3 Ways to Fast Track the Sale of Your Home

A fast sale is every seller’s top priority. In today’s market, crossing the finish line first isn’t a matter of luck. To win the home-sale race, you have to stay ahead of the pack. Price the house right, market the house competitively and make sure the house is in move-in condition.

Here are 3 key ways you can get your home on the home sale fast track.

1. Price to Sell

Don’t overprice. A nationwide survey of the National Association of Realtors found homes that sell within four weeks of the initial listing sold for close to the original asking price. Homes on the market for up to six months sold for about 7 percent less than the asking price. Listings that languished for more than six months sold for 15 percent less than the asking price. Experience shows overpricing results in a slow-to-sell home.
This is an area where our neighborhood expertise pays off. By performing a competitive market analysis, we can help you determine the best possible price—one that puts the most money in your pocket and gets it sold fast. We’ll study listing and selling prices for similar homes in your neighborhood and compare your home’s special features, improvements and condition. Interest rates, local economic trends and the availability of homes for sale in your area will also affect your home’s value. The feedback we glean regularly from home seekers helps us keep our sellers informed of what today’s buyers want and are willing to pay.
The more realistic the asking price, the sooner your home will sell. Unrealistic prices, on the other hand, are the major cause of “shopworn” listings, causing potential buyers to wonder if something is wrong with the home beyond price.

2. Create a Marketing Plan

Once you’ve established a selling price, the next step in your fast-track strategy is a maximum-exposure marketing plan. An effective marketing plan can include:

  • Tours to familiarize other agents with your home.
  • Showing your home to qualified buyers.
  • Advertising your home where it counts.

Offer Buyer Incentives. For example, sellers can help with closing costs, provide a home warranty, give allowances for carpet or draperies or pay utilities or lawn service for a limited time. Lowering cash barriers to the purchase will significantly enlarge the circle of potential buyers. We can discuss many other ways to market your home so it stands out from the competition.

3. Showplace Condition

To tempt a buyer, your home has to be inviting. Today’s buyers generally don’t have the time to do their own fixing up, so for maximum appeal, your home must be in move-in condition.

Focus on curb appeal. First impressions really do count. Inside your home, recognize that living condition is different from showing condition. Prospective buyers want to see your home in near perfect condition, even if that’s not the way they’ll keep it once they move in. Make your home a “showplace” and you’ll soon be taking a victory lap after a fast sale.

Give us a call for more tips on getting your home ready to sell, developing an effective marketing plan or setting the right price for your home. With our experience and track record, together we can make sure you finish a winner.

How to Make a Small Room Look Larger

So, how do you get people interested in buying your smaller home? There are lots of ways you can make your home appear larger. Consider these experts’ tips for adding visual space.

Expand the Walls

  • Paint walls in light pastels or neutral tones. (Neutrals like taupe, beige, gray, white and off-white will make it easier for a home buyers to coordinate their furnishings with your home.) The lighter the color, the larger the room will seem.
  • Paint woodwork and trim the same shade as the walls but with a higher-gloss finish. Contrasting woodwork draws attention to itself, making a room look smaller.
  • You could also hire a color consultant to learn more about creating space with color. Ask a local specialty paint store or home-decorating shop for a referral, or look for a consultant online at the International Association of Color Consultants.
  • When using wallpaper, choose patterns with lots of open space or small, subtle patterns in light shades without contrasting colors. Then cover furnishings in solid-color fabrics.
  • If possible, build recessed shelves or alcoves into walls. Built-ins deepen the space, while freestanding shelves and display tables use it up.
  • Maximize light. Use high-watt bulbs in lamps and light fixtures and make sure they’re turned on during home showings. Keep curtains, shades or blinds open to let as much natural light in as possible.
  • Paint the ceiling a bright white so it reflects light and seems higher.

Minimize Furnishings

  • De-clutter! The more furniture and objects you have in a room, the smaller it will seem. Pare furniture back to a comfortable minimum. (Place your extra pieces in storage if you can’t bear to part with them).
  • Use small furniture, steering clear of large, overstuffed or high-backed pieces. For example, choose a loveseat rather than a 3-seater couch, a drop-leaf table rather than a full-sized one and a small secretary instead of a large desk. Remember, a room can look larger with just two or three large pieces of furniture in it than with seven or eight small pieces.
  • Place only a few knick-knacks for accents on tables or shelves. Cluster coordinating objects in two or three places rather than spreading them evenly about the room.
  • Upholster (or slip-cover) chairs and couches in small prints or solids, light-colored fabrics that coordinate (but not contrast) with wall colors.
  • Keep area rugs to a minimum—they visually break up floor space. Bare floors or light-colored wall-to-wall carpeting make rooms look larger.
  • Keep window treatments simple, avoiding heavy draperies with busy patterns or colors that contrast strongly with the wall color. Consider using a cornice board or valence with blinds, shutters or sheers instead.

Room Arrangements

  • Place large furniture strategically so that floor space is open near the room’s entrance. For example, place beds and couches on the wall opposite the entry door.
  • Place most of the furniture against walls so it doesn’t protrude into the room’s central space.
  • Create uncluttered walkways. You should be able to pass from one room to another in a straight line. Also, you should be able to move from the door to the main element in the room (couch, desk, bed) without having to walk around something else. Ditch the coffee table!
  • Leave some floor space or wall space unused.
  • Use large mirrors to reflect light and deepen the visual space.
  • Keep doors between rooms open.

We would be happy to look at your small home and suggest practical ways for making it appear more spacious.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Up-Scale Home

If you are selling an above-average-priced property in an upscale neighborhood, you know your home is unique. You expect an upscale property to be marketed with the same professionalism you demand in every aspect of your life. That’s where our experience selling homes like yours pays off.

Keep in mind, buyers who can afford your home lead busy lives like you and look for a hassle-free sale. Move-up buyers don’t need to buy now, so they wait and watch for the home that’s just right. It might be yours.

Unfortunately, even sophisticated homeowners sometimes make mistakes when they go to sell their upscale homes, netting less than the top-dollar price it’s worth. Or worse, the home just doesn’t sell at all.

Here are 7 common pitfalls to avoid when selling this type of property.

1. Underestimating the Competition

Even though your property may be one-of-a-kind, there are other homes on the market being shown to the same potential buyers. Before you list your home, we’ll give you an “armchair tour” of comparable properties listed for sale in your price range. We’ll share our inside observations on how each home compares to yours and what special features stand out.

2. Overestimating the Value

When we tour the competition, you’ll notice how similar homes are priced. Features of interest to today’s buyers include location, house design and size, privacy afforded by the lot and acreage, special amenities, type of community and quality of local schools and facilities. Together, we’ll help position your home at the right price. By avoiding the over-pricing trap, which often results in repeated price reductions making the property seem distressed, we’ll save time and net the full value of your home.

3. Relying on Location

Homes in the higher price range need to look magazine-perfect when shown to potential buyers. Today’s market demands that everything—doors to floors, fixtures to walls—be sparkling clean. Even minor faults loom large in what is expected to be a perfect home. In short, fix up, repair and polish like never before.

4. Over-Improving

Also, avoid over-individualizing the house or grounds. People tend to buy homes they see as an image of themselves. A home that’s too individualized with strong, personalized decorating won’t sell quickly. Avoid dramatic custom flourishes that may not suit other people. Some buyers will mentally calculate the cost of removing the customization and deduct the cost from their offer.

Although you want your home to look its best, spending thousands of dollars to redecorate will not likely help it sell at a higher price—it may sell more quickly, though.

5. Making Your Own Marketing Decisions

The marketing plan for your home needs to reach out to the right potential buyers. We offer a first-class marketing campaign that requires careful advanced planning to allow time for reserving appropriate advertising space, top-notch photography, brochure production and even special events, such as a broker open house.

Many homeowners overestimate the value of one-shot marketing such as newspaper or TV spot ads. What typically works better is advertising with a longer “shelf life,” in upscale publications, for example, where ads are directed at an ideal niche.

Let us help you decide whether your house could benefit from an open house or if it would be better shown by appointment only.

6. Playing Hard to Get

No home sells sight unseen. Working together, we can create a plan to show the house to qualified prospects without disturbing your schedule. Details, such as the security system or guard dogs, may need to be worked out.

Rest assured, all buyers will be financially qualified, perhaps requiring an approval letter from an attorney or banker, before we will bring them to see your property.

7. Being Inflexible

You have a unique home, and you’re looking for a unique buyer. Chances are that buyer will have special needs and concerns. The most likely buyer will probably need to sell a current home to buy yours. Flexible terms, possibly including some extra time to settle on the old home, will help sell your home quickly at the right price.

10 Savvy Ways to Pay for a Home Today

Fortunately, lenders today offer many mortgage options to choose from. Chances are you’ll find a mortgage plan that works for you.

Because points, fees and interest rates vary, check with us or your lender for specific information on the type of loan you are considering. The “snapshot” interest rate examples shown here are for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect current rates. For simplicity, all examples here use a $100,000 sales price. Monthly payments are for principal and interest only (taxes, insurance and condo/homeowner fees would increase your payment).

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage
The interest rate is adjusted up or down periodically based on a financial market index (such as Treasury bills). Monthly payments start lower than fixed-rate mortgages. The initial rate is set for a specified period—1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 years—and then rates adjust on a schedule, say, annually. The adjustments are generally limited by annual caps and a life-of-the-loan cap.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:  < $90,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    7% (until first rate adjustment)
Monthly Payment:    $599 (until first rate adjustment)

Fixed-Rate 30-Year Conventional Mortgage
A fixed-rate conventional loan is made by a commercial lender for 30 years. Monthly payments (excluding taxes) remain unchanged for the life of the loan. Some lenders allow mortgages with as little as 5 percent down but require private mortgage insurance for loans with less than 20 percent down.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    8 1/2%
Monthly Payment:    $692

Fixed-Rate 15-Year Conventional Mortgage
This is similar to the 30-year conventional mortgage, except the loan is repaid in half the time. Interest rates are typically lower than for a 30-year loan, and interest paid over the life of the loan is less, but the monthly payments are usually somewhat higher. Government-backed loans—VA and FHA—are also available in 15-year terms.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    15 years
Interest Rate:    8 1/4%
Monthly Payment:    $873

Two-Step Loan
This 30-year loan is a cross between the ARM and a conventional loan. The mortgage carries a fixed rate for 5, 7 or 10 years and then adjusts to market interest rates once for the remainder of the loan. The initial rate is generally lower than a fixed-rate conventional mortgage, but the second step of the two-step mortgage is often conditional on the lender’s approval.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    8 1/8% (for first 2 steps)
Monthly Payment:    $668 (until adjustment)

Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Loan
These are government-insured loans so homeowners can make a smaller down payment. The limits on FHA loans are high enough to handle moderately priced homes in many parts of the country. FHA loans are assumable for future buyers who qualify.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    8 1/4%
Monthly Payment:    $676

VA Loan
These are loans for qualified veterans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs with low or no down payment required. These mortgages are subject to the VA mortgage funding fee, depending on the size of the down payment. VA loans can be combined with second mortgages and are assumable to qualified buyers.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $100,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    8 1/4%
Monthly Payment:    $751

Seller Financing
Sellers may take back a loan against their equity in the property in the form of a first or second mortgage. One approach to owner financing is to use a balloon mortgage calculated and repaid for 5 or 7 years as a 30-year mortgage, but then the balance of the loan is due in a lump sum.

Down Payment:    $15,000
Mortgage Amount:    $85,000
Term of Loan:    5 years
Interest Rate:    Negotiable
Monthly Payment:    Depends on rate

Assumable Mortgage
A buyer takes over the existing mortgage—usually FHA, VA or ARM—at its current interest rate, with the concurrence of the lender. An assumption may have a lower rate than those currently available, and taking over the mortgage may save on closing costs. The down payment makes up the difference between the sales price and the balance on the loan.

Down Payment:    $30,000
Mortgage Amount:    $70,000
Term of Loan:    Time remaining on loan
Interest Rate:    Same as seller had
Monthly Payment:    Same as seller was paying

Wrap-Around Mortgage
In this instance, a new mortgage incorporates an older, assumable loan to help bridge the gap between the loan balance and home sales price. The interest rate is often below market, but higher than the rate the old mortgage carries. Payments are made to the new lender or the seller, who forwards part of the payment to the first lender. The term of the mortgage is the time remaining on the original loan.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    Time remaining on original loan
Interest Rate:    9%
Monthly Payment:    $724

Buy-Down Mortgage Plan
The seller or a third party provides additional cash to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate for the buyer. Approaches vary among permanent buy-downs, multi-year and graduated plans.

Down Payment:    $10,000
Mortgage Amount:    $90,000
Term of Loan:    30 years
Interest Rate:    6 1/2% (initial)
Monthly Payment:    $568 (until subsidy diminishes or expires)

We’re available to help you sort through these options to find the best mortgage type for you. Call or email us today.