Smart Selling Column
"Smart Selling", a weekly column by professional stager Sandy LeRoy and REALTOR Mary Stephens, appeared in the Real Estate section of the Hendersonville Times-News from June 2009 until May 2011.
The columns are archived here and grouped into three main topics:
- How To Be A Smart Seller
- How To Prepare Your House For Sale
- How To Price and Market Your House
how to be a SMART SELLer
The final "Smart Selling" column with key points we've made over the past two years.
Attend our three part course for sellers and learn how to apply Smart Selling principles for maximum equity protection in any market.
Your answers to the questions in this quiz for current sellers will suggest areas where change is needed. Get help today, and be ready when prime selling season begins.
If you plan to sell your house in 2011, don’t be dismayed by market conditions! Take charge of the selling process and apply Smart Selling concepts to improve your prospects for a successful outcome.
Move management services are the answer for those who aren’t able to handle a move by themselves, or for members of the family who want to help, but can’t be there.
Because of numerous potential landmines in the short sale process, it's essential to work with a knowledgeable REALTOR® and attorney from the very beginning.
If you have questions, or there are any issues that affect the deed to your property, consult your attorney before you list.
The smart seller's ideal marketing team includes a home stager and a real estate agent, both of whom work with you for best results.
By taking the right steps in the right order and properly preparing your house for sale, you can increase profit potential and decrease time on the market.
Smart selling means adding another job to your already busy life because it requires a commitment to keep your house in an unnaturally clean and tidy state at all times. Protect your sanity and share the work.
Many sellers don’t recognize that they’re in a high stakes competition and don't take the steps that can lead to a successful outcome.
Children can feel overwhelmed and anxious at the thought of selling and leaving their home. To help them cope, prove age-appropriate information about what to expect, and encourage them to express their concerns. Be alert to behavioral changes and get outside support, as needed.
You may think it's difficult to sell a house when children live there, but it can be equally challenging with pets in the family, maybe even more so.
Some buyers have a negative response to the presence of animals. Prepare your house to appeal to everyone by addressing some practical pet issues.
Highlights of the “Smart Selling” column since its inception in June 2009.
how to PREPARe your house for sale
To learn how your house can create a dynamic first impression, register for "How to Create Curb Appeal", a new three part course to be offered in May 2011 at the Flat Rock Campus of Blue Ridge Community College and in June at the Polk Campus of Isothermal Community College.
Don't overlook the importance of plants when preparing your house for sale. Plants dramatically improve cosmetic appeal and help create more attractive pictures for marketing.
If you’ve identified a problem in your crawl space, address it right away. Left alone, the situation will only get worse, and the buyer’s home inspector is likely to notice!
The crawl space beneath your house plays a key role in creating an environment that's healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient, while keeping the house in sound condition.
Have a pre-listing home inspection, but be aware of what it does and does not include.
Buyers will have questions about your roof. Have it inspected before you list and be sure the roof and gutters are clean.
When selling property with a well, test the water quality before you list. Provide details about the well and its equipment, and include maintenance information in your marketing materials.
An estate sale can be an efficient and profitable way to dispose of your belongings, regardless of the size of your household. Get recommendations and investigate each company thoroughly before signing a contract.
If you can't have an individual, on site estate sale, your belongings can be grouped with those from other households and sold at a mega estate sale.
Popcorn ceilings affect the cosmetic appeal of your house and could raise health and safety concerns. To sell for maximum profit, test for asbestos if appropriate, then choose a safe, cosmetic solution.
If you're selling a house built prior to 1978, educate yourself about lead-related issues. Be aware that the 2010 regulations are a work in progress.
Selling a smoker's house can be very difficult unless serious remedial measures are taken before the house is listed.
People react emotionally to color, so never underestimate its importance when you sell.
Although wallpaper can be a wonderful enhancement to any decorating plan, most of today’s buyers want a house with an updated, neutral background.
Foundation plants connect the house to the site and create an attractive, unified impression that can impress buyers and make your house stand out in pictures.
Before listing your house for sale, evaluate its condition and make any needed repairs. Don’t plan to lower the price and skip doing the work because it will cost you time and money.
Even if the house is in superb condition and has been diligently maintained, smart sellers consider the benefits of a seller’s home inspection as a powerful competitive and negotiating tool.
Don't let a dated kitchen reduce the appeal of your house. Today there are many affordable cosmetic solutions, and you can do a lot of the work yourself.
Radon issues are a fact of life in our area. Before putting your house on the market, consider having it tested by a qualified individual or company and install a mitigation system, when needed. If you don’t test, the buyer likely will. Use a clean radon report as a marketing and negotiating tool.
If mold issues are discovered when you’re selling, correct the source of the problem and thoroughly clean the affected areas. If you don’t, you are required by law to fully disclose it. Don’t hesitate to get professional help, if needed.
Like the inside of a house, the inside of the garage needs to look clean, light, spacious and well organized. Smart sellers create an asset by organizing and staging the garage for maximum appeal to both male and female buyers.
Failing to manage your belongings before you list your house costs you time and money. Smart sellers get help as needed and transform their house from a personal space into a product, before it goes on the market.
Personal issues can make it difficult for some sellers to organize and edit their belongings, but the work must be done to sell effectively. Involve key family members when possible and ask for help finding solutions. Resolve to complete the project yourself, if necessary.
Allowing time to organize and edit your belongings before listing your house is essential to smart selling. Plan the project, set priorities, establish a timetable and consult with family members about key decisions.
A systematic approach to organizing and editing your belongings simplifies the work, helps you sell faster and makes moving much easier.
The appearance of your house is just as important as its condition, so evaluate the inside and outside before listing. Smart sellers rely on the objectivity and expertise of a professional home stager to identify cosmetic issues and suggest cost-effective solutions to present a house for maximum appeal.
Home staging in the real world is different from what you see on television. Professional home stagers are trained to apply interior design principles to real estate marketing to create a desirable product. Staging makes your house more competitive, increases profit potential and costs less than an average price reduction.
Don’t be deterred by misconceptions about staging. Staging is not decorating, it's a crucial real estate marketing tool for all homes. Stagers are not critics; they're allies who help you protect your equity.
Strategic furniture placement is an effective smart selling tool because it costs nothing, yet makes a dramatic improvement in “curb appeal”. Well-placed furniture welcomes visitors, inspires them to see more and emphasizes the best features of your house.
If you choose them well, the exterior colors of your house can create the dynamic first impression that draws buyers in and makes them want to see more. When you’re selling, painting your house in attractive colors is a smart decision and a sound investment.
Exterior colors should suit and flatter the architecture and details of your house, address “environmental” issues, coordinate with your landscaping and create the desired overall impression.
Exterior lighting and hardware are important finishing touches that don't have to be expensive to be effective. When they're in good condition, appropriate to the style of the house and the right choice for the location, they add pizazz and create an impression of quality.
Creating and maintaining curb appeal is essential to smart selling because it makes buyers enthusiastic about your house and helps them begin to imagine living there. Use a checklist and pictures to analyze the impression your house creates and pay attention to the details.
Create appealing outdoor living spaces to set your house apart from the competition and create the emotional connection that turns a visitor into a buyer.
Prepare an older house for sale by taking steps to create buyer confidence that the house is in sound condition. Consult with a professional stager for guidance on creating cosmetic appeal within your budget.
Because of the lack of truly comparable properties, pricing and marketing an older house is more art than science.
how to price and market your house
To create pictures that sell, you and your REALTOR® must work together. Your job is to get the house staged and ready to be photographed. Your REALTOR® is responsible for the pictures.
Increase the visibility of your house by using your own social media sites like Facebook to spread the word. Have a plan and coordinate with your REALTOR® for best results.
Don’t overlook the importance of telling your REALTOR® about the features of your house that make daily living easier and more enjoyable. She can use these details in marketing materials to give your house more appeal and personality to set it apart from the competition.
Don't automatically require that your REALTOR® have a public open house. Discuss the pros and cons first.
Consider having additional open houses if your house is a good candidate and something has changed for the better.
You can draw on your knowledge of the house and property to help your REALTOR® prepare unique marketing materials that will create buyer interest and set your listing apart.
Your listing agent is your financial partner who has made an investment in order to list and market your house.
Introduction of the Smart Selling column and a look at the local real estate market as of May 2009.
A smart seller doesn’t let personal relationships get in the way of sound business judgment when choosing an agent to market his house. He chooses an agent through a process that weighs personal qualities and professional expertise.
The goal of your initial appointment with prospective agents is to become acquainted with them in order to make a final choice. A smart seller is prepared and the house is staged before making the appointments.
Your agent will review the entire listing contract with you in detail and obtain your signature on this and other mandatory documents. Selling is a complex legal process, so ask questions and be certain you understand the answers.
In addition to a CMA, consider a formal appraisal to set an initial listing price that can be substantiated, and use the appraisal as a marketing and negotiating tool.
Starting at a high listing price to "test the market" is a common mistake that will cost you money. Don't let misconceptions about choosing a listing price tempt you to ignore your REALTOR®'s research and advice and learn this the hard way.
A smart seller doesn’t insist on an unreasonably high initial listing price. He and his agent weigh the values in a CMA, the appraised value and the assessed tax value of the house to suggest a range of listing prices. Working together the seller and agent can have a positive influence, but the final selling price is determined by the market.
Photographs are an essential marketing tool, and each image must be simple, free of clutter and showcase the most attractive features of your house. Smart sellers take an active role in creating “picture perfect” photographs.
Showings are a necessary part of the selling process, and your cooperation is essential. Be prepared that things won't always go as planned, and be flexible. Make the house look its best, then leave so that buyers can take their time to look around.
A home warranty is a service contract that covers breakdown due to wear and tear of certain systems and appliances. In addition to peace of mind, the major benefit to sellers and buyers is the reduced likelihood of an unanticipated major expense if a covered loss occurs.
Some sellers make avoidable mistakes that could be even more detrimental to a successful sale than a slow economy.
Fall often brings an increase in buyer activity, so it’s important to keep the inside and outside of your house looking their best. Buyers form opinions about a house within seconds, based on how it looks from the street. Fall is no time to relax your efforts.
Winter is the perfect time to evaluate the condition and appearance of your house. Get professional help and make changes. Use Winter wisely so your house looks its best when prime selling time begins in the Spring.
Decorate for the holidays in a way that’s warm and inviting, without obscuring the features of the house. Buyers who are looking now are motivated and you need to be ready for them.
When you sell property in a planned community, there are special considerations and some extra work. Selling the community helps sell your unit. Before meeting with your agent, gather general information about the development, as well as any special required items for the MLS listing.
To compete successfully, sellers in a planned community must create a “wow” factor that sets their unit apart. How well the unit is presented has a major effect on how quickly and profitably it sells.
When you sell property in a planned community, you must prepare it correctly and you must price it right after a realistic look at the competition. You can influence where your property falls in its price range by its condition and cosmetic appeal.
Difficulty selling your house could result from factors beyond your control, but the causes often include factors that sellers do control, even in difficult market conditions.
Unless your house is attractively presented, with its best features highlighted, it can’t compete effectively. A professional stager can suggest economical ways to create a dynamic new impression and re-kindle the marketing effort, even when a house has been on the market a long time.
Setting an appropriate listing price is the most important decision you’ll make, but many sellers let pride and desire for profit get in the way, and insist on a higher price than research supports. This is a serious mistake.
If your house has been on the market a long time, re-evaluate the marketing strategy with your agent, and be willing to make adjustments.
If you've created a special garden, recognize that the prospect of caring for it might be a deterrent to some buyers. Address the issue directly in your marketing materials.