At any given time, there can be various reasons to sell a home. One is the number of family members residing in the home. Be it more or less, the space required changes. Another reason may be that you’re relocating due to your job, family proximity or retirement. Others might be preferred schools, the length of your commute or nearby amenities.
On the other hand, the decision to sell may be purely financial. This can be driven by factors such as an increase or decrease in income, or perhaps, a divorce. You might face needing to reduce the cost of your home ownership or, conversely, find yourself in a position to pursue that home of which you’ve always dreamed.
Whatever reasons motivate your decision to sell, you need to be equipped with the knowledge necessary to make astute decisions for the benefit of you and your family.
With these things in mind, let’s examine the steps to selling a home.
Six Components That Sell Homes
There are six components to selling a home, three of which you can control and three you cannot. The three you can control are price, condition and exposure. The three you can't control are location, market conditions and value.
Three Components You Can Control
Price / Terms
Home prices, like the prices of other goods and services in a free market, are determined by supply and demand as well as what the competition is doing. We've all heard the terms 'sellers market' and 'buyers market'. Supply and demand are largely responsible for a marketplace getting to either of these states. A sellers market exists when inventory is low and demand is high. Generally, this drives prices up. A buyers market exists when inventory is high and demand is low. This generally drives prices down.
Home prices are definitely influenced by supply and demand, however, when attempting to determine the appropriate price for a home, what the competition is doing is generally more relevant. Most of us are familiar with the term 'comparable sales'. Comparable sales are where we look to see what the recent competition has done and see how your home compares to other homes that have sold. There are numerous elements to scrutinize in these comparisons. Some of them are square footage, condition, aging, improvements, amenities, home-style and proximity to your home.
You'll also want to look at what others are asking for homes currently on the market that are similar to yours. These are your direct competition and influence perceived value by prospective buyers.
A huge consideration is that 92% of buyers use the internet in some way in their search for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you price your home too high, the buyers that may have an interest in it might never see it because it's outside of the price range they used in their search criteria. If you price it too low, the buyers that have an interest and perceive the value also don't see it for the same reason. Of course, the worst part of pricing too low is you leaving money on the table. You may saying to yourself that you can price your home higher than what the market analysis indicates and always come down. One of the first questions asked by buyers is how long the home has been on the market. Repeated price reductions will not only cost you time, but it will reduce buyer confidence in your home.
One common mistake sellers make in pricing homes is their perceived value of home improvements. Generally, homeowners do not recover the full cost of home improvements. Click here to get an idea of the cost versus value of your home improvement.
Lastly, there are those financials considerations mentioned above. Problems, needs, wants and desires sometimes influence what we are able and/or willing to accept.
Your Daugherty Group real estate professional will walk you through the process of arriving at an appropriate price for your home. We will ensure your understanding of all of the elements involved to allow you to exercise your control and feel confident that your home is priced right.
Condition / Saleability
Condition is the most obvious of the components of selling a home that you control. It is said that you only get one chance to make a first impression. In selling a home, you actually get two. The first is when buyers view the exterior of your home and the second comes when they enter your home.
The exterior of your home makes a statement to every prospective buyer. They will evaluate the style, the entrance, the lawn, the landscaping and hardscaping, the walks and drives, the roof and the overall state of the exterior maintenance. Fail this first impression and the second may never come.
If the exterior invites the prospective buyer to look inside your home, you get a second chance at a first impression and this is where the human senses will be on full alert. Their eyes will tell them most of what they want to know when it comes to the condition of your home. They will look at the overall decor and scrutinize the walls, the flooring, the ceilings and millwork. As they move through each room they will focus on the condition of the windows, fixtures and hardware as well. They will also look for signs of aging and updates.
Buyers will evaluate the overall look, textures and colors of the interior of your home as well as the structural integrity and the state of the plumbing, electrical and climate mechanicals.
In the end, they will evaluate the overall floor plan, the room sizes and storage space to determine with their eyes and ears how these fit their lifestyle. This is where you need to think about clutter. Ridding rooms, closets and storage areas of clutter make them appear larger. We've all heard this and know it to be true. Clutter sometimes includes superfluous furniture. These days, the kitchen is often the most important room in the house to a buyer and it is also where the most clutter is to be found. The bottom line here is that if you don't absolutely need it where it is, remove it.
Lastly, if the buyers' noses become a factor in their evaluation of your home's condition, they will most likely move on to the next house. Suspicious odors are not your friend when selling a home.
All real estate professionals in Kentucky are obligated by law to present sellers with a 'Sellers Disclosure of Property Condition' form. Sellers are not obligated to complete it, but in not doing so you send up a huge red flag that shouldn't need explanation. However, when you do enter data on the form, you must disclose all known issues with your home, past and present. Not disclosing known problems could lead to legal issues after the sale of your home.
Your home's condition is a major factor in the pricing of your home and your ability to sell it. Again, your Daugherty Group real estate professional will guide you through the process of evaluating the condition of your home and ensure your understanding of all of the elements involved to allow you to exercise your control and maximize perceived value.
Exposure / Marketing
One would think that exposure of your home to potential buyers is under the control of your real estate professional. While there is truth in that, since you choose your real estate professional, you are in control of the exposure component as well.
As mentioned above, 92% of prospective buyers use the internet in some way in their home search process. If you look at where buyers find the homes they actually bought, you find that 47% found them on the internet and 33% found them through real estate professionals (who also used the internet to find them). Obviously, an large internet presence is essential to marketing your home to potential buyers.
Therefore, your real estate professional should have their own internet presence. It should be a professional looking website that showcases your home. Additionally, they should have the ability to syndicate your home to thousands of other websites to realize maximum exposure both locally and worldwide. Further, your home should be promoted on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and easily found on search engines like Google and Yahoo, all of which are among the top ten most used sites on the internet.
Prospective buyers expect to see pictures of your home on the internet - a lot of pictures. To do your home justice and present it in its best light requires professional photography. The difference between professional and amateur photography is easily discernible. Buyers also like to see virtual tours of your home. They can click one button and take a tour around and through your entire home.
Your real estate professional should also have a database of contacts through which they can promote your home either through direct email or a newsletter. Another important element of exposure is letting the neighbors know your home is for sale through flyers or postcards. Your neighbors may have friends, colleagues or family members wanting a home in your neighborhood.
A yard sign lets everyone driving by your home know it's available, but it needs to do more. It should have a telephone number available to get recorded information on the home while sitting in front of it and connect live with your real estate professional to ask questions and/or get an appointment to see it. It should also show the website on which to find it on a phone or tablet.
Remember that 33% of homes that buyers actually bought that were found through real estate professionals? Your real estate professional needs to have a way to expose your home to other professionals that have potential buyers looking for a home like yours.
Once again, your Daugherty Group real estate professional will have a solid, proven marketing plan that includes everything mentioned above and more.
Three Components You Cannot Control
Location, Location, Location!
This is another phrase with which we've all become familiar. Your home's location does have an effect on price. For instance, you'll pay more for a home on a golf course or waterfront lot than you would for the same home whose lot does not abut those amenities. Likewise, you'll pay less for a home in a declining neighborhood than you would for the same home in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Since you probably don't want to bear the expense of moving your home, your location is what it is. There is no control over this situation and really no viable options.
Your Daugherty Group real estate professional with work with you to maximize the benefits and perceived value of your location.
We’re sure that we all wish that we were so powerful as to be able to have an effect on market conditions, but alas, we are not. However, the Louisville metropolitan area has been very stable when compared to what you read and hear from national sources. We do not suffer the peaks and valleys of larger metropolises and coastal areas across the country.
Over the last forty-four years there have been only two periods when our market showed overall depreciation. Some of us remember when mortgage rates were in the high teens in 1982 and, of course, we felt some of the effects locally of the last national economic down-turn (the so-called 'Great Recession) which effected 2008 and nominally effected 2009 and 2011. We've been back on a steady appreciation path since and expect that will continue. Recent trends show significant appreciation in units sold, median price and total dollars spent.
Again, this is beyond the control of most of us. However, we at Daugherty Group always have a watchful eye on market trends and economic conditions that effect the housing market.
Value is controlled by the buyer. How so? To demonstrate this, we like to tell the story of out-of-town buyers that we showed nine homes that had a $200,000 range of prices. At one point they asked, “Why is this home, which is so much like the last one we were in, $90,000 higher?” Obviously, potential buyers are not going to spend their hard-earned money on a home where they don’t perceive the value.
We'll mention again here that some sellers err in pricing their homes because of their own perceived value of home improvements. Generally, homeowners do not recover the full cost of home improvements. Click here to get an idea of the cost versus value of your home improvement.
Once more, this is a component over which you have no direct control. However, working as a team, you and your Daugherty Group real estate professional can do a lot to enhance the perceived value of your home to your prospective buyers.
Your Role As A Seller
Emotions / Mentality
Selling a home is an exhilarating time in the lives of most who do it. The cause of your move is generally a trigger to weeks of intriguing anticipation about moving on to the next chapter in your life. A career, lifestyle or location change can be exciting.
We also realize that emotions can run high when deciding to sell your home. After all, this may be the place where you raised your family or, at the very least, made lasting memories. The good thing is there will be many new memories ahead in a new venue.
There is, undoubtedly, some work ahead in preparing your home to sell, but your preparation will be rewarded with maximized returns at the closing table. Your daily routine will change when selling your home. Your life will be disrupted so that your home may be shown to potential buyers. Keep an open mind. It won't last long and remember these disruptions are a vital part of getting your home sold. Try your hardest to always make it available for showings and remember, each showing gets you closer to the goal of selling your home.
Lastly, be prepared for a few disappointments. In spite the best efforts of you and your real estate professional, things happen. There may be short notice calls for showings. There may be prospective buyers that arrive late or don't show at all. You will get feedback on your home and you may find some of it disappointing. We're not saying that these things will happen. We just want you to be prepared for those things that could happen. After all, buyers are human and human nature has its idiosyncrasies no matter the endeavor. The home selling process is not immune to this.
It can and should be a fun process. Enjoy the journey! We'll be with you every step of the way.
Preparing Your Home To Sell
Those first impressions we mentioned above are key to selling your house or condo. Prospective buyers want to see your home in pristine condition. Most buyers select their home based on emotion and then justify the decision with facts, so it’s important to make the house look great. Additionally, most buyers don't want to buy a new home and face a lot of work and expense. Remember, you have just a few seconds to create a first impression that attracts people to want to see more. Below are 101 ways to prepare your house for sale to help boost your bottom line and sell your home quickly.
As we said above, the first impression people have of your home is what it looks like from the outside. And yes, some buyers make a decision to keep on driving to the next property just by looking at the outside of the house. Here are some tips to make them want to come inside:
- Spruce up the lawn by cutting, trimming, weeding and removing all yard clutter. A great-looking lawn makes a great first impression.
- Weed and apply fresh mulch to planting beds – it gives a fresh and maintained look for a low cost.
- Trim your trees and bushes.
- Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
- Power wash home's exterior, driveway, walkway, patio and deck.
- Consider painting if the house needs it, or if the color is “dated” – a fresh coat of paint on the outside can make the house look completely updated.
- Make sure your house numbers are easy to see and consider getting new ones if it would improve the look from the street.
- Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
- Paint the front door.
- Buy a new welcome mat.
- Place potted flowers near the front door.
- Plant some bright flowers in places that could use some brightening.
- Tighten and clean all door handles.
- Clean windows inside and out – make them sparkle.
The way you live in a home and the way you sell a home are two different things. Once your home is on the market it’s in competition with other properties and needs to always look like a model home. From the moment you decide to sell, it’s not your home anymore. You need to disassociate yourself from it. Make it anonymous. Even if you aren’t Mr. or Ms. Perfect, your home needs to look like you are. Here are tips on keeping the inside of your home looking its best.
The entry sets the stage:
- Replace the entrance light bulbs to brighten up the entry, and make sure the light is on if people are coming at dusk or after dark.
- Make sure the doorbell works.
- Make sure the door is in perfect working order. No squeaking, jamming or sticking locks. Make it effortless to get in the house.
- Once inside, make sure the entryway is free of clutter: shoes, coats, umbrellas and anything that takes up space. If you have an entry table or shelves keep them clutter free.
- Make the front closet look spacious and uncluttered by removing any extra coats, shoes, hats, gloves, etc.
Tips for every room in the house:
- Go through your home room by room and pack up 30% of your stuff. You want it as clutter free as possible.
- Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts the flow or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
- Clean or paint walls and ceilings. Use a neutral color. You don't want buyers to remember your home as ‘the house with the purple bedroom’.
- If carpeting is in good condition and neutral in color, have it cleaned. If not, replace it. Light, neutral carpet is best; this makes the rooms look larger and cleaner.
- If replacing the carpet pad, select a very thick one and then install just a modest grade of carpeting. The feel will be plush and expensive, but it’s not.
- Clean or refinish wood floors.
- Pack everything from all closets that you don’t need. You want to create the perception of roominess.
- Remove everything but a week’s worth of linens from the linen closet. Fold them neatly and color-coordinate them. Remember, you’re Mr. and Ms. Perfect.
- Remove out-of-season clothes from clothes closets.
- During the day, have all your curtains and blinds open. If the day is cloudy, turn on all the lights as well. Make sure blinds, shades and window coverings hang level.
- Brighter is better. Where appropriate for the fixture or lamp, upgrade all your light bulbs to at least 100 watts to make your house appear bigger and more inviting.
- Replace all burned out light bulbs.
- Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
- Remove any family photos you have displayed. Too much of your personality in evidence does not allow for the potential buyer to ‘mentally’ move in.
- Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
- Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking or squeaking doors, cracked caulking).
- Replace worn door knobs.
- Fix or replace discolored grout.
- Replace broken tiles.
- If you have pets, get rid of pet odors.
Make the most of your kitchen and dining room:
- Make your kitchen look more spacious by removing everything from the counter like the coffeemaker, toaster, flour container, etc.
- Your eat-in kitchen and dining room should have a table and chairs in it to showcase the rooms' purpose. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room look larger.
- Set the dinner table or counter bar to help buyers envision the room.
- Make sure the inside of your cabinets are organized and clean. Store non-essential items elsewhere to make the cabinets look more spacious.
- If your cabinets show wear and tear, you might want to paint them. A simple trick to update the look of your cabinet doors is to replace your current knobs with new ones.
- Make sure that your counter is spotless and shiny.
- Remove notes, pictures, magnets and coupons from the refrigerator door.
- Keep garbage and recycling bins out of sight.
- Keep the exotic spices and fish to a minimum when cooking the night before a showing. Work towards achieving a ‘clean’ smell.
- Get rid of kitchen odors by pouring hot salt water down the drain twice a week. Also, grind some lemon rind in the disposal.
- Help buyers see themselves in the living room:
- Take down personal photographs and family items that create the sense that this is your home. Remember, it no longer is. You don't want the buyer wondering, ‘Who lives here’? You want them to see themselves living there.
- If you have a favorite “old” chair that doesn’t go with the rest of the furniture, remove it. Big furniture can weigh down a space.
- Clean your fireplace.
- Turn on all lights and lamps during showings.
- If your furniture shows the effect of raising kids or if pets have ruined the rugs and upholstery, think about storing or removing your existing furniture. Buy, borrow or rent what you need.
- Have your DVD collection, CDs and video games out of sight.
- Open the drapes and blinds. Few things are more depressing than walking into a home where shades, curtains and drapes are closed.
- Remove all knick-knacks under 10 inches tall.
Make the bathrooms sparkle:
- Put the trash can under the vanity to clear floor space to make the bathroom appear as big as possible. Always empty bathroom trash cans before showings.
- A new shower curtain is a great investment. It’s very little money for a big impact.
- Things like toilet cleaners, plungers, and hampers add clutter. Put them away while you’re selling your house.
- Keep all reading material out of sight in the bathroom.
- Place personal items such as hairdryers, makeup kits, and hairbrushes in cupboards or drawers.
- Hang new matching towels. Get the best-looking towels you can. Like shower curtains, they add a nice impact.
- Remove everything from the countertop except nice soap sets, candles or fresh flowers.
- Check the faucets for leaks, drips or disrepair. Repair or buy new faucets if they are leaky or worn out.
- New silicone beading can do wonders for your shower, tub and sink area… especially if the caulking is stained or cracking.
- Shine your faucets and knobs and use cleaner to prevent water spots.
- Keep your shower and tub spotless. Buyers will often look behind the curtain. Keep shampoos and soaps to a minimum.
- Scrub tiles and bleach or replace the grout so it all sparkles.
- Replace or paint the vanity if it shows excessive wear and tear. Replacing knobs can give an updated look to an older vanity.
Make the bedrooms look big:
- Remember that buyers are prone to snooping and are likely to look in your closets. Make sure the closets are as spacious looking as they can be. Remove all the clothes, shoes, and items that you won’t be using right away.
- Candles and fresh flowers are excellent accessories on bedroom furniture.
- New bedspreads or quilts make a bedroom look inviting.
- Make your bed look pretty and make sure the bedspread or quilt fits the bed properly and hangs low enough to cover the view under the bed. Buyers won’t look under the bed, so you can store other non-essential items there.
- Put away the stacks of reading material on night stands and leave room for one good book.
- In kids’ rooms, posters, photos, drawings and awards are all personal items that should be taken down for showing the house. You want the buyers to imagine the rooms as their own.
- Put away all items that are hanging off the backs of doors. Cluttered and clanking doors often make the room feel smaller – especially if they don’t allow the door to open all the way.
- Hang your clothes by category. Place all blouses together, all shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.
- In kids’ bedrooms, be sure to put the toys in boxes or bins, and slide them under the bed.
- Items that you don’t need should be taken out of the closet to make them more spacious. If you need to, get a storage space for them.
- Coordinate your clothing in your closets and line shoes up neatly so it looks as organized as possible.
Create a clutter-free home office:
- Store all the files and paperwork you don’t need for everyday function.
- Remove big, bulky filing cabinets that take up a lot of space and store them somewhere else to make the office look bigger.
- Clean everything off the desk surface, leaving only your computer and desk lamp. A neat desktop makes the work space look more functional.
- Store all personal and confidential or client information out of sight. Set up a password protected screensaver on your computer.
- Weed out the postings on bulletin boards or wall organizers. A few things are okay to make the office look organized and functional, but an overloaded bulletin board looks crowded.
- If your office is a part of another room, make sure it doesn’t overpower the main function of the room. If it’s in the dining room, definitely consider setting up temporary space elsewhere.
Make the most of the basement/laundry spaces:
- Tidy up and organize your basement. Discard, donate or recycle items you can give away.
- If you have unfinished concrete floors, paint the concrete to give it a cleaner look.
- Be sure to clean and polish the washer and dryer to give them a bright and shiny look.
- Put all detergents, laundry items and irons out of sight. Remove any residue that may have accumulated in the laundry sink.
- A bright throw rug in front of the washer and dryer will often help cheer up unfinished laundry rooms.
- Finally, tackle the garage. The garage is usually the catch-all area where everything goes that has no other place to go, so it’s usually a mess. If your garage isn’t neat, no buyer would surmise that you take good care of the whole house. You may think we’re going to extremes but believe us, this works every time.
- Empty everything out of the garage. Hose down the floor and if there are stains remaining, paint it porch gray.
- Paint the garage walls using a light, neutral, flat latex paint. Flat paint hides flaws.
- After the paint is dry – put everything back in the garage piece by piece and throw out what you won’t be taking with you. Then organize what’s left.
- If you have a storage shed, organize it the same way and if it needs a coat of paint or stain, do it.
- Use an open bag of charcoal to absorb moisture in the storage shed.
- If you have too much ‘stuff’, rent a storage unit and store it there.
If you'd like to know more about preparing your home for sale or would like a free, no obligation, room-by-room review of your home, please give us a call at 502.693.5981 or send us an email
Getting It Sold!
Working together as a team, once we have agreed on an appropriate price, the marketing plan and gotten you home prepared to sell, it's time to get it sold. Our jobs will then be to receive and negotiate offers to an agreed upon contract to sell, work through the inspections and prepare for the closing. Of course, the final step will be to close the deal and turn the keys over to the new owner.
We look forward to the privilege of working with you and your family.