Planning and preparation are critical to any successful endeavor. The same goes with selling a home. If you're like most successful sellers, your preparation will begin several months before your home is listed on the open market. It can be a lot of work, but it all becomes very manageable when you have a knowledgeable real estate agent, a professional home stager, and a professional photographer helping you execute your home selling plan.
Below we offer 4 key steps you can take right now to prepare for your successful sale. Even if your plan is to sell in 2016, now is the perfect time to start laying the foundation for a killer listing.
Step 1: Consult with a Professional Home Stager
Your most fundamental step is to consult with a professional home stager. (Some listing agents, including the agents on our real estate team, will pay for your consultation). Your stager will provide you with a written report of recommendations, which will serve as your step-by-step guide in the weeks and months ahead. Your stager will also help you determine which repairs and cosmetic improvements are essential for achieving top dollar from your sale.
Keep in mind staging is not about spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on new furniture and accessories. Rather, it's all about using what you already own in a manner that helps your home show its very best. It's also about using less of what you own - in other words, de-cluttering. "When in doubt take it out" is a great rule to live by as you go through the steps of staging your home.
The owners of this home are one of many previous clients who have realized the benefits of our professional home staging services. They implemented all of our stager's recommendations, and then watched their home sell in one day and for $3,000 above the list.
Step 2: Get Professional Photos of your Exterior and Yard
Another step you can take right now is take exterior photos of your home and yard while the grass is green and the flowers are in bloom. Even better, make them professional photos and let your agent pick up the tab. You'll be glad you and your agent took this step when you list your home in the late winter or early spring.
Just like your interior, your exterior can be "staged", too. Below are 8 tips that will help you prepare for your outdoor photos.
8 Exterior Staging Tips
- Power wash your siding if it has become dingy and dull over time.
- Mow your lawn shortly before your professional photographer arrives.
- Sweep the driveway and sidewalk.
- Thin and weed all flower beds.
- Spread fresh mulch throughout all beds.
- Trim all shrubs and bushes. Consider removing some bushes entirely if they have grown to the point of becoming gargantuan and unwieldly. Replace them with smaller sized plantings which don’t obscure the façade of your home.
- Add color to your curbside photo with annuals. You can do this very simply and effectively by placing potted annuals on either side of your front door. While you’re at, fill up those flower boxes, too.
- Talk to your stager about painting your front door to give it a little “pop”. Choosing the right color can have a huge impact on first impressions.
By taking the proper steps right now, you'll end up with a curbside photo that is on par with the quality of this one:
Your professional photographer can also capture high quality photos of your featured exterior spaces, such as your deck, patio, or professionally landscaped yard.
You can even have your photographer stop back in the fall, when the trees are in full color, to capture some high quality photos of your yard and setting.
Step 3: Get a Customized Marketing Plan
Are you a consumer with high expectations? Get a comprehensive marketing plan that is customized for your home. Below are 7 traits of a strong marketing plan.
7 Traits of a Strong Marketing Plan
- Staging services provided by a professional.
- Professional photos for all of your online marketing.
- Professional, narrated, full-motion video that serves as your virtual tour and is syndicated to YouTube and other video websites.
- Aggressive internet marketing and "search engine optimization" (hint: there are a few tricks your real estate agent can employ to make your listing stand out on Google).
- Marketing that goes the extra mile to sell the many benefits of your location and home.
- A marketing plan where all costs are paid for by your REALTOR, not you.
- A track record that shows strong evidence of success.
One last tip is to ask your real estate agent to provide a detailed and customized marketing plan that outlines everything he will do to sell your home. When all is said and done you'll be glad you exercised your due diligence to hire the right REALTOR to represent you in your sale. The example below shows page 1 of a marketing plan for one of our recent clients. Our marketing plans are typically 3 pages long. We incorporate each customized plan into the listing contract. By doing so we make the marketing plan a contractual commitment to each home-selling client.
Step 4: Get a Professional Market Analysis
Your analysis should include an overview of the latest market conditions in the Madison metropolitan area. Then it should zero in on 6 key factors that affect the real estate prices in your neighborhood (or condo association).
6 Key Factors for Pricing your Home or Condo
- Months of Supply. This statistic provides a quick glimpse into your neighborhood market. Neighborhoods located in a hot seller's market typically have less than 3 months of supply. Neighborhoods with 6 or more months typically favor sellers.
- Seasonality. When you list your home impacts the price you can expect from your sale. For example, the market is more favorable to sellers in the springtime than it is in the summer, fall and winter. In most neighborhoods there are typically 2 to 3 times as many accepted offers in the month of March as there are in the month of January. The market can change tremendously in the span of just 2 short months. Fortunately, the change is predictable and you can plan for it.
- Recent Sales. Recent sales are of course a key input for determining your home's value. Keep in mind all of this data comes from the past. In downward or upward moving markets recent sales data can become quickly outdated. That's why a good analysis includes a look at additional market data, such as listings with accepted offers.
- Listings WITH Accepted Offers. These are the active MLS listings that have received an accepted offer and are scheduled to close soon. This set of listings represents the most current view of prices in your neighborhood. Although the sales price is confidential until closing, we know every one of these listings is priced correctly to receive an offer in the current market. Be sure your analysis includes a look at these listings.
- Listings WITHOUT Accepted Offers. These listings represent your competition when your property hits the market. Many of these listings are by default overpriced - otherwise they would already have an accepted offer - so be sure your listing stands out as providing a good value relative to the properties in this list.
- Expired Listings. We typically look at the ratio of expired to sold listings to get a quick check on the market dynamics within a neighborhood or condo association. In buyer's markets, there will be roughly as many expired listings as sold listings over the course of a year. In seller's markets, there will be many more sold listings than expired listings.
Proactive Preparation: More Benefits
Selling a home and moving to another can be stressful events, but they become entirely manageable when you engage a team of experts to help you plan for your transition. By doing so you'll maximize your price and minimize your marketing time. Most important, you'll eliminate all of the unnecessary stress and avoidable mistakes that many home sellers experience by not planning proactively for their move. You can take the first step toward your successful sale by giving me a call at 608-852-7071. I'll be happy to consult with you and offer you an action plan that will help you achieve your buying and selling goals.
Dan Miller, REALTOR
Mad City Dream Homes & RE/MAX Preferred