospective homebuyers to see the usefulness and adaptability of the home.
Boost the curb appeal. If the homeowner hasn’t raked fallen leaves, or the window box flowers are dead, or the mailbox numbers are peeling off, he’s not going to lure buyers inside. It can be as simple as popping a few garden center plants, still in their container, inside a decorative porch container, updating the house numbers, spreading a fresh layer of weed-covering mulch and keeping the front walkway edged. He needs to make his house show better than others in its price range.
Share the neighborhood. If an open house is scheduled, make it count. Share a “home album” about the neighborhood and nearby attractions (the coffee shop, the grocery just down the street, restaurants that offer deliver, the schools, photos of the neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July party) — anything that makes it easier for buyers to picture themselves in the house. The homeowner needs to make sure the house is spotless — bathrooms and the kitchen, especially — and maybe even set it up like she’s hosting a party. Soft music, fresh coffee and snacks in the kitchen (or cookies baking in the oven), all pet paraphernalia out of sight, vintage photos of the house on display: It all goes a long way to the main goal of making her house stand out from the others.
Consider a transferable home warranty. This all boils down to offering something intangible — but valuable — to prospective buyers: peace of mind. A homeowner who offers this warranty might have to spend $300 or $400, but the buyer (who is shelling out considerable money, after all) can rest assured that they won’t be socked with unexpected expenditures for appliances, the HVAC system or whatever else is covered. It can be an effective negotiating tool for the homeowner, and won’t cost her too much. Every state has its own regulations governing these warranties.
Spread the word. How are buyers researching what homes they want to see? Well, that answer has seen a remarkable transformation in the last decade.
In 2004, according to the National Association of Realtors, about 16 percent of home buyers first spotted their home online. In 2013, that had ballooned to 50 percent. Remember those Sunday newspaper real estate sections? By 2013, less than 2 percent of buyers found their new home that way.
In other words, they’re finding their bricks-and-mortar home in the virtual world, so a homeowner has to figure out how to stand out.
Some ideas to consider in the ‘virtual world’:
* Whether a homeowner is selling on his own or using a Realtor, images will be key. If whoever is selling the home can’t take great pictures, consider hiring someone who can.
* If the Realtor has a great website, home sellers should share it far and wide on social media: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, etc
* Sweeten the pot. A home seller can encourage others to share the home’s information by offering a reward to the person whose “share” directly leads to the the house sale.