Your home should be listed, whenever possible, in the local Multiple Listing Service and on my site, which has a huge online database of homes and virtually 100% of potential buyers who look for property on the Internet.
The realtors largest expense has traditionally been classified advertising in the local newspaper. However, today properties are also exposed through popular Internet home search/listing services, radio and television promotions, and real estate guides. Even with all these additional advertising avenues, “For Sale” signs on the front lawn are still remarkably effective. Many realtors use brochure boxes along with these signs to market the property. When appropriate, and with your permission, your agent may send a mailing about your property to neighbors. Sometimes one of them has “a friend or relative who always wanted to live near me.” You never know.
Showings and open houses
To prepare your home for viewing, make it as light, cheerful and serene as possible. Your realtor will probably find a tactful way to suggest that you not be present while the house is being shown to prospective buyers. This is done because your presence will inhibit their actions and conversations. They won’t feel free to open closets and cabinets, test out the plumbing, and discuss their observations objectively as they walk through. It goes without saying that your children and pets should not be on the premises either.
If your realtor has scheduled an open house, you may want to notify the neighbors, and assure them that they’ll be welcome. They’ll jump at the chance to poke around in your house, and sometimes they can turn up a buyer among their friends. In preparing for an open house, you should:
- Pull the drapes back
- Light lamps
- Simmer a few drops of vanilla on the stove Light your fireplace
- Set the dining room or kitchen table if you have particularly nice linen or china
- Put fresh towels in the bathroom
- Leave the house so your realtor is free to deal with prospective buyers in a professional manner.
TIP: When preparing your home, think about the techniques that are used to show builders’ model homes.
How long has your house been on the market?
Professional appraisers sum up their entire body of knowledge in three words — “Buyers make value.” Your home is worth as much as some member of the buying public will come forth and pay for it. After it’s been on the market for months, you’ve been given a clear message that the property may not be worth what you’re asking for it. This is particularly true if there haven’t been many prospects coming to see it. What you do at that point depends on whether you really need to sell, and whether you’re working with a time limit. If you’re not really motivated to move soon, you can always wait – years if necessary – and hope inflation will catch up with the price you want. The problem is that in that time, your home begins to feel shopworn. Buyers become suspicious of a house that’s been for sale for a long time. If, however, you really do need to sell, discuss with your realtor a schedule for dropping your price gradually until you find a level that attracts buyers. There’s no point in saying, “We simply can’t sell our house.” Anything will sell if the price is right.
If you’re buying another home
Don’t spend a great deal of time worrying about what will happen when you’re selling one home and buying another. You’re not alone. Realtors, lawyers, and title and escrow companies have had plenty of experience in arranging contracts and loans so that the two transactions dovetail smoothly. It’s best to list your present home for sale first.
Selling and buying a home is a very emotional event and if you create a “race” by locating your replacement property before you sell your current home, you may lose it to another buyer, who does not need to sell in order to buy. If you do find just the house you want, you can always put in a purchase offer contingent (dependent) on selling your present one. However, in a hot market you will have difficulty getting the house you want this way.
Sometimes the seller will sign a contract agreeing to wait a certain period of time while you find a buyer for your house – sometimes not. What would you do if you were presented with such a proposal, from a buyer who also has a house to sell? If you do find that you need to buy the next house before you’ve received the proceeds from the present one, lending institutions can sometimes make you a short-term “bridge” loan to tide you over between the two transactions. Make sure you fully understand the exposure and emotional investment before proceeding with this type of loan.